As many of you know, my political party, the Conservative Party of Canada, is in the middle of its leadership race.
Many of you have asked me who I'm going to support, and why. I'm getting closer to making a decision, as I know many of you are.
I want to stress the importance of making a well informed decision. The leader of a major political party of a G7 country is a heavy burden, that carries major impact of one's words and actions, or lack thereof.
John Ibbitson recently wrote a piece in the Globe about some of the factors that could be considered in this regard. I agree with many of them, and have a few of my own to add. I hope you will seriously consider the backgrounds and actions of each candidate on these issues, and others that you may have, before filling in your ballot. (For those of you who want to be part of this process, you need to join the Party - you can do so here https://donate.conservative.ca/membership)
Some things to consider before filling out your leadership ballot (not an exhaustive list):
1.) Vision for Canada
We need to give Canadians something to vote for, not just highlight something to vote against. The leader of our Party is a core part of this.
- Why are they seeking this job? Is it for personal motives, or to be a servant leader who bears this responsibility out of humility? How have their lives to date shown their intent in this regard?
- Have they defined their own policy stances, as opposed to simply criticizing others?
- How will their policy make Canada a better place?
- Will it make it worse?
- Do they have the capacity to inspire Canadians?
- Do they have a deep-seated love for our nation? How have they demonstrated that?
2.) Commitment to our Party
Our Party is made up of thousands of volunteers and activists who give their time and financial resources to build and maintain it. This is not a point to be taken lightly. While we may occasionally disagree on policy and procedure, we are a family of likeminded people who want to work hard to make Canada a better place. It is you, the volunteer and donor, that work to elect governments.
- How many doors has the candidate knocked on, and how many phone calls have they made during previous election campaigns?
- What is their track record in raising funds and helping elect Conservatives?
- Would key grassroots activists in each province and territory volunteer for them on their campaign?
- How many of their campaign team are paid staff vs volunteers?
- Do they know and believe in the founding principles of our Party, as demonstrated by their actions?
- What is their plan for building a strong riding by riding campaign infrastructure?
- What actions will they take to recruit and train new members and volunteers to our Party?
- What is their plan for the management of our central Party office? The Conservative Fund?
- How are they planning on involving our EDAs and National Council in the renewal of our party?
- Have they donated to our Party in the past?
- How long have they held a membership in our Party?
- Who will they select to run our next general election campaign and why?
- How will they engage members? Do they have the respect of our members? Why or why not?
3.) Are they ready for this responsibility?
At this particular moment, I would not say I'm ready to operate a motorcycle. I've ridden a bike before, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to ride a motorcycle. I'd need training on how to operate it, and have an in depth an understanding of the rules of the road before I hopped on and rode out into traffic. The same could be said for someone running our Party. This isn't about age or background; rather it's about demonstrating a mastery in the skills needed to get this job done.
- Do they have something that grounds them outside of politics that will get them through the stress and pressure of the burden this leadership will present, or will they lose perspective when tough times hit?
- Are they tested in making really tough decisions? What were those decisions and how significant were their impacts?
- How many times have they had to take responsibility for an action that wasn't popular, but was the right thing to do? How significant were these actions?
- Do they crack under pressure?
- How well do they perform in tough interviews? How many times have they had to do a tough interview?
- Do they think before they speak?
- Do they take time to consult people and consider the impact of their actions before making decisions?
- Are the capable of making split second decisions, and if so, how do they do it?
- Failures happen, it's how we deal with it that counts. Have they failed in the past, and if so, how did they handle it? Did it make them a stronger leader, or a lesser one? Have they repeated their failures?
- What's their management style like? Have they ever had to manage a large team? Are they an autocrat, or do they foster a culture of positive creative dissent? Do they listen to alternative suggestions and advice?
- How do they treat others? Are they compassionate, even on their worst days?
- What fights do they pick, and why? Have they shown the capacity to get their elbows up on issues of significance, and win?
- How have they shown care for their communities?
- Do they keep their promises? If they don't, do they have the courage to explain why and take ownership for the change?
- Have they conducted their leadership campaign with integrity?
- Are they a person of integrity, period?
- Do they have a sense of humour? Can they receive constructive criticism and use it?
4.) Understanding of government
Fresh ideas, perspectives and new approaches are the lifeblood of any political party that is undergoing renewal. That said, it's critical for the leader of our Party to have some in depth knowledge on how the system of government works.
- Have they ever managed a government department (ie Cabinet Minister), and if so, what was their track record like?
- In government, you're not managing to profit and loss in a corporate sense. What would they "manage to" if they were PM?
- Have they ever taken a bill through Parliament, and if so, how did that go?
- Do they have a practical understanding of many of the key pieces of legislation and processes that make government work?
- Do they understand why it is important to have a practical understanding of the legislation and processes that form our government?
5.) Leader of the conservative voting coalition
Canadians who vote Conservative form a broad tent between the brightest red Torys to the most ardent social conservatives. For ten years we were able to govern under a broad tent of policy and leadership that unites, rather than divided us.
- Does their policy fall directly align with the founding principles of our Party? (section 2, here http://www.conservative.ca/…/up…/2016/07/Rkbk78LiR_jIdPW.pdf)
- Are they pandering to any special interest group, quietly or not, to gain votes in the leadership?
- Does their policy acknowledge the need to keep a broad coalition of voters to form government, or does it exclude or punish wide demographics or regions of the country?
The unity of caucus is a difficult thing to inspire, but is critical to being an effective voice for Canadians, and achieving a prosperous country. There will be issues and situations that will test this. Egos need to be managed, compromises need to be reached, and most importantly, voices need to be heard.
- If the candidate doesn't presently hold a seat, what is their plan to manage their responsibilities in Ottawa over the next two years? Will they commit to running in a byelection?
- How would this person inspire caucus to be united?
- How would this person manage peers who have been elected to voice concerns on behalf of their constituents?
- Do they have the respect of caucus at present? Why or why not?
7.) Language and communication
In order to inspire Canadians we have to reach them.
- How well can the candidate communicate in both official languages?
- How do they perform in scrums? Are they thoughtful and decisive?
- How well do they understand the issues that are facing Canadians, and how well do they communicate compassion for these issues?
- How well do they use social media?
- How well do they debate?
- Do they have the capacity to engage Canadians?
These are only a few criteria that I'm using to make my decision, and I hope you'll do the same. There's a lot at stake both for our Party, and for Canada, in doing so.
My best - M