The Conservative party has a remarkable opportunity to prepare to regain power in the wake of our equally remarkable nine-year run in government. Together we have moved Canada in a conservative direction on a broad range of policy fronts. And we owe it to our record, to our movement and to our party to continue to do so.In response, let's set the record straight: Harper has done nothing at all to persuade Canadians to accept a more small-c conservative worldview. In fact, public opinion has moved in the opposite direction on his watch.
Key to regaining power is selecting the right leader.
Politics today is more leader-driven than ever before. This campaign, if anything, reinforced this. The public did not turn away from the broad policy agenda of Conservatives, instead they turned toward “change” as embodied in Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
And that reality is reflected the Cons' election strategies and results.
In 2006, they won power primarily demanding accountability and reassuring voters they wouldn't be in a position to change Canada much at all. In 2008 and 2011, they focused mostly on nebulous concepts like "not a leader" and "just visiting" for lack of any belief that their value system would resonate beyond a 28% base. And in 2015, forced to abandon leadership politics due to Stephen Harper's unpopularity, they lost their place in power pushing a right-wing worldview as their final campaign message.
Which isn't to say the Cons haven't tried to sway public opinion and turn Canada into a meaner society. But while they've misused their power to temporarily silence anybody they could control, there's no evidence they've ultimately managed to win Canadians over.