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"There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent." Leo Tolstoy
Updated: 29 min 46 sec ago

Coming Down The Pike

4 hours 5 min ago


Canada Post and CUPW have reached an agreement. But that's not the end of the story. The real drama, Tom Walkom writes, is just beginning:

The main event – what to do with the Crown corporation – is set to begin next month.

That’s when a four-person task force set up by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is due to report. Chaired by the head of the Quebec Chamber of Commerce, the task force has been told to “identify viable options” for Canada Post.
In announcing the move this May, Public Services Minister Judy Foote said that everything except privatization is on the table.
The volume of mail has steadily declined. But the delivery of parcels has become a booming business. And, to take advantage of that fact, Canada Post bought Purolator Courier several years ago. But new circumstances mean that employment for mail carriers is on the line. And it leaves the corporation with two broad choices:
First, it can cut costs and raise stamp prices. This is the strategy that Canada Post management is vigorously following through its cuts to home delivery and its take-no-prisoners approach to collective bargaining with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).
The problem it faces is that this strategy is ultimately self-defeating. As service becomes even more inconvenient and expensive, fewer people will use the post office.
This can lead only to a death spiral.
Second, the post office can cover part of the cost of those operations that lose money by investing in activities that make money.
Canada Post already engages in cross-subsidization. The money it earns by delivering junk-mail helps cover the cost of standard mail. Its policy of delivering letters anywhere in the country for the same price acts, in effect, as a subsidy to those who correspond over long distances. Its Purolator parcel delivery segment cross-subsidizes its less profitable post office segment.
The corporation is now considering getting back into the banking business -- something which would benefit small communities. Whatever model the post office adopts, changes are coming down the pike. 
Image: sheldonkirshner.com
 

Praise For Philpott

Tue, 08/30/2016 - 05:16


Jane Philpott has been getting a lot of blow back for a ride she recently took in a supporter's limousine. It cost, admittedly, much more than public transportation. But Gerry Caplan has come to her defence:

Jane Philpott is exactly the kind of citizen we should want in Parliament: a doctor of medicine, with a masters degree in public health; doctored in Niger, one of the world’s very poorest countries, for a full decade; chief of the department of family medicine at her hospital; central to a Canada-Ethiopia collaboration to develop a training program for family medicine in Ethiopia.
Beyond any formal credentials, she is known among all who work or deal with her for her decency, integrity and deep devotion to her community. She is what the “honourable” in “The Honourable Member” should mean.
And, unlike the former medical minister in Stephen Harper's cabinet, Philpott is trying to do something on the asbestos file:
This month something quite wonderful changed, as Kathleen Ruff has now enthusiastically reported on her website RightOnCanada. She was “extremely encouraged” to learn that Jane Philpott is actively involved with her cabinet colleagues in setting a new policy on asbestos for Canada.
“I was glad to receive a phone call from a policy adviser for Minister Philpott and had a constructive and positive dialogue. I am extremely hopeful that in the next session of Parliament the government will announce its plans to ban asbestos, take measures to protect Canadians from asbestos harm and play a leadership role at the UN in support of the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under the Rotterdam Convention.”
This is a very big deal after a decade of irresponsibility by the Harper government (including its well-known doctor, Kellie Leitch), and I, too, happily congratulate Dr. Philpott for living up to expectations.
So, yes, the ride in the limo was a mistake. But, Caplan writes, let's keep things in perspective:
With all the contrived indignation they could muster, opposition critics were swift to leap down her throat, automatic media attention being guaranteed. Canadian Press now immortalizes the entire issue as an “expensive mistake,” referring to “the thousands” Philpott spent “to be chauffeured around in a luxury vehicle owned by a Liberal volunteer.” The actual figure seems to be about $6,500. This says more about Ottawa’s obnoxious political culture than it does about our Minister of Health.
These days, it's hard to see the forest for the trees. 
Image: thechronicleherald.ca
 

But For Fortune

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 05:04

A little more than a year ago, the lifeless body of little Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach. His image went viral and struck a cord around the world. Last week, the image of another battered child -- Omran Daqnesshes, also victim of the war in Syria -- went viral. It reminded us of the depravity of which we are capable. But it should also remind us, Crawford Killian writes, of our duty to refugees and the benefits they bring with them:

If we treat them as unavoidable nuisances and a drain on our resources, they will become a drain indeed: underschooled, underemployed, alienated, linked to the rest of the country only through the police and social services bureaucracy.

But if we treat the thousands of Alan Kurdis and Omran Daqneeshes as an incredible stroke of luck, an opportunity to energize and sustain the country as a prosperous democracy, we will do very well indeed. They will enliven our classrooms, break our sports records, start new industries and do business around the world in English, French and Arabic.

Yes, they will bring unique problems that our schools and universities will have to deal with. But we’ve dealt with the traumatized and uprooted for at least 60 years, ever since we absorbed almost 40,000 Hungarians in a few months after the 1956 uprising. The University of British Columbia even took in a whole Hungarian school of forestry. We’re a lot better at it than we realize.
The argument against accepting refugees is always the same -- they're not like us. But, if our memories are long enough, we'll remember that we're all refugees. And, but for fortune, we'd be refugees today.

Image: thetyee.ca

A Chip Off The Old Blockhead

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 03:02


The New York Times has been looking into how the Trumps -- father and son -- have done business. Consider the following anecdote:

She seemed like the model tenant. A 33-year-old nurse who was living at the Y.W.C.A. in Harlem, she had come to rent a one-bedroom at the still-unfinished Wilshire Apartments in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens. She filled out what the rental agent remembers as a “beautiful application.” She did not even want to look at the unit.
There was just one hitch: Maxine Brown was black.
Stanley Leibowitz, the rental agent, talked to his boss, Fred C. Trump.“I asked him what to do and he says, ‘Take the application and put it in a drawer and leave it there,’” Mr. Leibowitz, now 88, recalled in an interview.
It was late 1963 — just months before President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act — and the tall, mustachioed Fred Trump was approaching the apex of his building career. He was about to complete the jewel in the crown of his middle-class housing empire: seven 23-story towers, called Trump Village, spread across nearly 40 acres in Coney Island.
He was also grooming his heir. His son Donald, 17, would soon enroll at Fordham University in the Bronx, living at his parents’ home in Queens and spending much of his free time touring construction sites in his father’s Cadillac, driven by a black chauffeur.
“His father was his idol,” Mr. Leibowitz recalled. “Anytime he would come into the building, Donald would be by his side.”
Over the next decade, as Donald J. Trump assumed an increasingly prominent role in the business, the company’s practice of turning away potential black tenants was painstakingly documented by activists and organizations that viewed equal housing as the next frontier in the civil rights struggle.
And, when the Trumps were accused of discrimination in housing -- under the new Civil Rights Act -- young Mr. Trump reacted with what has now become a familiar routine:
“Absolutely ridiculous,” he was quoted as saying of the government’s allegations.
 Looking back, Mr. Trump’s response to the lawsuit can be seen as presaging his handling of subsequent challenges, in business and in politics. Rather than quietly trying to settle — as another New York developer had done a couple of years earlier — he turned the lawsuit into a protracted battle, complete with angry denials, character assassination, charges that the government was trying to force him to rent to “welfare recipients” and a $100 million countersuit accusing the Justice Department of defamation.
Mr. Trump is obviously a boar. And he's a chip off the old blockhead.
Image: nytimes.com

Not With A Bang

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 05:04

When he was defeated by his arch nemeses -- the Liberals -- and by the young upstart he claimed simply "wasn't ready," Stephen Harper went dark. Michael Harris writes:

He gave not a single interview after getting waxed in the 2015 election by Justin Trudeau. Las Vegas proved more attractive to the MP from Calgary Heritage than the House of Commons, where, post-defeat, he lurked rather than sat. And while he was doing little for his constituents other than cashing his paycheck, he did find time to set up his political consulting company in Calgary after a few visits to U.S. casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is the man who has promised, but not yet delivered, $100 million to support Donald Trump’s presidential bid.

Even Harper’s resignation was an in-house Harper job, controlling — and distorting — the message until the very end. Steve writing his own report card, as he did while in office. (Did Ray Novak shoot that cheesy video?)
Perhaps he thought that, after a good night's sleep, it would all go away. But it won't. His record will remain:

Here’s the real story. This ersatz economist delivered seven consecutive fiscal deficits and ran through the $13.8 billion surplus handed to him by the outgoing Liberal government of Paul Martin in a single year. The country’s economy grew at a snail’s pace, wages stagnated — and then the Great Navigator denied that the Great Recession of 2008 was happening during the federal election of the same year.

Throughout most of that time — while he was smothering critics, stifling information flow, practising vigilante justice on people like Mike Duffy and Helena Guergis without facts, attacking the Supreme Court, promoting unconstitutional legislation and surrounding himself with people even Trump might not feel comfortable with — nobody called him out for what he was. They were too afraid, because this guy took down numbers.
Neo-liberalism predated Harper's rise. And it lives on after it. But yesterday Stephen Harper's political career ended -- not with a bang but a whimper.


It's Not Easy Being Orange

Fri, 08/26/2016 - 04:31


It would be a lot easier if social democratic governments were elected during flush times. But voters turn to social democrats when time are tough. Consider the case of Rachel Notley's government in Alberta. Tom Walkom writes:

Notley was elected last May on a wave of discontent. The ruling Progressive Conservatives were seen as out of touch. Their fiscal solutions — spending cuts plus tax increases for the middle class — were thought unfair.

Some voters moved to the even more right-of-centre Wildrose Party. Others gravitated to the NDP, with its call for higher taxes on corporations and the rich, action on climate change and more spending on infrastructure, health and education.
On winning power, Notley moved quickly to implement part of her platform. She raised taxes for corporations and the well-to-do. She also announced a new carbon tax set to take effect next year.She did all of this without antagonizing the main corporate players in Alberta’s oilsands.
If oil were still bringing in $100 a barrel, Notley would be doing swimmingly. But such is not the case:
The collapse in world oil prices and the consequent recession in Alberta have changed everything.
A fiscal update this week from the provincial finance department predicts that Alberta’s economy will shrink by 2.7 per cent this year, while the unemployment rate will hover at about 8 per cent.Government stimulus is expected to create 10,000 new jobs this year. But that number will be swamped by the 50,000 jobs already lost to the oil-price induced recession.
Thanks in part to the Fort McMurray fire, Alberta will face a $10.9 billion deficit this year. The government’s books are not expected to reach balance until 2024.
Still, Notley is sticking to her guns:
The NDP government insists it will stay the course — that it will not slash government spending and that it will continue to fight the recession with fiscal stimulus.
Logic is on Notley’s side. Her government may be running deficits. But net debt as a percentage of the province’s gross domestic product is still below 4 per cent, a remarkably low measure. By comparison, Ontario’s debt to GDP ratio is about 40 per cent.
Her promise to wean Alberta’s economy away from its reliance on the vagaries of world oil prices should, in today’s context, have even more urgency.
And her job-creation measures, while not enough to make up completely for the collapse in the oil economy, are better than nothing. Still, the pressure on her government to change course promises to be intense.
Will she? Bob Rae did. And those of us who live in Ontario remember how that turned out. 
Image: Codie McLachlan / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The TFW Program

Thu, 08/25/2016 - 05:11

The Liberals have vowed to reform the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. John McCallum is making noises about developing a pathway to citizenship for them. But the program is a minefield because it was developed as a sop to business. Its raison d'etre was to keep labour costs low across the country. Tom Walkom writes:

The problem the Trudeau government faces is that the temporary foreign workers program in any guise is a low-wage strategy.
When businesses say they can’t find qualified labour what they usually mean is that they can’t find anyone at the wage they are willing — or able — to pay.
Appearing before the Commons human resources committee this spring, representatives of the meat packing industry said they must bring in foreign workers because native-born Canadians just aren’t interested in such tough jobs.
What they didn’t dwell on was the fact that native-born Canadians are quite willing to work in other tough manual jobs — such as the oil rigs — that pay more.
Christopher Smillie of the Canadian Building Trades Unions put the problem succinctly. “If employers can’t entice Canadians to take certain jobs (they should) raise wages,” he told the committee.
After all, that is supposed to be how the free market operates. But the Conservatives -- who proclaimed their faith in free markets -- never really believed in them. What the Liberals believe is not entirely clear. And it's not entirely clear what they will do:
At one level, their problem is a practical one. Even if they are opposed to using temporary migration as a wage suppressant, they live in a world where this is the norm. That’s why, in an attempt to pander to East Coast fish plants, they lifted the ceiling this year on the number of temporary foreign workers seasonal employers may bring in.
Stay tuned. 
Image: ccweb.ca

God Help Us

Wed, 08/24/2016 - 04:50


In the wake of 911, it's increasingly clear that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is seminal to Canadian democracy. The latest example of the Charter's importance is illustrated by a request from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Nadar R.Hassan and Stephen Aylward write:

Last week, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police adopted a startling resolution calling for legislation that, on judicial authorization, would “compel the holder of an encryption key or password to reveal it to law enforcement.” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale invited public debate on the proposal.

Police are responding to new challenges wrought by modern technology. Encryption renders data unintelligible without the user’s password. Even with a warrant to seize and search a cellphone or computer, police cannot gain access to the valuable information stored on those devices unless they can guess the password (or hack into the device, as the FBI recently did with a locked iPhone in the San Bernardino case).
Police worry criminals are “going dark”— i.e., using encryption to evade detection and prosecution. Compelling suspects to surrender their cellphone and computer passwords is an enticing solution to this problem. But it is one that ought to be unacceptable in a free and democratic society.
What is at stake is a basic principle of British Common Law:
The police chiefs’ proposal would lead to a radical erosion of our constitutional rights protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When the state accuses us of a crime, we are entitled to say, “prove it.” The Supreme Court of Canada has said this right — the right against self-incrimination — is the organizing principle of our criminal justice system. An accused person is under no obligation to assist the state in her or his own prosecution, whether by answering questions about where she was the previous night or by revealing passcodes.
Canadian law jealously protects the right against self-incrimination for reasons that are both historical and principled. The right against self-incrimination has its roots in the revulsion towards the 17th century courts of the Star Chamber, which would detain supposed enemies of the state on mere suspicion, compel them to swear an oath, and then require them on pain of punishment to answer questions.
Our constitutional law protects the right against self-incrimination because we recognize there is a power imbalance in criminal prosecutions, which frequently pit a single (often marginalized) individual against the overwhelming power of the state. The right against self-incrimination is the great equalizer. It ensures an individual is put through the criminal process only once police have built a case. It also protects the dignity of the accused and limits the risk that state officials will abuse their power.
Since the 1970's, economic power has been concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Since 911, there has been a push to concentrate judicial power in fewer and fewer hands. We've seen the effects of the so called economic revolution. God help us if a similar judicial revolution takes hold.
Image: tvoinnews.com

That's What Leadership Is About

Tue, 08/23/2016 - 05:05

Elizabeth May has announced that she will stay on as leader of the Green Party. That will make Linda McQuaig happy. She had advised May to stay put. But she's also advising May not to walk away from the BDS resolution which the party passed at its recent convention:

Whether you agree with the boycott strategy or not, it is a peaceful way to protest a serious violation of human rights: the fact that millions of Palestinians have been living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza for almost 50 years, with Israel effectively annexing their land.
Some commentators have suggested that it’s OK to criticize Israel, but a boycott goes too far.
In the end, words will not change things. Action is required -- the kind of action which Brian Mulroney took against South Africa's apartheid regime: 
Back in the 1980s, it was divisive when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney imposed sanctions against the white-minority regime in South Africa.
Today, everyone agrees that Mulroney’s stance was laudable. But at the time it was highly controversial, with Mulroney acting in defiance of business leaders, members of his own cabinet and caucus, as well as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and U.S. President Ronald Reagan. 
Some are uncomfortable comparing Israel to South Africa. Not so Desmond Tutu:
Archbishop Desmond Tutu considers the comparison valid. In a 2010 letter to students urging the University of California to divest from Israel, Tutu wrote: “[D]espite what detractors may allege, you are doing the right thing. You are doing the moral thing…I have been in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid.”
May is in a difficult position. But that's what leadership is about. 
Image: Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press

House Of Cards

Mon, 08/22/2016 - 05:34

Deep Throat advised Woodward and Bernstein to follow the money. In the case of Donald Trump, reporters are beginning to take the same advice. Michael Harris writes:

Suzanne Craig of the New York Times reported in the paper’s international edition that Trump’s heavily-marketed self-image is as phoney as a degree from Trump University. Trump-owned companies carry a debt of $650 million, which, as the Times reports, is “twice the amount than can be gleaned from public filings he has made as part of his bid for the White House.” It’s pretty clear why he won’t disclose his income taxes, and why he will never allow any independent valuation of his net worth. It kind of looks like he’s up to his assets in debt?
They followed the same advice when they looked into the finances of Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager:

What kind of a dude was he? The kind whose name showed up on a secret ledger in Ukraine that listed $12.7 million in cash payments to Manafort from the political party of deposed Ukrainian President and Russian puppet Viktor Yanukovych. When the New York Times reported that, Manafort still thought that he could hold on.

But then the second shoe dropped: the Associated Press reported that in 2012, Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, had secretly channeled $2.2 million to a pair of Washington lobbying firms to boost the image of the Kremlin-backed Ukrainian president in a way intended to circumvent disclosure requirements.
So, Manafort had to go. But, then, Trump made a name for himself by firing people. Still, all this merely underscores a point which should have been clear from the beginning: Trump -- and Trump Tower -- is a House of Cards.

Image: memegen.com

Not Good Days

Sun, 08/21/2016 - 03:05

Jack Layton was a perpetual optimist. But Chantal Hebert believes he'd find in hard to be optimistic about his party's current state of affairs. Perhaps that's because the party under Layton made the Harper government possible:

At the last national convention Layton presided over, less than two months after the party’s historic breakthrough in Quebec, he was rightly celebrated for his election performance. But it was not all rainbows and roses. Among NDP members, elation over the party’s accession to the rank of official Opposition was often tempered by dismay at the advent of a Harper majority.

Just as the Conservatives are having a hard time living down the stain of the Harper years, the Dippers have to contend with a public which holds the NDP responsible -- at least partially -- for Harper's ascension.

But there is a bigger problem. Unlike the Liberals, the next generation in the party is in no mood to take the reins:

The reluctance of the next generation of New Democrats to step up to the leadership plate would trouble him. He would not be particularly thrilled by speculation that Green Party Leader Elizabeth May could or should jump ship to come lead the NDP. She always seemed to click more with her Liberal counterparts (and vice-versa).
And the enthusiasm Layton generated in Quebec isn't there any more:

I live in Laurier-Ste-Marie, a riding the NDP twice won against no less than then-Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe. This week something that looked like an in-store raffle ticket was slipped into my mail slot. It was MP Hélène Laverdière’s latest correspondence.
It would be an exaggeration to call it a householder for it gave no sense of the NDP’s plans for the next sitting of Parliament. Instead it was a straw poll designed to produce a list of priorities for the party to tackle. One can only wonder what Layton would make of the NDP turning itself into a blank slate.
These are not good days for the New Democrats. 
Image: torontoist.com

The Orange Id

Sat, 08/20/2016 - 05:18

On Thursday, Donald Trump apologized -- sort of. James Hohmann writes:

Parsing the speech, which was read from a teleprompter, veteran campaign strategists and historians noted that Trump sounded much more like a conventional politician than he has all year. In their view, he’s following a path of rhetorical evasion that has been well trod by candidates in both parties.

Linguists and relationship experts, meanwhile, said Trump’s comments were ineffective and that his words cannot accurately be described as an “apology.” In fact, the GOP nominee did not specify exactly who or what he was talking about. The targets over the course of his campaign are plentiful, including the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, Megyn Kelly, New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, Mexicans and Muslims.
Trump said he regretted any slips of the tongue he might have made. That one word -- regret -- signals that his apology is a non-apology:

New York University historian Tim Naftali, who previously directed the Richard Nixon presidential library, heard Nixonian echoes as he watched the tape of Trump’s speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday night. Two men who Trump talks to – Roger Ailes and Roger Stone – worked for the former president.

“An apology involves contrition. Neither Trump, so far, nor Nixon showed real contrition,” Naftali said. “Nixon, at least, believed apologies were a sign of weakness, which exposed him to more attacks from his real and perceived enemies.”
The only apology Trump is capable of is a non-apology. He is the Orange Id -- a rolling wrecking ball whose prime product is toxic waste.  If he weren't so dangerous, he'd be pathetic.

Image: pinterest.com

No Reason To Reject The System Outright

Fri, 08/19/2016 - 05:21


As Canada moves towards proportional representation, the Cassandras are wailing loudly. Andrew Coyne gives two examples -- from opposite ends of the political spectrum:

Here, for example, is Bill Tieleman, B.C. NDP strategist, writing in The Tyee: “How would you like an anti-immigrant, racist, anti-abortion or fundamentalist religious political party holding the balance of power in Canada? … Welcome to the proportional representation electoral system, where extreme, minority and just plain bizarre views get to rule the roost.”

At the other ideological pole, here’s columnist Lorne Gunter, writing in The Sun newspapers: “PR breaks the local bond between constituents and MPs … In a strict PR system, party leaders at national headquarters select who their candidates will be, or at least in what order they will make it into Parliament …” 
To the sceptics, Coyne writes, look at the countries where PR has been adopted:

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, all of whose parliaments are wholly or partially elected by proportional representation. 

We can at least describe accurately how their political system actually works, rather than rely on caricatures born of half-remembered newspaper clippings.

At one end, you have countries such as Austria, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Sweden, all with six to eight parties represented in their legislatures — or about one to three more than Canada’s, with five. At the other, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland, with 10 to 12. 

Virtually all of these countries have some element of local representation: only the Netherlands, whose total area is less than that of some Canadian ridings, elects MPs at large. And none uses the “strict” form of PR Gunter describes, known as “closed list.” Rather, voters can generally choose which of a party’s candidates they prefer, so-called “open lists.”

How unstable are these systems? Since 1945, Canada has held 22 elections. In only one of the PR countries mentioned has there been more: Denmark, with 26. The average is 20. It is true that the governments that result are rarely, if ever, one-party majorities. But, as you may have noticed, that is not unknown here. Nine of Canada’s 22 federal elections since 1945 have resulted in minority parliaments. 
The sceptics like to point to two countries -- Israel and Italy. But both countries are outliers:

The Israeli parliament has 12 parties, Italy’s eight. By comparison, France, which uses a two-round system, has 14, while the United Kingdom — yes, Mother Britain — now has 11. More to the point, there are circumstances unique to each, not only in their parliamentary systems — Israel uses an extreme form of PR, while Italy’s, which has gone through several, defies description — but in their histories and political cultures. 
So, yes, it's important that the system be designed with care. But the fact that two countries have designed their systems poorly is no reason to reject the system outright.

Image: canadians.org

Can They Survive?

Thu, 08/18/2016 - 05:12


The Conservative Party of Canada is a pretty fractious group. Consider each of the party's leadership candidates. Brent Rathgeber writes:

Kellie Leitch comes from the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Before entering politics, she worked with the late Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his wife Christine Elliot, and was encouraged to run by former Ontario premier Bill Davis. Her support for the ill-fated barbaric cultural practices tip line notwithstanding, Dr. Leitch qualifies as a ‘progressive’ conservative.

Tony Clement served under Mike Harris before entering federal politics. He is a former president of PC Ontario and was said to be close to Mike Harris. He can be a fiscal hawk. He’s also the king of pork-barrel politics, having infamously diverted G8 security money to unrelated projects in his own riding.

Michael Chong is both a Red Tory and a democratic reformer. The author of the Reform Act, he once quit a cabinet position on a matter of principle. He knows how responsible government and parliamentary democracy are supposed to work.

Although Deepak Obhrai is tied for the longest-serving Conservative MP record, I don’t recall ever having heard him give a speech on domestic politics. I’m not sure what he stands for. His interests lie primarily in global affairs. If nothing else, the Tanzanian-born politician’s entry into the race shows that the CPC is still relevant to new Canadians.

Max Bernier is the darling of the libertarian wing. His plans to abolish supply management and end industrial subsidies also appeal to fiscal hawks and free-market classical liberals. But his live-and-let-live attitudes on social issues put him in direct conflict with Brad Trost, who entered the race yesterday.

Trost is unapologetically pro-life and anti-gay marriage. At the May CPC convention in Vancouver, Trost was the MP spokesperson for delegates opposed to a resolution deleting from official Tory policy the traditional ‘one-man-one-woman’ definition of marriage.
Each sect in the party has its candidate. But you see the problem. There appears to be no one who can bridge the divides. And those divides could tear the party apart. Conservatives may soon be asking the same question the Republicans are asking: Can the party survive its leader?

Image: telegraph.co.uk