This item got buried in the press tonight, but I was involved in this effort to get John Tory elected in the Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey byelection today and it was awfully good to call people up on the phone all day and have people say good things about the candidate, for a change.
In yet another example of me being unable to extricate myself from politics, I spent today in downtown Toronto with a bunch of people phoning from PC headquarters to everyone in Dufferin-Peel region trying to get Tory elected, and he won a big, massive, stinking victory. And I got to eat lots of good free food. Then I went to the victory party at this hockey arena in Orangeville and the whole press corps were there, and I shook John Tory's hand as he came in, and shook his wife's hand, and later ate more food. Ernie Eves was also there and so was Bill Davis. So in all it was great. I don't know what the final margin was but it sure seemed like a 4-to-1 margin, even if it really wasn't. Tory was sweeping to victory in every poll. It was a total crushing of the Liberals. In fact the NDP and even the Greens came very close to the Liberals' totals. It was great. It reminded me of all the things that drew me to politics in the first place. It's when you lose that you get turned off and disgusted by the process.
Admittedly I didn't do much on this campaign, just phoned people from the phone banks in Toronto and ate large quantities of PC party food, but it was nice to be part of a victory. Again.
CONSERVATIVE CONVENTION IN MONTREAL OPENS
I didn't know this but the Conservative national convention opened TONIGHT. MAN, I thought it was tomorrow. What brutal timing.
Maybe a few of our federal Conservative friends might take note of the things John Tory is doing right. They have their convention in Montreal and already they're getting a lot of bad press from people yelling about how this party has to become more mainstream on social issues. The same old story. Now there's yet another story of Cheryl Gallant opening her mouth about Canadians bashing Christians or something. Yet again, I am glad I am not in Montreal with this group of nutbars.
I also heard today that the luckless Belinda's been reduced to introducing John Baird or something. So it sure looks like the Alliance hacks are running the show. They have learned no lessons from the Republicans. When the Republicans held their convention in 2004 they gave tons of air time to the moderates, such as AHHHNOLD, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, people like that. I don't know what they have all planned but if the Conservative Party had any brains at all they'd be putting Belinda up there, too, and show off their other star moderates of the party like Jim Prentice, big star Rona Ambrose, and Stephen Fletcher. Now wouldn't the press eat it up if Stephen Fletcher, a quadriplegic, was able to address delegates on disability issues for a bit. He'd look like Christopher Reeve up there. It would really make the party look like an inclusive caring group of people. And why not put Lewis MacKenzie up there, too, to talk about the military? Let's make this weekend a big infomercial for the Conservatives! But noooooooo. I don't think we'll be seeing much of them if what I heard is accurate. The only moderate that appears likely to be getting any face time is Peter MacKay. I looked at the schedule and it looks as if they're doing nothing exciting as far as speeches are concerned. To my eyes this looks like a convention for complete wonks, as bad as the NDP ones. Yecch.
I don't know about you but I think the problem with the party isn't party unity. The press seems to want to bring up how fractious the party is but I really don't sense that this party is tearing itself apart. Truth is the party is actually really united now that the real malcontent complete losers like Joe Who are out of there. The sense I have is that the members may disagree on a few things but generally have a strong desire to come together and hash out their differences. I am convinced the desire to win is a big motivating factor for everyone.
The difficulty is that the people at the top have no clue how to win. The real problem, then, is that the people who run the show with the Conservative Party of Canada are total rank amateurs. They seem averse to proven methods to win elections and gain supporters. They've allowed wingnut MPs to spout off to the press, they've written up policy behind closed doors, they've been gutless in the House of Commons and fearful of a real grassroots debate at the convention, and fearful of standing for their own bedrock principles. Where's the backbone from the leadership? And furthermore, where's the restraint and sense of responsibility from the rest of the party, because the Cheryl Gallants of the party have shown very little of that. We've got to see some responsibility, and greater backbone, from everyone in the coming few days.
And we need to see a mainstream social policy. Otherwise, forget about winning an election! I'm not saying adopt gay marriages; I'm saying stop scaring people into thinking abortions will be outlawed. That's what I'm talking about. I hope the delegates, in this free and fair convention coming up, adopt a mainstream policy, have it written in stone in the platform and be done with it. Then they can say that they had an open debate and this is what they really believe. If Cheryl Gallant doesn't like it she can go join the Christian Heritage Party or whoever will take her, and the party will be rid of one less problem MP.
The Conservatives would then emerge looking bulletproof on social issues. They'd look like they really believe in their own line of BS, not simply make up their policies in order to win an election. And then people won't be tempted to think that Conservatives have any sort of hidden agenda. They need to show the country that they are moderate, reasonable, trustworthy people, just like the people of Canada. I hope that is what happens. I hope the delegates produce some clear direction for the entire party to go and somehow get this party on the right track.
I'm doing a lot of hoping because my confidence in this party isn't all there at the moment. I'm going to sit at home and watch this convention with interest and see whether these delegates save this party from itself or lay an egg. Hopefully by gathering together in one place they'll be able to listen to different perspectives on where the party is going and be inclined to think seriously about whether socially conservative policies really are the direction the party should go. And in my view they are not.