The more he doubles-down on shifting the party left, the more support they will lose to the PPC. Yet, if he tries to shift back to the right, his credibility is severely damaged from his previous abandonment of the ‘True Blue’ persona.
The initial, but by no means last, battle in the decision on Erin O’Toole’s political fate will be fought today, as the CPC holds a Caucus meeting.
It’s their first meeting since losing the 2021 election, an election where they lost raw votes, dropped slightly in the popular vote, and lost a few seats.
Going into the meeting, some MPs have expressed support for O’Toole, while others, like Alberta MP Shannon Stubbs, seemed less enthused, as reported by the National Post:
“I haven’t heard a word from the leader, or the leadership team, or the campaign team on what their reflections are, other than the same words you’ve all heard in public,” Stubbs told reporters on her way in. She said there needs to be an “accounting” of how the party is going to maintain the support of its base, given the losses it suffered in Alberta’s cities and in the suburbs of Toronto and Vancouver.
“The reality is that today after the 2021 election, Conservatives are more rural, more homogeneous than we’ve ever been before,” Stubbs said. “And we lost great, strong, necessary colleagues in big cities in every part of this country. And there needs to be an accounting for that.”
Stubbs is also pushing for an earlier National Convention, to give CPC members a say:
“There’s some conversation going on about ‘the courage to change,’” Stubbs said, referencing a line O’Toole has said multiple times. “I don’t quite know what that means…If now what we’re talking about is changes of our policies, our values, our principles, then for me, that means it’s even more important for the members to be able to have a direct say.”
Conservative MPs have the power under the Reform Act, to launch a vote on O’Toole’s leadership among themselves.
Regardless of what they decide, there will continue to be strong internal and external opposition to O’Toole, especially among many core parts of the CPC base.
The reason for this is that O’Toole has walked his party into a trap.
O’Toole bet that he could cynically win the leadership of the CPC by being a ‘True Blue’ conservative who appealed to what most in the party want, and then rapidly flip into a politically-correct, Liberal-Lite candidate who ideologically surrendered to the Liberals on every issue.
He bought into the Liberal worldview, and in doing so has further reinforced that world view.
There is now a Trudeau-led consensus on key issues among the main parties, with all of them in favour of an expanded role for government, more debt, more deficits, and higher government spending. And on the key issues of government overreach and assaults on individual freedom, O’Toole was unable to muster up any sort of strong or clear ideological counterpoint. Furthermore, on the issue of guns and carbon taxes, O’Toole further pushed the CPC into lockstep alignment with the Trudeau Liberals.
It didn’t work.
In 2019, the CPC won 6.4 million votes nationwide.
In 2021, the CPC won 5.75 million votes nationwide.
Had O’Toole simply been able to hold on to the votes the CPC got two years ago, the party would have done better, considering the Liberal vote fell between 2019 and 2021.
Instead, the rebranded ‘O’Toole Conservatives’ were even less popular than in 2019.
And why should that surprise anyone?
O’Toole’s strategy almost seemed designed to drive core Conservative voters away from the party and towards the PPC, which made it hilarious when the CPC complained about ‘vote-splitting’ as if they were entitled to offer their voters nothing ‘conservative’ while still expecting their votes.
This is where the trap comes in.
By having abandoned conservative ideology, O’Toole has morphed the CPC into a strange party, a party that risks being without a purpose.
A ‘conservative’ party that doesn’t offer anything ‘conservative’ will inevitably lose the support of conservative Canadians, a process which began in the 2021 election.
The PPC was the only party to actually gain raw votes between the 2019 and 2021 election, showing they are filling a political vacuum.
If O’Toole stays as CPC leader and pushes the party further to the left, they will lose more votes to Maxime Bernier & the PPC, and their internal divisions will worsen.
This of course means they should move to the right, particularly when it comes to fiscal responsibility and the role of government.
But can O’Toole do that?
At this point, he has a serious credibility problem.
Many Canadians already lack trust in him, as they saw him flip from ‘True Blue’ to ‘Moderate Centrist Liberal-Lite,’ and wondered “If his own party members can’t trust him to keep his word, why should anyone else.”
If he was to then morph into ‘True Blue’ again, almost nobody would believe it.
That’s why the CPC faces two choices now:
Either get a new leader and offer some true conservatism to Canadians, or stick with O’Toole and continue the bland and weak move to into becoming another Liberal Party – effectively ceding the support of conservative Canadians to the PPC.
In a rapidly-changing world, old principles can be applied to new situations.
The principles of limited government, individual freedom, personal responsibility, and decentralization are more needed now than ever, with technology enabling more freedom of communication and financial freedom than ever before – if government can stay out of the way.
Conservatism could be applied to all of those issues, and offer age-old principles that still address the challenges facing our world today.
With so many politicians and governments having embraced the path of fear and control, our country is in stark need of those who advocate for freedom and the defence of individual rights, and offer a real ideological alternative to the statist agenda.
If the CPC doesn’t offer that to people, somebody else will, and the more the CPC takes their support for granted the worse things will get for them.
Photo – YouTube
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