REALity Volume XXXVI Issue No. 7 July 2017 – As usual, the media lives in their own bubble, having little understanding or sense of what grassroots conservatives, as well as other Canadians, are thinking. The media totally misunderstood the Conservative Party leadership race.
The media believed that the Conservative Party had become “modernized” (i.e. become more liberal) since the October, 2015 federal election and that social conservatives had become a marginal concern for the party. How wrong they were.
The media totally underestimated the vitality and effectiveness of social conservatives. Evidence of this attitude was apparent in comments in the Globe and Mail by columnist, Gary Mason, who on December 8, 2016, after the second conservative leadership debate, confidently wrote about social conservative candidate, Brad Trost, whose combined vote with another social conservative, Pierre Lemieux, had 16% support on the first ballot. Mason wrote:
Brad Trost is someone else whose political reflexes seem horribly off … if the Conservatives were smart, they would be encouraging him to drop out of the race now because his continued presence in it will be a harmful distraction. Any political party worth its salt would want nothing to do with the man.
Brad Trost came a respectable 4th and social conservative, Pierre Lemieux, 6th, of 13 candidates, overcoming Lisa Raitt and Kellie Leitch, for example, who were provided much media coverage during the campaign.
Social conservative, Andrew Scheer, won the leadership race.
Columnist Gary Mason and other media are the ones whose political reflexes seem to be horribly off.
Maxime Bernier, the Front Runner
Maxime Bernier was the front runner in the final months of the campaign. According to Toronto Star columnist, Chantal Hébert (May 27, 2017), not only was Mr. Bernier likely to win the leadership race, but also, he was going to win Quebec handily. In fact, according to Ms. Hébert, Mr. Bernier’s strength in Quebec would be his ace in a winning hand. This did not happen. In fact, Bernier did not do well in Quebec. Mr. Bernier’s policy platform to abolish supply management, which provides quota and price control systems, supposedly to ensure stable incomes for dairy, egg and poultry farmers, was not popular in his native province of Quebec. In fact, Bernier was beaten by Scheer even in his home riding of Beauce, where he had 48.89% of the support compared to 51.11% for Mr. Scheer, who resides in Saskatchewan and was born and raised in Ottawa.
At the first rounds of ballots, it all was going relatively well for Mr. Bernier, who led for twelve of the thirteen rounds of the ranked-ballot results. However, Mr. Scheer picked up the lion’s share of support in the crucial final rounds. Brad Trost, overwhelmingly social conservative, and Pierre Lemieux, another social conservative, went 2 to 1 to Scheer in the second last round. It then came down to “centrist” Erin O’Toole’s voters as to whether they would back Bernier or Scheer. Their vote went 60 to 40 in Scheer’s favour.
In retrospect, Bernier’s doom should have been evident after the first round. This is because his numbers came in slightly under expectation because Trost and Lemieux ended up in the top half-dozen candidates, thanks to their tremendous social conservative support.
Maxime Bernier’s Bizarre Behaviour at the Convention
Bernier’s campaign at the party’s convention was bizarre. His campaign team presumed, as the media constantly told them, that he would win the leadership race. As a result, Bernier and his team launched into a premature victory lap. They announced that instead of welcoming all the candidates to their libertarian tent, Bernier’s loyalists would have “dibs on the good positions first” and that backers of Scheer would not be given jobs because, according to Emrys Graefe, Bernier’s strategist, they would be more comfortable hiring staff from O’Leary’s campaign. Bernier’s team also made it clear that Bernier would be keeping a list of everyone who had supported and donated to his campaign and that anyone who disagreed with Mr. Bernier’s agenda would not be acceptable to him. His supporters also stated Bernier’s platform would become the platform of the Conservative party without even consulting the caucus.
On tasting victory, Mr. Bernier, who is always unconventional, but who kept his eccentricities under wraps during the campaign, let his true self show through to the delegates at the convention.
For example, on the Friday evening, among the thirteen candidates, Bernier was the only one failing to address party members in something approaching a convention speech. Instead, before stumbling through a few brief remarks, he used most of his allotted ten minutes to show an amateurish video, which did not help his cause. Accompanied by ominous music, the video was a thumping reminder of Bernier’s controversial platform. What was it all about? Nobody knows.
It is also a concern that, when controversial Kevin O’Leary dropped out of the campaign in April, he said he would be advising and assisting the successful candidate, Bernier, once the latter was elected leader. We seem to have escaped a bullet.
The Conservative party was fortunate that the libertarian Mr. Bernier was not elected as leader of the party.
Andrew Scheer is 38 years old – seven years younger than Justin Trudeau. His views are more compatible with grassroots Canadians. He is sensible, politically experienced, and cares about the ordinary Canadian. This is unlike Justin Trudeau, who lives in a world of the wealthy and the political elites, while promoting outdated policies, such as feminism and unrestricted abortion.
Canada has moved on to provide a political leader and a party which is in touch with ordinary Canadians. What a welcome change!