Friday, November 19, 2021

Expelling an unruly Senator from Conservative caucus is not going to help Erin O'Toole much

Ever since the Conservative Party of Canada performed poorly during the last elections, people have been saying that the party lacks leadership. Given that Erin O'Toole was selected as party leader so recently, and for the very purpose of leading the party to a resounding victory in that election, that's a pretty damning condemnation.

In order to quell the burgeoning dissent among the ranks of Conservative voters and representatives, elected and unelected, I guess he had to do something to assert his authority. What he actually did was to expel the outspoken Senator Denise Batters from the Conservative national caucus after she launched a petition calling for an expedited review of O'Toole's leadership (if that word "caucus" confuses you, it just means the members of a legislative body that belongs to a particular party or faction). And he says he will expel any other Conservative law-makers who have the temerity to oppose him. "My way or the highway" doesn't sound like a particularly justifiable or democratic solutIon to me.

I'm not sure how effective that is going to play out for Mr. O'Toole. Ms. Batters' immediate response was, "I will not be silenced by a leader so weak that he fired me VIA VOICEMAIL". Ouch! It's not even clear to me what effect banning an individual from the party's caucus has, and it seems like she is still part of the Senate Conservative caucus anyway. Puzzling.

All it has really achieved is to make O'Toole look like a testy would-be dictator, à la Putin or Xi. The Conservatives still look hopelessly divided between their left (centre) and right flanks. And it seems undeniable that O'Toole campaigned for the Conservative leadership on a "true blue", right-wing platform to placate the significant portion of the Tory base that is anti-abortion, anti-vaccine, anti-carbon tax (and probably anti-anti), before promptly changing to a pro-choice, pro-vaccine and pro-carbon tax stance when facing the country's electorate, in a desperate attempt to position his party as close as possible to Trudeau's Liberals in order to stand a chance in hell of being elected. So, the phrase "flip-flop" will probably forever be associated with the man (and possibly the party).

Meanwhile, the Liberals are surely rubbing their hands in glee as first the Greens and then the Conservatives implode in slow motion with no need of a helping hand.

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