Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Adam Daifallah champions too many US Republican causes for my taste, but I think he’s just about right in his assessment of the Tory convention over the weekend:

Overall, it was a good convention. Harper and the leadership got what the [sic] wanted. A party that looked (relatively) united, a promise to not legislate on abortion, an endorsement of traditional marriage, a good leadership review vote (84% say no), no youth wing (51-49 against) and so on. No factions walked out, no one quit to start their own party, no one threw tomatoes at the leader. Not bad by Conservative Party standards.

(Daifallah was in attendance. Being in England, I obviously wasn’t.) Now, depending on your political leanings, that assessment is either good or bad. As a right-leaning, politically unaffiliated Canadian, I’m largely pleased. I’m glad that Harper wants to put US missile defence back on the table. The promise not to legislate on abortion is also a fine idea, as is the party’s commitment to bilingualism. I’m less glad that Harper’s going to continue to legislate vigorously against same-sex marriage – not because I’m a proponent of gay marriage, but because the issue has become a political, and judicial, reality in Canada. It would be much wiser for the Tories to use whatever political leverage they have to shape future gay marriage legislation, as opposed to tilting at the vote-losing windmill of an all-out ban.

But in general, the convention platform should ease the minds of many Canadian voters who were subjected to a constant demonisation of the CPC in the last election cycle (and depending on your stance on some social issues, that demonisation was justified. I thought much of it despicable, but politically savvy.). Or at least, it should defuse some of the below-the-belt criticism leveled the Tories’ way on hot-button issues like abortion.

Of course, questions remain. How big is the remaining cultural/social/ideological gap between old PCers and Reformers? Can an anti-gay marriage crusade really be a vote-winner in the next election? Does a lack of criticism of the Liberal budget amount to acquiescence, and the corollary, is there now any significant difference between the two parties? (In cheeky fashion, The Star's Richard Gwyn doesn't think so.) And is Stephen Harper the man to take the party over the top? To answer the latter question, the Tory delegates seem to think so. I’m not so sure. But he’s made progress in uniting the rank and file, and that has to count for something.


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