Advice to Conservatives: Think twice - 2019-10-25
What's to be done about Andrew Scheer? He's the most Western-entrenched Conservative leader since—well, since Rona Ambrose, Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day, Preston Manning, Joe Clark and John Diefenbaker. He's reduced the Conservatives to pariah status in the country's big eastern cities, terrifying windswept concrete valleys of Laurentianism where gay people are prone to marry or parade without notice. He faces a leadership review vote at his party's national convention next spring in—shudder—Toronto, and Conservatives are more or less openly discussing their options for a trade-in.
Sure, he gained 26 seats and a million votes over his predecessor Harper's 2015 score, and he governs the largest opposition caucus, as a fraction of all seats in the Commons, since Pierre Trudeau's brief turn as an opposition leader in 1979-80. He did win more votes and seats than other recent opposition leaders running their first national campaigns—more than Tom Mulcair in 2015, more than Harper in 2004—and more than Jack Layton did in the "Orange Wave" election of 2011, Layton's fourth national campaign after three disappointing runs.
What preoccupies some Conservatives is what Scheer didn't accomplish this time, and what he showed on the way. He ran a curiously passive campaign with a bean-counting message: his government would cost you less than Justin Trudeau's. Running against a Liberal party with its most overtly values-based message since the Pierre Trudeau years, Scheer didn't prepare an adequate defence against value attacks or mount a strong argument for a different worldview. He just hoped people wouldn't ask him about abortion, sexuality, immigration, Indigenous issues or his own life story.