#cdnpoli #cpc When is the last time this happened?
Well, you have to go back to December 2003 when the Conservative Party formed as a merger between the Progressive Conservatives led by Peter MacKay (remember Napkin Gate?) and the Canadian Alliance Party, taken over by Stephen Harper. This merger was supposedly brokered by Belinda Stronach, daughter of Magna magnate, Frank Stronach, who later dated Peter MacKay, but then crossed the floor to the Martin Liberals.
(I won't get into the machinations of everything that led up to the formation of the party--that's a whole other story.)
Then in 2004, Harper, Stronach, and Tony Clement announced their candidacy. Harper cleaned up on the first ballot with about 69% of the total vote (56% of the total points).
Soon after, Harper's Conservatives lost to Paul Martin's Liberals, but held them to a shocking minority, 134 to 99 seats.
Two years later in 2006, Harper's Conservatives beat Martin's Liberals 124 to 103, bringing an end to a 13 year Liberal reign.
Two years later again in 2008, Harper's Conservatives beat Stephane Dion's Liberals 147 to 77.
Three years later in 2011, Harper's Conservatives finally won a majority with 166 seats and help from Jack Layton's NDP winning 103 seats and forming the official opposition for the first time. The Liberals under Michael Ignatieff had their lowest showing in party history with 33 seats.
Harper's Conservatives were in government for almost 10 years, and Harper was leader of the Alliance for two years, plus two as Conservaitve opposition leader, plus 10 as Prime Minister. That's 14 years at the helm of a party. Whomever the next Conservative leader is, he or she had better be prepared for the long-haul. Unless Trudeau massively screws up, get used to at least 8 years of Trudeau Liberals. Don't forget that Harper also spent time as an MP and Deputy Leader of the Reform Party from 1993 to 1997.
In examining the past elections, we can see that Conservative support has a solid base at about 30% of voters with softer supporters at 10% and maybe a few more. As time goes on, and the baby boomer generation passes on, as a good chunk of the electorate, Conservatives can expect to lose base support and see little growth with millennials, who have tended to the NDP and Liberals.
What I'm saying here is the next Conservative leader needs to fully commit, understand the long-game, appeal to a younger base somehow in order to see any potential growth, and to promote the core conservative principles to entice the middle class base. Most especially, the leader needs to sell proven fiscal domestic conservative policies as the best-approach to our society and future. Further, how do you grow the base of women supporters, continue the ethnic support, and win seats back in BC, Ontario, and Nova Scotia?
As an exercise, let's look at the names of the potential candidates I've read and heard being touted thus far, and see if you can fit the descriptions as I've stated above to the names and reputations below.
Previous cabinet ministers and current MPs (in alphabetical order):
- Rona Ambrose - Alberta
- Michael Chong - Ontario
- Tony Clement - Ontario
- Jason Kenney - Alberta
- Kellie Leitch - Ontario
- Lisa Raitt - Ontario
- Michelle Rempel - Alberta
- John Baird - Ontario
- Maxime Bernier - Quebec
- Peter MacKay - Nova Scotia
- James Moore - British Columbia
- Brian Pallister - Manitoba
- Jean Charest - Quebec
- Bernard Lord - New Brunswick
- Christy Clark - British Columbia
- Brad Wall - Saskatchewan
- Doug Ford - Toronto city councillor
- Ben Mulroney - son of former prime minister Brian Mulroney
There's a few names that stand out for me. Who stands out for you?
It's going to be a long leadership race. My guess is the vote won't happen next year, but in Spring of 2017.