It’s been close to a week since the first list of approved “applicants” for the Conservative Leadership race were announced, which included a surprise or two. Since then the race has moved forward, with candidates not named Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole trying to make a splash, trying to defend their presence in this race and trying to simply get attention.

Well we’ve got a couple examples of that today, neither of which are likely to make Canadians writ large warm up to the Blue Team. Let’s start with “What’s come of Richard Décarie?” Remember him? The only “applicant” to be denied a chance to run, despite the signatures, money and organization that he had lined up? After spending a few days of screaming “conspiracy” we heard something different come from him, something that is of note in this race:

Team Trost Décarie, or at least the once-candidate Richard Décaire, has decided to back rookie-as-can-be MP Derek Sloan and is asking his supporters to do the same. This is notable mostly because we’ll see if the apparatus that was backing him will get behind Sloan. Will Trost do the same? Will the so-con groups that were working to get Décarie nominated throw their weight, resources, supporters and funds behind him? Those are all very legitimate questions that could go a long way to determining how this race goes, and they are all open questions.

If all those things lined up, Sloan could easily be in position to find himself as kingmaker if Peter MacKay doesn’t pull off a 1st ballot win. If they do coalesce around him as the so-con choice, like moderate Democrats are coalescing around Joe Biden in the US right now, it could have a similar effect. It would never be enough to propel him to the front of the pack like it has for Biden in the States, but it could easily be enough to put Sloan in the catbirds seat, the same one that Brad Trost found himself in back in 2017.

Needless to say, that’s likely the exact same kind of history that a good number of Conservatives would like to avoid, especially those that are looking to join the 21st century on these social conservative issues. You can also imagine the kind of stress and strain an endorsement like this and what it means could have on their parliamentary caucus. And folks, right on cue….

You know folks, Mr. Duncan is right, 100% right. But here is the thing about that tweet. First off, the fact that he even needs to Tweet that in 2020, that he even needs to point that obvious fact out, tells you a lot about his party and where it is. And secondly, while you know there are a lot of Conservatives who agree with his sentiment, you know there are few who will openly express it and there are likely even more who agree with Sloan and Décarie, or at least more than enough for it to matter in this discussion.

That is part of the crux of the Conservatives problem right now when it comes to their policies, their positioning and their general approach. But if you wanted another example of that problem, well another Conservative Leadership candidate has stepped up with another “shining” example of the same problem, with a different series of issues. Behold this from Jim Karahalios:

Folks, you know there’s got to be a lot of more moderate or old school red-ish Tories who are beating their collective heads against the furniture watching those two clips. Karahalios is going full in one direction, tripling down on positions that have killed his party, all in an obvious attempt to make a name for himself with some in the base. The exasperation on the face of Evan Solomon of that one clips is as priceless and it is telling. You can see just how he’s trying to bite his tongue, trying to remain the professional journalist he is in the face of this amateurish candidate spewing stuff in his direction via satellite. Marching in a Pride Parade is not a “Red Tory litmus test”, as he put it. It’s a basic bit of decency that lots of people partake in from all walks of life. It’s not some inter-partisan purity assessment to shun and avoid.

What’s happened in this race is instructive as it is depressing. A race that seemed to be created in an attempt to bring their party into the future has devolved into an uber-purity test of who is really “true blue”, whatever that is in each candidates definition. This is turning into a navel gazing exercise of the lowest order and instead of looking outward, listening to the greater voting public and trying to convince Canadians to join in with them, they are doing the polar opposite. They aren’t addressing the biggest issue that kept them from winning the last election; if anything, they are just making it worse.

I had a prof in university who used to tell us when frustrated with anyone in the class who would stubbornly refuse to get a fact he was teaching that “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” That folks seems to be the Conservative Party in a nutshell right now. That’s what you see many conservatives who have spoken out for the past few months try to do. That’s what you saw young conservative Natalie Pon do in the Globe and Mail just yesterday. Yet those are the voices that are being ignored here while the attention of this race is being put where it’s always been. It seems that a lot of conservatives are trying to get this horse to drink that water, but it’s acting like it would rather die of dehydration than deal with what would help it be better off for years to come. So yeah, this race really isn’t going how many conservatives thought it would and you have to wonder how much worse it will get before it gets any better for the Blue Team.

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