Sunday, September 21, 2008

An Outsider's Perspective - Part V - The Conservatives

This look at each of the five major parties in Canada concludes today with a look at the current governing party.

The Conservative Party of Canada

Leader: Stephen Harper
Since: 2004
Leader's Riding: Calgary Southwest
Seats at Dissolution: 127
Major Issues: Social Conservatism, Tax Cuts, Shutting up their Cabinet

(DISCLAIMER: Before I get started once again, let me point out my obvious political views. I am not a fan of this party what so ever. Just as in my last post, I shall do my best to remain objective, and I apologize if I am not able to do so.)

Two weeks ago, everything was going to so well. What happened?

Immediately after Parliament was dissolved, things were looking great for Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party. They were gaining big in the battleground ridings, and it looked like they may be able to get the first right-wing majority government in fifteen years. All that they had to do was run a campaign even half as efficiently as they did in 2006 and they would be able to pick up another 30 seats, and a majority government would be theirs.

But then puffins pooed, Ryan Sparrow spoke ill of a man who lost his son, jokes were made about cold cuts and drunk natives, the US Economy is on the verge of collapsing, and that damn Elizabeth May just will not stop talking. Suddenly things are very different as Harper has had to do all sorts of apologizing. This certainly is not the position he wanted to be in his fight for a majority.

After all, any time apologizing is less time for him to be talking about his great sweater vest.

(EDITORIAL TANGENT: If family really is everything, then why is he fighting for a job that will keep him away from his wife and children for so much of the year?)

Now before any doom and gloom talk starts about the sweater unraveling, the Conservatives are still running a solid campaign. The attack ads on Dion seem to be working, and Harper has done a great job of dividing his opposition. The party continues to gain ground in Quebec, which is a real threat to the Bloc, but their numbers in Ontario and BC seem to have stagnated.

The latest Globe and Mail Poll (accessed September 21, 2008 at approx. 8pm EDT) has them sitting at 38% of the vote, slightly up from the 36% they won with in 2006. While this increase is good, it is a drop from where they were two short weeks ago, when everything seemed to be going wrong.

All in all, they should gain a solid 5-12 seats. While successful, this is a far cry from the 28 they need to get a majority.

So what do they have to do to fix things? Plain and simply, shut up. Since coming into power in 2006, Harper has done a masterful job keeping control on his own party. He needs to go back to those ways. High profile members of the party need to realize that nothing is off the record during an election time.

Many Canadians have been mistrustful of Harper, and the Conservatives in general. These series of gaffes, are making people wonder just what kind of people the powers that be really are. Do they really think that everyone who speaks out against them is doing so because of an allegiance to another party? Do they really think that all Algonquins are drunks? Are they all bullies, resorting to sophomoric jokes about their opposition? Do they really hope that their critics will die of Listerios?

Even a bleeding heart like me will agree that the answer to most of the above questions is "probably not". But the fact that they are being asked at a crucial time does not bode well for the party at all.

The Conservative spin doctors need to go into overdrive to make the party appear more gentle, and quite frankly, likable. If Canadians are going to trust them with the next four years, they need to know that they are not insensitive, immoral monsters.

Because right now, they are really coming across as wolves in sheep's sweater-vests.

Until next time,


Part I - The Green Party of Canada - September 9, 2008
Part II - The NDP - September 15, 2008
Part III - The Bloc Quebecois - September 16, 2008
Part IV - The Liberal Party of Canada - September 19, 2008
Part V - The Conservative Party of Canada - September 21, 2008

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