Conservative leadership contenders need to lose their fear
January 8, 2017
I've been watching the Conservative leadership race start to heat up over the holiday season. I'm not entirely encouraged. I see a lot of fear among the race's 13 candidates.
The first manifestation of this is the many shots being taken at Kevin O'Leary. You can't land a blow on someone who isn't officially in the running. It's why he is putting off his entry into the race. This is an annoying tactic for him to use if you have entered the race, but it works, which is why O'Leary has chosen it.
Any attacks on him now will inevitably look fundamentally misplaced. Why not focus on finding out how best to help Canadians, instead of going after a particular party member for expressing his opinion? Does it really help anyone to try to close off the leadership race? Does one candidate threaten the others so much that this is necessary?
I'd argue that no potential leader really has that much of an edge over the rest. So, one candidate going after another, whether declared or undeclared, looks like lashing out in fear. Not a good look for any of the candidates who have lined up for a go at O'Leary so far.
The second manifestation of this fear is all the vitriol directed at Kellie Leitch. "She's Donald Trump!" These very words are supposed to create a little ping of horror in our minds. She is certainly running a similar campaign to the American President-Elect, but Leitch was considered a Red Tory right up until about the time this contest started. I don't believe the people who would have us believe she's some evil populist. She has her strategy, and so does everyone else.
I'm not a fan of her policies, but I'm letting go of fear. If you don't like one candidate, sign up some new members who will vote for yours. That's what I've been up to over the holidays. People forget that our political parties are public institutions. We lack the superdelegates and arcane rules of political parties in the United States. Everybody can shape the players, especially in the Conservative Party, where even a Chinese billionaire would have the same impact as everyone else.
So, if your opinion is that Leitch is playing up the politics of fear, don't respond with more fire and brimstone. Just get behind whoever you happen to like. The leadership isn't going to go to whoever manages to attack the other candidates the most adeptly. It's going to go to whoever puts together the most compelling vision for Canada.
And I'm looking forward to the end of the day, when we come together and get on with the important business of contesting the next federal election and forming government in 2019. It'll be even easier if we don't have to heal ourselves from a self-destructive leadership race.