Thursday, March 8, 2012

Are Canada's conservatives a house divided?

Here's a question dear reader. 

Are you conservative or liberal? 

It might seem a straight forward, but I imagine responses would vary widely based on the context of the question.  Are we talking about political parties, money, human rights...all three?

In terms of party politics, the Conservatives are hot.  Sure they're not yet garnering a majority of votes in any recent election, but their numbers keep going up and they are the single largest minority by a good margin.

If you're on the left hand side of the political spectrum you have a lot of choice in this country.  You have the Liberals who many consider to be fiscally conservative based on the Chrétien/Martin record of balanced budgets and paying down the national debt.  Then  there's the NDP for those who strongly support the labour or union movement.  The Greens present themselves as fiscally conservative with a strong emphasis on protecting the environment.  And Quebecois have the added choice of the Bloc, generally  speaking a very socially progressive party, albeit one determined to take Québec out of the country.

For conservative minded voters on the right...uhm, you've got Harper's cons or a few fringe parties with no hope of winning a seat anytime in the foreseeable future.  Sorry that's it, and that's all.

Stephen Harper has achieved electoral success by bringing in divergent groups into the Conservative tent.  Fiscal conservatives enraged at the Liberal Ad-Scam scandal, social conservatives looking for action on things like abortion, the death penalty and same-sex marriage.  Even libertarians who want to see government reduced to providing only core  bare bones services.

And from where I sit I don't see how any of these groups can be happy with the job our Prime Minister has done. 

So-cons have seen zero action on any of the initiatives on their agenda, with MP Brad Trost saying Harper isn't even Pro-Life, the PM's membership to an evangelical church notwithstanding.

Fiscal conservatives can't be happy with record setting deficits and the elimination of all the gains made in paying down the national debt by the Chrétien/Martin Liberals.

And the libertarian element of the party must be just thrilled with all the corporate welfare being doled out.  $2 million for a fake lake, I'm sure that went over huge with the less government constituency. 

The only thing that all CPC members can be happy with is victory, they've won the last 3 elections and now finally have a majority mandate.  But what is victory worth if the issues which drew voters and members to the party aren't being addressed?  At least with a minority mandate Harper had some cover.  The Conservatives had to appease at least one of the opposition parties to ensure they remained in power, such is no longer the case.

The saving grace right now is the damage they've inflicted on the Liberal brand with the constant stream of negative attack ads we've seen on successive Grit leaders.  Will conservative voters upset with the PM be able to bring themselves to support a party that has been so denigrated over the past several years?

Time as always, will tell.

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