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Conservative Convention: Well, it really is Stephen Harper’s party


 

Kady fills us in on why attending the Conservative convention in Winnipeg would have been a stunning waste of time. Fun fact: 21 years ago, Stephen Harper attended the founding Reform Party convention in…Winnipeg, because he’d grown tired of an autocratic ruling Conservative elite that was disdainful and ashamed of its base.

Some time later, he decided he wanted one of those for himself.


 

Conservative Convention: Well, it really is Stephen Harper’s party

  1. “grown tired of an autocratic ruling Conservative elite that was disdainful and ashamed of its base”

    I was just thinking the same thing myself, Paul. Maybe Harper’s got amnesia or something because I really don’t understand why he’s trying to recreate conditions that led to the formation of Reform in the first place.

    I am still dumbfounded by Harper’s speech last night where he told the base their ideas are ‘unrealistic’, ‘ideological’ and when things get tough be more ‘pragmatic’ (i.e liberal). I am sure that went down a storm in a room full of ideologues.

  2. As a phenomenon, it isn’t that new. My grandmother was purged from the Reform Party for advocating the independence of riding associations in, I think, the early 1990’s.

  3. “I am still dumbfounded by Harper’s speech last night where he told the base their ideas are ‘unrealistic’, ‘ideological’ and when things get tough be more ‘pragmatic’ (i.e liberal). I am sure that went down a storm in a room full of ideologues.”

    Agree.

    Perhaps we will soon find out how patient the party faithful can be. If there are going to be any fireworks, it will be tomorrow.

  4. (Yes I know I will be accused of plagiarizing myself for posting this again, after posting it on Kady’s blog, but it is still quite apt.)

    I liked the Prime Minister’s speech last night. Never before have I seen a leader of a political party tell it’s grass roots supporters to keep their mouths shut, and not let their ideological bent ruin the facade of moderation he has worked so hard to create. Really, the disdain he has for them all is quite charming. I wonder how many chairs got kicked behind the scenes last night?

  5. AMM, you’ve got a heck of a never, plagiarising yourself like that.

  6. Er, nerve.

  7. Jack: If it’s OK for the Prime Minister to do time and time again in Parliament, why not commenter on a blog in the netherworlds of the internet.

  8. No offence meant, of course, Paul.

  9. “Perhaps we will soon find out how patient the party faithful can be. If there are going to be any fireworks, it will be tomorrow.”

    Oh please! They’re all too scared to even look him in the eye.

  10. Speaking of irony, is it true that John Howard is scheduled to address the in camera plenary session?

  11. “Some time later, he decided he wanted one of those for himself.”

    Probably. But I can’t agree that he is “disdainful and ashamed of its base.” Perhaps. But it just doesn’t seem logical to me. Are we to believe that he was always disdainful and ashamed of its base, or that he has become disdainful and ashamed of its base? Neither one seems right, when you consider that he came from the Reform wing of the Party.

    What I heard last night in his speech was a more reasonable suggestion …he talked about the ridicule they were subjected to. Does anyone remember Preston Manning being called the David Duke of the North? Stockwell Day and Kinsella’s Barney? There are many examples. And the Liberals will go there again. There was a hint of it in Ignatieff’s announcement yesterday.

    It’s easy to say the Conservatives should just get over it, but I think that in the short term they won’t trust anyone. And yes, they’re fighting back with the same methods, which I hate.

  12. If we’re plagiarizing our own posts here, can I call him Party Chairman Harper on this thread too?

  13. For what it’s worth, I expect no push-back from the base against Harper at this convention or anytime soon. He’s delivered power, again, and he has done some identifiably limited-government and social-conservative things. (Incidentally, where’s everyone who was so certain he’d face a probably insurmountable leadership challenge if he failed, “for the third time in a row,” to win a majority government?)

    In retrospect, the striking thing about the titanic Mulroney 1984 coalition was how quickly it eroded: Reform is founded in 1987, the Bloc starts to coalesce in 1999-2000. Harper should be in that danger zone now but I don’t think, or see any evidence, that he is.

    But many years after the fact, former PCs who had gone to Reform were still telling me, in great detail, how disgusted they had been when Mulroney’s people said publicly that the boss couldn’t be held to decisions from policy conventions. I thought about that the other day when Ryan Sparrow said the same thing. I don’t think Harper is anywhere close to going down. But we can start to discern what it will look like, one day, when he does. The short version: He’ll be alone.

  14. I found that cynicism is running high amongst delegates. Even if someone was to run against Harper, and even if said someone was to say, “We’re going to be more accountable to the delegates”, I don’t think the delegates I spoke with – or myself included – would believe it.

    Right now, the members are happy to be attending a “government” convention for once in a generation and appear willing to ignore some completely centralized strategy tactics. (Though that said, a few grumbled about how badly the Quebec strategy played out and either correctly or incorrectly, they are pinning that on the PM for now.)

    No, I wasn’t getting any feeling that people wanted to go back to the splits of the 90’s. Anyone I spoke with last night that I had known from back in the early 2000s remembered how spirit-crushing the vote-split was and they don’t want to go back so long as we’re still seeing a larger game plan at work.

    And for the time being, the sense that there is a larger plan at work still exists.

  15. The Hack: You mean they’re waiting for the hidden agenda too? :)

    Paul: I was one of those initially who thought/hoped that not being able to deliver a majority gov’t would spell the deathknell for Harper. But then again, I’m not one to dwell on old wounds. Because of that, I probably underestimated the residual angst remaining from being shut out of governing for so long and thought that Harper’s current behavior and legislation (which is anything but conservative) would play more of a role. Also, even I underestimated the conservative’s party stomach for hypocrisy. It really is OKIYAC.

    So it looks like the party is going to play the nice doggie for one more go round. I guess hoping if they sit down and shut up for one more cycle he’ll finally get the majority and be able to deliver on the hidden agenda/larger plan at work.

    To be honest, this minority is probably the best thing for Harper. He can avoid putting out any so-con policies that would wake up the rest of Canada, and blame it on the opposition as he does.

    However, does it say something when it’s because of these troubled economic times that you can’t act on your ideology? Considering that a good portion of your ideology is how it would benefit the economy, something seems out of place there.

  16. Fill in the blank.

    Harper doesn’t have to take a puppy to 24 Sussex, he’s already got ________.

    I wanted to post this with Duffy’s pal Potter, but he didn’t have a suitable thread going.

  17. I’m not an obsessive observer of the Conservatives but it seems to me that most of the potential for inner turmoil has dissipated because Harper has evolved the entity into Harper’s Party.

    Most of the Manning red-meat Reformers have gone or been marginalized. Very few old school PC types remain. There’s a handful Harris stormtroopers in prominent positions but they can not be described as Progressive Conservatives.

    From what I’ve seen Harper’s Party is an collection of angry car dealers, denturists, real estate lawyers, and financial planners who (1) don’t know anything and (2) are proud they don’t know anything.

    But they are Harper’s Party. And will be that for the foreseeable future.

  18. But is Harper as disainful as Pierre Trudeau, or Jean Chretien? It seems that politicians in Canada really come in only three forms: arrogant, “all things to all people”, and unsuccessful. “All things to all people” isn’t exactly a recipe for long-term success either, as Paul Martin so wonderfully illustrated.

    Chretien’s comments on pepper spray (and a hundred other things) come to mind, and of course Trudeau’s arrogance is legendary (“to be a farmer is to be a complainer”, etc.).

    Harper isn’t in danger from his own party because there isn’t anyone to replace him. Jim Prentice comes closest, but Harper kills two birds with one stone by putting him in environment – Prentice’s potential leadership becomes more difficult given that this particular task is going to create animosity, and he’s a capable minister, and the one most likely to be successful.

    Who else is there? Think of prominent conservatives – MacKay -no, Stronach – gone, Clement- not a chance, Day – no, never, no, Flaherty – yeah, right, etc. Harper has no obvious replacements; no Ignatieff or Rae in the background, occasionally out-shining the leader

  19. because he’d grown tired of an autocratic ruling Conservative elite that was disdainful and ashamed of its base.

    That’s right, Harper helped start the Reform Party because he was upset that the PC’s didn’t allow the media in their policy workshops.

    The media is such a bunch of pathetic, mewling whiners sometimes.

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