Now that Kevin O’Leary has withdrawn from the CPC leadership contest and thrown his support behind Maxime Bernier we can expect to see a heightened level of scrutiny applied to the remaining candidates.
I’ve had an opportunity to get to know most of the leadership front-runners, and I’ve been involved in numerous political leadership contests over the years, so I wanted to offer my perspective on why I’ve chosen to support Maxime Bernier.
For me there are 3 important factors that influence how I vote for party leaders; policy positions, electability, and honesty. It’s very rare to find all 3 ingredients in a single candidate. I’m delighted to say that for me Maxime Bernier has scored highest on all 3 points.
Policy: It’s no secret that Bernier identifies himself as a libertarian. What I find refreshing is that he does so unapologetically. His critics like to refer to him as an “ideologue”, and to that I have to ask what is wrong with stating clearly what you believe and being true to your principles? Why has politics devolved to art of trying to guess what other people want to hear and then regurgitating it? Compromising your principles used to be frowned upon, but now it seems to be all the rage.
All of Bernier’s policies are extensions of his defence of individual freedom and respect for democracy. Smaller government. Lower taxes. Less red tape. Free speech. These are the principles I share, and the reason I’m a conservative.
Electability: It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality in modern politics: policy often plays a minor role in whether or not a particular candidate is successful. The average voter either doesn’t care enough, or simply doesn’t have the time to research and understand the myriad of policy options presented before casting their vote. They often respond to more nebulous factors, such as regional or ethnic connections or physical appearance (isn’t Justin dreamy?) I can’t count how many times, while knocking on doors, I heard committed conservatives tell me “There’s something about Harper I don’t like. I think it’s his eyes”, or “Tim Hudak is just too slick”.
As I said, it’s unfortunate, but it’s reality.
Maxime Bernier, in my view, is very electable. The fact Maxime is very popular in Quebec is not surprising, but his high popularity in Alberta should tell us something. This guy is likeable, and therefore very electable.
Honesty: If I like the policies of a particular candidate but I can’t trust their word, there’s not much point supporting them.
Honesty is actually a sub-set of electability. The average voter will tell you the most important factor in choosing which individual candidate to support is honesty and integrity. They like a leader that is consistent, a “straight shooter”.
I’ve seen Maxime Bernier face some very difficult questions from a diverse range of interest groups, and I’ve never seen him weasel his way out of these situations. He was always respectful of the questions asked, and more importantly he was consistent with his answers and true to his principles. And each time, whether or not the questioner received the response they wanted, Maxime was respected for his honest answers.
In Maxime Bernier I strongly believe the Conservative Party of Canada has an opportunity to chose a leader that truly represents conservative values, and at the forefront of those values is freedom.
As Maxime Bernier said back in June, “I think we Conservatives are not credible when we talk about principles and then defend policies that squarely contradict these principles.”
And as I said back in June, “How refreshing.”