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Commentary

Congratulations to the New Conservative Leader . . . and Caution for the Road Ahead

Tue, May 30, 2017   |   Author: Peter Vogel   |   Volume 24    Issue 22   

Fourteen months of suspense came to an end last Saturday night. We extend our congratulations to Mr. Andrew Scheer on his election as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. He has been entrusted with much and much will be expected of him. We ask God to give him the wisdom and courage to lead his party well.

The whole leadership race, especially the vote-count, tells much about the present state of the Conservative Party, about the struggle between various conservative ideals and how best to implement them. Our party, CHP Canada, strongly supports small-c conservative policies, including policies in defence of life and traditional marriage. We were encouraged to see so many ballots cast for true social conservative ideals. The candidates whose ideas were most similar to CHP’s—Brad Trost and Pierre Lemieux—both finished in the top six after the first ballot, capturing 8.35% and 7.38% respectively of voters’ first choices. Brad Trost actually reached as high as third place at one point and topped out at 14.3% before he was dropped from the race after the 11th ballot.

By contrast, the most significant “Red Tory” in the race, Michael Chong, captured only 7.55% of the voters’ first choice. He topped out at 9.14% and was dropped after the 10th ballot.

Maxime Bernier—who lost on the final ballot by less than 1%—was the candidate most favoured to win, according to pre-election polls. He started his campaign early and worked hard at it. He led through the first 12 rounds of voting and his loss in the last round came as a shock to most. What happened? Maxime Bernier—most often identified as a libertarian—was full of ideas and he was not shy about expressing them! Love him or hate him, he had a lot to say about things that he believed needed to be fixed in Canada. Obviously he appealed to many voters . . . almost half. His ideas on health care and supply management made him a hero to some but a target for others. To his credit, he did not back down or water down his policies, even when challenged by the media and the other candidates. For that, he deserves respect, even though we disagree with him on many issues. His 28.89% of first-choice support, which ultimately grew to 49.05% on the 13th ballot, showed that his ideas had a lot of traction and should not be simply squelched by party bosses as so many ideas have been in the past. To his credit, he did promise so-cons and others that—as leader—he would have allowed a full debate on any issue. Notably for the Conservative Party, Bernier did particularly well in the major cities—areas where Conservative candidates have not done well in many years. Where that support goes now is anybody’s guess.

But what about the CPC’s new leader, Andrew Scheer? How socially conservative is he and what can we expect from him? That all depends. His pro-life supporters point to his flawless voting record as an MP and his recent assurances that he will allow his caucus members to bring forward and debate any issues they feel are important. That sounds good. However, during the campaign, Andrew said “It is not up to me to re-open that debate [abortion] . . . I will maintain the same approach [as Mr. Harper].” Further, he stated, “. . . as leader of the Conservative Party, as Prime Minister of Canada, it will not . . . those subjects will not be re-opened from the Conservative government.” Many other statements made during the campaign reinforced his stated intention to not re-open the debate on either abortion or same-sex marriage. Politicians, like any other people, can and do change their positions and we hope that Mr. Scheer changes his. The death of 100,000 innocent pre-born every year and the destructive impact of same-sex marriage on our next generation are much too important to write off simply because they are controversial.

When it comes to the next general election, Mr. Scheer has some strengths that may help the Conservative Party regain lost ground. He is friendly and funny, wears a constant smile and seems to have few enemies; this worked in his favour during the leadership campaign. Although he is only 38, seven years younger than Justin Trudeau, he has already served as Speaker of the House for more than four years. He is married with five children and is a practicing Catholic. In spite of his assurances not to re-open the abortion debate (by the way, it has never been closed), he has a perfect voting record on the life-issues. He had, and has, significant support from many pro-life MPs. If he works with them to address straightforward issues like gender-selective abortion, he can earn their ongoing loyalty.

During the campaign, he “played it safe” on policy questions. Unlike Bernier with his libertarian ideas, Kelly Leitch with her blunt statements on immigration and Canadian values or Trost and Lemieux with their solid family-values statements, Mr. Scheer steered a careful and disciplined course, avoiding controversy and conflict. In the short term, it worked—he is now the national leader of the CPC! In the long term, however, he will have to choose sides on important issues and that will make some enemies.

The Conservative Party has chosen. They have a friendly and likeable person at the helm, one who has said that maintaining party unity is at the top of his agenda. It’s not an easy task. He will have to hold together a party that has some very disparate views. Will he even allow issues of the highest significance to be debated? Hopefully. Will he lead from the front to address issues about life and gender? We can only hope. And pray. God has given Mr. Scheer—through the democratic process—both the opportunity and the responsibility to lead and challenge the members of his own party and the citizens of this great nation to return to the foundational principles that made this country great. We encourage him to accept the responsibility as well as the opportunity. If he does, our nation will be well served.

Does Canada still need a conscience in the form of an uncompromising political party like the CHP? Yes. As shown by the sharp differences between the 13 Conservative candidates and those who supported them, there is no major party united behind biblical principles.

CHP Canada remains the only political party with the political will to reclaim Canada’s heritage of respect for traditional marriage, individual rights (including the pre-born), and justice for all. We will not compromise on right vs. wrong, freedom vs. tyranny, or equality vs. special rights for special groups. We will continue to fight for our country and future generations. We invite likeminded citizens from every party to join us in our efforts.

If you share with us our concern for the pre-born and for the institutions of marriage and family, if you share our commitment not to compromise on these critical issues, we invite you to join CHP today! We need you to stand on guard with us!



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