Ten things that would guarantee the new CPC leader is a winner

Scott Gilmore: So you want to be the next prime minister? Just follow my simple list—or you’re a doomed fool.
Conservative MP Erin O’Toole asks a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, April 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Every columnist holds it as a self-evident truth that any politician can be elected and then preside over a period of unmatched peace and prosperity if (and only if) the candidate adopts all the views of said columnist.

The political punditry, by definition, believe what they want is obviously what Canadians want and therefore any politician who can’t see that is a doomed fool.

I am no different. I am unshakeably confident that if the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada simply adopts my wish list below, they would swiftly be elevated into 24 Sussex, or into whatever AirBnB that will be housing our next prime minister.

To save me the trouble of sending this to each and every candidate, I’m publishing my list here and would encourage anyone who aspires to lead this country to clip and save it in their wallet for future reference.

  1. Stop fetishizing rural Canada. Yes, I understand—working the land and living in small towns somehow imbues people with the beatific glow of “real Canadian-ness.” Nonetheless, over 70 per cent of the population now lives in a metropolitan area, and that proportion is growing. Not surprisingly, they aren’t voting Tory. In the last election the CPC was shut out of all the most densely populated ridings. If they started to focus on urban Canadians and their issues and concerns, that could change.
  2. Be Canadian. This may sound like a weird one, but consider how regionally focused the CPC has become. It is no longer a national political party, but a western alienation movement. The next leader should be able to quickly and easily explain why they can improve the lives of every Canadian, from Newfoundland to Nunavut.
  3. Understand demographics. Canada is changing. We are not only growing more urban, but we are becoming less white and less straight. The role of women in the workplace and household continues to evolve. The CPC needs to not just catch up, but get ahead of these changes. Be the party of the next generation, not just our grandparents’ generation.
  4. Have some shame. This country is suffering from too many politicians willing to twist their opponents’ words out of context, make promises they know they’ll never keep, throw accusations they know are untrue, and even lie outright when needed. Canadians will embrace a politician they trust, someone who is self-evidently honest, someone who can still blush.
  5. Respect Parliament. In a recent interview with Paul Wells, the new leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, was asked about the heckling in the House of Commons. He replied that he was amazed at how poorly MPs behave, and he pointed out that the vast majority of the jack-assery is coming from the CPC benches—a fact that anyone who has sat through Question Period can attest. I want the next leader of the CPC to cut that crap out and drag the loudest mouths into his office with a simple warning: Voters deserve better. Grow up or get out.
  6. Believe in climate change. The fact this even has to be said is perhaps the greatest indictment of how far the CPC has drifted away from mainstream Canada. If every platform speech doesn’t lead with how you are going to address this crisis, then stay home. Canadians are taking this seriously and if you’re not helping you’re not needed.
  7. Believe in free markets. Another weird request, given that the Conservative Party was once seen as the champion of free markets. Now, it eschews market mechanisms like a carbon tax in favour of half-baked incentives, regulations and subsidies. Given that Bay Street is aligned with the Liberals and NDP on this issue, the CPC needs to shake its head and stop opposing any idea that isn’t its own. (Although, ironically, in this case the idea was originally proposed by the Conservative Party—but then the Liberals agreed, so…)
  8. Believe in individual liberty. Again—conservatives were once the loudest advocates for a person’s right to do whatever they damn well choose as long as it doesn’t affect others. Why have they forgotten this? I want the next leader of the CPC to not care who I sleep with, what I smoke or what gender I choose.
  9. Have a plan to share. Andrew Scheer ran on a very vague platform. Doug Ford didn’t have one at all. It would be great if you could tell voters what you are actually going to do in office, how much it will cost, and how you will pay for it. I can’t believe I have to ask for this, but here we are.
  10. Want to be prime minister. Too many CPC politicians want to be the most CPCish politician they can be, more than they want to be prime minister. They love to revel in the cheers of their hard core base, and to point fingers at other conservatives who aren’t as conservative as them. This will only keep you in opposition. So choose what you want more. (Note to Erin O’Toole: when you accuse Peter MacKay of being “Liberal-Lite”, voters just hear “electable”.)

I wanted to add “Ovaries” to my wishlist, but given that Rona Ambrose, Lisa Raitt, and other leading female members of the CPC caucus are not running, this seems unlikely. Nonetheless, it’s incredible that we are 20 years into the 21st century, and this country has still not elected a woman prime minister. And, let’s be frank, the CPC is not popular among female voters. Nominating a woman could change all of that. Maybe next time.

So, there you go boys—10 simple things you can do that will guarantee your election as prime minister. And if you disagree, you’re a doomed fool. Obviously.