Will John Tory’s ‘prudent’ leadership be tough enough to tackle Toronto’s big issues if he’s re-elected?
Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was asked, on live national television, by a Liberal strategist how he intended to address the deficit. “I’m not going to get into specifics,” he said. The implication was clear: Mr. Harper would never get into specifics, and, as a result, he would be spared the need to tell us what policies would and wouldn’t work.
The Conservative Party’s lack of concrete goals has resulted in a perception of policy stagnation. That feeling has, in turn, prompted the party to retreat from the idea of having a single platform. The current policy positions are more about “talking points,” rather than platforms.
“What people want now is a prime minister who will make more concrete decisions,” says Paul Wells, a policy adviser to Paul Martin and to the former Conservative leader Kim Campbell, and a leading expert on the Canadian economy. Mr. Wells is convinced that a new-style Canada First party could come to power, and that it would bring a new level of discipline to the Canadian economy. A new-style party could, he argues, do a better job than Mr. Harper of talking about more substantive goals that, in turn, could help a sluggish Canadian economy.
But to win a general election, a stable and prosperous party would have to be bold enough to present a credible, substantive, and, therefore, more effective alternative to a party that’s already seen its share of glory but none of the pain. What’s more, the new party would have to be ready to take on the Liberals and possibly the New Democrats.
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And that’s what Mr. Wells, who was trained as a journalist, says he thinks will happen. His vision is based largely on the fact that, as a former journalist, Mr. Harper sees a very similar media universe as he does. “[The Conservatives are]