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Tuesday, September 26 2023 @ 10:43 MDT

A Tory Victory?

Canadian PoliticsSo the government I thought we'd get is what we've got. Am I happy with the results of the election? Yes. The NDP gained seats. The Tories have only a minority (and why that's good look here) and the Liberals weren't wiped out. Add the fact that the BQ lost support to the mix and all in all it was a good election outcome. So at this juncture I have some advice to give to the new prime minister, should he want more than a Joe Clarkesque term in office.

First and most importantly is distance. Stephen Harper has to distance himself from two groups should he want to remain PM. The first and most important group to distance himself from is the social conservative part of his party, the so-called theo-cons. The social conservative agenda which plays so well in the United States and Alberta, doesn't have legs in the rest of Canada. If Harper appears beholden to this part of the party (and there's a good chance he is), the Ontario and Quebec voter will turn on the party like a pack of wolves.

This also goes to controlling the right-wingnuts of his party as well. For the election, the Tories seem to have sent their more “radical” element into what one reporter described as the Conservative Witness Protection Program. To maintain power, Harper is going to have to try to keep these same people out of the spotlight, just when that spotlight is going to get brighter and shining on the party. Failure to do this is another trip back to Stornoway.

The second group that Harper will have to distance himself from if he's to remain in power any length of time is the Americans. Just because many of his supporters in Alberta are American-wanna-bes, doesn't mean the rest of the country is that way. Appearing to be Dubya's lap-dog isn't going to help the Conservatives in the next election. It will be interesting to see if in the next few months Canadian soldiers are sent to Iraq or with a possible invasion of Iran. Doing this would be electoral suicide for the Tories.

Once the distance has been created, Harper has to loosen the grip of the “Calgary School” on the party leadership. Alienation is a two way street and if the Tories start to alienate the rest of the country, which blind adherence to the “Calgary School” will do, then Harper will be a one-term wonder. This will be one of his biggest challenges. Much of his Alberta support is ideologically blind. They can only see their own point of view and will push it forward regardless of the consequences to them or their party. This, of course, works in Alberta where there's no opposition to speak of, but when you get outside of that province things get more complicated. People are likely to change their vote if they don't like what you're doing (unlike Albertans) and you'll find yourself out of government very quickly. Harper needs to dampen the ardor of his ideologs if he's to succeed, because the people of non-Alberta Canada won't stand for it.

This ideological softening will be one of Harper's biggest challenges. Not just for the party but for him personally. Both Stephen and his party have to realize that much of their support comes from people who wanted to punish the Liberals, and not because there's been a shift to the political right in the country. The problem with people who have ideological blinders on is that if they do in fact win an election, they can't see the real reasons, they just assume that it's their ideas that got them elected. From what I heard from the Calgary caucus of the CPC election night, they're seeing the victory as more than it is, that there's been a shift in the country to the political right, which will be their downfall if they're not careful.

So Stephen, if you're listening, it comes to this: you're not Ralph Klein and you're not in Alberta. Blindly pushing forward like King Ralph did will not get you a second term, even if you had been granted a majority government this time around. So keep your social and theo-cons in check and don't make any radical changes or you'll find yourself listed as one of the shorter term prime ministers. Pander to the Alberta voter and you'll scare the rest away. You'll have to be a centrist to stay in power, and you're party is hard up for centrists.

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