Conservative Leadership Debate Drives Right Loses Middle

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THUNDER BAY – OPINION – The federal Conservative Party leadership race is on. The first unofficial debate with five of the candidates was held on May 5th. It was held as part of the Canada Strong conference.

Roman Baber, Jean Charest, Pierre Poilievre, Leslyn Lewis and Scott Aitchison all participated in the debate.

Several of the candidates spoke about the importance of party unity. Canada Strong founder Preston Manning sought to explain to the leadership candidates the importance of party unity.

Despite all that, it rapidly turned into the political version of watching a car wreck. As much as you wanted to turn away, it was hard.

Much of the debate turned into personal attacks and in-fighting.

Perhaps the best result from the debate is that it was likely only watched by political junkies and insiders. However once the debates are over and the Conservatives choose their next leader, this first debate will likely be a political goldmine for the Liberal’s political war room.

It has been said that one of the reasons over time that the federal Liberals have maintained such a long and strong seeming stranglehold on political power in Canada is that over the decades the political right has seemed more divided than united.

The blunt animosity between Jean Charest and Pierre Poilievre was front and centre. While almost all the candidates shook hands with each other Poilierve simply didn’t bother with Charest.

The verbal shots were brutal, and at the end of the debate, neither of the two perceived top runners would even shake hands with each other?

Ever watch a boxing match? After basically trying to beat the hell out of each other, even boxers can put aside that rancour. Perhaps it speaks to the political maturity of the perceived frontrunner.

Jean Charest showed a lot of fire in going directly after Poilievre in response to the attacks.

Poilievre denounced his “Liberal” opponent over his governing in Quebec. The youthful Pierre perhaps forgot that across Canada leading members of the political right were pushing for Charest to take on the separatists by leading the Liberal Party.

It might play well for the Pro-Pierre Poliervre base but likely would be a sure-fire way of reducing the party’s results in the next federal election.

The room was strongly pro-Pierre. So each slick verbal attack drew applause and cheers.

That is likely why Patrick Brown was not on stage for the debate, he was in Atlantic Canada, selling memberships. Brown’s team basically decided rather than be on stage for a verbal whipping.

Canada’s political right seems to forget that while they battle each other, Canadians are watching.

Showing leadership doesn’t come with soundbites, doesn’t come with total partisanship, a real leader of Canada will be the representative of all Canadians.

That’s just my opinion… as always, your mileage may vary.

James Murray