'We have to be consistent' - Macleans.ca

‘We have to be consistent’


Maxime Bernier delivered a speech to the Manning conference this weekend on conservatism and Quebec. The prepared text is here.

Conservative policies don’t need to be watered down to appeal to a substantial portion of Quebec voters. On the contrary, as I said to a Calgary audience recently, I believe that to succeed, we have to be consistent, to defend our principles openly, with passion and with conviction.

What conservative principles need in Quebec is to be sold with a particular attention to Quebec’s specific political culture, just as they are tailored to be attractive to an English-speaking audience. They have to be crafted as a way to solve the problems of all of Canada, including Quebec, and not as a reaction from one region against another. If we succeed in doing this, conservatism has a brilliant future in this country.

Rob Silver considers the implications.


‘We have to be consistent’

  1. OMG, Conservative politicians talking about putting forth conservative political principles – the denizens of the parliamentary press gallery, the self-appointed keepers of our country's soul, will not be pleased.

    • What's with those Cons, they are supposed to follow the agenda set by the media,
      like the Libs do!!

      • What's with those Cons, they are supposed to follow the agenda set by the PMO, like the cabinet does, and do say nothing significant, make no tough or significant decisions, do nothing significant.

        The status quo, deficits and all, are quite fine after all.

        • This moment shall be remembered as the time when tedbetts, wilson and jarrid agreed more closely (albeit through heavy sarcasm) than at any other time on these discussion boards…

  2. Makes one realize the paucity of decent political leadership – current or potential – in this Nation right now…
    Maybe we should just skip a generation and give the kids a chance!

  3. Well, that's quite a good speech! I don't care if Bernier didn't write it: if he can understand it well enough to give it convincingly in his second language, I have to reconsider my opinion of him. And there's no doubt now that he's gone rogue: yet Harper can't repudiate him without losing all his Quebec seats. Prediction: whoever succeeds Harper, Bernier will clinch the Quebec lieutenant role and a senior portfolio, if he doesn't himself win the leadership.

    • But I thought EVERYTHING is vetted by the PMO?
      MPs are not allowed to make speeches that Harper has not personally given the stamp of approval too, right?
      And Harper is a climate change/global warming denier, right?

      No no, Harper wrote this speech.

      • So you're saying everything IS vetted by PMO?

    • I agree that Bernier gave a good speech, but I still don't consider him to have "gone rogue". Bernier is off-message, certainly, and by promoting core conservative principles he has shown a surprising degree of independence, given the government's penchant for muting and controlling its caucus.

      However, it's easy to imagine Harper reading the text of this speech and liking it, despite the mild "watered down" gibe. Maybe he has even come around to Bernier's suggestion about marketing authentic, undiluted conservative principles in Quebec, custom-tailored to Quebec's political culture.

      • I can see Harper liking it for its own sake, but in context? Hmm, well, maybe. Still, if Bernier's been authorised to raise the small-c conservative standard in QC, why is he not back in Cabinet?

      • Bernier is NOT off-message, CR. Harper and the Conservative caucus are off-message.

        • Bingo. We have ourselves a winner.

          I nominate MYL for the CPC leadership.

          • Aw, c'mon, G, what did I ever do to you?

            If nominated I will not run. If elected I will not serve. I do not believe that the electorate of this country would tolerate my brutal and frank assessments of the state of the nation. I would need too much remedial work to lighten the tone to Thatcherian levels.

          • You can't have him, he's already going to the Liberal Thinkers Conference. It would look very fishy for a CPC leadership candidate to go to that. Very fishy indeed.

          • NOT going to the Thinkers' conference. Don't you remember? I dispatched you and your start-thinking-and-acting-like-a-credible-alternative message.

  4. God Wherry, you're such a Liberal hack – this speech was posted on Bernier's site last Friday, why did you wait until Monday to blog about it?!?!

    (or something)

  5. While I disagree with a lot of what he says, at least he is (refreshingly) articulating some ideas and spurring some discussion.

    Maxime took a walk in the snow after the Julie debacle and returned Monsieur Bernier? Could be so.

  6. Harper has consistently ignored, some might even say encouraged, supposedly off-message musings by the party's right wing. No consequences for MP's speaking out against abortion, but pulled off the ballot for talking about AIDS in Toronto, for instance.

    It's a way the Conservatives can hint to the right wing base that everything is fine and they should just wait quietly for the majority. I wouldn't go so far as to say it is orchestrated, but I don't see the Bernier speeches as going rogue, just the Quebec version of dual messaging.

    • There are lots of appealing things about your hypothesis, but somehow I just don't think the Conservatives are this clever.

  7. Only people Iffy thinks can think, are invited to the Thinkers Conferencee:

    ''…But the conference is billed as a non-partisan event and, as of the end of last week, Liberal MPs had yet to land a spot on their own party's invitation list.''

    I guess MPs are nobodies in the LPC.

    (last paragraph)

  8. Oh no..Prentice too!

    ''…The documents suggest the communications policy has eliminated senior federal scientists from media coverage of climate-change issues.

    They note that four prominent scientists, who regularly spoke for the government of Canada on climate change issues, appeared in only 12 newspaper clippings in the first nine months of 2008, compared with 99 clippings over the same period in 2007….''


  9. I would encourage every party to broadly and loudly articulate their principles to anyone who'll give them the time of day, and be unafraid to let the resulting votes fall where they may.

    It would be a refreshing change from what we've currently got.

    • Boy do i second that.

    • Lynn, that's so crazy it just might… work.

  10. "It's ironic that this is so today, because before the Quiet Revolution, French Canada was a very conservative society. It is common knowledge that it was conservative in a social and religious sense. But few people know or remember that it was also conservative in the sense that I'm using today, which is in terms of individual freedom, free markets and small government."

    Hmmm, guess i'm the dissenting voice here.Not really revisionism, but close. Nowhere does he mention Duplessis, and what i believe many Quebecer's once referred to as the great darkness. Another whipper snapper who thnks because he didn't live through this history it didn't happen? But it did Monsieur Bernier, it most certainly did. Isn't trying to claim a piece of the past as emblematic of consevtive values, without providing context as to the role of the quiet revoution in bringing down tyranny, pretty darn close to revisionism? Or is it merely another politician trying to sell you something without full disclosure? i found a number of such selective rendering of historical fact in this speech, so i wonder. But he is selling something after all. can't expect him not to try and give it a shiny new wrapper.

  11. A lot of people would like to see the Conservative Party adopt traditional conservative policies, all across Canada and esp. in Quebec.

    Of course, most of these people are in the Liberal party.

  12. *Yeesh* what cretin fest.

    Reminds me of why New York Times journalist Ancrew Revkin decided to take a buy-out and move to education rather than continue the pointless exercise in "readership participation."

    Get out while you're still sane, Wherry.

    • Get out while you're still sane, Wherry.

      He typed this using his nose. He's wearing a straitjacket.

    • We can't all be as clever as you MR. But it's better this way – the contrast emphasizes your brilliance.

  13. It is no secret in Ottawa that Bernier and a few others are putting together leadership teams. The PMO seems to be tolerating, so long as none of them openly challenge the power of the PM.

    The conventional wisdom is that Harper will step down if he doesnt get a majority next election.

    • The conventional wisdom in 2005 was that Harper was unelectable.
      In 2006 the casualties of the Afghan mission and the Enviro file would do Harper in.
      In 2008 Harper was done, the coalition out smarted him.
      In 2009 the recession would destroy Harper.
      In 2010 now he's done it, prorogation and war crimes will finish him off…..or something like that

      • "In 2006 the casualties of the Afghan mission and the Enviro file would do Harper in.
        In 2008 Harper was done, the coalition out smarted him.
        In 2009 the recession would destroy Harper.
        In 2010 now he's done it, prorogation and war crimes will finish him off…..or something like that "

        Whose conventional wisdom was that?

        Stop making things up, you imbecile.

        • So Wilson is suggesting that Harper could maintain his coalition while in a reduced minority situation, or even opposition?

          Not out of the realm of possibility, but he would be in for one hell of a fight.

          • As only He would know.

  14. Liberals of the 90s: Campaign from the moderate left, govern from the mild right.
    Conservatives of the 00s: Speech from the strongly right, govern from the mild right.

    • Conservatives of the 00s: Speech from the mild right, govern like you don't want to accomplish anything, and do what you can to hide everything you ever said before you got elected.

    • Mild right? These twits? Governing from the mild right? Oh, if only…

    • Dude, if you think they're speaking from the "strongly right" then you are looking at the spectrum from a unique perspective.

  15. As I've said before, my established impression of Bernier has been "he's an idiot", but Wherry keeps posting these vignettes of excellent things he says.

    Why is Wherry messing with my mind like this?

    • Maybe he is a Liberal agent seeking to sow divisions within Tory ranks.
      Maybe he is a Bernier fan and wants Canadians to see more of this true-blue limited government advocate.
      Maybe he's a journalist who thought Bernier's remarks would contribute to the national conversation.
      (leans in, whispers ominously)
      Maybe he wondered how best to mess with Gaunilon's mind this week.

      • I knew it. They're everywhere you know.

        I wouldn't have to be so paranoid if everyone wasn't out to get me.

        • PS: Boo!

  16. You say tomato…..

  17. I'm going to agree with kcm: are people forgetting Maurice Duplessis and all the wonderful conservative ideals he held up?

    Like giving envelopes of money to reporters?