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Conservative leadership race goes from thriller to yawner

What the heck happened to the Conservative Party leadership race?

A week ago it was shaping up to be Clash of the Titans. Now it look like the latest Hallmark iteration. You know the plot: The erstwhile lovers (Peter MacKay and the party) meet and there is an immediate attraction. However, a former lover is seen lurking in the background (Stephen Harper?) and, unsure of everyone’s intentions, the two lovers don’t immediate fall into each other’s arms. Then there is a misunderstanding (perhaps that the party isn’t actually progressive?). The misunderstanding, however, is happily resolved just in time for a loving embrace two minutes before the credits roll.

All will live happily ever after … unless the Conservatives don’t win the next election in which case there will be a replay of Bride of Frankenstein.

Not having any insight into the machinations behind the Conservative leadership race I can only speculate as to what is going on and, of course, eye coincidences with a conspiratorial eye.

It’s interesting to note that three of the titans … Rona Ambrose, everyone’s favourite and the Conservatives’ best chance to win the next election; Pierre Polievre, the insiders’ favourite; and Jean Charest, the most politically seasoned of the bunch … all dropped out of the race within minutes (OK, maybe hours) after former Prime Minister Stephen Harper quit the fundraising arm of the party to, ostensibly, get more involved in the leadership or, more specifically, to make sure Charest didn’t win.

Coincidence? Perhaps, but interesting and noteworthy just the same.

It’s interesting and noteworthy because if Harper truly was grooming a successor to his liking, one would think that Ambrose or Polievre would have been on his list. Both served under Harper when he was prime minister.

Of course, MacKay did as well but he seemed more of a tolerance in the Harper government, largely because, in a different Hallmark movie (there’s a new one every week), he delivered the old Progressive Conservatives to Harper’s Canadian Alliance to form the Conservatives that we know today.

Now it looks like MacKay coronation for the leadership which is interesting because MacKay is clearly a Red Tory … fiscally conservative but socially a little more progressive. If there is a lesson to be learned from the 2019 election, it’s that the Conservatives need to take a bite out of the political spectrum to win. Taking every seat in Alberta and Saskatchewan with 90 per cent of the vote doesn’t get you into 24 Sussex … well, figuratively these days.

MacKay is certainly well equipped to take that bite. The question, however, is whether the party wants to embrace moving ever so slightly to the middle or continue lurching farther to the right. The party has to determine what it wants to be first, then pick a leader who reflects that philosophy.

FYI – Both Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty and Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP are backing MacKay.

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