The Conservative Party dropping the gloves for the 2015 federal election appears far different to the lean and hungry crew ready to feast on the political road kill federal Liberals had become in ‘06.
After nine years in power, the last four as a majority government, a previously confident, battle-proven Conservative machine appears weary, scarred and on the constant defensive. Its Generals, with few notable exceptions are almost strangers to Canadians. No disrespect to Rob Nicholson, Diane Finley and Tony Clement (two of the three from our immediate area), but the losses of John Baird, Peter MacKay and James Moore would be like the Toronto Maple Leafs losing their first line. If they had one.
Other than Stephen Harper who for some time now has been largely AWOL as far as engaging with Canadians is concerned, who remains to publicly carry the Conservative torch?
Calgary’s Jason Kenney and Halton’s Lisa Raitt are stars with high national profiles. However, the cabinet support crew may be competent, but Rona Ambrose, Chris Alexander and Leona Aglukkaq don’t immediately command attention. Mike Wallace and David Sweet have local support, but haven’t been afforded opportunity to shine on the national stage.
Joe Oliver isn’t Jim Flaherty when charisma and personal confidence while stewarding the economy will be key.
The government of Stephen Harper is further hampered by constant critique from left-leaning national media, an adversarial relationship with a grumpy Supreme Court (when was the last time a Chief Justice and PM sniped publicly at each other) and absorbing cynicism from noisy opposition parties.
Undoubtedly, Stephen Harper has a few aces up his sleeves. He is seen, by many, as effective on issues of national security and the economy. The Conservative Party is well-funded and able to outspend both New Democrats and Liberals during the actual campaign.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair hasn’t yet come under the glare of the CPC machine. When he does there will be reminders that Mr. Mulcair voluntarily acquired French citizenship, that former interim national NDP leader, Nicole Turmel is also a former member of two Quebec separatist parties and that Olivia Chow, returning to the MP fold after a major voter rejection of her bid for the job of Mayor of Toronto, was also the architect of two motions to permit foreign military deserters the right to obtain refugee status in Canada, while our troops were fighting in Afghanistan. New Democrats and Liberals twice voted in support of this motion.
Which brings us to Justin Trudeau. Stephen Harper is categorized as a control freak. If so, one must assume Mr. Trudeau studied Mr. Harper’s approach and deduced he should not only follow, but in fact, refine the “I’m the boss” policy. Tagging along with the
NDP Trudeau is unhappy at the notion of unilingual Supreme Court of Canada justices, immediate and perfect translation service available at all times notwithstanding. Tossing the entire Liberal Senate caucus out of the party ranks shows immaturity and political non-savvy, and Trudeau’s ramming of former Conservative floor-crosser MP Eve Adams down the throat of incensed Liberals sowed deep seeds of internal dissention. Justin Trudeau’s hope, and it’s where he’s investing much of his emotional capital, is to reach younger voters through his ease in dealing with and communicating on social media.
In subsequent columns greater focus on both Mulcair and Trudeau.
Today though, Stephen Harper appears to have much to do to reclaim the voter numbers and confidence which brought the Conservatives a majority government in 2011.
Written by: Roy Green