The federal Conservative party’s current state of disarray comes as no surprise.
Its inconsistent messaging around COVID-19 vaccination alone indicated a lack of leadership, even when the party had a leader.
On Wednesday, Feb. 2, Conservative MPs ousted Erin O’Toole, who led the party since August 2020.
Subsequent to MP Candice Bergen being named Conservative interim leader, a note allegedly sent by Bergen to O’Toole was leaked to the media. In it she advised against asking truckers demonstrating in Ottawa to go home. Instead, she suggested the “mood may shift… so we need to turn this into the PM’s problem.”
This comes across as being more concerned with political opportunity than about what’s best for Canadians. Similar to a photo-op image recently shared of Conservative MPs showing their support for “Freedom Convoy” truckers who got rolling after a federal vaccine mandate was put in place for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border.
Though non-violent, the protests in Ottawa have been far from peaceful for residents who’ve had to live with the related noise and interruptions. The photo stunt was another slap in the face for residents whose own freedoms are being tread upon.
Such pandering comes after a year of political attacks from Conservatives seemingly supportive of vaccination, including North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold. In February 2021, Arnold raised concerns about the Trudeau’s government’s failure to deliver vaccines to Canadians. He said the prime minister had left Canada “with the lowest vaccination rate, the biggest deficit, and one of the highest unemployment rates in the G7.” In April, Arnold was again critical of Canada’s low vaccine rate and the Trudeau government initially “downplaying the risks of COVID-19.”
On Jan. 26, Arnold joined other Conservative MPs in voicing support for the “Freedom Convoy” and opposition to the “Trudeau government’s compliance requirements,” calling for “alternatives and choices, not ultimatums.”
Challenging vaccination rates and encouraging people to get vaccinated while supporting one’s freedom to choose not to get vaccinated makes for an impressive display of political pliability. However, such mixed messaging reflects a fractured party in need of leadership capable of of uniting its members and working towards healing, not exacerbating, division among Canadians.
~Black Press Media