The yawning ideological chasms that split the Conservative Party into squabbling factions have come to the surface once again. Apparently, some Conservative members in Quebec are demanding Stephen Harper's head - metaphorically or otherwise.
Yes, it's "only" 4 members from Quebec - a province that hasn't been overly friendly to anything bearing the "Conservative" banner since Brian Mulroney left office. (Can't say I blame them after that experience)
Once again, it underscores the key problem with that party today. To date, no leader has come forward that is able to placate the hard-line social conservatives and the former "progressive" conservatives. Harper never looked like that leader to me - and nothing in the "Harper's Summer Adventures" BBQ Tour this summer was particularly persuasive to me that he was the man to unite the factions of the party.
Of course, party officials are being dismissive - various people blaming "Belinda Tories" and other factions in the party. No - there's no factionalism here.
Peter Mackay's duplicitous actions in agreeing to merge with the Alliance party cannot have made long time PCs very happy - and since then, the party has continued to make it look like the "merger" was a corporate takeover by the Alliance. To the public, this means that the top two leaders of the new party are about as credible as your average thief.
Ultimately, two things need to happen to convince "soft" Conservative voters (people who might vote for them - if they believed the party was more middle of the road). First, a leader has to be found that doesn't have any significant baggage with either of the major factions. Belinda could have been that leader - in a few years.
Second, the party needs to have a rather publicly visible cleansing of the truly extreme elements. To date, every time one of the hard-line types opens their mouth, we get a leader prevaricating over the statements made. The result is a response that looks mushy and inconclusive - and leaves the public wondering just what the party does in fact represent.
In the meantime, the federal Liberal party continues to win election after election - why - because in spite of the known problems in the party, voters feel much more comfortable that they know what the party represents. Although Alberta Conservative supporters like to accuse Ontario voters of being wilfully blind, the reality is that the Conservatives continue to make the mistake of assuming that voters will turn to them in preference to the obviously corrupt Liberals. Wrong - we know the Liberals are corrupt, but we don't know what the Conservatives _are_. (And sadly, past history suggests that the Conservatives remain home to some pretty ugly sub-groups of political belief in this nation.
That demands for Harper's head are once again becoming public knowledge comes as little surprise, and merely reinforces the sense of doubt that many voters have expressed about this party.