CPC Candidate Assessments
Over the past two months we have been interviewing and reviewing the candidates in the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race. Below is our take on these candidates, what they represent and who poses a competitive chance at holding the Liberal government to account in 2019. Read our ballot recommendation here.
A True Underdog Story
To describe Alexander’s career as tumultuous would be an understatement! In this election he is promoting his vision for a “New Canada” a vision based on higher-than-ever levels of economic immigration, tech-sector growth, renewed and widespread initiatives to support bilingualism, increased global trade, peacekeeping, and better relationships with First Nations.
Many have discounted Chris because of his involvement in the much-maligned Barbaric Cultural Practices Hotline and sadly, only those most informed know that he is actually one of the most socially and economically progressive candidates out there.
While Chris may have have found himself on the wrong side of history in the past he has the qualities of a good leader and currently demonstrates a substantial departure from his years as an MP. We like Chris as a candidate and are excited to see what he does once the election is over.
Mr. Congeniality / Lolz Candidate
Maxime Bernier was given a huge boost when O’Leary dropped out and endorsed him at the end of April. Throughout this election, his campaign’s meme-game has been strong. Like O’Leary, he has attracted many new people to the Conservative Party and generated lots of interest in traditionally hard-to-reach groups.
Socially, he is a very progressive candidate. Economically, his ideas are controversial. His flagstone policy of abolishing supply management appeals to consumer and corporate interests but has caused groups of farmers across the country to rally against him to protect their businesses.
He is likely one of the only candidates with the charisma and political experience to take on Justin Trudeau in 2019 but will face a massive uphill battle considering many of his policies are considered highly unconventional by Canadian standards.
Final thoughts: If preserving Canada’s supply management policy is important to you, you probably don’t want to support Maxime Bernier, if stopping Kellie Leitch is your top priority, you probably want to support this guy.
Won’t Win a Beauty Contest, Likes Newfoundland
Many would be quick to dismiss Steven Blaney as a non-entity in this race but his targeted emphasis on remote ridings in Newfoundland/Labrador, the Territories and rural Quebec has given him a strong edge over many of the other candidates.
Blaney has a likable presence but his policies are inward-looking and isolationist. He also introduced the super sloppy Bill C-51 which was a major part of the Harper government’s downfall in 2015.
While it is unlikely to see a Blaney victory, he has been a constant thorn in the sides of many candidates and has managed to stay afloat in a crowded field thanks to his natural charisma. But we still wouldn’t vote for him.
Lives on a farm, hates carbon, wants to privatize CMHC
Branded as a “Liberal in disguise” by his most vocal detractors, the mild-mannered Chong has been a surprisingly polarizing candidate. His tendency to vote on principle rather than party lines led him to support the highly politicized M103 – a controversial decision which has exacerbated the rift between the progressive-conservative and social-conservative factions of the party.
His policies are often youth-focused and his main proposal is to privatize CMHC and reduce risk if Canada’s housing market collapses. He is incredibly knowledgeable in political history and policy but often meanders his way to conclusions, a negative in debates. He has an unfortunate tendency of using the word “tax” way too much which has many far-right snowflakes feeling triggered. He’s basically a huge nerd, but if anyone should be running our country, it’s nerds.
The biggest thing Michael has going for him is a demonstrated ability to attract droves of voters away from the Liberal party in 2019. Conservatives who are serious about winning in 2019 should be looking to country-unifiers like Chong to accomplish this.
Likes guns and babies
Aside from his stance on guns, Lemieux has also stolen Harper’s haircut.
As pro-military as he is pro-life, Lemieux – while he seems like a nice dude (beers Pierre?) – is not someone we can conscientiously support.
Before this leadership race, Leitch was best known in politics as the face of the Barbaric Cultural Practices Hotline during the 2015 Canadian Federal election. She seems to have since adopted that persona or, equally likely, strategically tapped into the current of fear and misinformation-fuelled rage that led to the groundswell success of Donald Trump’s campaign in the United States.
Her candidacy has been an almost direct copy/paste of the Trump-formula with a few weird and even psychedelic moments. She’s totally against any type of relaxation in terms of pot policy but heck, we’d love to smoke a joint with her and just talk for hours about what Canadian values are and what the deal was with that fucking video.
She is one of the two reasons (and the one remaining reason since Kevin O’Leary dropped out) that we started A Strong Canada. Her style of campaign and oversimplified version of reality have no place in our vast, beautiful and diverse country. In the past months, we’ve spoken to many people who know her personally and have lovely things to say about her, but these conversations always seem to end with “uhh… we just don’t know what happened…”.
The Last Person We’d Mess With
Peterson is your classic example of a sharp mind combined with entrepreneurship. While he may not have the profile of Kevin O’Leary, Rick is as energetic as he is intelligent and that’s exactly what the Conservative Party needs if they want to stay competitive with the Liberal government, and if a future Canada wants to stay competitive in Global Markets.
While some of his policies may be untested and unconventional, his passion and emphasis on taking a balanced approach on social issues are both huge positives. He may not be the candidate everyone expected but he’s exactly the type of candidate the party should be promoting going into 2019.
He has remained principled since joining the campaign and has been one of Kellie Leitch’s most vocal detractors. Super energetic, charismatic, and sharp. He’d be a contender in 2019.
Captain of the Big Blue Ship
Obhrai’s unbroken emphasis on a unifying message and positive attitude have set him uniquely apart from the rest of the field.
Obhrai brings a solid philosophical grounding to everything he does. On the debate stage and in interviews he tends to play it safe, talking about how awesome the Big Blue Ship is (and it is!) while he cracks joke after joke. While this is a safe media strategy and has won him more friends than enemies, it has the regrettable effect of causing some to not take him seriously.
Once you get Deepak talking – really talking – he gives incredibly nuanced answers which point to the incredible wealth of experience and solid philosophical grounding he brings to the practice of governing. The public has two things right: there is little about Deepak that would be considered negative. Also, scarves.
As Dean of the Conservative caucus with decades of experience, very few enemies, and an all-too-rare ability to work very well across party lines, Deepak is the Captain of the Big Blue Ship, regardless of the outcome of this Leadership race.
Solid Contender With a Huge….
Just when you didn’t think it was possible, you will get lost in his eyes. O’Toole is a relatively fresh face in federal politics, winning his first MP position in 2012. After Julian Fantino’s bungling of Veterans’ Affairs, O’Toole was appointed to the post in 2015 but had little time to fix much before the Great Conservative Decimation at the hands of Trudeau’s Liberals later that year.
His platform contains incredible depth. It’s ultra-fleshed out and it’s reasonable enough that most people wouldn’t have any issue voting for him. He is one of the only candidates that has a Northern Canada policy and his sensible, dad-like demeanour has helped him warm Canadian hearts from coast to coast.
He has run a fairly positive campaign but has fired off volleys at fellow candidates during debates so he obviously isn’t afraid to put up his dukes when pushed. If O’Toole doesn’t win this race, he’ll be a serious contender the next time the Conservatives are looking for an experienced candidate to lead the party.
If his constant and unsolicited insistence on not being into the gay thing doesn’t turn you off, his policies likely will. His “Ceasefire on Gas & Oil & Coal” is just the beginning of a number of policies that don’t belong in this century.
He’s probably an awesome guy to have a maltshake with but we certainly don’t want to have it with him as our Prime Minister.
Also, what’s with the air-whipping motions he always makes with his hands whenever he’s onstage?
He dropped out. Pretty sweet.
Kudos to him though, his antics brought a lot of interest and attention to the Conservative Leadership race – including ours. We live in a politically wild time and O’Leary’s entrance to the leadership has helped get more apolitical Canadians involved in their country’s government. But seriously, we wouldn’t want the government running our businesses, so why should a business guy run the government?
We all owe Kevin a solid for motivating us to become more engaged in the politics of our country, and a double solid for having the good sense to drop the hell out.
Let’s grab a drink Kev.
Stephen Harper Redux
The heir-apparent to Stephen Harper’s crown, at least according to the Conservative Party elite. Scheer has made a name for himself by appearing as a compromising Social Conservative and publicly tolerating the Progressive wing of the party.
Scheer spent time as Speaker of the House and his successes here certainly cannot be diminished or downplayed. While his campaign has done an excellent job of promoting the perception that he is a front-runner, his personal adherence to Social Conservatism will seriously hurt his chances in this election and even more in 2019.
That said, we’ll take him over Leitch.
Mr. Grassroots Engagement
Aside from being a bright fiscal mind, Andrew Saxton brings to the table a well-balanced social approach to many issues. His emphasis on environmental issues and grassroots engagement are, we believe, what the Conservative party needs to be competitive again.
His soft-spoken and reasonable voice has not been a winner at debates but his solid work to speak with Canadians from the smallest hamlets to the biggest cities has won him loads of grassroots support while roadtripping across the country in an RV. While he is unlikely to win the Leadership, his thoughtfulness, genuine nature and stellar experience in both public and private sectors have won our support far beyond this campaign.
Could Probably Take All Other Candidates in a Streetfight – Except Peterson
Lisa Raitt is everything that the entire Western world that voted for Hillary Clinton wanted her to be – unlike Hillary, Lisa is cool shit.
The only problem we can seem to find is that nobody outside of informed political circles seems to know this about her. Her decision to brand herself as the soccer-mom-candidate might fly within traditionally Conservative audiences, but if she wants to find her way into the hearts of all Canadians she’ll need to show us her final form.
She has tons of experience in government and knows how to get things done, doesn’t make promises she can’t keep and has a reputation for being uber-principled and immune to backroom deals – especially when it comes to back-to-work legislation.
Her philosophy of government is to take her policy cues from those she represents. Lisa will listen to what the people want and find a way to get it done. She is one of the most qualified to lead the party into 2019.