The Conservative Party of Canada wrapped up their much-anticipated convention in Halifax this weekend after a shaky beginning that saw Maxime Bernier announce his departure from the Party. There were winners and losers as seems to be the case with these “big tent” Parties who intentionally market themselves to people with competing interests.
The losers? Members who believe in a woman’s reproductive rights and those who thought calling someone by their preferred pronoun was a reasonable request. Members who wanted to have a say about Supply Management were easily silenced by delay tactics and the Party’s refusal to put the motion up for debate.
The self-declared winners of targeted policy implementation include Campaign Life Coalition, the socially conservative pro-life and traditional family values advocate group, and the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Pornography viewers narrowly escaped censorship by 6 points; the same amount as renewing the abortion debate actually. Oh well, there’s always next year!
Maxime Bernier, though, may have pulled off the biggest win of all.
Thanks to Abacus Data’s out of the gate initiative, we already have some idea of how Bernier’s as yet unnamed and unpopulated Party would perform if an election were held yesterday. Based solely on Bernier’s talking points since no Party, policy or platform exists, an estimated 13% of voters would be willing to hang their hats with Bernier. Perhaps most interesting is that while half of his support would come from Conservative voters, the other half comes from all other federal parties.
The honorable mention must go to the Conservative Party of Canada for protecting the interests of the Dairy Farmer’s of Canada. Bernier’s chief complaint as both a Conservative and as a CPC MP was that both Scheer and Trudeau’s refuse to reconsider Supply Management’s protectionist policies. By delivering this one highly contested issue to Bernier on a silver platter, Scheer likely handed Bernier enough momentum to be a massive pain in the behind until October 2019.
The outlook is even brighter, for Bernier, because his top issues are also big issues for Alberta conservatives. Alberta has long been a Conservative stronghold but certainly has the appetite to be even more Conservative federally. And let’s face it, the Andy next door is not the attack dog Albertans expect in Ottawa. Adding insult to potential injury, if the CPC discovers they actually have to campaign for seats in Canada’s Conservative Heartland on the prairies, Andy-Next-Door might not make it until October 2019.
Perhaps the shotgun wedding of Reform and Progressive Conservatives wasn’t really built to last after all. At least Harper and what’s left of the “united” Conservatives in Alberta will be available to knock doors. The disenchanted former UCP boosters may want to check out what Mad Max has planned.
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