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Change Is Needed

If you believe that Scheer and his present team can figure out before the leadership vote in April, how to win in Quebec and Ontario, or how to beat Trudeau, then I have some swampland for you to buy in Florida.

Andrew Scheer is one of the nicest guys in politics and that is part of the problem. He is not comfortable in the attack role which the Conservatives repeatedly tried to get him to do in the last campaign. His natural role is to be less confrontational and more of a conciliator- similar to his former role as a Speaker in the House of Commons.

When in an attack role he is uncomfortable and that comes through on camera and in media interviews. If Scheer looks uncomfortable, he comes across as untrustworthy.

The question becomes why did his team in the war room or his most senior advisors, not recognize this?

Harper in his opposition role, always wanted to look Prime Ministerial in the House of Commons, his questions reflected that image. We had MPS assigned to the role of attack dog. It was their job, not Harper’s, to go after Paul Martin and Liberal ministers. Jason Kenney, Peter Mackay and others fulfilled that role.

Other questions arise as well. Why didn’t his team do their homework on their own leader’s           background etc. The issue of his former work experience blew up into a major issue, when it shouldn’t have been one.

How could they miss his dual citizenship, when the Conservatives had so successfully dumped on other party leaders for the same reason?

When Scheer speaks to the media it looks like he has some talk points memorized and he is reciting them. They have to let him express his concerns and the points he needs to get across in his own language and in his own way. The same holds true for same sex marriage and a woman’s right to choose, he looks so uncomfortable that no one believes him. Everyone knew those questions were coming (it is a standard Liberal attack in every campaign), yet they acted totally unprepared for them.

Andrew is a very smart guy. I am sure that Scheer has a vision of a better Canada for his children 5 years, 10 years and 20 years from now. Why didn’t he express that vision in his own words during the campaign and show how a Conservative government under his leadership would make that happen?

Scheer needs some advisors who aren’t afraid to speak truth to power around him and he also needs to be his own man- letting his staff continue to put him into a role that he is in uncomfortable with, all but insures that he won’t beat Trudeau next time around and puts his survival in the April leadership review at risk.


Charge Ahead Blindly or Change?

As Scheer and his team circle the wagons after the latest election loss, he and his team are under attack from a variety of sources.

While much of this has been in the open, anyone who has been on a losing election team knows even more criticism is coming from inside the party.

A complete review is definitely required.

They can start with the Leader’s performance, especially when under attack on key social policy issues. Who screwed up- was it the Leader who was too uncomfortable answers these questions or was it the team around him who didn’t prep him properly for attacks that everyone knew would come?

Why didn’t Scheer’s opposition research team know the answers to the expected attacks, especially on social issues? Did his research team actually look at Scheer’s life, speeches, comments and know what to expect? If they did, they should have had answers ready and the leader prepped for the attacks and media scrutiny.

As it was Scheer and his team stumbled several times and got knocked off message.

Even if all of that was done, Conservative policies simply aren’t attractive enough for the vast majority of urban residents. If Conservative policies can work in the cities in other countries, what is wrong here? There is a point where constantly playing to your base is counterproductive. Where was Conservative outreach to different cultural communities? Was anyone in charge of this part of the campaign?

If the party wants to grow its seat numbers in the next election which could come quite quickly, they need to be analyzing their policies and adapting them now while this election is still fresh in their mind. Starting with a look at the environment, climate change and social justice issues is a good place to start.

Heads will roll, the only question will be is it Scheer’s, his staff or both?


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Some Questions To Think About Part 2

In this set of questions (continued from my earlier blog) Dennis Matthews really gets to the heart of some of the issues the Conservative Party faced in the last election. Altogether Dennis posted 12 questions on Twitter. Read the questions and then think about how well we did on these topics.

5. Voters have never been more disconnected from politics. Traditional ways to showcase new political leaders (basic ads, media) don’t work as well. Need to find meaningful ways to build an emotional connection with voters or an undefined leader will get ground up by a campaign.
6. Authenticity is the North Star. Are we using talking points or delivering messages? Do we say carefully constructed lines or convey straight talk?
7. What about climate change? Activist and donor class most skeptical of the issue. Swing voters bombarded with talk of it being a crisis. If we truly believe a carbon tax isn’t the only way to fight it, why do we come across as though we also don’t care?
8. Social issues always trip us up. If leader holds socially conservative views, they need to do three things: speak authenticity and from heart, be clear on what they will and won’t do, and be convincing. What else is required?
8a. BTW, why do we get all the blame for being bigots yet none of the credit for running governments that demonstrably did not re-open divisive social issues and have avoided the xenophobia that plagues conservative parties in Europe and elsewhere? Are we telling our story well?

I love these particular questions, if we had these answers figured out would our campaign been different?


Some Questions To Think About- Part One

After every election loss there is always a lot of soul searching and internal party reviews and of course blame.

Needless to say, the Conservative Party is doing that now. But before the "leaders in waiting" start sharpening their knives, they should first decide on just what and who the Conservative Party represents.

Dennis Matthews worked at the Prime Minister’s Office when I was there. He is a very bright person and last week he took to Twitter to post some thoughts and questions as the party goes forward. I couldn’t agree with him more. Rather than paraphrase his comments, I have copied them directly from his Twitter account into this blog. Hopefully the Conservative Party brain trust will also read them.

1. In pursuit of 40% of the popular vote, have Conservatives accidently become a minority proposition for voters? Whatever happened to the silent majority? Make a broader appeal and fall short, instead of trying to tack on voters to the 1/3 who are with us.

2. Values and emotions build political brands. Conservatives mostly stuck on taxes and finances (cognitive arguments). Why do we think values and emotions are the exclusive territory of Liberals and Trudeau?

3. The rural/urban divide is existential as our country changes. In the 65 ridings with more than 2500 people per kilometer, there are zero Tory MPs. Aren't there policies that are extremely attractive to urban voters that don't turn away the rural base? 3A) Lack of urban Conservative MPs is not the case in the UK or Australia. Maybe it is not about policies at all but how our brand is perceived on cultural, environmental and social issues.

4. It is good to play against type once in awhile. George W. Bush did this with his focus on aids in Africa. Can Conservatives find something that makes voters look twice?

There you go, the first four questions to start you off. Think about how you would answer them. What would you tell the Conservative Party leadership.