Saturday, August 13, 2016

Adventures in Minor Political Parties: BC Conservatives

I've decided to start a fun new series giving short but detailed looks at the ongoing travails of minor parties in Canada, whether at the federal and provincial level, because everyone needs someone to feel empathy for.

For the first part, let's take a look at the poor struggling BC Conservatives. Just to be clear, the party really doesn't have any relation to the old Conservative Party in the province, which was last seen as an asterisk at the bottom of the 1975 election.

Well, that isn't true - legally they're the same party, but long has it been since those organizers or ties were relevant. They've been around, sure, but it wasn't until 2009 under the leadership of a religious nutbar that anyone was sure there was still life in the corpse.

However you may remember the BC Cons from four years ago when they were the hit new kids on the #bcpoli block, with longtime federal MP John Cummins ready to come down and whoop some pansy Liberals out of their place as the province's not-NDP party. Those were heady days, when they even once managed to tie with them. They even scared the BC Liberals so much as to bring up the perennial discussion of changing their name whenever it looks like they're about to lose

Unfortunately, mildly preturbing Liberals was all they managed to do. When push came to shove, Cummins and the Conservatives - who received no support from their federal colleagues - ended up with a paltry 4.8% support. In an election where the polls got everything else wrong, their piss poor numbers were the exception. Why did this minor party wearing big party britches fail?

Sad Cummins
In essence, the BC Conservatives came about at the wrong time and fell into the hands of the wrong people. The BC Liberals were in trouble because of various populist issues (HST, scandals, etc.) but were still obviously in control of the not-NDP side of the spectrum, while the Conservatives showed themselves to be inept at handling just one MLA. As the spectre of a NDP wash under the relatively left-wing Dix hung over the heads of donors, organizers, and voters, it was clear that the damaged but functional Clark Liberals were far more preferable to the utterly chaotic Cummins Conservatives. The leader was probably the key issue - Cummins may have been a long serving politician, but it was clear he couldn't lead the party out of a paper bag let alone into an election. They had severe issues with candidate recruitment during the election, Cummins couldn't handle himself in a debate, and overall it was just a super sad spectacle.

Had the party been led by a competent person, or had it come about during a time when the NDP were firmly in control rather than the comparatively right-wing BC Liberals, the story may have been different. However in a province where politics is polarized and where the players of the game know a bad bet when they see it, the BC Conservatives stood no chance.

Oh, and ideology? Who knows or cares, outside of believing in the province they live in. They also have crap logo design, but that's my opinion, unlike the rest of this.

So where are they today?

Currently the party is leaderless after their leader stepped down because the job he sought turned out to actually be a thing he had to take time to do. They're holding a leadership race this September, where a defeated federal candidate, a doctor who says the root of all problems is we suck at money, a guy who's best media exposure is an autoplaying YT video interview with The Rebel on his front page, and, of course, the leader whose resignation precipitated this race, are vying for the top job.

All of them, except Ellis, need better website designers, thus I crown her the next BC Conservative leader.

The party is currently polling at 11%, but would be lucky to end up with bread crusts in 2017.


  1. This is a great idea for a series of posts. Really enjoyed this one as I didn't know much about the BC Conservatives. Looking forward to future posts!

  2. Dan Brooks won a leadership race against Rick Peterson to become leader in 2014 - he was not acclaimed

    1. Thanks, I'll update that - however in my defense, that was basically mentioned *nowhere*.

  3. So let me make sure I have this straight, you are picking Ellis, whom who make clear is a defeated federal candidate, to win the leadership simply because she has better website designers? So, qualifications and core competencies mean nothing, so long as one has good web page designers? Wow! No wonder people across Canada voted for Trudeau!

  4. As I reread my earlier post, I feel the need to add a comment. I live in Burnaby, in the federal riding where Ellis ran last October. If her performance during that campaign is any indication, she would be abysmal as leader. Ellis was nonexistent during the campaign. She was nowhere to be seen. She was never quoted by media; in fact, in most articles I read, the media either said she could not be reached for comment or did not return phone calls. I have been a longtime member of the federal party, and neither I nor none of the other members i know ever saw her anywhere in the riding. Based on her performance then, I hope the BC party members have enough sense to reject her leadership bid. From my perspective, they would be far better off if they gave Dan Brooks a second chance rather than elect Chloe Ellis. Forget this nonsense about how good her web page looks.

  5. This was posted on during the last federal election:

    Where is Chloe Ellis?

    September 30, 2015

    Chloe Ellis is the Conservative Party of Canada’s candidate in the riding of New Westminster—Burnaby for the 2015 Federal Election.

    At least, that’s what Elections Canada says.

    If you ask anybody in New Westminster who’s shown up to all-candidates meetings they’d tell you there isn’t a Conservative candidate.

    And that’s because Ms. Ellis has yet to show up.

    It’s a theme that’s playing out across the country: Conservative candidates and their managers either give reporters the run-around or don’t show up to all-candidates meetings (in Saskatoon, Prince George and Williams Lake, Calgary, and London, to take four examples). There’s a cone of silence dropped upon them from up high, and it really pisses me off.

    It’s undemocratic. Hell, I’d say it’s anti-democratic. It spits in the face of why we’re having these elections. We’re voting on people to represent us, the citizens, in the House of Commons. They’re supposed to be responsible to us, and part of being responsible is actually showing up to speak with and listen to your constituents.

    It’s disrespectful. Organizers of all-candidates meetings put in hours to get everybody set up. They set the agenda, reserve a space to hold the meeting, set up equipment, advertise, and do a lot more behind the scenes. It’s not easy, and it’s all volunteer time. And then there are the people who show up at the meeting to ask questions and hear what the candidates have to say. By not showing up to the meetings, Conservative candidates are wasting everybody’s time, and when you have 70 people showing up, and lots more following along at home through Twitter, that’s a lot of time you’re wasting and a lot of people you’re disrespecting.

    It’s cowardly. The House of Commons is a venue for debate. For someone to want to be there, yet avoid debate in their own city, that just shows that they don’t really care at all about the people they want to represent, all they want is that plum job. They want to be a faithful back-bencher, collecting the $167,000 per year salary. Debate? What’s that?

    I reject the premise that the blame for this behaviour falls squarely on the Conservative party. Yes, Ms. Ellis is young and inexperienced. So is Kyle Routledge, but he shows up. So is Sasha Ramnarine, but he shows up. (This is where Mr. Ramnarine thanks me for calling him young.) Neither of them are expected to win, but they show up. They answer questions, they shake hands, they talk with people, even though neither of them has experience being a politician.

    No, Ms. Ellis takes the blame here. She is the candidate. She put her name forward. She wants to represent us in Ottawa. And she is the one who ultimately decides what she does. She can have backbone and say to her handler “I’m going to this event.” And I completely understand that if she did show some backbone and stood up for herself that she’d probably lose some kind of perks that come along with toeing the party line.

    But that doesn’t excuse her invisibility. That doesn’t excuse her disrespect. That doesn’t excuse her from her responsibilities towards the people she wants to vote for her. Her entire job is based upon representing her constituents, and to disrespect your constituents just so you might gain some favor with the party? To hell with that.