While O’Toole delivered the speech effectively, there is very little underlying contrast of vision between what he is offering and what Canadians are currently getting. Mostly, he is promising to do what is being done now, with some tweaks and more competence.
Erin O’Toole made some good points in his CPC convention speech.
He was right to point out that the CPC can’t win only on Trudeau scandals.
He was right to point out that relying on a ‘stronger NDP’ to take votes from the Liberals isn’t a real strategy.
He was right to discuss the importance of increasing our domestic manufacturing capacity, and confronting China.
And he was right to point out that the Conservative Party needs to be seen as a place where all Canadians are welcome.
Further, he delivered the speech effectively. Even though I prefer the ‘stand at a podium’ style vs the ‘TED Talk lecture style,’ O’Toole spoke well and communicated effectively.
So, all is good right?
Watching the speech, I noticed that on nearly every issue, O’Toole has conceded to Liberal framing.
Another way of putting it is he’s playing on Liberal territory, rather than pushing the Liberals to respond to him.
For example, O’Toole has basically conceded that the government needs to spend a lot of money (he’s promising to reduce the deficit over the next decade), is pushing for a plan at the federal level on climate change (central government approach), wants federal action on mental health (which may be nice but is interceding on an area that is generally dealt with directly by provinces), made a vague reference to shutdowns (but had little to say on the abuse of government power itself), and didn’t push for any huge tax cuts or reduction in the size of government.
Now, that is a legitimate position for him to take if he so choses.
But, it represents a clear choice by O’Toole, which is to concede that a big government approach is the best, that the size of the Canadian government should remain about the same, and that he will basically do much of what the Liberals have done, but do so more competently.
It’s an approach that puts government ahead of local communities and individuals.
That may be a winning proposition (though the polls say otherwise so far), but it means the Liberals have achieved near total dominance over political debate in Canada.
At some point, Canada will need a real, philosophical debate on the size and role of government, and on the importance of empowering individuals rather than empowering politicians. But it doesn’t look like that’s happening in the next election.
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