The Conservative Party of Canada is currently selecting a new leader, someone they hope will be able to defeat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2019.
The Conservative Leadership Election is a process similar to the Republican Primary of 2016, with an equally large field of candidates. What is special about this particular Leadership Election is that not one, but two of the leading candidates are divisive demagogues.
Kellie Leitch runs ads on Breitbart and has crafted her entire campaign strategy to appeal directly to Canada’s burgeoning alt-right movement.
One of her claims to political fame includes pushing for a troubling initiative known as the “Barbaric Cultural Practices Hotline”, which would see Canadians calling in anonymous tips sending law-enforcement officials to investigate Muslim community members exhibiting “suspicious activities.” More recently, she has proposed that every visitor to Canada be subjected to a face-to-face screening test for “Canadian values”, a test she herself likely wouldn’t pass.
Then there’s Kevin O’Leary – the frontrunner, who exhibits some glaringly similar characteristics to Trump.
He’s a corporate-millionaire-reality star who claims that his dubious business experience is going to save the country from problems it doesn’t actually even have. He tries to tap into the same class-anger that was capitalized on by the Trump campaign. Although quite a lot smoother than Trump, his message is the same; “I am a corporate success, I somehow have the best interests of the middle and working class at heart” (he doesn’t).
Now this is where it gets really interesting; Thousands of Canadians are joining the Conservative Party with the intention of stopping the alt-right from rising to power in Canada, in a daring strategy that – if enacted in the US – would probably have stopped Trump in his tracks.
Several organizations have sprung up to encourage this movement, which has been termed the #CPCinflux. TolerableOpposition and A Strong Canada are the two largest groups seeking to amplify the movement of young, non-partisan, centrist and progressive voters into Canada’s right-wing party.
The deadline to sign up for the Conservative Party and still be able to cast a vote in the May 2017 Leadership election is fast approaching – March 28 – those interested in joining the #CPCinflux can sign up here.
In the coming weeks, A Strong Canada will be conducting an analysis of the remaining, not-terrible candidates in order to choose one that the new progressive voter bloc will rally its support behind to sway the outcome of the race, electing a Conservative Leader all Canadians can live with.