Erin O’Toole recently gave a major speech warning his party they either change their ways or become the resident party of the opposition. Winning in the west and rural areas alone is a losing proposition. He pointed out the party has had four leaders in five and a half years. The problems facing the party O’Toole recognizes for the most part. Without expanding their base the party cannot win. To expand the base they have to change their policy. Climate change is one example. The recent debate at their convention left them on the wrong side of history. There are two other issues he does not totally embrace one the childcare program and pharmacare. If he wants urban and suburban voters he best not say that to loud. O’Toole has one big problem.
He is supported by a strong social conservative party backbone.
They are opposed to abortion, and the LGBTO community and they do not support same sex marriage. These and issues like reproductive rights and abortion are issues for elections just like daffodils pop up in spring.
Then there is the “god knows what falls out of the closet moment.” Somehow someone says something right at the wrong time. A few years ago it was a rash of anti Muslim rhetoric or the border crossing by migrants. I equate it to the Liberal scandals vs the inappropriate gaffs of the Conservatives. Up until now Canadians have taken this for drama, but the makeup of what is a Canadian is changing. It’s a hard road if your members insult people and then ask for their vote.
Erin O’Toole claimed Trudeau is a disappointment. Yet no one can explain the latest polls that came out a week ago. The Liberals at 37% Conservatives at 28% the NDP at 20% a Picture emerges where even anger at the Liberals they are preferred in the absence of confidence in the Conservatives.
The other danger is some are giving the NDP a second look.
There are things I agree with him on one addressing the mental health issues facing the country and two doing something about the opioid crisis. These are important issues but as sure as God made little green apples social issues will be paraded out like yesterdays laundry. From abortion to immigration and believability will be measured at best.
So why the hesitation to believe O’Toole? People want firm clear answers with cross my heart hope to die firm answers. He can say he’s on the right side of these issues but will he be believed? The other problem is. if he satisfies one group the social conservatives will be upset.
Personally I think O’Toole is a genuine patriotic Canadian. The problem is he doesn’t understand the NDP, the ones he hopes to take votes from. The conservative agenda and the social democratic agenda are quite different. Both parties have one thing in common they have principals. For many voters left or right, are mere terms that vary depending on the issue. Many in the NDP believe in progressive policies but they must be tempered in sound fiscal policy. When O’Toole says he is going to get the economy on track, many voters equate that with program cuts, or opening up programs partnering with the private sector. That would not attract NDP voters.
The big problem is, If the Liberals have an issue electorally they will adopt the NDP’s pharmacare and the childcare program leaving the two opposition parties holding onto the handle of an empty bag.
Current Polling shows the Conservatives nine point behind the Liberals and now only eight points ahead of the NDP.
The two biggest problems for O’Toole the political shadow of Harper and the albatross Andrew Scheer. Then there is the social conservative wing of the party, viewed negatively by voters in the high population areas of Canada. The truth is the Conservatives have not improved their standing since O’Toole took over.
On the bright side O’Toole is the best leader the conservatives have had in more than two decades. At least he is willing to tell his own members their biggest problem has been them. So at the moment as someone he’s trying to win over as a Canadian voter what is my current perception after watching and listening?
For O’Toole his change in image and even policy is not going to sit well with the right of the right. This is either an attempted mass hoodwinking of the people or O’Toole fell off his horse on the way to Damascus. The epiphany of sorts is that the people are not in a conservative mood. Moderate policy slightly right with a strengthening of social programs might gain some traction. After a period of uncertainty people are more in tune with the social safety net. Programs enacted from previous social and economic disasters act as a security blanket.
Erin O’Toole is like a blindfolded juggler dancing an Irish Jig in a room full of jumping jacks. If he manages to survive that then anything is possible.