Craig Chandler: The right way for Stephen Harper
Craig Chandler is chief executive officer of Concerned Christians Canada Inc., and a former pro-merger leadership candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
We social conservatives have been Mr. Harper's loyal soldiers in the former Canadian Alliance party and in the new Conservative Party and we are the reason why Mr. Harper is leader. When we united the two parties in 2003, we burned the boats as Mr. Harper commanded and became one entity. Now, the cultural war begins. We will become an alternative to the Liberals or the party will die.
Emphasis added. I wouldn't overstate the influence of Chandler or his organization. This isn't the American south and Chandler isn't Spongedob Stickypants. But note the level of the rhetoric. The "cultural war." It's all or nothing. This guy wants to bring the same culture war into Canada that's polarizing the U.S.
In 2002, Mr. Harper became leader of the Canadian Alliance with the support of many social conservatives. In fact, our organization brought several supporters to Mr. Harper's side from the camp of his opponent Stockwell Day. The next step was the merger of the Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parties, of which our organization played a pivotal role. After the merger, social conservatives continued to support Mr. Harper in his bid for the party's leadership. We organized to insure he defeated Belinda Stronach, a well-known liberal who has successfully infiltrated the new Conservative Party of Canada.
There's the same triumphalism the religious right displayed following Bush's re-election. And in his comments about Belinda Stronach, there's the same polarizing attitude. She's not a conservative with a somewhat different opinion, she's an infiltrator. Why doesn't he just call her a traitor?
In my conversations with Mr. Harper, we would always agree that doing what is right is more important then doing what is popular. We agreed that the objective is getting our conservative principles into power. We agreed that the majority of Canadians are both fiscally and socially conservative and would vote for a leader who would stick to these principles.
Now we fear that Mr. Harper is abandoning these conservative principles - the exact thing he once accused former Reform Party leader Preston Manning of doing. What irony.
Has it occurred to Chandler that if Harper appears to be abandoning these principles, maybe it's because the majority of Canadians don't buy into them?
It's going to be an interesting convention.