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One strike and you’re out: Tories do it again

One strike and you’re out: Tories do it again

It turned out there were a lot more Conservative MP’s who wanted to get rid of Erin O’Toole as leader than the 30-odd who voted for a secret ballot to determine his fate this morning. When the smoke had cleared 73 MPs voted for change with only 45 supporting O’Toole. For O’Toole who became leader as a result of the Tory’s one-strike-and-you’re-out policy, it was a crushing personal rebuke for a man who last August appeared to be poised to defeat Justin Trudeau. But in the final days of the campaign, as O’Toole waffled on key issues like vaccination, his lead evaporated and Trudeau was re-elected, albeit with a reduced minority.

While the consensus is that O’Toole had angered Conservatives by running for the leadership as a true-blue Tory but then tacked left in the campaign, the real question is how can a party that appears to be dominated by a powerful hard-right faction hope to ever gain power no matter who is the leader?

When a party campaigns on relaxation of gun control at a time when 82 percent of Canadians want gun control, (Ipsos) you are in trouble on that issue. Similarly, when you can’t get your own candidates to get vaccinated at a time when 90 percent of the country is already vaccinated, again you are swimming against the tide. If, during the last campaign, O’Toole had taken stronger positions against gun control and mandatory vaccinations, it’s likely the Conservatives would have won even fewer seats, than the 119 they got. You can’t win an election when you are offside with the majority of the public on key issues like these. The conservatives will have to decide whether to stay true-blue and cater to what is clearly a minority– and essentially never form a government; or to look for ways of appealing to a broader cross-section of Canadians.

Those Tories who dream of a return to power by appealing to socially-conservative immigrant populations in the big city suburbs, are just that—dreaming, The last time that worked it was 15 years ago and the Liberals had just gone through a bruising leadership race that split the party and exhausted supporters. This looks a lot more like 1993 when the hard-right faction of the party became the Reform, and guaranteed the Liberals a long run in office.

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