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How Forgettable is Erin O'Toole?
I forgot he was a Vet until after I wrote this...
Erin O' Toole is so boring I can't even write about him. What the hell am I going to write about? His blandness? The alienation of his base of conservative voters in an attempt to win over the “red tories” that are probably voting Liberal anyway? I think a better question is why the hell the Conservative Party booted Andrew Scheer out of the leadership and in his place put a middle-aged bald man. Don't misunderstand me – Scheer was a goof like O'Toole is a tool. I have a special hatred for Conservatives not because I dislike their philosophy but because they lack one. Whereas the Libertarians can at least be criticized by their principles, the Conservatives don't have any. If you want a glimpse of the Conservative Party platform in five years, look at what the NDP was advocating for twenty years ago. Or what the Liberal Party campaigns on today.
Which brings me back to my frustration with the Conservative Party and why I will #NeverVoteConservative but for entirely different reasons than the standard malcontent the left spews. Think back to the Harper days – before Stephen Harper was prime minister. He lost and lost and lost. But slowly he gained the necessary following to first win a minority government, then a majority. He was Prime Minister for a decade. The same could have been said for Scheer. He lost but he didn't lose by a lot. In fact, he won the popular vote. Funny how anti-Trump Canadians that don't understand the electoral college and use arguments against it were quick to shut the fuck up when they realized a “popular vote” electoral system would mean Prime Minister Andrew Scheer. Scheer's Conservatives knocked Trudeau's Liberals down to a minority. The only thing the taxpayer-funded Liberal-organ CBC had on Scheer was his social conservativism and the fact he didn't tell us beforehand he was a dual American-Canadian citizen. As for the latter – who truly gives a flying fuck. Justin Trudeau is half-Cuban and you don't hear me making a fuss about it. And as Scheer and virtually every Conservative supporter were quick to point out: being socially conservative in your personal life does not equate to being socially conservative in politics. I wish the same could be said of the other side. If only Justin could keep his secular leftism in the home and get down to the business of running a liberal democracy for all Canadians.
Ha! As if... all this goes to show just how terrible Erin O'Toole is. Here we are in the third paragraph of this rant and I haven't even begun to unpack what's wrong with the guy. Perhaps it's because there really isn't anything wrong with him that isn't already wrong with the whole batch of MPs and bureaucrats hanging around Ottawa. They're all shitty in their own way. The problem is we weren't given a chance to warm up to the old Conservative leader. Conservatives in Canada are already at a disadvantage just by naming themselves Conservatives. For whatever reason, the nationalism that has developed in Canada has been decidedly left-wing. Which makes for a tough campaign in a liberal democracy where your very platform smacks the average Canadian as a cold, heartless reminder of why the Liberal Party is the “natural governing party” of the country.
It didn't have to be this way, though. We could have spent the last three years getting to know our beaver-faced friend a little better. He had boyish looks, certainly not the Trudeau sex appeal, but he wasn't a middle-aged bald man. And I harbour no hate toward middle-aged bald men out there. I am well on my way to becoming one. But if you look like that and you're clamoring for an office where you must compete against a guy who looks like Trudeau, where the deciding votes are people voting based on looks and charm – or worse, the party's colour. When you're up against that, the worst thing you can do is keep switching out your leaders hoping one of them will stick.
The Conservatives should have learned their lesson from Harper. Canadians didn't trust him. For years we were warned about Harper's Hidden Agenda, which turned out to be Liberal-lite with a touch of Arctic Sovereignty. Hell, ten years and a majority government and the guy didn't even dismantle the CBC. Canadians who fear Conservative governments as some kind of existential threat are complete morons. And I mean that. They are so far divorced from reality it'd be best for them to shut the hell up about politics and never speak again. And I say this as someone who has never voted Conservative nor plans to. The equivalent on the other side would be believing the NDP are hot-head communists. That if the NDP comes to power they'll nationalize every major industry without compensation. That China and North Korea will become our closest allies. That's what many of the #NeverVoteConservative people sound like, just on the other side of the spectrum. And if proof is what you want, consider Ontario's provincial conservative party. Now that Rob Ford is dead, his brother Doug, premier of Ontario, is supposed to be the people's premier, the right-wing populist that – gasp! - used the perfectly legal notwithstanding clause to limit the power Unions have over campaign advertisements. This supposed right-wing populist can't even be trusted to follow the right-wing example in the States when it comes to COVID-19. Instead of conceiving a plan in liberty, they copied the rest of the world, that is, the Chinese Communists, and instituted harsh lockdowns. While Alberta and B.C. were dining on patios this past Spring, Ontarians were still locked up, forced to see their taxes fund a propaganda campaign telling them how spreading the virus was their fault, that wanting to do things a free nation is justified in doing is now killing grandma.
So rest assured, there is no Conservative government in Canada that will ever accomplish the things real conservatives would like to see done. The entrenched interests, the bureaucracy, the CBC – they all take aim at Conservative governments and their leaders as if the very foundation of the Canadian State is at risk. And in some ways, it is. If a conservative mindset ever took hold over the population, no amount of CBC editorializing could stem the tide. If Canadians decided en masse that universal health care or “social justice” were no longer top priorities for a liberal democratic government to concern itself with, the very idea of “Canada” as its envisioned by left-wing boomers and millennials alike ceases to exist. Canada's left-wing nationalism relies on demonizing conservative parties and leaders as outside the realm of reasonable opinion.
Which brings us back to Erin O'Toole. Unless he takes the nation by storm during the debates, unless he appeals to Quebec's interests – what hope in hell does he have? By ditching the recognizable and somewhat likable Scheer for the completely forgettable Erin O'Toole, the Conservatives might have handed Trudeau the majority he wants.
I hope I'm wrong. Not because I want to see O'Toole prime minister, or that I was a fan of Scheer, but because I'm sick and tired of seeing Justin Trudeau and hearing him speak. I'm under no illusions that the Conservative Party is going to do a better job. They won't. But at least they won't virtue signal their moral superiority over us. With the exception of a few die-hard holdouts, most Conservatives have no interest in going beyond the purely secular. Many, if not all, Conservative MPs may personally find abortion repulsive, but no sane politician is going to come out against it. Not in Canada. Not in 2021. I doubt Conservative MPs smoke much weed. But they aren’t going to reverse legalization. Many Conservative MPs may attend a Christian church every Sunday. But they aren’t about to mandate attendance across the nation or suggest that prayer get reintroduced into public schools. The difference is many on the left are pushing their personal “social justice” views into government, and Trudeau is their poster boy. If this race was against O'Toole and Paul Martin, I really wouldn't care who won. Paul Martin was a corrupt piece of shit (aren't they all?) but he at least had some fiscal decency. Trudeau plunged this country into the red the first chance he got. Justin Trudeau does not represent the same liberalism of Jean Chretien but too many voters are willing to ignore that.
And if the campaign is as lackluster as it appears it's going to be – too many voters will ignore Erin O'Toole as well. All we can hope for now is enough Canadians vote against the Liberals as punishment for sending us into this unnecessary election while the Delta variant makes its way through the population and infects people who are fully vaccinated. Throw in another lockdown or two, and the whole idea of an election seems pretty silly. It's not completely ahistorical for Canadians to punish leaders like this. Joe Clark's Conservatives won a minority in 1979. After half-a-year of governing, they tried for a majority government. Canadians were livid and gave the Liberal Party (headed by Pierre Elliot Trudeau) a majority government.
Things are different now as they were then. It seems unlikely Canadians will be that mad at pretty-boy Justin and hand this completely unknown conservative with a girl's name a majority government. But stranger things have happened. And all I'm asking for, all I can really hope for, is another minority government. A smaller one. And disillusionment with Justin. He's clearly all style and no substance. The Liberals aren't likely to get rid of him so long as he keeps the campaign donors happy and votes coming in. And despite the scandals and corruption under his watch, voters still prefer him over the unknown O'Toole. If a national campaign doesn't fix that, then the answer will have to be assessed a little better than it was last time. If (or when) O'Toole loses, will it be because he is extremely unlikeable/forgettable? Or was it that Trudeau's Liberals were too strong to be taken down in a single election? If the former, rinse and repeat. Find a leader who will rejuvenate the party. I suggest Scott Reid, MP for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston. Not only did he vote down his own pay raise, he donates a good chunk of his salary to people who actually need it. Scott Reid is the type of Conservative I could rally behind without feeling sick to my stomach. Of course, if the latter occurs, if O'Toole doesn't do all that bad but Trudeau still wins – keep him! Stop switching out leaders. Canadians are already weary of Conservatives and the worst thing you can do is throw more of them our way every time you lose an election. Find one, stick with him (or her) until they warm up to Canadians the same way Stephen Harper did. And let's face it, the cold lizard eyes of Stephen Harper never did truly warm Canadians' hearts. We just got fed up with Liberal corruption and Harper was our rebound because he'd been around for a while so he must be a least halfway trustworthy. You won't get that advantage if every time Canadians look for a Liberal alternative, there's some new glossy-looking Conservative with a blue tie and fake smile giving us a Liberal-lite message.
So to sum up: the Conservatives can't run on principle. A conservative principle is an oxymoron. Libertarians are principled, as are socialists. The Liberals and Conservatives merely piggyback on these principles and form government to serve a corporate and banking oligopoly. Since Conservatives can't run on principle, and they can't warm the hearts of Canadians the same way left-wingers do, their only other option is familiarity. Like the guy-friend who hangs around a chick long enough that eventually, when she tires of the bad-boys and speed freaks, she'll settle down with the familiar friend who was at her side the whole time saying, “I fuckin toada so.”