The Criteria Changes for Conservative Leadership

By: Laura Steiner

The Conservatives are looking to win the next federal election.  The question of what the Liberals can use against the Conservatives should come up when choosing the next leader.

When you ask that question the idea of baggage comes to mind.  Three candidates have it are Kellie Leitch, Chris Alexander, and Maxime Bernier.  From the Conservative standpoint, it’s a matter of who has the least baggage.  Or has successfully faced theirs down.

Leitch has the barbaric cultural practices line from the last federal election.  She has continued to voice those ideas this campaign in the form of her values test idea.  She has also come across as someone who is trying on personalities until one fits.  In order to win an election there should be a leader with an definite idea of who they are, and what party they would like to build.

Chris Alexander served as Immigration Minister under Stephen Harper.  He may have been a competent minister, but he wasn’t that great in the media department.  There are clips of him on shows such as Power & Politics where when questioned he stammered, and doesn’t have an answer when confronted directly by the host.  It would make for an easy attack ad.

Maxime Bernier served as the Foreign Affairs Minister for Stephen Harper until 2008.  He resigned over an incident involving documents involving NATO left at a former girlfriend’s apartment.  By the time the 2019 election rolls around, it will have been over 10 years since this happened.  An argument could be made about the shelf-life of a mistake.  Unfortunately this one goes to judgement, which could reflect poorly on Bernier.

The candidates to look at are Lisa Raitt, Michael Chong, and Erin O’Toole.  Raitt has faced her share of mistakes.  Briefing books left at a television station,  audio of critical remarks made about a colleague being two of the most notable.

Raitt got past it by apologizing, and meaning it.  It doesn’t take away the mistakes, but it makes them less potent because it demonstrates she’s human.  She remains a popular M.P. among her colleagues and in her riding.  Raitt served as finance critic prior to declaring for the leadership contest.  This is a key part of her campaign often tweeting about how national finance could affect the average Canadian household.

Erin O’Toole took over Veterans Affairs following Julian Fantino in 2015.  He made an effort at making Canadian veterans the centre of the policy.  A former veteran himself, he has made this a part of his campaign platform by extending a promise for financial stability, and to streamlining the department.  He has come under fire for the negativity in his campaign.

Michael Chong served in cabinet as Intergovernmental Affairs Minister in Stephen Harper’s  government.  He has consistently been guided by his principles resigning his cabinet post over a motion to declare the Québecois a nation, and most recently voicing his opposition to M-103.    His platform looks to the future with platform planks on Democratic Opportunity, Economic Opportunity, and Environmental Opportunity.  He’s got the quiet, and steady personality.

It’s a tough decision ahead for the Conservatives.  If the ambition is to win, the question should be who has the least baggage for the Liberals to use against them.