KINSELLA: Split of Conservative politicians a challenge to O’Toole’s leadership

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One political party. When does it lose?

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When it becomes two political parties.

The Conservative Party of Canada is at that point. This week, a Conservative MP non-entity, Marilyn Gladu, basically declared she was forming a new party within the Conservative Party.

She didn’t call it a “party,” admittedly, and she insisted it wasn’t a challenge to the leadership of Erin O’Toole. But it is a challenge to O’Toole’s leadership, such as it is.

And it is indeed a group of politicians breaking with the party that got them into Parliament.

Gladu calls it a “caucus,” but to voters, that’ll be a distinction without a difference.

Marilyn Gladu speaks to reporters shortly after arriving at her campaign headquarters at the Royal Canadian Naval Association in Sarnia, Ont., on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.
Marilyn Gladu speaks to reporters shortly after arriving at her campaign headquarters at the Royal Canadian Naval Association in Sarnia, Ont., on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. Photo by Terry Bridge /Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network

Gladu said up to 30 Members of Parliament and Senators are part of her shiny new political organization.

Their mandate?

They’re against vaccination mandates. (We suspect they’re against man-dates, too, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

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Again, Gladu and her 30 fellow Troglodytes wouldn’t describe themselves as “anti-vaccination,” of course. But that’s what they are — they’re against public health policies that were promulgated to prevent another five million humans from dying a horrible death.

It is safe to assume, and those of us in the media have, that these 30 one-time Conservative MPs and Senators are unvaccinated.

They’re getting busy, too.

“We have had a few meetings, and we’re planning to keep meeting, but we haven’t officially kicked off the caucus as a caucus. We’ve just been saying that that’s sort of seeming what it is turning into,” Gladu told the Canadian Press.

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Forget about the fact that vaccines have proved to be astonishingly, historically effective in preventing COVID-19. Forget about the fact that unvaccinated people are overwhelmingly the ones filling up ICU beds in hospitals — thereby straining our healthcare system and crowding out people waiting for other lifesaving treatments and surgeries. Forgot about all that.

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This is an opinion column about politics, and the political fact is this: When one political party becomes two political parties, it isn’t going to win elections anymore. If you can’t run your own little bitty political party, then nobody is going to think you can run a great big country, are they?

Nope.

That’s where O’Toole is at, and he is decidedly the author of his own misfortune.

Unlike Ontario Premier Doug Ford — who kicked out unvaccinated MPPs, and said unvaccinated mouth-breathers wouldn’t be allowed to run for his party — O’Toole tried to suck and blow at the same time. He’s done it before, too, with carbon taxes and gun control and social conservative crap.

But Canadian voters noticed.

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During the election, O’Toole’s Conservatives equivocated on an issue that is literally existential. They tried to be on both sides of a life-and-death issue. And voters rewarded them with another loss to the worst Canadian Prime Minister in a century.

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The irony is that Conservatives have been here before, and learned precisely nothing. Preston Manning, Stockwell Day and Lucien Bouchard giddily blew up the Conservative Party a couple decades ago, and my boss, Jean Chretien, said: Merci, messieurs!

It is only when Stephen Harper came along, unifying the various conservative caucuses — creating a single new Conservative Party in His own image, you might say — that they started to win again. Because Harper knew conservative-minded voters prefer one choice on Election Day. Not ten.

Will O’Toole survive this latest challenge to his leadership? Probably. He and his team will issue another sly page of talking points, claiming to be interested in consensus and against bullying and icy sidewalks and whatnot. He’ll say his one party is the party of principle, blah blah blah.

Except they’re not principled. They’re morons, and they’re morons who are going to lose — again.

— Kinsella is the CEO of the Daisy Group

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