Sunday, March 20, 2005

Congratulations, Mr. Harper

Well, you made it. The Conservative Party of Canada has completed its first post-election convention, and they gave you a pretty hefty vote of confidence.

True, you've ditched a few Reform Party platforms, but fortunately for you they're not exactly hot-button issues at the moment. And vowing to leave the abortion law "as is" may irritate a few social conservatives, but even they know that a lot of work has to be done at the "hearts and minds" stage before Canada moves on abortion.

"Hearts and minds." That's the real key to social change in Canada. And unlike the Liberals who are charging ahead willy-nilly (too scared of the interest groups), you're listening to the polls the right way on same-sex marriage. Too many people in the West don't like the idea of full-blown SSM, and it's time for PC Tories in the Quebec-Windsor Corridor to wise up and accommodate them. (For now, anyway.)

So, Stevie lad, I'm convinced. You might make a halfway decent PM.

But I'm not sending in my CPC membership cheque just yet.

Remember those questions I asked yesterday? I'm still waiting for answers. How you go about answering them is your business, but they still need to be answered.

And not just you, lad, but your colleagues in Parliament as well. Who are your fellow Tories? Canadians might name Peter McKay and Belinda Stronach, and maybe Stockwell Day and Elsie Wayne, but that's pretty much it. You need stars, Stephen. Yes, there's a risk of them becoming leadership rivals and backstabbers, but you need strong performers in Parliament who can become strong performers in Cabinet. That means they need room to make a name for themselves. You should be secure enough to give them that room.

And finally, lad, there's the policies. I'm not saying you have to abandon the entire Reform/CA platform to get elected. But you still need to identify the policies (and their principles) that you're going to stick with come hell, high water or opinion polls. The job now is to win the hearts and minds of all Canadians -- not just the West and the Corridor, but the Atlantic and the North as well. The Liberal-leaning mindset in those regions is going to be a tough one to dislodge, but fortunately you're up against Paul Martin, not Pierre Trudeau. So it's doable.

Okay, Stephen. Time to go back to work.