I have to admit, like all political junkies in this country, I am like a kid in a candy store waiting for Justice Gomery to release his report. I can't wait for the Chretien reaction if any of the blame gets laid directly or indirectly at his feet. I cannot wait to see the spin that the Liberals will put on this. I can't wait to hear Peter MacKay's incomprehensible sputter. I can't wait to see how the Conservatives are going to screw it up. I can't wait for Jack Layton to sell out again. I just can't wait.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/26/2005 03:23:00 p.m. TITLE: No more back of the bus ----- BODY:
Rosa Parks has passed away.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/26/2005 07:48:00 a.m. TITLE: Principle ----- BODY:
While this is going to stir up some controversy, at least he's sticking with his side instead of cashing in...though I expect he will do some cashing in when the PQ get back in power.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/25/2005 06:32:00 a.m. TITLE: Keep your eye on the guns ----- BODY:
The Spaceman, Bill Lee, was talking about how simple a game base ball is.."See the ball, hit the ball. See the ball, catch the ball. Don't look at Yupiee. Don't look at The Chicken. See the ball." In the most Orwellian way, Canadian politics has taken a lesson from this; if you do not want people to see the ball, have them look at the chicken.

The Star is on the American gun problem.... yep, it's the American Guns that are the problem ...Combined with the education system. Be assured it is a Canadian problem, not a Toronto problem, or more specifically a Jane & Finch problem, or, to come to the point, a Jamaican problem.

The National Post is headlining that our biggest fear is gun crime. You know, the gun crime that is not exclusively in the Jane & Finch area of Toronto and is not carried out exclusively by Jamacians.

Paul Martin is on the file. As with all Canadian Liberal policies, the last thing we want to look at is the fundamentals of the problem. Let's just dance around it and come up with the easiest bad guy to blame. Your kids are fat, that's the transnational conspiracy of McDonald's advertising. You are a smoker, that's the evil tobacco company advertising. We are letting in immigrants who are amongst the most violent gang members in the world, the problem is the American guns.

The Liberals are going to pull a Germany over the next few months - focus on America so you will not focus on us. Canada's productivity is lagging our competitors and we have lost all relevance in foreign affairs, particularly with our neighbor. We have given up the responsibility of making international decision to the corrupt dictators of the United Nations in the name of not giving up our sovereignty to the United States. So give it to Russia and China. That's how we should live, like Russians with male life expectancy down to around 50 years.

Cut down on American guns, however you plan on doing it and you will cut down crime by about 0%. The problem is not American guns. We need to keep our eye on the ball.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/21/2005 04:19:00 p.m. TITLE: Crown to appeal Coffin sentence ----- BODY:
The Globe Reports:

Montreal - The Crown will be allowed to appeal the sentence given to Paul Coffin, the first person charged in the federal sponsorship scandal.

The Quebec Court of Appeal will hear the case next spring.

Quebec Crown attorneys argue that the sentence of just under two years sends a message to the public that crime pays.

Mr. Coffin received the sentence after pleading guilty to defrauding the Canadian government of more than $1.5-million.

A Quebec Superior Court judge let Mr. Coffin avoid jail time because of his clean record, his repayment of more than $1-million to the federal government, and his

The Crown's appeal says the judge gave Mr. Coffin too much credit for his remorse and his offer to speak to university students about ethicalbehaviorr in the business world.

My regular reader of my irregular posts, is fully aware of my position on corruption and the rewarding of the same. And I am not suggesting that Mr. Coffin's sentence was adequate. However, why is it that all I can smell is politics in the prosecution office when I read this story? The Feds need more than convictions to show that they are serious, they need jail time.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/21/2005 08:14:00 a.m. TITLE: Polls vs. Votes ----- BODY:
There are polls and then there is casting your vote in the lonely confines of the voter booth with just you and your fears. The poll mentioned in the update to my previous post has the Liberals running away. A poll out today has the Tories within five.

The breakdown of electoral seats makes most of the polls useless and the whims of the electorate change easily when they do not count.

The Tories are on track to win no seats in Quebec. Thus, they need to make gains in Ontario. However, unless there is a breakthrough in urban Ontario - Toronto, Ottawa, London, and the like - there will be no change in the administration.

If we recall the last election, the Tories had it somewhat in the bag after the debate, at least according to the polls. But as the election approached, people were just looking for a way not to vote for Harper and his crackers. There is a big difference between saying that you will vote one way and then actually casting your ballot that way when it matters.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/19/2005 11:14:00 a.m. TITLE: Liberal corruption continuing: ----- BODY:
Liberal corruption just does not seem to stop. But then why would it? We reward the corrupt with power which is tacit permission to carry on as normal. The only offence is getting caught and the punishment... well we don't punish. The cited reason is that Harper and the Conservatives are too scary and perhaps they are. But how hard is it for people to get up off their behinds and get involved in nominating candidates that are not so scary? It is easier than you think.

UPDATE: And the polls show that corruption will not only be tolerated it will be rewarded. Time heals all wounds.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/18/2005 09:45:00 a.m. TITLE: This pretty well sums up Canada's DART team ----- BODY:
This is wrong at so many levels.

"This is what I joined for," said Fabian Henry, who endured a 14-hour bus
ride from New Brunswick's Gagetown military base to CFB Trenton for the overseas flight.
"I enjoy the culture change," said the 26-year-old, whose recent deployments includes stints in Haiti and Eritrea.
"For people who don't travel other than work, this is a good change. Sure a company could come in and provide water cheaper, but what we offer will feel a lot warmer, a lot more hospitable."

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/05/2005 12:58:00 p.m. TITLE: Government to pay Dingwall ----- BODY:
The PM has a legal opinion that tells him that he will have to pay David Dingwall, who resigned under a cloud of corruption from the Canadian Mint, severance. It is easy to say you have an opinion, but I would suggest that someone should get a look at the opinion. The payment of severance may be in Dingwall's contract. There may be some legal precedent for this. I do not know of one off the top of my head. Resignation to avoid dismissal does not usually garner severance unless the parties have agreed to the same in the contract or subsequently.

The government is claiming that the Privacy Act does not allow them to release information. Perhaps this is correct, but they could release the clause of the contract dealing with severance and they could point us to the actual legal precedents that they are using. This would allow others to offer a concurring or dissenting opinion. The failure to do so does the administration of justice no good and is an affront to Parliament.

The legal opinion is being held up like an invisible shield, deflecting the blame on the courts and the lawyers instead of where it really belongs, on Dingwall and the Government.

UPDATE: I'm not the only one on to this (Mark Collins via Damian Penny).

UPDATE: David Janes looks at the other precedent that Martin is following.

UPDATE: There are Liberals jumping on board ... I assume that these are the ones that are not expecting appointments to Crown Corps.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/05/2005 12:54:00 p.m. TITLE: Good advice not heeded. ----- BODY:
The following memo was sent to a Stephen Harper staffer after the last election. Not much of the advice was heeded and some of the forward look is a tad off base but it is worth a read.

From: XXXX
Date: July 5, 2004
Re: 2004 Federal

Dear YYYY:
As promised, the following is a memo I banged out with my views following the election.

To summarize the main points:

  1. It is time to actually expand the base of the party instead of talking about
    expanding the base while taking actions that cannot possibly expand the base.
  2. It is time to stop talking about conservatives and start talking to Canadians.
  3. The Conservative Party must become what it is on the cusp of being:
    1. The Party of Good Governance
    2. The Champion of Individual Rights and Freedoms
  4. We need to define the meaning of the word "Centre".

With this said, please forgive my poor editing and the length.

You can use this memo, parts of it or none of it as you see fit. I trust your judgement in keeping me out of trouble.
Best Regards

Despite promising polling numbers through the first 3 weeks of the campaign and a good showing in the English debate, the Tories failed to solidify their gains and, in fact,started a slow and steady bleed over the course of the next ten days thatcumulated with a torrent of defections in the last days of the election.

There can be no doubt of the following:

  1. The Liberals ran a campaign of fear.
  2. The Conservative party continually played into that campaign of fear,
    particularly in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.
  3. The media bought into the fear and let it become the agenda.
  4. Conservative actions and inactions helped the media keep the "hidden agenda"
    on the front pages.
  5. The campaign of fear worked.

To sum up the causes of defeat, the East did not trust the Conservative agenda. Outside of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the West did not buy it entirely either. The electorate were angry at Liberal corruption, but they felt safer with corruption than with fear of the imposition of social values. People are resistant to change and like security.

The best summary that I heard was that the election was about fear and loathing. The electorate loathed the Liberals but feared the Tories. In the end, if we are honest, we will always choose loathing over fear.

The Minority Government
The Liberals have a strong and stable minority. It is perhaps stronger than people
anticipated due to an apparent move by the electorate to stop a Conservative Government. Unless something dramatic happens the government should last a
minimum of 18 months and it could run up to three years.

The NDP will support the Liberals in an unwritten coalition. The dramatic shift to the left that the media is talking about is not going to happen. Jack Layton is not going to collapse the House and send himself to irrelevancy.

The Conservatives are going to find themselves faced with a legislative agenda that will be hard to counter without confirming the campaign of fear. This is particularly so for those MPs from Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

If the Bloc held the balance of power they would attempt to consolidate their gains, now they are wild cards.

The wild card for the Liberals is the so-called "Ad Scam". The electorate are not in the mood for another election, however, continuing stories of corruption will indeed change the mood of the electorate if they feel that there is a viable option for government.

Finally, the election campaign continues through a minority government. The
election itself is like half time in a football game. It is time to access what the other team did and come up with a strategy to both counter their game plan, predict the changes that they will make and exploit their weaknesses.

The Conservatives are going to have to counter the campaign of fear and the
accusations of a "hidden agenda".

Broadening the Base
If the Conservative party wants to form a Government that is representative of all of the country it is time to stop talking to just the conservatives and start talking to all

The Canadian people have spoken on the social aspect of conservatism. People do not want values imposed on them even if those values are close to the ones that they in fact hold. The true "conservative vote" showed up and it represented about 30% of the country (while the country was disgusted with the Liberals). A large number of Canadians would consider themselves "conservative" but not "right-wing".

Common traits across all of Canada are the fear change and desire for security.

Speaking about conservatives while conservatives speak about their values and
the steps that they are willing to take to see their values reflected, reinforces the claim of a hidden agenda. People want a viable option for government but they want to know fully what the option is. A broken promise on the GST maintains the status quo. A half-hearted promise about abortion followed by comments that we are willing to use the Charter’s "Not-Withstanding Clause"breeds a fear of the unknown; that people are not going to get what they voted for.

The Party must create a policy that is conservative in its economics but reflects that there is a difference between personal morality and the state regulation of morality. See "The Judiciary & The Charter" & "Coming to the Centre" below.

The federalist vote in Quebec is in play for the first time in many years. The Tory success in Quebec has historically come from the soft nationalists. This is the first opportunity to court the federalist vote. We must understand what they want. The "power to the provinces" message should be popular in Quebec. However, we know that in Quebec they understand through hard lessons learned that there is no freedom under religion. To make a break-through in Quebec, this reality must be reflected. Of course there must also be credible candidates and a team on the ground.

Atlantic Canada
To the Atlantic Canadian, the Conservative policy is frightening. The Atlantic economies are completely regulated by the government. The politicization of the economy has made the economy one of dependence. To broaden the base in the region, policies must not leave Atlantic Canadians worried about their economic well being (such as it is) nor about their way of life. They must believe that changes truly are a "hand-up" and that the government will mitigate the hardships that come from the change. The best method of doing this is to work with the provinces to tie
subsidization to serious debt reduction, deficit elimination and necessary infrastructure. This is a longer-term approach whose benefits will feed a desire for more change.

Ontario has to be looked at as a two-fold place: Toronto and "The Rest". Gains in "The Rest" want an answer to the questions of a hidden agenda. This is discussed in other sections.

The Torontonian is another matter. Toronto is the USA of Canada. It is the elephant
that the rest of the country sleeps next to. It is an economy all unto itself and is completely inward looking. They see themselves as a tolerant people. They care about the protection of aboriginal rights even if they have no aboriginal issues. They see themselves as the protectors of the environment even if they have no environment to protect. They see themselves as the benevolent Canadian that looks after the hinterland. Cracking this nut will be most difficult. They are not a policy-based electorate on national issues; they are a feel-good electorate. Their real issues are all local. It is the quality of candidate and the move away from imposing social values that will give the potential for gain in Toronto. An economic downturn may also be necessary before that nut is cracked.

The West Wants In
The question for the West is under what terms do you want in? Are there core issues that must be addressed and that can be accommodated by the rest of the country? Or is simply that there are a series of issues that given the chance, the West will impose on the rest of the country?

I would suggest that the major concerns of the West are economic and benefit based. The West wants the benefits of their economy to be utilized more in the West instead of being used to build bureaucracies and economies that favour other parts of the country. They do not want policies that favour Ontario and Quebec for political reasons while discriminating against Westerners. They want to see government de-politicized.

This message from the West, that provinces should have more power and the
benefits of an economy should be focused in the region that they came from and
that the bureaucracy and policies should be more reflective of the country as a
whole, are issues that most Canadians would be supportive of. It is the ancillary issues that scare people away.

The Judiciary & The Charter
The Conservatives should become the champion of individual rights as opposed to group rights. No government will ever be formed by a Party that is willing to use the
Not-Withstanding Clause in any regard other than the purpose for which it created, a revolution in Quebec. Canadians do not know a lot about the Charter but they do know that they like it.

The Charter is to protect the individual from the State. It is not to regulate the interactions of individuals amongst each other. Ex. I do not have to tolerate what someone says but the state cannot sanction it. Speech is only free when a person can say the thing that you find most offensive and the state cannot take any action to stop it. I do not have to tolerate it. I can debate, personally censure, boycott, and do as you please, but there will be no state sanction. That is freedom.

History and an outward look show what the whims of the majority and the power
of the state can impose on individuals.

The Charter enshrines the freedom that makes our country great. It says that
in certain fundamental areas the individual is bigger than the state. There is
no limit to what a free man can accomplish. The Charter is what keeps us from
being subject to the whims of the majority. It is what stops us from jailing

The fight about the Charter and it relevance has to be fought at a different
level. We should distinguish between "individual rights" and "minority rights".
The left like to talk about human rights and minority rights because they are
rights for some groups as opposed to other groups. They are into collectivity.
The Charter has nothing to do with minority rights, it are about individual
rights. This is where the debate has to be focused.

The judiciary is the arbiter between the State and the individual. Like any
system it has some flaws. It has been for the most part, however, impartial. We
may not always like the decisions, but they have not been influenced by politics
or the whims of the day. Any move to politicize the judiciary has the potential
for long-term erosion of the constitutional role of the courts. A right is a
right. A freedom is a freedom. If there are qualifiers they become privileges. A
privilege can be removed at the whim of the person that is granting it.
Historically it has been the left that have exercised the whim to legislate
equality of result. We should be on the opposite side of this issue, not
supporting it. You cannot suck and blow. If we diminish any right or the ability
of the courts to protect the same, then the left will have a field day creating
group rights at the expense of individual rights.

Good Governance
The Conservatives must become the party of good governance. The party that will bring transparency and accountability to the country without bringing ancillary social values with them.

Good governance includes a reduction of taxes, however tax reduction is a change that, like the free trade issue, is susceptible to a campaign of fear about the fabric of the nation (i.e. The social safety net & health care). Tax reduction should be implemented on a scale where Canadians can see the benefits and want more. Drastic change creates fear.

Good governance calls for the de-politicization of the economy and government
decisions. Again, this must be at a pace where the benefits can be seen and the
appetite for more is created. Drastic change creates fear.

Policies based on Nationalism are bad governance. The state must have policies based on reasoned fact, not on moral superiority. Thus a shared security perimeter in North America is good policy, but it must be phased in. When people see the benefits they will want more. To make a drastic change is to create fear.

More free votes in the House are good governance. However, a party and a leader are elected to govern, not take a poll. There should not be free votes on rights issues when every legal opinion says will fail judicial scrutiny. Instead the underlying issue must be looked at. Taking the gay marriage issue as an example, the question must be, why is the state involved in "marriage" at all. This should be the bastion of the churches. The state should only be concerned with the registering of the union for the purposes of the state benefits that accrue form the union. The regulation of marriage and the benefits that accrue are in fact just an excuse for the government to be allowed to tax people at a higher rate.

Straight Talk
During the dying days of the election, the Liberals set the agenda. The Conservatives played the game like it was the last ten minutes of a hockey game with a 1-goal lead - they went into a shell. The press stopped listening and reporting the Tory positions, only the meagre efforts to fend off attacks. The press did not pick up the conservative call for the release of the Liberal audit on the ad-scam money because the press was being avoided. This fuelled the hidden agenda story. This impaired the ability for the counter-attack.

The Tories must broaden their base by:

Coming to the Centre
The Left
The mushy middle, as it is described, is not in the centre. It is on the left. The Left
want to impose equality of result rather than equality before the law or of
opportunity. They also want equality of thought, a societal mindset. Those who
do not subscribe to the societal mindset are selfish, un-Canadian or evil. To achieve this they:

This is how the Liberal Party operates. They call it pragmatism.

The Right
The Right has the same instinct to regulate only it is on the moral side of society. Less government means less regulation of the economy and more government in your personal life and more law & order. They hold beliefs about morality that must be imposed for your own good and for the good of society. To achieve this:

The Centre
The centre is wide open and it is where the Conservatives must move. It is where Canadians who call themselves "conservative" want to be. They want less regulation of the economy without increased regulation of morality. They want their rights and freedoms to reflect their reasonable economic freedom as well as their reasonable moral freedom. They want their homes to be their castles where the state cannot enter. They do not want people running around naked in the streets but they want to be able to smoke pot in their own homes. They want the benefits of their work but they do not want people denied health care.

The middle is not mushy, it s where freedom reigns.

The Conservative Party is the only party with
the potential to challenge the Liberals for the Government. This potential can
only be reached if there is a clear, focused and rational agenda that has appeal
across the country.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/05/2005 06:01:00 a.m. TITLE: BONO on Late Night ----- BODY:
This should be insufferable. Bono is the new age guy who believes that the answer to 3rd World Poverty does not come from individual freedoms and the corresponding rule of law, but from the propping-up and lining the pockets of Third World tyrants. Looking at some recent Nobel Peace Prize Winners, Bono's politics should all but guarntee his victory.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/03/2005 12:22:00 p.m. TITLE: China Corruption Audit ----- BODY:
Some of you may have seen the news reports on China's corruption audit. The government did an audit and found, to everyone's surprise that there was corruption. Heads will roll - literally. For those in the west who see tyrannies as legitimate, this audit is evidence that a police state can control the corruption within the government. In reality, the audit is a way to consolidate power. On the list, I assure you, are those the leaders want gone from the competition for the graft. There will be reformers on the list and those that have not paid the graft up the chain. There is no capitalism in China. Capitalism is about the creation of wealth. The Chinese are not interested in making money, they are interested in taking money. They simply do not run profitable companies because, so long as the money flows up, the banks will never call a loan. We should think about this when we see Chinese "corporations" wanting to purchase Canadian resource companies. The resources will no longer trade on the free market and the "profits" will be used to line the pockets of corrupt tyrants who are fundamentally opposed to individual freedom.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 10/03/2005 10:32:00 a.m. TITLE: ----- BODY:
This memo from the Conservative Co-Campaign Chairs is calling for the party to leave poor Stephen Harper alone:

September 25, 2005
To: Senators, Members of Parliament, National Councilors, EDA
Presidents, Candidates
Memo from John Reynolds & Michael Fortier

Over the past few weeks the media has been playing up stories involving
asmall group of individuals who claim to be unhappy with the party and
our leader. We would like to take a few minutes to provide some
clarificationon this issue should you be asked for comment.

First off, Stephen Harper's leadership is not in question. Those who
arepublicly attacking him represent a miniscule proportion of our total
partymembership. One critic in particular, Carol Jamieson, has garnered a
disproportionate amount of publicity that belies her lack of credibility. Ms.
Jamieson is a perennial malcontent who has militated against party leaders from
Joe Clark to Stockwell Day and now Stephen Harper. She represents no one
but herself, and none but the credulous take her seriously. Moreover it
has come to light that some of the people she claims support her dissidence have
denied it, further undermining the integrity of her claims.

Our parents used to tell us that the world is not perfect. So we
should not be surprised to find people in our party who have issues. It is
nonetheless a shame that they should aim their discontent at our leader as we
prepare to head into a federal election. Why couldn't they have saved
their fire for the Liberals, NDP and Bloc? Their criticisms do nothing but
hurt our candidates as the media focus on our so-called discontent to the
detriment of the message we are trying to get out to people.

The fact of the matter is that Stephen Harper has had an extremely
successful summer. He has traveled all over Canada meeting with Canadians
from all walks of life. Everywhere he went he was well received, listened to and
applauded. At the same time the party has been very successful at raising
funds for our election war chest, a success reflected in the fact that over
60,000 people have joined our party in recent months.

Let us all remember that at the party's last national meeting almost 85 per
cent of delegates, representing the nearly 200,000 members in our party, gave
their support to Stephen Harper and his leadership. The leadershipissue
was settled at that point. Stephen Harper will lead our party into>the
next election.

People say Conservatives have their problems. Imagine for a moment
what itmust be like to be a Liberal with the stain of corruption that is
attached indelibly to their party. It can't be much fun to have a party
leader whose greatest achievement is his failure as a leader. Everyone
said Paul Martin was going to lead the Liberals to the biggest majority Canada
had ever seen. Then they watched as he flamed out into a minority
government. And not just any minority government, but one hanging on to power
through bribes and soon-to-be broken promises to an irrelevant New Democratic
Party. And we should not forget the former Liberal candidates from Quebec
who just last week openly criticized Paul Martin for lousy leadership, and
announced they would not run for the Liberal Party in the next election.

The bottom line is clear. Stephen Harper is the best political leader
in Canada. He is bright, articulate and passionate about his party and his
country. His grasp of policy is unparalleled. He is someone who has
thought long and hard about the issues. He has great faith in Canada's
unlimited potential, and knows clearly where he wants to lead us as
anation. No phoney photo-ops, no outlandish rhetoric, no promises that
will never be kept. Leadership, vision, commitment. That is
what Stephen Harper brings to the table. And that is why all of us, no
matter our particular views on different issues, need to support our leader and
our party.

In summary, it is simply bad politics to publicly attack your leader.
It serves no one's interests. Our party and caucus are strong and
united. Wehave sufficient funding, a wealth of qualified candidates, a
strong national membership base, and a caucus that is the envy of the political
world. And we are led by the most intelligent politician in Canada today.
Leave the carpers in their well-deserved obscurity. Let us focus on
thefuture and work together for our fellow Canadians, and for Canada.

John Reynolds
Michael Fortier
National Campaign Co-Chairs

There is so much in here that is open to criticisim. Apparently Graham Fox, Tory insider did not get the memo. Here is a portion of his Toronto Star article : How Harper Dropped the Ball:

More than Stronach's decision, Harper's reaction proved to be the revealing
moment of that skirmish. Harper should have acknowledged that the game had
changed the night Martin took to the airwaves to plead for 10 more months in
office. And he should have known the game was over when Martin showed up at the National Press Theatre with Stronach by his side. Instead, he stuck to his guns
and wagered his entire political future on the vote of an independent MP.

Harper's decision is particularly important because it establishes a pattern. Just as in the final weeks of the last general election, he showed he was unable to adapt his strategy to new dynamics.

As the front-runner in a leadership contest, the discipline to stay on message is critical to the campaign's success. But Harper is now vying for the highest elected office in the land. If there is one certainty in elected office, it is that one cannot map out the full four years of a government mandate: wars break out,recessions set
in, natural disasters strike. In that context, voters want to know the person
they elect as prime minister has the ability to deal with unforeseen issues.

Adaptability is an essential feature of any successful government, and so far Harper has shown himself incapable or unwilling to deviate from the pre-game

The Conservative party's persistence on the issue of same-sex marriage, even after a defeat in Parliament, is another case in point. Despite the passing of Bill C-38 into law, polls showing that Canadians have moved on, yet with no plan as to how a Conservative government would "un-marry" gay couples, senior party officials insist that defending traditional marriage will be part of the Tory campaign strategy in the next election.

This rigidity extends to the internal dynamics of the party as well. Blaming Ontario voters for their continued support of the Liberal party remains a central theme of
internal discussions about the party's fortunes. Blaming the media and
communications staff for the fact that the party's message has not yielded any
gains in popular support also features prominently in the habits of the leader's
entourage. Senior bureau chiefs, or entire media outlets, are blacklisted.
Senior members of staff are driven to resignation. But the core strategy remains

This tendency to blame others and shut out divergent opinions establishes a second troubling pattern. Despite occasional drives to reach out, Harper's instinct is to circle the wagons. In fact, it is precisely at those moments, when a broader range of advice would most benefit the Tory leader, that he moves against those who might disagree. At any time, these weaknesses would make it difficult for any party to succeed. But they are more problematic today because of the current state of political parties in general and the Conservative party in particular.

The challenge for Tories is made even more difficult by the structural weakness of the party as it is today. In other times, the party apparatus — as distinct from the campaign team, the leader's office or even national headquarters — had a real say in the direction of the party, or its position on a specific issue. Today, in contrast, the leader controls all the levers of power within the party. By circumstance and by design, the internal processes of the Conservative party are driven by the
centre, with little input from the membership. The result is a party structure
completely devoid of checks on the leader's power.

Beyond the events of the last six months, however, there is a broader point to make about Harper and reaching out. As William Johnson explores in his recent biography, Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada, Harper is fundamentally a social conservative who has believed for some time that politics in Canada require a fundamental realignment. In many ways, this belief is at the heart of his insistence on staying the course and of his break with Preston Manning and the Reform party in 1996. As he demonstrated in the fall of 2004 and the summer of 2005, Harper is comfortable reaching out to people geographically. But he has much more difficulty when it comes to reaching out on issues — especially in areas of social policy.

To be fair, a glimmer of hope that Harper understands the challenge before him emerged on the horizon late in August. The new wave of advertising aimed at Ontario does what the party should have been doing all along. Rather than preach to the choir, the TV spots speak to the real concerns of voters who are beyond the Conservative base.

They feature the young talent that makes up much of Harper's front bench. And they ignore the issue of same-sex marriage. Whether they are enough to turn the tide of public opinion remains to be seen, but for those who still think a Tory victory is possible, the ads offer some reassurance that reaching out may still be a possibility. The trouble is the advertising campaign runs counter to the well-established media frame around the Conservative leader. With each passing day, changing voters' views of Harper becomes more difficult.

In any political party, it is the leader's ultimate responsibility to leave to her or his successor a stronger party institution than the one her or he inherited. Harper's initial success is undeniable, but his ultimate duty to the Conservative party is no

Fundamentally, Harper has to decide whether he wants to lead a social conservative movement or a brokerage party. If he opts for the former, he
must do so with the clear understanding that he will not form a government, but
can shape political discourse in a significant fashion. He must also be open and
honest about that choice with the members of his party and with Canadians.

But if, on the other hand, he thinks the Conservative party has an obligation to democracy to present itself as a viable alternative to the Liberal party, he must recognize the need for the party to broaden its base and make the kind of policy compromises inherent in that shift.

Then he must decide whether he is the person to lead that process. If he is, he must break with the past and move immediately to make that shift a reality. If he is not, he must make room for someone who will.