Canada’s Conservatives post 2015 Election

Written by  //  June 2, 2017  //  Canada  //  Comments Off on Canada’s Conservatives post 2015 Election

2 June
Bernier camp casts doubt on Conservative leadership vote
(Globe & Mail) A substantial discrepancy in the final ballot count at the Conservative leadership convention is threatening to spill into open revolt and undermine the electoral legitimacy of new leader Andrew Scheer.
Followers of Maxime Bernier are raising alarm bells about the gap between the votes cast and the final number announced at last weekend’s convention, where Mr. Scheer won a razor-thin victory over Mr. Bernier.
“Obviously it is concerning, but I am hoping that the party is working very hard to provide a satisfactory answer to the candidates and the party,” Conservative MP Tony Clement, a key player in the Bernier leadership team, told The Globe and Mail on Friday.

31 May
Inside Andrew Scheer’s unlikely triumph
How an under-the-radar MP from Regina overcame the high-profile distractions in a war for the soul of Canadian conservatism
By Paul Wells
(Maclean’s) Andrew Scheer is a lucky man. He won the leadership of a deeply partisan party—as all winning parties must be—after a decade of enforced abstinence from partisan display. He made major inroads into a province, Quebec, where he lacked crucial native-son advantage. And in the first days after his victory, he has benefited from the public support of all his erstwhile leadership rivals.
He will need to be luckier still if he is to escape the fate of the temporary national leaders with whom Canada’s political landscape has been littered in these tumultuous times—Stockwell Day, Paul Martin, Stéphane Dion, Michael Ignatieff, Tom Mulcair. To win, Scheer will need a deft touch and, let’s be honest, an extended calamity in close proximity to Justin Trudeau.
To survive a defeat and come back for another election—as Stephen Harper did before him—he’ll need to avoid losing too badly. These are all tall orders, and the oddsmakers had better be offering good numbers for anyone willing to bet on Scheer.
But he has one advantage that all successful party leaders need: He feels, to his party, like one of them. Scheer is no dodgy transplant like Ignatieff or Mulcair. And he did not come to his position with a mission to change the party that elected him. He is a Conservative’s Conservative. It’s a subtle but crucial cultural advantage. He’ll need it

30 May
Some have no choice but to be vigilant in wake of Scheer’s election: Teitel
It doesn’t matter if Andrew Scheer said he wouldn’t reopen “the issue” of same-sex- marriage. The fact that we are even discussing “the issue” again is reason to ring the alarm.
Critics accuse Andrew Scheer of hiding policies after campaign win
Website transformed before Saturday’s final vote was even announced

29 May
John Doyle: Andrew Scheer is naturally media savvy, but has no message
(Globe & Mail) while he insists he’s positive, if we look at why Andrew Scheer won that leadership it is, apparently, because of support for his negative views.
He was or is anti-abortion; against the legalization of marijuana; voted against the bill to legalize medically assisted dying; wants Canada to support refugees through private sponsorship instead of government sponsorship; and declared of the Civil Marriage Act, legalizing same-sex marriage, “[The bill] is abhorrent to me, to other Catholics and to every member of every faith community.”
That’s harsh and no grin can hide it. His views on the CBC itself are also harsh – he thinks it shouldn’t be in the news business and thinks that the existence of the public broadcaster means “ the government is in the news business.” A view not merely harsh but harebrained.

Who is Andrew Scheer?
Everything you want to know about where the new Conservative Party leader stands on the issues
(Vice) It’s no secret in Ottawa that Scheer is a dedicated social conservative.
Campaign Life Coalition, an aggressively pro-life and anti-gay marriage religious organization, gives Scheer top marks for his voting record.
That record includes votes against bills to legalize gay marriage, enshrine human rights protections for transgender people, and to allow physician-assisted dying. Scheer has also voted in favour of legislation that would re-define when, during pregnancy, a fetus is considered a human being and to criminalize sex work.
“Scheer has an impeccable voting record on life & family issues during his long career as a federal MP,” writes the lobby group, which gave him a B- grade.
Scheer would, as prime minister, launch a review of all firearms regulations with an eye to reducing red tape for gun owners.
He would also remove the RCMP’s ability to classify guns as restricted “because of how they look” and create a new ombudsman whose job it would be to advocate for gun owners and review regulations. He has also committed to repealing UN regulations on firearms markings, lift regulations that limit magazine capacity, and decriminalize regulatory infractions.

Bernier’s premature victory lap gave Conservatives good reason to be glad he lost
How Social Conservatives Could Swing the Next Election
Anyone surprised by Andrew Scheer’s Conservative party leadership win hasn’t been paying attention
There has always been a fringe of hardline opponents of abortion, but their voices have been irrelevant, eccentric, and mostly ignored. Today, however, a new generation of zealots has emerged. They’re now hysterical rather than eccentric and, while hardly within the mainstream, have managed to exert an outsized influence on politics, religion, and society.
Members of this movement are usually Roman Catholic or from one of the various Dutch Calvinist churches; they are generally young, often with a home-schooled or private Christian education background; they are politically right wing on a number of causes; and they have jettisoned the moderation of some of their elders, and also learned lessons from “pro-lifers” south of the border.
One of their major portals is Lifesite, the most influential anti-abortion media platform in Canada and one of the more significant in the English-speaking world.

27 May
John Ibbitson: In Andrew Scheer, Conservatives elect Stephen Harper 2.0 – with a smile
(Globe & Mail) … it was close. Achingly so, for Mr. Bernier. And here’s a message for anyone who believes that grassroots Conservatives are intolerant, poorly educated and out of touch: Saturday night, almost 50 per cent of them voted for a libertarian lawyer from Quebec.
In the end, though, Mr. Bernier’s proposed elimination of a federal role in health care, the planned savage spending cuts, his wish to eviscerate the CBC and CRTC, not to mention ending supply management, were too much. He simply could not attract enough second- or third-ballot support through the 13 rounds of voting.
Mr. Scheer has a few odd planks in his platform – cutting funding to universities that don’t defend free speech, whatever that means; eliminating the now-substantial federal deficit in only two years. But in demeanour and approach, he is the calmer, more managerial, safer choice.
The social-conservative wing of the party, rallying to anti-abortion candidate Brad Trost, received a solid 14 per cent of the vote. That said, when it became a four-candidate race, he placed last. Socons will continue to demand a louder voice, and they will remain inside the party, but they will not control it.
Michael Chong, who called for a national carbon tax, placed fifth, affirming that the progressive wing of the Conservative Party is very much in eclipse. But he remains a committed Conservative. The PC wing of the party is still inside the tent.
Kellie “Canadian values” Leitch’s poor showing – 8 per cent of the vote, overall – affirmed that Conservatives remain a party of yes, not no, for new Canadians.
Mr. Bernier will remain a powerful force. Yes, another Westerner leads the Conservatives – Mr. Scheer is from Saskatchewan – but the result affirms the Conservative Party takes Quebec seriously.
Andrew Scheer elected new Conservative leader
Former House Speaker edges out presumptive front-runner Maxime Bernier on final ballot

Tory leadership contenders: (top row, left to right) Andrew Saxton, Andrew Scheer, Brad Trost, Chris Alexander, Deepak Obhrai, Erin O’Toole and Kellie Leitch. (Bottom row, left-to-righ) O’Leary (who has withdrawn), Lisa Raitt, Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong, Pierre Lemieux, Rick Peterson, and Steven Blaney

26 May
Aaron Wherry: Conservatives return to the scene of Stephen Harper’s last stand to pick a new leader
Over a year removed from defeat, what has changed for the party entering the weekend leadership convention?
(CBC) As noted by at least one scribe with a long memory, when Conservatives last gathered at the Toronto Congress Centre — a convention hall in north Etobicoke, down the road from Pearson airport — it was for a notable rally on the second-last day of the party’s ill-fated 2015 campaign.
What that evening seemed to present was a portrait of a party down to its last resorts. Stephen Harper, a man otherwise determined to be seen as a serious person, was campaigning in the company of Rob and Doug Ford and delivering a stump speech that relied on cash-register sound effects.
How the Conservative leadership vote could be won, ballot by ballot
The Pollcast: A last look at the Conservative leadership race
Justin Trudeau would suggest the Conservative leader “should be embarrassed that he is having to count on the support of Rob Ford for his re-election.”
The 2015 campaign precipitated Harper’s resignation. But the year-long campaign to replace him has not quite amounted to a repudiation of his time in office. And the return of Conservatives to Etobicoke this weekend, this time to crown Harper’s successor, offers an opportunity to measure what has changed, and what hasn’t.​

15 May
Rona Ambrose set to leave federal politics
Announcement by interim Conservative leader to be made in Ottawa on Tuesday
(CBC) She will step down as MP after the spring sitting of Parliament ends in June, said sources who spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity.

12 May
From fringes to front runner, Maxime Bernier’s long road to redemption
(Globe & Mail) … what most distinguishes this would-be prime minister is his profound libertarian bent, a philosophy that seeks to maximize individual freedom in all spheres of a person’s life. Mr. Bernier said his main political role models are former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and ex-Texas GOP congressman Ron Paul. He’s also a fan of thinkers such as writer Ayn Rand and economist Friedrich Hayek, whose ideas pepper his speeches and influence his platform.
Quoting Mr. Hayek in a 2009 blog posting, Mr. Bernier said that “liberty and responsibility” are the two central planks of his political philosophy. In his Ottawa office, he keeps a wooden plaque with the inscription “John Galt” in large letters. The name refers to a character in Ms. Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, [who] rails against government and advocates self-interest as a key driver to creating a better world.

7 May
Tory leadership hopeful Michael Chong: ‘I’ve said no to bigotry’ (video)
“Where I differ with all the other candidates is that I’ve said no to bigotry, I’ve said no to targeting immigrants and I’ve said no to targeting visible minorities.”
“I am the only candidate that has a chance of taking on Justin Trudeau in 2019. My program appeals to the broad mainstream of Canadians.”

5 May
Andrew MacDougall: Drum roll please … my choice for Conservative leader is …
Michael Chong is a principled man who can speak to all Canadians, in both languages, with grace, on behalf of an empowered team of Conservatives
(Ottawa Citizen) … You want boldness and bravery? The man argued for a market-based carbon tax (with offsetting cuts to personal and corporate taxes, and an end to many of the niche and costly tax expenditures brought in by the previous government) in room after room of hostile audiences.
You want principled? The man resigned from cabinet instead of support something (the famous “Quebec Nation” motion) he didn’t believe in. He then brought forward a Reform Act to give more power to backbench MPs, over the initial objection of the Prime Minister’s Office.
It’s sad that it’s not fashionable to say this, but Chong’s plan on taxes and the environment is a) conservative, and b) would give Conservatives a way to reach younger voters who are worried about their personal finances, their inherited debt and their planet.
And most impressively, Chong has done it all with a smile on his face, even when that face was plastered on Guatemalan toilet adverts, or blushing because of an awkward and embarrassing column in the Globe and Mail about a stranger considering whether to breastfeed his son. It speaks well to his character that he handled both of these bizarre incidents with unerring grace.
Can Chong keep the Conservative movement together? That would be his challenge, but the tools are there.
In addition to conservative policies, Chong is mixed-race, lives on a farm, has a strong family and speaks French. That’s a nice combo for anyone with an open mind. He also has a plan for Parliament that would increase the role of MPs.
Kellie Leitch says she has no regrets about Conservative leadership campaign

26 April
Clown down: The post-O’Leary Conservatives
To the Tories who were seriously supporting O’Leary: What were you thinking? To the rest: What are you going to do now?
(Maclean’s) Perhaps now (he said with no real hope), we will stop pretending success in other fields transfers effortlessly to politics. Ken Dryden was a great goalie. He got nowhere as a leadership candidate—and that was in 2006, when, as it turned out, the Liberals could have used a good leader. Marc Garneau was an astronaut. Peter Pocklington (ask your parents) owned the team that fielded the greatest hockey player since, I don’t know, maybe Orr, and are you seriously coming to me for hockey lore? Anyway, he crapped out as a Progressive Conservative leadership candidate.
The lesson, which a lot of people seem slow to learn, is that conspicuous success over here does not constitute any kind of guarantee over there. Politics is its own set of skills and challenges. If you can’t speak in a way that inspires at least part of your audience, if you can’t make others want to give their time and energy, if you can’t make hard choices, stand withering abuse, organize your way out of a paper bag—if you can’t do politics, then politics doesn’t care what you can do.
O’Leary’s departure clarifies some things about the choices ahead for Conservatives, but I want to pause and offer some gentle questions to those Conservatives who have already spent time working to make him the next Conservative leader and who now find themselves bereft: What were you thinking? Which of his policies did you think was the wisest for ensuring Canada’s prosperity? What was he saying that would have struck you as clever or insightful if it had not come from a semi-professional TV jerk?
And, most delicate: Was there any sense in which you were supporting this guy, not because you thought he would be good for Canada, but because some other rubes could be made to buy him? Because in nearly a quarter-century covering federal politics, I’m still amazed every time I see that instinct at work. This is the PT Barnum school of political strategy, and I’m here to tell you, even in the year of Donald Trump, that it fails far more often than it succeeds.

29 March
Confessions of a self-loathing Tory
Scott Gilmore: I hate my party. It’s time to build a new one that genuinely believes in liberty, equality and facts over ideology.
(Maclean’s) This happens regularly: I pick up my phone and hear “Mr. Gilmore, thank you for your previous donations to the Conservative Party of Canada…” Before they can continue, I respond: “You picked the wrong day for this” and hang up. Because, inevitably, I will have just watched Brad Trost deny climate change, or heard Maxime Bernier’s plan to send troops to the border, or read anything that plopped out of the mouth of Kevin O’Leary.
The Conservative leadership race has been hard to watch, unless you support the Liberals or any other political party in Canada —in which case it’s been a laugh a minute. But for people like me, I am left wondering how I ended up in a party seemingly dominated by xenophobic, economically illiterate, populist buffoons.
While the majority of naturally conservative voters welcome refugees, believe in climate change, and don’t care if the neighbour smokes weed, the majority of leadership candidates are actively opposed to all those things. And because this latter group dominates the CPC, and has for some time, we ended up here. The Liberals are sitting safely in power, espousing whatever patchwork ideology works best for them this year, while most Conservative leaders inexplicably race each other to the right, abandoning the center entirely. This leaves voters like me cringing as they are forced to make the ridiculous choice between Trudeau or Trost.
I have a proposal to change this.
Maybe it’s time we just give O’Leary and Bernier and Pierre Lemieux and Ezra Levant what they want: a populist, nationalist, socially conservative party that focuses on older, rural, white, male, voters. There is a legitimate place for a party like that in Parliament, and they’re welcome to own it.
And maybe it’s time the rest of us conservatives acknowledged the merger worked in the short term, but eventually it exposed irreconcilable bedrock differences.

Conservative Party leader candidates, from left, Lisa Raitt, member of parliament (MP), Andrew Saxton, former member of parliament (MP), Chris Alexander, former minister of immigration, Rick Peterson, venture capitalist, Brad Trost, member of parliament (MP), Andrew Scheer, member of parliament (MP), Michael Chong, member of parliament (MP), Erin O'Toole, member of parliament (MP), and Steven Blaney, former minister of public safety, participate in the Conservative Party of Canada leadership debate in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (Ben Nelms/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Conservative Party leader candidates, from left, Lisa Raitt, member of parliament (MP), Andrew Saxton, former member of parliament (MP), Chris Alexander, former minister of immigration, Rick Peterson, venture capitalist, Brad Trost, member of parliament (MP), Andrew Scheer, member of parliament (MP), Michael Chong, member of parliament (MP), Erin O’Toole, member of parliament (MP), and Steven Blaney, former minister of public safety, participate in the Conservative Party of Canada leadership debate in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (Ben Nelms/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

28 March
Leitch pictured firing what gun experts identify as Nazi-era gun in fundraising email to her Conservative Party supporters
(Hill Times) Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch promises ‘a common sense approach to firearms regulation,’ in email blast to her supporters.
In the March 17 email sent to her Conservative Party supporters that contains the photos, titled, “A common sense approach to firearms regulation,” Ms. Leitch talked about the “long-standing tradition” of recreational firearm use in her family. Ms. Leitch said she supported former prime minister Stephen Harper’s decision to scrap the long-gun registry, and promises, as prime minister, to never institute another. She also stated that long-guns should be recognized as personal property; the classification system should be replaced with “clear objective criteria” for gun owners; firearms classifications should not be under the sole purview of the RCMP, but should be made by Canadian citizens who are gun users, as well as law enforcement; and gun licences last for 10 years, not the current five years to reduce paperwork for gun owners.

27 March
Press Progress: Yikes, Canadian conservatives may have just had the weirdest weekend ever
1. Steven Blaney sent an e-mail asking if Allah should kill all the Jews?
2. Kellie Leitch ads take over “un-Canadian” Rebel Media website
3. Wildrose energy critic offers NDP free tickets to an event bashing climate change science
4. A Globe and Mail columnist’s encounter with Michael Chong’s baby
5. Kevin O’Leary says he’ll override the constitution to crack down on American refugees
6. Maxime Bernier would consider deploying the military on Canadian soil

21 March
Is Kenney’s win the beginning of the end of the Alberta PCs?
(Globe & Mail) In one of the most extraordinary moments in modern political times in this country, delegates at an Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership convention voted Saturday for someone who wants to banish their party’s storied name to the dustbin of history.
Jason Kenney, the former federal cabinet minister and Alberta MP, won just over 75 per cent of the vote for a first-ballot win running on a platform to end the PCs as they exist. His plan is to unite right-wing forces in the province – including those in the Opposition Wildrose party – under a new, fresh, free-enterprise political entity.
There is virtually no precedent for this in the country’s history.
Whether Mr. Kenney realizes his utopian conservative dream remains to be seen; there is an incredible amount of work that needs to be done, cards that need to fall his way. The Tories now have to figure out how they go about engaging the party membership in a discussion about ending things as they have existed for nearly 50 years, about turning out the lights on the PCs for good. There will almost certainly have to be another vote. What will constitute a majority to wind up one of the most storied political franchises in the country’s history remains to be seen. This will not be simple.

20 March
Jason Kenney6 severely abnormal things new Alberta PC leader Jason Kenney says he believes
(Press Progress) Jason Kenney, former cabinet minister from the Reform-wing of the old Harper Conservatives, has been crowned the new leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives.
But during his coronation speech, Kenney didn’t do much to put to rest the concerns of moderate Tories that their new leader is a touch too extreme when he invoked the memory of Ralph Klein and spoke of “severely normal” people.
“Klein used the phrase ‘severely normal’ interchangeably with a fictitious pair he called ‘Martha and Henry’ in his pronouncements about socially contentious issues. Severely normal came to stand in for an Alberta subject who was: adult, right-wing, conservative, fundamentalist Christian, white, straight, worked hard, eschewed big-G government, male. All others in the province became ‘not normal’ in relation to ‘severely normal discourse’.”
1. Schools brainwash children with anti-conservative beliefs (Kenney, who is not a parent, has previously stated he believes other people’s children would be better off taught at home rather than going to schools run by “the state”)
2. Constitutional powers are passed down to Canadians from God
Allegations of fraud continue to swirl in Conservative leadership race
(Global) After a week of back-and-forth accusations, and confirmation from the party on Friday that there had indeed been a bulk-buy of 1,351 memberships in violation of the rules, Lisa Raitt said she was “deeply concerned.”
Anyone holding a valid Conservative Party membership by March 28 is eligible to help choose the next leader and chart the party’s course forward.

17 March
Conservative Party expels nearly 1,400 members after three leadership campaigns allege fraud
(National Post) Leadership frontrunner Kevin O’Leary thrust the issue into the public sphere Thursday with a bombastic statement alleging “vote rigging” and “phoney memberships.” But at least two other campaigns brought similar concerns to party headquarters earlier this week, the National Post has learned.
The alleged scheme, rumours of which had been swirling in Conservative Party circles for weeks, involved organizers signing up members in bulk without their knowledge and then paying for those memberships with pre-paid credit cards, in direct contravention of leadership rules.
O’Leary did not accuse any one campaign of wrongdoing. However, multiple sources say the rumours were connected to the campaign of Maxime Bernier, thought by many to be O’Leary’s chief rival for the leadership.
On Friday, Bernier lashed out at his rival. “Kevin O’Leary is a loser,” he said in a statement. “I’m a winner … He’s a bad candidate. Instead of trying to win people over by putting out a platform, he’s throwing mud to try to save his campaign.”
Former cabinet minister Tony Clement, a Bernier surrogate, said the campaign is “highly confident” that everyone involved is adhering to party rules.
5 ways Trump has already poisoned Canadian politics
Suddenly Canadian politicians are making claims of vote rigging, calling others ‘losers’ and complaining about ‘fake news’. Sound familiar?
By Aaron Hutchins


7 December 2016
Conservative leadership candidates who shouldn’t be named
Scott Gilmore on the contenders, the clones and the clowns in the Conservative leadership race
(Maclean’s) In physics there is something called the “observer effect.” This states that since you can’t see something without some form of light hitting it, and because the light inevitably changes the object being viewed, it is therefore impossible to observe anything without altering it.
This is a paradox that also applies to journalism. When the media reports on a subject, the subject is inevitably transformed in the process, especially when that subject is a political candidate. It is impossible to simply “observe and report.” Even the most gentle scrutiny changes the campaign being reported on.
This presents a dilemma for the media—or at least it should. When a political candidate does something outrageous, it would seem to make perfect sense to cover it. But when you write about that politician’s vacuous stupidity, you’re also advertising their political message. This means that no matter how poisonous or dishonest that message is, you’re helping it find new adherents. And, worse, you aren’t writing about the other candidates, who are sincerely campaigning on ideas.
Should we focus only on the contenders and ignore the clowns, refusing to give them attention but in the process implicitly condoning their demagoguery? Or should we shine a klieg light on their shameless campaigns and inevitably boost their popularity by doing so? I don’t know. But there is one thing I can promise: I may continue to write about the clowns, but until they have something original and worthwhile to say, I will never mention their names. And perhaps you shouldn’t either.

24 February
As the party veers right, Preston Manning takes centre stage
(Maclean’s) After giving his standard glass-half-full thoughts on the rise of populism—a phenomenon on which he seems determined to keep an open mind—he assured the half-dozen or so reporters in attendance that he doesn’t think there’s any danger at all in having issues like immigration come up during a leadership race. It’s up to the individual candidates to decide how to handle it, he said during a post-speech scrum. … He was also adamant in rejecting any suggestion that the programme of the Manning conference itself may play into that with its focus on Islamic extremism, despite the fact that it is devoting a full three hours—double the length of a standard session—to a panel on the subject.
Evan Solomon: The race to the political bottom
As Conservatives gather for the Manning Conference, they are in full Trumpian seizures about M-103. But the party doesn’t have a monopoly on toxic rhetoric
The Canadian contribution to the toxic political climate change has been notable, especially during the debate in Parliament over the issue of Islamophobia. What began as a well-meaning bit of political posturing has turned into a risible display of willful distortions, fear mongering and stereotyping.

16 February
The Tories approach a point of no return
This week’s debate over ‘Islamophobia’ highlights the need for the Tories to root out the fringe forces rapidly dumbing down their part
(Maclean’s) the Conservative Party of Canada has reached an event horizon of indecency. It is a point of no return from which a great many respectable people in the party’s rank and file, along with the Conservative MPs backing a substitute anti-bigotry motion of their own design, can flinch no longer.
While the term “Islamophobia” is a wholly inadequate and often disingenuously-applied description of the gangrene at work here, the Conservatives cannot simply let it go on spreading inward from the party’s fringes.
It is a pathology that several Conservative leadership contenders have been brazenly happy to traffic in, most recently in response to Liberal MP Iqra Khalid’s modest but unhelpfully ambiguous anti-Islamophobia motion, which asks the House of Commons for little more than an acknowledgement of the worsening public climate of hatred and fear across the country, and a standing committee to study ways the government might make a dent in systemic racism and religious discrimination, “including Islamophobia.”
The dirty work of hysterical plot-speculation and its normalization was what party leadership hopefuls Brad Trost, Kellie Leitch, Chris Alexander and Pierre Lemieux were up to on Wednesday night in Toronto at an “emergency rally” organized by a website notorious for its huckstering of the angry and the ill-informed with far-right crank excitements and conspiracy theories
… Leadership candidate Michael Chong has been bravely candid about the faddish pseudo-populist stupidities that have dumbed down the party’s leadership race, owing in no small way to the vanity candidacy of television personality Kevin O’Leary. And Chong showed some serious backbone this week by coming out in support of Khalid’s motion.
At the same time, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, Saskatchewan MP David Anderson and Ontario MP Scott Reid have raised intelligent and reasonable objections to the motion, directed mainly at its loose language and reliance on the woolly term “Islamophobia.” Their objections are not far apart from those raised by the eminent human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler, a former Liberal justice minister. Cotler has suggested it would have been better if the motion had referred to “anti-Muslim” bigotry instead of Islamophobia.

5 February
Will the factors that led to Trump add up in Canada?
The Canadian Press looks at the conditions that lifted Trump and the presidency—and whether O’Leary can harness it in Canada
(Maclean’s) if fear plus anger plus the political system create the conditions for populist-driven change, where are things in Canada?
Broadly, the consensus among political scientists and economists seems to be that factors underlying fear and anger do exist in Canada — but nowhere near U.S. levels.
Take intergenerational income mobility, the extent to which differences in income are transmitted from one generation to the next.
A study by the Conference Board of Canada found this country’s record is far better than the U.S.: if a family here earns $10,000 less income than the average, the children, when they become adults, will earn $1,900 less than average. But in the U.S., children would earn $4,700 less. …
Reform sprung up in response to fear about the breakup of the country due to a rise in Quebec sovereignty and the failed Meech Lake accord. The new party drew from anger over the National Energy Program and federal deficits, combined with the belief existing political parties weren’t speaking for the West’s needs.
But today, while the deficit is concerning to some, it’s nowhere near the levels of the early 1980s and 1990s. And Canadians aren’t afraid of things like illegal immigration or terrorism to the same extent as their U.S. neighbours. Nor is there some existential national threat like the unity crises, {Tom Flanagan, the Calgary-based political scientist who was involved in the earliest days of the last federal political movement in Canada that could be considered populism: the Reform party] said.
“I just don’t see the conditions.”
Still, a global poll this past January by Ipsos found 56 per cent of Canadians surveyed felt traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people “like me.”

2 February
Kellie Leitch’s campaign manager, mastermind behind her ‘Canadian values’ campaign, resigns
Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch is down a campaign manager.
Longtime conservative organizer Nick Kouvalis announced with a Facebook post Thursday evening he is resigning his position “because it has become clear that I have become a distraction to the campaign.”

27 January
Stephen Harper resurfaces: Ottawa Power Rankings
(Maclean’s) The former prime minister surfaced this week from an obscurity one senses he’s enjoying greatly in a story about how he remains popular enough with the Tory base to constitute a fundraising draw. It turns out that in his post-House of Commons life, Harper has taken on an “unprecedented” role as a board member for the Conservative party’s fundraising arm, and the first appeal to members of 2017 went out under his name.
With her party’s approximately 47 leadership contenders tearing each other apart at the seams, the interim Conservative leader looks more polished, smart and measured by the day. The trickle of chatter about how maybe with this loophole or that amendment, she could still run for leader (she can’t, she won’t, and she doesn’t want to) just keep coming. And with Rona Ambrose hosting her party’s caucus strategy session in Quebec City ahead of the return of Parliament next week, chances are good she’ll keep looking like the grown-up at the front of the room.
18 January
Kevin O’Leary enters Conservative leadership race: ‘I’m in’
O’Leary, chair of O’Leary Financial Group and founder of O’Leary Funds, made it official Wednesday on Facebook, after months of publicly speculating about what he might do if he were prime minister.
(CTV) O’Leary enters the fray one day after the Conservatives’ first French-language leadership debate, in which all 13 other candidates participated. O’Leary does not speak fluent French.
However, he says he spoke French up until the age of seven, when he was a boy growing up in Montreal. Now he says he’s trying to immerse himself in the language so it will “come back” to him. “I’ve just got to get my game back,” he said.
Adam Daifallah: Kevin O’Leary is the man to beat
… I am looking at this race from a distance, not being involved in any political party or any race. And without passing judgement on his or any candidate’s merits and weaknesses, at this point I am confidant saying this leadership race is Kevin O’Leary’s to lose.Kevin O’Leary, and especially those advising him, deserve a lot of credit. From a public relations perspective he’s handled his entry into politics brilliantly so far

15 January
Chong could reboot Tory fortunes
But Harper-era zombies threaten to keep fractured Conservatives in the political wilderness
By Michael Harris
(iPolitics Insights) … if the CPC has the good sense to make him their leader, he just might become the best Opposition leader since John Diefenbaker. And the time in the future — perhaps even the near future — he could be a fine prime minister.
…  Since the demise of the Progressive Conservative party, conservatism in Canada has morphed into a pack of howling extremists taking their cue from the batshit-crazy wing of the Republican Party, that group that claims Donald Trump is its crowning achievement. … If the Conservative leadership race is about the best way to reconnect the party with a country that emphatically gave it the boot in 2015, Chong is their man. But if the campaign descends into being about satisfying the worst elements in the party — and setting up the party for a drubbing at the next election — Kellie Leitch or any of other zombie candidates will do just fine.
11 January
Inside Nick Kouvalis’s fake news strategy
By Martin Patriquin
Leitch’s campaign manager calls it ‘Operation Flytrap’—his plan to root out anyone joining the Tories just to oppose his candidate
Kouvalis’s team is building a database of the negative reactions to his missives, then attempting to flush out real names from social media’s sea of anonymity.
Those names will then be checked against the Conservative party’s membership list to see if anyone joined simply to vote against Leitch during the party’s nomination in May. If they did, the Leitch campaign will challenge the legitimacy of these memberships when the party releases the final membership list in April. …
Meanwhile, the Leitch campaign has already made one notable cull in the Conservative membership roles. Last fall, well-known white supremacist Paul Fromm attempted to buy a Conservative party membership through Leitch’s campaign. Fromm is a former riding association president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. … In an email to Fromm sent Dec. 22, Leitch campaign co-chair Sander Grieve wrote, “We have not processed your membership and we will not be submitting it to the party, as we believe your public statements are not consistent with the principles of the party or the policies being advanced by our campaign.”
10 January
Hugh Segal: Conservatives need a moderate, humane agenda
Conservatives need a moderate, fiscally prudent and humane agenda of efficient social policy, smarter, not “slash and burn” government, an approach to foreign and defence policy that is reality-based, investment in young people and a clear repurposing of government between progressive and conservative policy paths.
There is no conflict between moderation in public policy, both foreign and domestic, and modern conservatism. The need to make this point underlines how far Canadian conservatives have drifted from their successful, more moderate roots. From Sir John A. Macdonald to Stephen Harper, moderation and balance almost always predicted electoral victory. When set aside for the self-indulgent extreme and ideological, defeat often ensued. …
Stephen Harper’s victory in 2006, after holding the Paul Martin government to a minority in 2004, reflected the moderation in policies that the new Conservative Party offered to voters in 2006. Governing with that respectful moderation produced a Conservative majority in 2011. But the ideological excesses of shutting down Statscan’s long-form census, extreme rhetoric on Israel, slashing the CBC budget, closing Veterans Affairs offices, tightening Employment Insurance conditions, avoiding federal/provincial discussions of substance, closing prison farms and a tin ear on refugees, tinged with an apparent racist overtone on cultural practices, contributed to Justin Trudeau’s 2015 victory.
4 January
Anti-immigrant white nationalist group endorses Kellie Leitch for Conservative Party leader
Leitch has made immigration the central focus of her campaign, proposing to screen immigrants for “anti-Canadian values” – though that plan has been ridiculed for likely barring Conservative and Catholic immigrants from entering Canada too.
13 December
Butt out of fiscal policy, Bernier tells Poloz
(iPolitics) Conservative leadership candidate says he would examine zero per cent inflation target
One of the most active Conservative leadership candidates in the race, Bernier has made a number of policy announcements since announcing his leadership bid last spring — proposing, among many other things, to end the capital gains tax, privatize Canada’s airports, dismantle supply management and reduce the number of income tax brackets.
9 December
Maxime Bernier: Sound Monetary Policy
For a sound monetary policy that protects Canadians from inflation and financial crashes
9 December
Scheer says he would axe CBC news division
Conservative leadership candidate says government has ‘glaring’ conflict in operating CBC
(iPolitics) “I think taxpayers are very frustrated by how much the CBC costs,” Scheer said in an interview with Hamilton Community News.
“I don’t know why this government is in the news business in this day and age with so many platforms with so many ways to disseminate information,” he told the paper, adding that, the government has a “glaring” conflict operating the CBC.
Scheer is the latest candidate to reveal his distaste for the public broadcaster — a favourite theme of the Conservative base.
24 November
Kevin O’Leary says he’s the man to take on Trump — but will he run?
(CBC) O’Leary believes Canada needs someone like him to stand up to the President-elect of the United States. But, skeptics don’t believe the former CBC personality is up to the job of Conservative leader.
21 November
kelly-leitch-points-of-entryAdam Daifallah: A Clinton in Trump’s clothing
(National Post) Kellie Leitch, whose anti-elitist bona fides include being a paediatric orthopedic surgeon with an MBA, has said Trump’s message is an exciting one that “needs to be delivered here in Canada as well.” Confronted about her plan to introduce a “values test” for would-be immigrants, she recently stated “I am not a racist.”
For the 20-odd years I’ve casually known Leitch, she has had the reputation of being among the reddest of Red Tories. All of sudden, she is now a Pat Buchanan-esque culture warrior? We cannot get inside her head, obviously, but there is little to no evidence she personally believes in what she’s advocating. Her ideological shift to the alt-right is political opportunism at its worst.
16 November
Enough, Kellie Leitch — put down the script
(CBC) Leitch — politician, professor, MD, MBA — is the embodiment of everything she purports to run against
… So rather than pretending Leitch doesn’t exist and feign[ing] surprise at her continued success, how about we acknowledge that she does exist, and at the same time recognize that she is running a completely inauthentic, deliberately provocative campaign?
Reaching for the top while bashing the elites: Kellie Leitch picks up the cudgel
Tory leadership candidate’s strategy to denounce elites follows a well-worn path in U.S. politics

2 September:
Kellie Leitch defends ‘anti-Canadian values’ survey question
Her campaign asks if immigrants should be screened to determine their values

11 November
VIC SATZEWICH: Kellie Leitch misses the point about immigration
(Globe & Mail) It is gratifying to know that Kellie Leitch has read my book Points of Entry: How Canada’s Visa Officers Decide Who Gets In, holding it up and referring to it in Wednesday night’s Conservative leadership debate and featuring it on her website. She focuses on two of several findings from my research: that visa officers conduct very few face-to-face interviews and that they are under pressure to meet processing targets. But she missed the broader point of the book, which is pro-immigration.
14 October
Jim Prentice, the politician who wasn’t there for politics
‘He knew what team he played for, but I always got the feeling he had the bigger picture in mind.’
(Maclean’s) Some politicians seem enraptured by the performance of it all. Prentice might like us calling him a legislator, not a politician; for him, politics appeared to be mainly the conduit through which he got the chance to shape policy and the way Canadians and Albertans would be governed.
Former Alberta premier Jim Prentice dies in plane crash in southern B.C.
Jim Prentice, the stalwart conservative politician who rose to the ranks of senior cabinet minister before serving a tumultuous short term as Alberta’s premier, died late Thursday with three other people in a plane crash just outside of Kelowna.
Mr. Prentice’s death left many in his home province, and across the country, in shock. Despite his political highs and lows, the 60-year-old who moved with ease between political, business and First Nation communities was revered by many as a centrist bridge-builder and devoted public servant.
12 October
Tony Clement drops out of Conservative leadership race
(Canadian Press via Globe & Mail) Conservative MP Tony Clement is ending his bid for the leadership of his party, saying he has fallen short of financial and other goals he set when he launched his campaign.
“I make this decision not very lightly, of course, but owing to the financial realities it’s very clear that I cannot expose my family to any further financial risk at this time,” Clement said Wednesday in a video posted to Twitter and Facebook.
Clement, who announced his campaign in July, also thanked the “hundreds” of Conservatives he said were willing to support him.
Opinion: With MacKay out, the Tory leadership race is filled with unknowns – and maybe that’s okay
The remaining six candidates in the Conservative leadership race are MPs Maxime Bernier, Andrew Scheer, Kellie Leitch, Michael Chong, Deepak Obhrai and Brad Trost.
23 September
Chris Alexander expected to join Conservative leadership fray
Former immigration minister lost his seat to Mark Holland after questions about refugee file
16 September
Out of office, into the woods: Stephen Harper’s trip to secret Bohemian summer camp
Ex-PM joined male elite California retreat for a ‘nice discussion,’ Colin Powell says in hacked email
What Harper was doing there, whether he’s a member of the Bohemian Club or just a guest, isn’t known. Former colleagues say it’s the first they’ve heard of him attending the retreat
But anyone who followed his political career must find the idea of the former prime minister drinking heavily hard to imagine, or for that matter, his communing among the redwoods with like-minded conservatives, engaging in the worship of trees or animals as his personal spiritual source.
He was always, while in office, dismissive of elites
For those unfamiliar with the Club, see Vanity Fair: A Guide to the Bohemian Grove — What really goes on inside the secluded Bohemian Grove, the site of the ultra-exclusive Bohemian Club’s yearly bacchanalia among the California redwoods? And the gripping:Bohemian Tragedy,” by Alex Shoumatoff.
15 September
Aaron Wherry: Peter MacKay joins the pantheon of hypothetical leadership contenders
(CBC) Next to actually being prime minister, here is the greatest honour a country can bestow on one of its sons or daughters: to be touted as a possible leadership contender. It is at least a vastly superior fate to actually leading a political party and failing at the task.
And it is this that Peter MacKay, and his fellow abstainers in the sitting-this-one-out class of 2016, might aspire to. In lieu of actually running, aim for enduring plausibility.
Better to demur and remain a possible success than run and confirm your unworthiness
12 September
Stephen Harper takes job at international law firm Dentons
Joins firm of former cabinet colleague James Moore, ex-PM Jean Chrétien and former Manitoba premier Gary Doer
Dentons announced Monday that Harper has teamed up with the firm to provide clients with advice on market access, managing global geopolitical and economic risk, and maximize value in global markets.
27 August
Conservative party attracting unpleasant odours: Chantal Hébert
While many in Canada have lamented the ugly tone in the American presidential race, equally vile calls for the assassination of Justin Trudeau appeared from users on the federal Conservative party’s Facebook page this summer
(Toronto Star) To openly call for the death of a prime minister goes way beyond venting. And for the Conservative party to play host on its Facebook page to an accumulation of such comments is astounding.
16 August
Harper leaves ParliamentStephen Harper leaves politics, gives up House of Commons seat
Former PM announces resignation online, 10 months after election loss
(CBC) It’s been months since Stephen Harper packed up his Parliament Hill office, but on Friday he finally turned out the lights, resigning his seat as a Calgary MP and ending nearly two often-tumultuous decades in public office.
Harper, 57, made the decision in the final weeks of last fall’s lengthy election campaign, that should the Conservatives lose power while he retained his seat in the House of Commons, he’d stay on as an MP — at least for a while.
As a result, the former prime minister has kept an ultra-low profile in and out of the House of Commons over the last 10 months, showing up for most — but not all — votes and entertaining visitors in his office while plotting his next moves.
Those moves will include working on various corporate boards, as well as spooling up a consulting firm he incorporated late last year with two of his longtime advisers Ray Novak and Jeremy Hunt.
Harper will be taking a specific interest in foreign affairs — a portfolio in which he takes a particular measure of pride, he said Friday in a farewell video message broadcast on social media platforms.
“Friends, we did a lot together, but I know the best is yet to come,” he said, echoing remarks he made back in May at the Conservative convention.
“Our country must continue to serve as a model of prosperity and freedom. Pursue the principles we have stood for at home and abroad, and our children, and children’s children will inherit the Canada we know and love so dearly.”
John Ibbitson: Stephen Harper leaves divisive legacy at home as he eyes global business
If you’re one of the many who are glad to finally see the back of Stephen Harper, consider this: If he had been a nicer guy, and a Liberal, wouldn’t you think of him differently? Because in fact much of his legacy was positive. It was the man himself so many people loathed, not the record.
Of course he is setting up a consulting firm. From the time Stephen Harper got into an argument with a high-school geography teacher to his unseemly confrontation with Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, he proved to be constitutionally incapable of deferring to anyone. He can only be his own boss.
Besides, he’s not a lawyer, so the panelled walls of some Bay Street firm were never much of an option. Teaching? He never for a moment sought to hide his contempt for what he regarded as the cosseted, irrelevant elites in the academy. Writing? He always preferred to do rather than to say.
And of course, most of the work for the new firm will be outside Canada. Mr. Harper had grown from nervously suspicious of foreign entanglements to fascinated by them. The maternal health initiative and the trade agreements with literally dozens of countries are an important part of his legacy.
Michael Harris: Goodbye, Harper. Good riddance.
How do you sum up the career of a PM who betrayed every ideal he claimed to cherish?
(iPolitics) Stephen Harper was Donald Trump before Trump was Trump, right down to the bigotry, fear-mongering, divisiveness, scapegoating, and profound anti-democratic impulses that had Canada’s entire parliamentary structure tottering, according to experts like Peter Milliken and Robert Marleau.
10 July
Tony Clement ‘Very’ Excited To Join Conservative Leadership Race
Clement is the biggest name to join the Tory race so far. Official candidates include: former labour minister Kellie Leitch, Ontario MP Michael Chong, and former small business, industry, and foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier.
MPs Lisa Raitt, Andrew Scheer, Brad Trost and Deepak Obhrai are also mulling leadership bids, as are TV personality Kevin O’Leary and, the likely front-runner — should he chose to join — former cabinet minister Peter MacKay. MacKay.
Ambrose and Harper Stampede 2016It’s not as fun because we’re not in power’: Scenes from Stephen Harper’s final Stampede BBQ
(National Post) In this very place, a younger and more energetic Harper had once helped to knit together the modern Canadian conservative movement from fractured factions.
Now, having officially joined the old timer benches, he presided over a tent once again packed with fighting conservatives.
Playing out between the stacked piles of decorative hay bales, of course, is the ongoing race for Conservative leader. That’s arguably the reason Michael Chong flew out here, bought a $10 cowboy hat and is now clunking around in new boots that are almost certainly chewing his feet to shreds. Fellow leadership contender Maxime Bernier is also working the room, becoming that rare specimen of a Quebecer being fawned over by Conservative Albertans. …Kellie Leitch is here too somewhere. She’s also running for leader.
But the real elephant in the room, of course, is the ongoing rift between Alberta’s two conservative parties.
Ottawa endorsements could hurt Jason Kenney campaign: political experts
(Calgary Herald) Jason Kenney’s PC leadership campaign may need to rethink its “Ottawa saviour” mentality because it didn’t work so well for former Premier Jim Prentice, according to political experts.
On Saturday, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper endorsed the “thoughtful and highly capable” Kenney during an annual Stampede barbecue held in Harper’s Calgary riding.
But Melanee Thomas, political scientist and professor at the University of Calgary and former provincial NDP candidate, said Kenney’s bid — and the endorsements by Ottawa politicians — could do more harm than good. She said Albertans haven’t historically liked having federal politicians return to the province to try saving it.
22 June
Stephen Harper may have left Parliament for last time
At the end of a long hallway in Parliament’s centre block, one office is crowded with stacks of boxes, roll after roll of packing tape and a few of the souvenirs from a decades-long political career.
The MP for Calgary Heritage — better known as former prime minister Stephen Harper — may have cast his very last House of Commons vote (just over a week ago). Perhaps fittingly, according to the parliamentary website, it was to oppose the Liberal budget.
26-29 May
Michael Den Tandt: Trudeau can laugh at Conservatives all he wants, but Liberals better watch their backs
Reinforcing the adoption of progressive-leaning social policies is the unmistakable whiff of classical liberalism, as opposed to stodgy Upper Canadian conservatism, among the declared and likely candidates for the party leadership. …
What are the Liberals doing to forestall this shift? So far, not much. Apparently in thrall to their new coalition of traditional Liberals, disengaged New Democrats and millennials, the best they can manage is jokes playing on a Tory stereotype that is being rolled back by the day. In the process, the Liberals have ceded high ground on the economy (pipelines and deficits) security (defence spending and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and democracy (voting reform) that all but lays out a roadmap for a vigorous Conservative opposition.
The Tory party is, in brief, in a good position to beat the government like an old rug for the next four years, after which there will be an election of some sort. Liberal hornblowers should consider that, as they celebrate the Trudeau Restoration.
L. Ian MacDonald: Duelling conventions a study in contrasts
Liberals take a victory lap, Conservatives move past ‘stupid’ campaign
(iPolitics) It’s highly unusual in Canada for the two leading national political parties to hold policy conventions on the same weekend, as the Conservatives and Liberals have just done in Vancouver and Winnipeg.
The contrasting images on CPAC’s outstanding gavel-to-gavel coverage were reminders not only of the parties’ respective reversals of fortune, but of their having traded roles on rules for access by the news media.
Tories lacking leadership in wake of Stephen Harper: Hébert
Harper never groomed an heir. It was not his style. Given that he was seeking a fourth mandate, it was also not in his interest. Had the party won re-election last fall, the victory would inevitably have set off a countdown to his retirement. Until the October federal vote, his focus was on securing a final victory.
At this juncture, none of the three declared candidates is generating what could be described as a convention buzz. MPs Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong and Kellie Leitch will receive plenty of encouragement this weekend but precious few solid endorsements.

May 27, 2016. Rona Ambrose, interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, address a crowd during the 2016 Conservative National Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Photograph by Marlin Olynyk)

May 27, 2016. Rona Ambrose, interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, addresses a crowd during the 2016 Conservative National Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Photograph by Marlin Olynyk)

A good overview of the convention
Conservatives vote to end official opposition to gay marriage
(Globe & Mail) The federal Conservative Party shed its official aversion to gay marriage this weekend as rank-and-file members voted to remove the traditional definition of wedlock from their policy book – part of an effort to recast the Tories after bidding farewell to founder Stephen Harper.
The 13-year-old party, now struggling to find its place in the political wilderness after nearly a decade in power, has yet to decide on who will lead the Conservatives against Justin Trudeau in the next election or precisely how to refashion their appeal to voters.
But a majority of delegates at a Vancouver convention agreed on what they don’t want: to be considered obsolete in a country that officially legalized gay marriage more than 11 years ago. The measure to effectively recognize gay marriage passed 1,036 to 462. …
Mr. Harper isn’t entirely fading from the picture. He is slated to soon become a director of the Conservative Fund – the party’s powerful fundraising arm.
There were clear signs of how the Tories are changing without the influence of Mr. Harper, known for secrecy and distrust of the media.
The Tories opened all their policy debate sessions at their Vancouver convention to the media. It was a first for this party, which has less to lose now from such a move now that it’s no longer in power.
Conservative Party officials get scathing review of 2015 election campaign
Australian strategist slams campaign management as party members assess what went wrong
The damning indictment is meant to advise the party’s next campaign team on strategy and necessary tactical changes. Sources say it wasn’t intended to settle scores and was not written by someone with an axe to grind.

‘The past is no place to linger’: Stephen Harper farewell opens Conservative convention
Leader who once called nearly all of the shots had been keeping his own counsel since defeat
The grassroots of the Conservative Party had waited a long time to hear from Stephen Harper.
When he finally spoke Thursday evening at the party’s policy convention in Vancouver, he used remarks reminiscent of his campaign-style stump speeches to outline his key accomplishments as leader and thank the people who made it possible. At Issue weighs in on Stephen Harper’s exit from politics.
Young Conservatives clamour for larger role in shaping party’s future
New think tank called Future Leaders of the CPC set up to connect young Tories to the current MPs
(Maclean’s) The Liberals have an official youth wing of the party that has long had an activist role. No such body exists within the Conservatives though there are proposals at the convention to change that.
Aislin Strategy ConsultantsStephen Harper the consultant: Former PM creates new company
Former prime minister sets up his own company with former staffers
Stephen Harper may still be a member of Parliament, but the former prime minister has already taken steps to launch a new career.
According to documents filed with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Harper has created his own corporation.
Called “Harper & Associates Consulting Inc.,” the paperwork was officially filed with the government in late December of 2015, two months after his party’s election defeat and his resignation as leader.
Harper is listed as a director, along with former PMO staffers Ray Novak and Jeremy Hunt.
25 May
Harper will step down as MP before Parliament’s fall session
(Globe & Mail) Stephen Harper will resign as the MP for Calgary Heritage before Parliament resumes in the fall, as he pursues new interests on corporate boards and the establishment of a foreign policy institute, according to close confidants of the former Conservative prime minister.
His former policy director, Rachel Curran, said once Mr. Harper leaves politics, he will want to champion global free trade, building on his success in negotiating deals with South Korea and the European Union, as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
She said Mr. Harper will also want to promote his geopolitical thinking – whether it’s on human rights, the promotion of democracy or standing up to authoritarian regimes.
Mr. Harper was a strong defender of Israel and a harsh critic of Iran. His government severed diplomatic relations with Tehran, a policy the Liberal government says it will reverse. He also helped marshal Western efforts to impose sanctions against Russia over President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and intrusion into eastern Ukraine. …
Mr. Harper has no plans to leave Calgary, where he owns a home and where his daughter, Rachel, is enrolled in school. His son, Ben, is studying at Queen’s University in Kingston.
He recently attended an event at the Las Vegas home of casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who was hosting a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Mr. Harper’s office said he attended “exclusively as an expression of his continuing support for Israel.”
Harper for hire: Former prime minister is on the hunt for a new job
13 May
Bernier begins marathon race for Conservative leadership
(Globe & Mail) Mr. Bernier says he came to his decision to be one of the first leadership contenders out of the gate to replace former prime minister Stephen Harper after travelling the country and assessing his support.
The self-described “free-market guy” who favours small government and low taxes, and is highly critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “socialist” deficit spending, has a loyal following in Quebec and Alberta and is well versed in the language of political fundraising.
28 April
Andrew Scheer Would Lose Nice Chunk Of Change Running For Tory Leader
For a few weeks now, Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer has been mentioned as a possible Conservative Party leadership candidate. A story published Thursday by the Regina Leader-Post suggests whispers of his potential run have “been growing louder.” Scheer told the paper he’s focused on his legislative agenda right now. …
Though Conservatives won’t pick their next leader until May 2017, there are some draws to announcing early. Bernier told HuffPost this month that he sought a financial edge by tapping into potential donors while others were still making up their minds. Leitch, meanwhile, has been able to address her one-time support for a tip line for barbaric cultural practices, no doubt hoping to move past that controversy.
Of course, Scheer may believe a more visible role in question period — where he is known to inject some humour and can speak in both official languages — might serve him better right now.
20 April
Brian MitchellI am Brian R. Mitchell, and I am pleased to announce that I am running for National Council and subsequently offering my candidacy for the Presidency of the Conservative Party of Canada
People wonder why I would do such a thing. The answer is simple. I have been a Tory all my life, as my parents before me and I have been a strong supporter of the Conservative Party of Canada and its legacy parties for many years, on both the local and national levels. I was part of the initial Interim Joint Council and then the National Council for Five (5) years (2003 to 2008), even running for President in 2005.
10 April
Suddenly, young people are voting. Can Conservatives cope?
Kate Harrison
(iPolitics) Pointing out the need to attract more young people to the Conservative party isn’t meant to dismiss the young people who already are part of the CPC’s fabric. While in government, the Tories put a number of assertive young minds in key positions — and those people shaped Canadian public policy on everything from reducing interprovincial trade barriers to the campaign pledge on parental benefit reforms.
Still, the Conservative party is not seen as the natural home of young voters; that’s not really up for debate. There isn’t a silent majority of Thatcher-worshipping young Canadians out there that we have yet to reach. We won’t win over all young people — but we certainly can be more competitive.
So, what can be done about it?
Policies are important, but they’re not the only things that can attract young people to the CPC. Small-c conservative ideology, with its emphasis on economic freedom, should be a natural cousin to the entrepreneurial spirit that has given rise to Uber and AirBnB. A political party in favour of less government interference should have a stronger voice at a time when distrust of politicians is higher than ever.
10 April
How desperate are Republicans? They’re taking tips from Harper.
There was a fascinating report over the weekend from the U.S. website Politico placing the elusive ex-PM back in Las Vegas. You will recall that he was sighted there last November 26 at the Shake Shack. Was Steve developing a thing for the roulette wheel? Is he missing Wayne Newton’s rendition of Danke Schoen? No. Harper was the guest of one of the richest Republicans of them all, Sheldon Adelson.
7 April
(RCInet) Maxime Bernier enters Conservative leadership race He is the second person to make it official. Yesterday, Kelly Leitch, announced her intentions to replace former leader, and Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. … with a libertarian bent he is stepping back into the spotlight, one of the few bilingual contenders in what is sure to be a very interesting leadership contest. There’s lots of time to campaign as the date for the leadership election is not until May 27th, 2017.
21 March
Hugh Segal: The biggest questions for Tories aren’t about a new leader
If there is to be a viable and modern centre-right set of humane policy choices in a truly competitive election, Conservatives have much work to do that precedes, and is more important than, choosing the next leader.
First, they must sort out exactly what defines the underlying principles and policy framework that express modern conservatism. A publicly funded political party is neither a private organization nor a self-referential debating society. Its first duty is to the public. For example, whatever those who worked on last year’s election campaign may want to believe, the campaign was not serious, constructive or respectful of the Canadian voter.
A campaign in which candidates are barred from attending all-candidates’ meetings, or responding to the media, is not a serious effort to seek and earn public favour as, in a democracy, incumbent governments must do. The respectful tone and thoughtful policy proposals that typified Stephen Harper’s earlier campaigns were absent. The reversion to nativism and the tin ear on humanitarian and human-rights issues were, if intended, shameful; if accidental, then grossly incompetent. Conservatives can and must aspire to more if democracy in Canada is to be about informed choice as opposed to no alternatives, as it was from 1993 to 2004.
Many issues must be discussed and questions answered. How can we encourage a free economy that embraces profit and social responsibility, and what instruments would Conservatives deploy? How is a dynamic federalism for the 21st century and beyond different from, and better than, what has been offered? Is a brighter, more inclusive and dynamic economy about smaller government or smarter government, and what is the difference between the two?
27 February
Manning Centre Conference 2016: These Federal Tories Are Testing The Waters For Leadership
(Canadian Press) Potential candidates for leadership of the federal Conservatives began staking claims this weekend to policy positions ranging from a call for a referendum on pipelines to a rethink of subsidies to the CBC.
With no formal rules in place for the 2017 Conservative leadership vote, no candidate has yet to formally enter the race.
But five potential hopefuls took the stage nonetheless over the last two days at the annual Manning conference to speak on a panel called “If I run, here’s how.”
Lisa Raitt, Tony Clement, Maxime Bernier and Michael Chong are all current Tory MPs, the fifth was businessman and TV personality Kevin O’Leary.
They aren’t the only names in the mix.
One that surfaced at the convention is that of Andrew Scheer, the Saskatchewan MP and former Speaker.
He’s fluently bilingual, young, and because of his role as Speaker, not saddled with some of the partisan baggage of his caucus colleagues, sources told The Canadian Press.
Others frequently bandied about include current MPs Kellie Leitch, Jason Kenney, former MPs Peter MacKay and James Moore and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
19 January
Neil Macdonald: Conservatives might want to be O’Leary about dragons
(CBC) It’s hard to resist comparisons between O’Leary and Donald Trump, the supreme bozo of American politics.
Neither has ever been elected to or governed anything; both love bragging about their financial genius; and both are reality TV stars.
Like the celebrity hosts at Fox, O’Leary’s real specialty is bombastic entertainment, not the sort of in-depth policy and philosophical reflection Manning is prescribing in his plan to “recharge the right in Canada.”
The thing is, the mainstream media are generally bored by the latter and suckers for the former, for two reasons. First, bombast has shock value; it sells papers and draws eyeballs
14 January
Canada has found its Donald.
Oh, this is going to be so much fun!

Kevin O’Leary circling as key Conservatives test Tory leadership waters
Former Dragon looks at the field of candidates before jumping into race
(CBC) The businessman admits he’s a polarizing figure, but argues he’s just telling the truth. If that sounds like someone running for the top job south of the border, it should. O’Leary freely acknowledges he is inspired by the campaign success of Donald Trump.
“I know Trump. I know his family. I’ve watched him work. I think he’s smart as a fox,” he said, adding that Trump’s approach to politics taps into a growing fatigue with politicians in general coupled with a desire for better management.
Kevin O’Leary doesn’t speak French—but says he could still be prime minister
(Maclean’s) Kevin O’Leary says he can run for the leadership of the Conservative Party: ‘My DNA is in Quebec. I know how Quebec works’
He said he could absolutely run for the leadership of the Conservative Party—and ultimately run for prime minister—without being able to speak French.
In his interview, O’Leary added that Canada is “un-investable” because of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Shut up, Albertans. Kevin O’Leary is talking
(iPolitics) If the public isn’t going to respect the policy genius of the snottiest guy in the room (any room), there may be no better option than a good old fashioned ‘kudatah‘ — something a few Albertans apparently already want, even if they’re not entirely clear on how to spell it.
[‘Kudatah’ against Notley’s NDP government sparks social media hilarity
Anti-NDP Facebook commenter misspells coup d’état
12 January
Notley attacks Kevin O’Leary’s offer to pay $1-million for her to quit
In an interview with a Toronto radio station earlier this week, O’Leary suggested that Notley is in over her head when it comes to developing oil policy and that her government is paralysing investment in the industry.
3 January

Conservative Interim Leader Rona Ambrose talks with media in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. iPolitics/Matthew Usherwod

Conservative Interim Leader Rona Ambrose talks with media in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. iPolitics/Matthew Usherwod

Just who are you trying to kid, Rona?
By Michael Harris
(iPolitics) The CPC seriously wants Canadians to accept that it will do anything to block electoral reform unless Justin Trudeau and the Liberals submit their plan to revamp the electoral system to a national referendum.
Ambrose says she is ready to use the CPC’s majority of hacks, bagmen and shills in the Senate to block legislation. (Hmmm, sound familiar, Michael Chong?) Yes, the leader of the Opposition is prepared to scupper legislation using the unelected and now ethically compromised Senate — legislation passed by a majority in the elected House of Commons.


12 December
Conservative Leadership Race: Peter MacKay The Frontrunner, Early Poll Suggests
(HuffPost) The good news for those with lower profiles mulling a run is that Conservatives appear to be in no hurry to find a permanent leader.
Interim Tory Leader Rona Ambrose suggested to The Canadian Press last week the contest is at least 18 months away — possibly longer. The party’s governing party is currently forming a leadership committee.
Ambrose said she has also consulted party stalwarts, including former prime minister Brian Mulroney, about the vote.
Tony Clement Organizers Meet To Discuss Possible Leadership Bid
10 December
Here it comes: Trudeau Derangement Syndrome
Michael Harris
(iPolitics) The survivors of the sinking of the SS Harper recently rejected the throne speech and are now back at the familiar work of slagging Trudeau. There’s more content in a fortune cookie than in their rants. If the goal is to lose fifty more seats in the next election, that’s the right approach. Informed dissent is the essence of effective opposition.
For Conservatives, the long road back to respectability — and power — does not run through Nannygate. The base is not as stupid as they think.
3 December
Rona Ambrose Lobs ‘Just Watch Me’ Joke Right At Justin Trudeau
“I and my colleagues who make up Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition will work hard to earn you the notoriety as the presiding officer over what historians will one day dub ‘The Great Parliament,’” she said.
“And, Mr. Speaker, if the prime minister is wondering what I’m prepared to do when he does not act in the interest of Canadians, to him I say, ‘Just watch me.’”
Do the Conservatives understand yet why they lost?
By Michael Harris
(iPolitics) As any recovering addict will tell you, the first step towards getting clean is admitting you have a problem.
By that measure, the Conservative Party of Canada is still deep in the throes of withdrawal — and the addiction to absolute power is the hardest habit of all to kick. Their thrashing on October 19 came about because of what they did with that power — that, and the fact that they allowed their party to become a cult led by a man who diminished them all. The lesson clearly hasn’t sunk in.
How else can one explain the fact that there are still people in and around the party denying the need for change, and doing the revisionist history thing on the Harper years — Steve as a bright star in the Conservative firmament.
29 November
Adam Radwanski: Tories appear in no hurry to choose Harper’s replacement
Rona Ambrose should probably settle into Stornoway a bit.
As the federal Conservatives’ national council prepares to meet next weekend for the first time since this fall’s election, the party seems in no hurry to select Stephen Harper’s long-term replacement as leader.
While it’s unlikely the date for the leadership vote will be announced until the new year, the Tories appear to be headed to holding it only in 2017, or fall of 2016 at the very earliest.
Despite an early push from some Conservatives to hold the vote next spring, there now appears to be a near-consensus among caucus members and others that it’s best to go slow. “There’s nobody saying ‘let’s do this thing in May,’ ” said one Conservative official involved in the process.
That change of heart among some Conservatives owes, in some measure, to a desire to complete postmortems on their defeat, and for a period of open debate about their future after the rigid discipline of the Harper era. (Their party is likely to proceed with a national convention scheduled for next May in Vancouver, which should provide a forum for such discussions as well as for leadership candidates to showcase themselves.)
8 November
Conservatives will ‘leave the nastiness’ behind: Rona Ambrose
(CTV) Newly named Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose says her caucus will leave the former Harper government’s “nastiness” behind and opt for more “constructive, effective” work as the Official Opposition.
Ambrose, who was chosen as interim leader on Thursday, says she expects the race for her permanent replacement to be a lengthy one.
“The feedback I’ve received from all of the members of our party that I’ve spoken to is that they want a long, long leadership race. And I agree. I think that we should have a long, comprehensive, inclusive leadership race.”
Ambrose invited anyone with Conservative values and interest in leadership to put their name forward for the race. “This is an important opportunity to welcome people to the party,” she said.
But she also didn’t hesitate to rhyme off the names of star Conservative MPs who she suspects will go for the job.
“I think we’ll see Tony Clement, Jason Kenney, Lisa Raitt, Kellie Leitch; amazing people that would put their name forward in the party. Maybe Peter MacKay, not sure if we could convince him to come back.”
With her new title, Ambrose gets an extra $80,100 in salary, as well as a car and driver. She will also live at the residence of the official leader of the Opposition, Stornoway.
When asked what should be done about the crumbling state of the prime minister’s official residence, 24 Sussex, Ambrose called for a renovation. She said the Harpers did not choose to renovate because it would have been too inconvenient to move the entire family out.
“It’s one of our historic national treasures so it needs to be renovated,” said Ambrose. “I always thought that when they do renovate it, they should make it the greenest home in Canada.”
6 November
The many ways Rona Ambrose differs from Stephen Harper
Jennifer Ditchburn profiles the Alberta MP who scaled the heights of the Conservative party
Rona Ambrose is not flashy, she’s guilty of being media shy, and as a cabinet minister she carried the can for the Conservatives on some of their most controversial policies.
The easy shorthand about the interim leader of the Conservative party is that she’s just another message-track Stephen Harper foot soldier sent in to take on charismatic, progressive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
And yet Ambrose is a departure from the outgoing leader in myriad ways, starting with her approach to parliamentary politics.
Adam Radwanski: Harper survives his exit day relatively well
Caucus post-mortem in Ottawa avoids descent into any infighting, while Mulroney pulls his punches for an address in Toronto
4 November
Highly recommend this long, thoughtful and constructive analysis by Adam Daifallah and Tasha Kheiriddin. No matter what your political allegiance, it offers excellent insights.
Step Back to the Right
The conservative authors of Rescuing Canada’s Right update the blueprint for the party—and the movement.
(The Walrus) Now the Conservative Party has at least four (more likely eight) years to rebuild and rebrand. There is nearly a consensus that the next Tory leader must put forward a more hopeful and optimistic vision for the party. But he or she mustn’t rush this choice. Now that the shackles of the Harper era are off, the Tories need to ensure that a full slate of candidates have the time to come into their own, and prepare serious and credible bids. The party would be well advised to go through the same exercise the Liberal Party did under Trudeau, and that the Ontario Tories did under Mike Harris in the early 1990s: conduct a bottom-up rebuild. Structurally, the Tories should look at whether their current Reform Party–like structure—powerful leader, weak party executive, no direct election of party president by members, no distinct youth wing—serves them well, particularly when out of power. On policy, only two questions need to be asked and answered: First, what does the party stand for? And second, what do Canadians want it to stand for? Reconcile the two and you likely have a solid platform.
Outside the confines of the party, the conservative movement should take this moment to shine. Canada’s conservative think tanks, non-profit activist groups, and media need to batten down the hatches and build new infrastructure. They need to advance arguments to fight tax hikes, deficit spending, over-weaning social programs, and weak foreign policy. They need to shape the public discourse around the values of equal opportunity, personal responsibility, greater liberty, and limited government. As the Tories rebuild, they will assume the role of opposition—much like the National Post did in the late 1990s. Both the party and the movement need to muster all their resources to fight Liberal plans for electoral reform—particularly any move to implement proportional representation, which would make it virtually impossible for the Conservative Party to win a majority government.
Conservative-minded Canadians of good will must come forward with money, resources, and time to take the movement to the next level, and feed those ideas to the Conservative Party through its reconstruction. The right may not need as much rescuing as it once did, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
2 November
Harper’s Last Day As Prime Minister Spent Thanking Public Service
On his final day as prime minister, Stephen Harper extended an olive branch of sorts to the public servants with whom his government has had a tense relationship for much of the last decade.
Their reaction, in a nutshell: don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
In a message sent to the entire federal bureaucracy, Harper thanked government workers for the support they’ve shown his team over three successive Parliaments and for their dedication to the well-being of Canadians.
In the letter, Harper expresses pride in the work he and his team have done with the public service to improve the prosperity, security and well-being of Canadians and improve Canada’s position in the world.
In response, one of the biggest unions representing workers lamented the tension-filled relationship between the civil service and Harper’s Conservatives.
“The work that public service workers do on behalf of Canadians day in and day out is invaluable,” Public Service Alliance of Canada national president Robyn Benson said in a statement.
“It is unfortunate that the Conservative government was not able to recognize the important contribution of public service workers during their mandate.”
30 October
Jefffrey Simpson’s good advice:
Leadership puts the proverbial cart before the horse. What the Conservatives need – this is the cart – is to ask themselves at length and in depth: Where did we go wrong? Was it just that we overstayed our welcome and “time for a change” defeated us?
Or was there something deeper about who we were, what we stood for, how we made decisions, how we communicated them to Canadians, how we related to other Canadian institutions such as provinces, the business community, aboriginals, the news media, officers of Parliament, the civil service, non-governmental groups? …
The list of questions runs much longer, and thinking through the list must take a long time. Only then will the Conservatives be ready to figure out which horse should pull the cart.
Maybe not the last word on the campaign, but should be
Why Harper could have won — and how he blew it

By Geoff Norquay
When election campaigns fail, it is usually because the team in charge — in this case, the campaign manager and her key acolytes — have gone back one time too many to the formula that brought them to success many years before. Sadly for the Conservatives, the same clique who reduced the party’s potential support to just above a third of Canadians were the true architects of this defeat.
Theirs was a suspicious Canada and a Canada without dreams; they always preferred short-term tactics over a long-term vision. They never understood governing, so they saw no use for government. They ran a closed circle, they humiliated staff, they berated candidates, they pushed every reasonable argument far beyond its logical limit, they shut out others with a different view, and they crafted a campaign based much more on anger and fear than hope. And they weren’t even competent enough to prevent guys caught peeing in cups from becoming candidates.
Within the Conservative Party, great will be the celebration at their well-deserved and permanent departure.
(iPolitics) The arc of election 2015 is easy enough to describe. In the first phase, from the start of the campaign to the Labour Day weekend, Tom Mulcair and the NDP looked like a good bet to win. In the second month, the three parties were in a dead heat within two to three percentage points of each other, with the “lead” changing every other day. And then, in the final three weeks, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals claimed the mantle of change and — slowly at first, then very quickly — pulled away with a smashing and impressive victory.
For Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, election 2015 was always going to be a big challenge. Any three-term prime minister seeking a fourth mandate is asking for a lot; no PM since Wilfrid Laurier in 1908 had pulled off that feat. When that government is led by a prime minister with a persona that is polarizing, partisan and seen by many as just plain mean, the odds become very difficult indeed.
The roots of the Conservative demise were put in place long before the dropping of the writ. The war with the national media, the constant playing to the Conservative “base”, the abolition of the long-form census, the removal of health care benefits from failed refugee claimants, the denigration of caucus by the “kids in short pants”, the insults to the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the Duffy fiasco, the muzzling and bullying of federal scientists, the unrestrained partisanship, the Robocalls, and a remote and surly prime minister who refused on principle to communicate with the public except on his own terms — to name just a few — had all combined to reduce the possible Conservative vote to well under 40 per cent.
Despite all that, the Conservatives actually did begin the campaign with a shot at victory. It was by no means clear that Trudeau would perform as well as he ultimately did. As the campaign started, the Conservatives and many in the media thought that the Liberal leader might damage himself with offhand comments or gaffes — as had happened so many times before.
This article appears in the current issue of Policy magazine.
(National Post) Former Tory adviser says Stephen Harper and Conservatives ‘blew themselves up’ with ‘desperate’ tactics
27 October
Stephen Harper to move back to Calgary following election defeat
(CBC) Harper, who was elected in the Alberta riding of Calgary Heritage, has resigned as Conservative Party leader but will remain as an MP for now and commute to Ottawa from Calgary, a source told CBC News on condition of anonymity.
Conservatives will gather in Ottawa next week, a day after prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau appoints a new cabinet.
It is unclear at this point whether Harper will attend his party’s caucus meeting.
1st caucus meetings mean big decisions as Michael Chong’s Reform Act takes hold
Michael Chong urges MPs to ‘reclaim their influence’ as Reform Act takes effect
Picking leaders, expelling MPs: each party caucus will vote at 1st meeting on what powers MPs should have
26 October

Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, right, arrives with former Quebec Premier Jean Charest at a tribute for Claude Ryan Friday, February 14, 2014 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, right, arrives with former Quebec Premier Jean Charest at a tribute for Claude Ryan Friday, February 14, 2014 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Red Tories plan return from political wilderness
As the Conservative Party scrambles, post-defeat, to fashion a future without the leader that defined it for nearly a decade, its moderate, Red Tory wing is maneuvering to reconstitute the party as a centrist, national force that re-brands the Conservative label after years of what they describe as Stephen Harper’s toxic leadership.
On Nov. 5, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney will deliver a speech at Toronto’s Albany Club in which he is expected to make a case for post-Harper soul searching, which, as the party’s internal factions mobilize for control, translates as enough time to prevent the Reform wing of the party from taking over.
“Before they choose a leader, they need to have a conversation about the soul of the party, and he’s the one to do that,” said a source close to the former prime minister. “How does the party make its way back to the centre?”
Or, as one Red Tory sage said of the speech, “It’ll be a great moment in sports.”
John Baird, ex-Harper cabinet minister, won’t run for Conservative leadership
(CBC) “While I have indeed received expressions of interest and am tremendously flattered by the support, I will not be running for leader of the Conservative party of Canada,” he said.
The Long, Long Ego Trip of Stephen Harper
A one-man show from fringe to power. Our underestimation only fuelled his contempt.
(The Tyee) If Harper built an institution during his regime, it was the Prime Minister’s Office, which has gained enormously in power since 2006. He systematically neglected some institutions (like Parliament), deliberately crippled others (like the Senate and Statistics Canada), questioned some (like the Supreme Court), and treated a few, like the Canadian Forces, as disposable.
… he famously failed to recruit any wise men or women who might be plausible successors. His reliance on the likes of Dean Del Mastro and Paul Calandra as his parliamentary mouthpieces only heightened the contrast between the puppeteer and his puppets. Some speculate that Baird left in hopes of returning to rebuild the party after Harper’s departure, but even he would be a very hard sell — especially against the likes of Justin Trudeau.
So we are left with a quietly appalling conclusion: Stephen Harper was on one of the greatest ego trips in history. He studied the system, gamed it, and gained power over Canadians for close to a decade. It wasn’t to promote some conservative ideology; conservatism was just another throwaway gadget, a convenient utensil. He used it to promote himself, not to promote conservatism. Whether the party survives his departure is of no concern to him. He was a dancer in darkness, dancing for no one but himself.
Michael Coates: For the Conservatives, an upside to Harper’s loss
With the election over and the Conservatives removed from power, the second guessing of Stephen Harper’s decision to run again – and criticism of his campaign strategy – is well under way. The truth is that, after almost 10 years in power, finding a path to victory was always going to be difficult for Mr. Harper. But he has left his party in a better position for the next election precisely because of his decision to run this time.

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