Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Conservative Party of Canada's US-style primaries is counted today.

I disagree with Canada's adoption of US-style primaries where political tourists decide who will be treated as the leader/dictator of Canadian political parties.

Party leaders in the Canadian House of Commons should be decided by and accountable to caucus members, and never the other way around (caucus members asked to be accountable to party "leaders") if we wish to have a healthy representative democracy.

That said, there are possible outcomes of the CPC primary today that are interesting to different degrees.

Election not decided by "runners", front or otherwise.

The media likes to report on all elections as "races", where the fastest "runner" is the one that will win. There was constant talk about who was and was not a "front runner" during this primary.

The fact is most elections don't work that way, and the media tends to not even correctly identify who is being elected.  For instance, in Canada individual voters do not directly elect a Prime Minister.  We elect MP representatives in our districts who join and potentially change party caucuses. It is the entirety of the elected representatives in the House of Commons that decides who forms government, not individual district voters.

In the case of this primary election they are using a ranked ballot as well as a point system that allocates points equally among electoral districts no matter how many political tourists voted in that district.  This is nothing like a "one person, one vote" system.  The votes can transfer from one candidate to another based on the ranking on the ballot, and the weight of each vote is lower in districts with more ballots cast.

While a small number of journalists accurately reported this election, most did not.  While part of the job of the media in a democracy is to hold politicians to account, I have always wondered whose job it is to hold the media to account.

I wonder if Canadian representative democracy would be damaged by the centralization of decision making in unaccountable "leaders" had it not been for the all too common confusion of "Canadian" reporters who reported on Canadian elections as if they were similar in some way to US elections.  Would the CPC even be having primaries if not for media misreporting over generations?

All 4 candidates are possible

Given the way this election works, as opposed to how it was reported, all 4 candidates are possibilities.  It may not be how many #1 votes were cast that determines the outcome, but who was looked at by those with strong #1 preferences as their #2 choice.  The weight of an individual vote may change during each round, as the ballots of those who didn't rank additional choices are exhausted and no longer part of the count.

Leslyn Lewis

Ms. Lewis is seen by many to be a great #2 choice, for a wide variety of quite different reasons.   For the strong social conservatives her evangelical views, including strong anti-choice views, is seen as a plus.  For some social liberals her gender and race are seen as a plus, a refreshing change from the white maleness that dominates Canadian politics.

While I read interviews about her, as a past party member who voted in the last CPC primary I didn't receive constant campaign newsletters as I did the other 3 candidates.  I don't know if it was part of the plan to stay under the radar, and allow the other 3 candidates to provide ammunition against themselves in a future general election.

All of what I saw of her makes her the most interesting possibility during a general election, as different people can focus on different aspects of what is presented and come to very different conclusions.  I would speculate her influence on district voters in a general election to be more positive than the other 3 candidates, and some primary voters may have voted for her based on this reason.

Peter MacKay

I see Peter MacKay as a moderate compromise choice, much as Andrew Scheer was.  While Mr. MacKay tried to play up his social-conservative bona-fides during this election, that campaigning will hurt the party in a general election similar to how it hurt Andrew Scheer during the most recent general election.

I consider Mr. MacKay to be the least interesting possibility, and the least different from Andrew Scheer.


Erin O'Toole

What I found most interesting during the campaign is how much time the other two male candidates spent opposing his climate change plan.  This is because he had one, while Peter and Derek seemed to suggest that even recognizing the need to have a plan was somehow anti-conservative.  How it became Conservative policy to subsidize inefficiency and government debt remains confusing to me.

Mr. O'Toole is often grouped with Mr. MacKay as far as not being so visibly a social conservative, even though he used a "true blue Conservative" as a campaign slogan.  Like Mr. MacKay the attempt to push his social-conservative  bona-fides during campaign will come to haunt him during a general election.

Note: I have to admit to agreeing with his plan to defund CBC television, hopefully as a start to remove subsidies and special policy treatment from analog-era broadcasting and BDU's entirely.  This is 2020, not 1980...

Derek Sloan

Derek Sloan offers "no apologies" for his highly visible form of social conservatism.  If he somehow became leader it would be a gift to other general election candidates not nominated by the CPC.  What I read from his campaign put him very far outside of mainstream Canadian thought.

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