AS MOST OF YOU are likely aware now, I have been seriously reconsidering my ballot ranking, for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Until a week and a half ago Erin O’Toole and Peter MacKay had been my only two considerations, with O’Toole in the number one spot.
That’s changed … because out of the blue Leslyn Lewis has caught my attention for her forthright, and clearly articulated policies, that she is presenting.
What I find interesting, however, is that her campaign ‘appears’ to be focused not just on Conservative Party members, but on all who will need to be brought in to a big blue tent when the next election is called.
In the last federal election, Conservatives got hammered on what I will call ‘perceived’ beliefs (or that so-called hidden agenda), about the party, with regards to the LGBTQ2S community … same sex marriage … traditional marriage … abortion … and other social issues. Regrettably, leader Andrew Scheer seemed unable to articulate between his own beliefs, those of the party, and how these concerns could be handled.
I have no issue with anyone that has different beliefs from me – that is life.
The question for all conservatives however is will the party be fractured by questions around how conservative is conservative … and … can the party be big enough for progressives, and libertarians (and everything in between)? Without a leader who is able to bring all of those things together, Conservatives will be relegated to the opposition benches for a very long time.
So, there is my challenge – with the sniping going on with MacKay and O’Toole on being a true BLUE conservative, or policies being too similar to those of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, warfare is going on that will only see the party fractured – it seems a choice between one or the other will be problematic.
Like I initially stated, I thought I had already made my choice in who I would vote for (Erin O’Toole), with Peter MacKay my second choice, and then no further. MacKay has now dropped to my third choice, with Lewis moving in to the second spot, and closely being considered as my first choice. Here is what will tip the scales for me.
As I have already said, I am fine with people having different viewpoints from me … however, in politics, differing viewpoints on social issues (as I also noted above), can sink not just a candidate, but an entire party, on the election trail.
An interview I read about Leslyn Lewis noted:
… questions about her positions on social issues have followed her throughout the campaign, given how spectacularly current leader Andrew Scheer was hammered for his, and whether in turn she could win a general election.
That same interview stated that … your beliefs aren’t the problem, but that the propensity of many Conservatives not to clearly articulate their own views makes opponents’ claims that they have a “hidden agenda” too plausible for voters.
How would she handle that question, I wondered, should you win the leadership?
How would she deal with, and respond to, the media?
What steps had she already considered to diffuse this?
And so, I asked her … here’s what she had to say:
“I believe that our party is the only one in Canada where we actually are able to bring together a variety of views … and think it is why, when we are at our best, we are by far the strongest party in Canada.
“I intend to clearly demonstrate that we are a party of common sense, and appeal to Canadians desperate to see that in their leaders.”
But what about that so-called ‘hidden agenda,’ I asked, to which she responded:
“I am also committed to never having a hidden agenda. I have been crystal clear about my policies that would protect vulnerable girls and women from coerced abortions, or provide more support for pregnancy care centres.
“I believe when we get attacked for common sense ideas — that the vast majority of Canadians agree with — people realize that the media is just repeating talking points from the Liberals and they lose their impact.
As fracturing, I asked her?
“When social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, libertarians, red tories, and everyone that values courage, compassion and common sense, comes together, we are unstoppable as a party.”
I agree that the party CAN BE unstoppable under those circumstances, however Conservatives will need more than just members and supporters to win the next election.
Attacks around a hidden agenda are likely already being lined up by some of those who call themselves journalists, but who in fact have their own hidden agendas, in how they report the news – should I say how they editorialize the news.
I came back around and asked again how she would handle the media, given the mauling Scheer was subjected too in the last election — and given how he seemed unable (or unwilling) to deal with the attacks on him?
“I have received very positive feedback from my “no hidden agenda” platform and approach,” she stated to me.
She then continued, “No matter who the leader of the party is, or has been, they will always be accused of having a hidden agenda, so I put my policies right out front.
“You can watch how I handled the media’s questions here. You can also watch my interview with Evan Solomon to see an example of how I’m not afraid to stand up for myself and conservatives when pushed by media members.”
I still have some time (not much however) to make my decision on who will get top spot in the ranking, in my choice of who should be the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Leslyn Lewis, you are making that choice hard … but your campaign of courage, compassion, and common sense have caught my attention.
Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident and former member of the Reform Party of Canada and the B.C. Reform Party, and a past and current member of the BC Conservative Party. His blog is My Thoughts on Politics and More.