Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party lost the election because they failed to articulate their vision to Canadian voters.

Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party lost the election because they failed to articulate their vision to Canadian voters.

Conservatives lost their vision

Harper and Tories made a tactical error in campaigning on partisan attacks instead of articulating their future plans.

On election night, the red tide started in Atlantic Canada and slowly creeped westward across Canada until the Liberal Party reached majority status.

Time to lock up those mortgages, hide away the guns and run for the hills to ride out the incoming socialist apocalypse in some secret backwoods cabin.

The end is nigh!

Maybe it’s overly dramatic, but it’s amusing to hear that kind of chatter in post-election conversations and on social media.

If the skies rain fire and rivers turn to blood, and the ghost of Joe McCarthy invades the Great White North, then maybe it could be appropriate to blame the incoming Liberal government, but don’t hold your breath.

It will be at least a week or so until Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau unveils his cabinet on Nov. 4, which will likely include a few members from B.C.

There is no set date for the official transition from outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Trudeau; that will first require Harper to announce his intention to the Governor General that he will resign. After that, the Governor General will invite Trudeau to form government and a swearing-in ceremony date will be set.

Until then, the Conservative government, and their cabinet, will continue to serve as the ruling government.

It’s quite a fall from grace for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, which swept into power in 2006 on the public anger stemming from the Liberal sponsorship scandal.

Now, after running an disastrous re-election campaign that focused on the individual party leaders rather than policy and past economic records, the Conservatives—which had ruled with minority and majority governments—are on the outside looking in.

The Conservative strategy seemed to borrow from former elections where attack ads on previous Liberal leaders Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff proved devastating.

Hoping to repeat that success again, the Tory attack machine began an onslaught on Justin Trudeau months before the election writ was dropped.

Instead of campaigning off Conservative strengths, such as their economic management of the Great Recession, voters only heard about how Trudeau was ‘Just Not Ready’.

To put it simply, the Tory election strategy seemed to be aimed at convincing voters to re-elect them not because they deserved it, but because it would prevent the other parties from forming government.

Recently, the brightest moment for the Conservative Party was in 2011, as Harper was rewarded with a majority government after literally begging Canadian voters to give him one.

Remember the campaign slogan?

‘A strong, stable, national, majority Conservative government’

Harper got what he wanted, and it was time for the Tories to take control of the legislative agenda and pass whatever bills they wanted, because—after all—they’d been given a majority government, so obviously Canadians must agree with whatever policies they decide to put into legislation.

Fast forward to a week ago and the Conservatives discovered that’s not the case.

Many things conspired against the Tories this past election cycle such as senate scandals, the muzzling of federal scientists and proroguing Parliament when it suited them.

However, two of the most controversial legacies of Tory rule was the near-dictatorial control of party MPs from the Prime Minister’s Office and the use of omnibus bills to pass legislation in the House of Commons.

Both were an affront to democracy.

While unity in party messaging is important in a parliamentary democracy, MPs need to have the freedom to voice their own thoughts on legislation and vote accordingly without fear of party reprisals.

Omnibus bills loaded up with all kinds of amendments were passed by the Conservative majority without proper debate, as the Tories repeatedly invoked time allocation—a legislative tool that curtails discussion on a bill.

It’s an understandable tool if every single MP spoke up to voice an opinion on a bill; imagine how much time it would take 308 (now 338) MPs to voice their thoughts on a particular piece of legislation for 10-15 minutes and do the math.

However, the ongoing and continued use of the procedure demonstrated a lack of respect for the democratic process.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Liberals govern with their majority, but in the meantime, the Conservative Party has at least a few years to rebuild their brand and figure out how to re-connect with Canadian voters beyond their base.

Because it will be a long exile from 24 Sussex if they don’t.


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