At the Manning conference, identity politics continue to torment the Conservatives

Interesting. Conservatives really need to come to terms with this given just how much their outreach strategy to ethnic voters collapsed in ridings with strong visible minority populations, as well, it appears, being offside mainstream Canadian values:

Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert was blunt about the mini existential crisis the conference was exposing.

CTV Journalist Mercedes Stephenson, Sun Media Journalist Anthony Furey, Journalist Chantal Hebert and MacleanÕs Journalist Paul Wells take part in a panel during the Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa on Friday, February 26, 2016. iPolitics/Matthew Usherwood

“Why did Justin Trudeau win the niqab debate on an issue he should’ve lost (according) to the polls? Because his stance on the niqab debate, which is a policy stance, goes to who the Liberals are. You could set your clock on Justin Trudeau saying what he said about the niqab,” she said.

“I look at your party and the niqab, and I don’t know who think you are. If you can, explain it….There are issues that brand a party beyond tone. And before you set out, you need to decide who you are.”

Back in the other room, where Scott-Marshall was explaining the results of their survey, she spoke of a type of free association exercise where participants were asked what words came to mind when they heard Conservative.

There were some positives, but also negative descriptors in line with what Weston had heard at peoples’ doors: “Old, outdated, and mean.”

When the survey drilled down further into how Canadians felt about common terms in the political vernacular — liberal, progressive, democrat, centre, independent, left-of-centre, socialist, conservative, libertarian, radical — they got a strong negative reaction to “conservative”.

“The most common negative reaction is to the word radical, not surprising probably. Although the second most common negative reaction is actually to the term conservative.” Scott-Marshall said.

“Just over a third of Canadians, 36 per cent, say they have a negative response to the term conservative when they hear it. And only 20 per cent say they have a positive response. Something to bare in mind just in terms of maybe negative…baggage that’s being associated with the term Conservative now.”

At the Manning conference, identity politics continue to torment the Conservatives

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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