Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: The Conservatives under Rona Ambrose Need More Than a Sunnier Tone

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: The Conservatives under Rona Ambrose Need More Than a Sunnier Tone

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: The Conservatives under Rona Ambrose need more than a sunnier tone

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Nov. 5:

As Conservatives begin to lick their wounds under interim leader Rona Ambrose, many are seeking solace in the convenient fiction that they were bested by Justin Trudeau's "sunny ways," more than anything else. Get the tone right, and victory will follow, they seem to be saying. It's all about the optics.

Jason Kenney, for example, sees the need for a "Conservatism that is sunnier and more optimistic."

Nice thought, that. But it hardly begins to address the challenges the party faces.

Canadians clearly voted for change on Oct. 19, but change from what, exactly?

From a hyper-partisan Conservative party that had grown cynical, sneering and closed under Stephen Harper. From practices that showed contempt for Parliament, the Supreme Court and science itself. From ugly, divisive, Muslim-baiting electoral tactics. And from deeply misguided policies that favoured the moneyed few, and that sold out civil liberties amid hyped fears of terror.

All this alienated the broader spectrum of Canadians that the Tories needed to win, and reduced the party base largely to small-town and rural areas.

If Canadians felt disenchanted with nearly a decade of Harperism, driven as it was by an obsession to eviscerate the Liberal party as an institution, sap the federal government and turn the country into something unrecognizable, they had good reason. It has been a discouraging era.

Slapping a smiley face on this toxic Toryism isn't going to rebuild a battered brand. Whatever some loyalists may believe, the party's fundamentals are far from sound.

There's a pressing need for root-and-branch reform, under new leadership that has some inkling of what progressive conservatism can be, with its sense of nationhood, social conscience and natural moderation. …

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