So much for the big tent

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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.

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Let the Culture Wars Begin. Craig Chandler, chief executive officer of Concerned Christians Canada Inc., has a column in today's Globe and Mail calling for Stephen Harper to reaffirm his commitment to social conservatism Read More


Hm. A "former pro-merger leadership candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada" refers to himself as one of Harper's "loyal soldiers in the former Canadian Alliance party".

Funnily enough, if I had run for the leadership of a political party, I might choose to identify myself with that party, as opposed to a different one.

"It's going to be an interesting convention."

That's like saying "The Little Bighorn" was interesting, pogge.

Socons will be socons :P

They're an odd lot, and seem to perpetually feel like they're getting the shaft. (I suppose they are...)

Apparently the CPC has ejected David Orchard. They started out just refusing his member-observer status at the convention, claiming that his membership had lapsed. But when he pointed out that he had renewed his membership in February, they shifted ground and informed him that they had decided to decline his application for membership.

So there again: they cannot accept that their party will have dissidents or an internal opposition, as all the parties do. Dissent, and you're an infiltrator -- even if you've been a Tory much longer than many of the currently powerful members.

Good post.

Chandler, not to be too unkind, is not taken seriously in most quarters. The last time I saw him was at an Okotoks fundraiser for Ted Morton wearing a black cowboy hat and a very tight (keep in mind that Chandler is a big guy) fluorescent t-shirt with his name written on the front and back.

"It's going to be an interesting convention."

Indeed. Too bad it can't be cancelled.

Intriguing comment from Peter about wishing the CPC Convention could be cancelled... it seems to fit perfectly in with what Paul Wells said in his column titled "The politics of wingnuts" at Macleans (not the blog, but the online column):

"Later this month the Conservatives will hold their convention, and I don't envy them," Martin said at the close of his own Liberal convention. "They've got to figure out who they are, they've got to figure out what they stand for, and once they've figured out what they stand for, then they've got to figure out how to conceal it from the Canadian people."

Within days, Harper's party obliged Martin by looking for ways to avoid a convention debate on gay marriage. The Conservative leader seems eager to let the Liberals turn the next election into a referendum on a simple question: "Has Harper purged the nutters?" It's a debate he can't win.

Whoa. I've read some of Mr. Chandler's comments before, but this beats everything.

Two comments - one, this is more than just an illustration of a party trying to appeal to the mainstream without being tarred as "extremist." I think the convention will also display the great divide in Conservatism in general - the get-the-government-out-of-my-face libertarians vs. the we-won't-regulate-business-or-give-you-welfare-but-we'll-tell-you-who-to-sleep-with social conservatives. When you think about it, this has the potential to be a massive schism in any conservative group. At the very least, it makes things pretty tense.

Second, this from the 26 Feb Toronto Star:
"But several sources within the party have said in recent days that convention organizers plan to use the histrionics of the fringe elements to their advantage.

"There are wing nuts on both sides of the party, and they're looking for a clash," says a convention organizer. "Our opportunity lies in demonstrating that those people don't dominate the party, and if we have to lose some members in order to gain from the mainstream, that's okay."

And if some people leave the convention in a huff, that's the price of doing business.

The hope is to use the convention to showcase a party that contains social conservatives - rather than one of social conservatives - a distinction Conservatives across the spectrum agree is crucial to the party's chances of forming a government.

"One of the best things that could happen to this party would be for a guy like Craig Chandler (the founder of Concerned Christians Canada) to storm out of the room," says a senior Tory strategist.

Though much has been written about the discomfort of moderates who have very publicly left the party, there's a strong sense that if anyone decides to engage in some political theatre at the convention, it will more likely be those in the social-conservative core. "

Interesting is an understatement.

Another quick note - this from the Calgary Herald, 6 Feb. (column by Tom Olsen):

"Something called the Concerned Christians Canada has "Prentice Targeted for Removal" splayed across the top of its media release and rages that "Jim Prentice should join the Liberals because he does not belong in the Conservative Party of Canada."

Fortunately for Prentice, the group is driven by political lightweight Craig Chandler and his gang of irregulars.

The threat they pose is between none and laughable."

The best thing that can happen to the Conservatives right now is that a lot of social conservatives denounce the party and leave the convention in a huff. And then the party regroups behind Harper who aggressively pushes a libertarian agenda. That would wipe the smile right off of Paul Martin's face.

As something of a so-con myself, I should have been displeased with that last comment. Instead, I found myself nodding my head in agreement.

I think someone needs to make it clear to the so-cons that, if they did choose to leave, it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for the party.

Cancelling the convention would be disastrous. If the Conservatives went into another election without a platform that they can claim represents the party, the Liberals would have a field day.

As I suggested, I don't think Chandler has that much influence. Some of his views resonate with many in the party but he takes it to the extreme. He's on the fringe. But the Globe was happy to give him a soapbox on their op-ed page and it sets up what could be a pretty messy confrontation at the convention. There's going to be a lot of attention paid to the way Harper handles this.

I hope they do not leave and I certainly want them to put on a good show. The more off-colour comments the better.

That said, I think the battle is more imagined than real. It is mostly an invention of the press. The following pretty much sums up Harper view. Social Cons and strave the beasters are part of one big happy family according to Harper.

Whooee! Ol' Harpoon's got hisself right between a rock an' a big ol' stone an' he ain't gotta a choice but t' jump one way or t'other. I wouldn't be too awful surprised t' see ol' Stevie take off the crown o' leadership. He's gettin' plenty o' rightful mud throwed at'm fer bein' a leader o' the opposition who don't seem t'oppose nuthin' Fartin' Martin throws at 'em.

Them social-conmen oughta know they're in the minority an' quit wastin' time on the done-deal selfsame sexy marryin' thing. Shee-it! Ain't real Big C's got bigger fish t' fry? They oughta jest drum that Chandler feller right outta the tent. Now, I hear tell they got their brains o' the outfit Dr. Grant Hill gonna get up on his hind legs an' blather on guess what: stoppin' queer weddin's.

That's a funny idee from PeteFeller 'bout callin' off the whole show. Yeow! They shoulda had this show a year ago or more. Them Big C's is always growsin' that the mainstreet media an' the leftyLibs an' Laydown's DippyWips is sayin' they gotta hidden agenda. You can't hide what you ain't got, sez I. Canajuns been waitin' a year an' a haff t' see what the Harpoontossers stand fer an' it's high time they told.

Yores trooly,

I agree with James Bow's comment above, with a slight clarification: I want the single-issue social conservatives to walk out in a huff. The pragmatic, reasonable so-cons are welcome to stay. I have no problem sharing a party with people who understand the concept of sharing.

While this person does represent the a fringe element, even in the Conservative party, we must pay careful attention.

The US version of the fringe element that this man represents managed to gather power in the United States and the "Culture War" was one of their rallying cries. And look what that got them (and by close relation, us).

This man is on the fringe now. We need to work to keep him there.


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This page contains a single entry by pogge published on March 16, 2005 2:52 PM.

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