We’re into the month of February and the way it is starting for some, many observers of Canadian Politics are going to be very happy it’s the shortest month of the year. You see many were expecting a leadership campaign that from the Conservatives that would be a bit more reflective and would talk about what it means to be a Conservative in 2020. After the comments from many Conservatives about the failures of their Fall 2019 election campaign, that seemed to be where things were going.
But as each day goes along, things seem to be getting further and further from that expectation. In fact, as February starts it seems that the contestants in this Conservative Leadership Race have decided that instead of doing something new that they would take the Groundhog Day approach, and the results of that are as predictable as some would have feared:
Welcome to the Dude-Bro Leadership Campaign folks, where the frontrunner Peter MacKay tries to prove he’s more “manly” than Justin Trudeau by using old tropes about what manhood is. All the while the next one in line, Erin O’Toole, is trying to do his best by repeating more of Canada Proud’s greatest hits while yipping about yoga. Seriously, this would be embarrassing if it wasn’t just so sadly misguided.
It seems that the Conservatives heard the problems from their last campaign and decided to double-down on them. What I find most amazing about this whole thing is MacKay’s attempts to try to make himself into this manly every man, like he isn’t the Bay Street lawyer, elitely educated son of a long-time politician who he followed in the footsteps of. Ironically, the same can be said of O’Toole; a corporate lawyer, elitely educated son of a long-time politician who he followed in the footsteps of. The only difference is that Erin O’Toole actually served in the Air Force while Peter MacKay was just hitching rides from them from his fishing trips. But that’s not much of a difference in this case.
No both of them seem they feel the need to butch themselves up, which I just find hilarious, especially when the things they are trying to highlight play into some of the worst and most dated examples of what it is to be a man or conversely, what it’s not to be a man. The fixation on yoga is downright embarrassing, especially when you see where society has evolved in one of the “manly” pursuits that MacKay says he does that Trudeau doesn’t:
Yes folks, I’m sure that MacKay and his team would be somewhat surprised and shocked to find out that such “manly men” would practice such “unmanly” things as yoga. Who knew that Alex Ovechkin and Justin Trudeau had that in common? That example right there just shows who hilariously misguided and behind the times that MacKay, O’Toole and their attempts to make Justin Trudeau seem “less manly” are. It also shows just how behind the times the Conservatives are and instead of trying to catch up to the times and work from them, they are doubling down on what failed them.
And to me, what makes these attempts to manufacture manliness from these two candidates is that it ignores the good qualities that both of them could just as easily lean on to make a contrast between them and Mr. Trudeau. O’Toole did serve in the Air Force, something that Trudeau can’t come close to saying and that gives him a platform of experience to speak from that the Liberal leader can’t lay a hand on. And MacKay is a rugby player and an athletic guy, he can easily sell that without having to denigrate something that so many people in this country of all backgrounds now do. More to the point, do they not realize how many soccer moms in the 905, the very people who the Conservatives are convinced they need to appeal to, do yoga? Many, many more than sneer at Justin Trudeau for doing it.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the hilarity and complete tone deafness of Peter MacKay attacking Justin Trudeau on the expense side of it. MacKay has a leadership to run for because Andrew Scheer had to quit after he used party funds, funds given in small amounts by everyday Canadians, to pay for his kids private school education, even though the man lives for free in government subsidized housing while making over $250,000 a year. And that just came out less than two months ago. The irony is that you could take the exact same tone and the same taglines from that MacKay attack on Trudeau and make a really good attack ad on Conservatives in general. But I doubt they see that through their feelings towards the Prime Minister.
All in all, this campaign continues to go off the rails and the campaigns in this race seem to be bound and determined to repeat mistakes of the past. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad but hey, it’s making them feel good as they get a few chuckles as they think they’re owning the Libs. It’s hard to know what’s worse; that this is what the front runners in this race are doing or that no one looks at this sad spectacle, knows they can do better but decides it’s not worth their while to try. MacKay and O’Toole’s teams may be smiling as they put out their snark but the way things are going it strikes me that the ones smiling come Canada Day will be in the PMO, that is unless the Blue Team figures out how to change the course of this race, fast.