These next few days are like festival season for political people: in Winnipeg the Liberal Party is gathering for the 2016 Biennial Convention while over in Vancouver, the Conservative Party are also in the midst of their national convention. Gender equity and increasing the number of female candidates will be a hot topic for both. PM Trudeau and his core team have this made this a clear priority for this Liberal Party and for the Conservatives, a more gender inclusive party has to be an essential part of their renewal efforts.
Does the inevitable stagnation that comes with a decade in power automatically cast a departed leader as the worst in history? Many will point at Harper's dictatorial approach to governance, his deficits, his disregard for science or his political gamesmanship as proof that he was. I don't think this type of hyperbole is worthwhile nor productive.
If Conservatives are shrewd as they convene in Vancouver this week for their party's convention, they will plead with Ambrose to run for the party's permanent leadership while requesting a not insignificant change to the party's constitution that would allow the party's interim leader to contest the permanent leadership.
One-off symbolic gestures such as appointing gender-balanced cabinets are not enough. Like the dozens of other countries ahead of us on the international gender equality league tables have discovered, the only way to move toward gender parity in parliament is to enact laws to prompt parties into action.
Anyone who signs up with the Liberals (with no membership fee involved) will have the right to take part in policy development, nomination meetings, conventions and future elections of the leader. The Conservatives have gone in the opposite direction to the Liberals with their new $25 membership fee that has to be paid by cheque or credit card. In effect the Conservatives have managed to make themselves more exclusive rather than inclusive. The Liberals have broadened their tent while the Conservatives shrank theirs. Time will tell who made the right move.
Rather than engaging in a robust post-election rebuilding process and seeking to broaden its base, the Conservative party has decided to retreat into their comfort zone of regional grievance politics. Under the leadership of Rona Ambrose, the Conservatives appear to be abandoning any attempt to repair the national coalition that swept them to power in 2006. Indeed, today they look more like the Canadian Alliance of the early 2000s than the governing Conservatives of the last 10 years. The latest and most obvious example of this is the party's recent opposition day motion on the Energy East pipeline.
The Conservative government's approach to countering the Islamic State (ISIS) threat was a three-pillared plan that combined allied military action, alongside direct foreign aid, and support for refugees and the dislocated in the region. In many ways, the plan brought to the last Parliament by the Conservatives was consistent with the Pearsonian worldview that Canada has a duty to take collective action with our friends to advance liberty for others and provide security at home.
The role of the Canadian government in both the short and long term should be to embrace and foster the growth of all parts of our diverse economy. The government should certainly not champion some sectors and demoralize others. Sadly, we have already started to see that approach by the Trudeau government.