leslyn lewis

Leslyn Lewis (source: CBC)

Guest opinion column from Craig Chandler

If you are a member of the Conservative Party of Canada you will have received your ballot by now. 

Before you send your ballot to Ottawa, I want to share with you my opinion as a movement conservative as to who to support and more importantly, who not to support.

This is the most important leadership race in the history of our party. Our movement is on the verge of a civil war, and the delicate peace between social conservatives and social progressives is a time bomb ticking away. There are those who would love nothing more than to burn down our big blue tent and erect a monument to compromise. 

The political calculus of these Red Tories boils down to the belief that if only our party were more liberal, we would win. Canadians have shown us many times that when faced with a Liberal, and a liberal-lite, they will always choose the real thing. Canadians need and deserve a fiscally responsible alternative and our party will never be right for them if we keep moving left.

Enter stage left: Peter Mackay. 

I know Peter very well. In fact, I ran against him for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. On the advice of Stephen Harper – then leader of the Canadian Alliance – I ran as the merger candidate with a simple message of unity with the 2 Cards Project. This was a race that I knew I would lose, however, unity is what mattered. 

Peter Mackay fought against unity with the Canadian Alliance every step of the way. From championing resolution 9 (banning dual memberships within the PC Party) to calling Westerners and Albertans “radioactive” to the infamous “Deal with the devil”. 

In 2002, Harper made it clear that social conservatives must be equal partners, cautioning against any compromise which might threaten this equality. Today, I echo those remarks. We can’t afford to go backwards. We are fighting for the soul of our movement and we need someone who will bring us all forward. Someone like Dr. Leslyn Lewis.

I have been a supporter of Dr. Lewis from day one. She launched her campaign here in Calgary, and her call centre is in Alberta. 

Leslyn’s views on pulling out of the UN Migration compact, her support for oil and gas, her pledge to eliminate the carbon tax, and to eliminate inter-provincial trade barriers, to protecting law abiding gun owners, commitment to fair nominations, end cancel culture, support farmers, allow free votes on conscience issues, limit foreign aid, support the military, repeal C-8 and C-16, repeal C48 and C69 get tough with China to supporting our veterans.  Leslyn Lewis is a real conservative. 

Dr. Lewis is the great unifier in this race, and there will be no albatrosses under her leadership. Whether you’re a social conservative, or a social progressive, a Quebec nationalist or a Western sovereigntist, she believes our tent should be every shade of blue and welcoming to all Conservatives from coast to coast-to-coast.

In 2005, I wrote an article about conservative unity and where I shared a historical anecdote of another great unifier which is as true today as it was back then. 

In 1776, George Washington ordered his troops to “burn the boats” upon crossing the Delaware. His soldiers were shocked and responded, “If we burn the boats, we can’t turn back. Even if we are losing against the British, there will be no escape.” George Washington replied, “We will win, or we will die.” 

This quote is a fitting one, when our two parties became one all those years ago. We the members burned our boats. We cannot turn back now. We will either be an alternative to the Liberals, or our movement will die.  Conservatives have an opportunity to turn the page, to be on the right side of history. 

Dr. Lewis is the only one who can keep our movement together and the only one who will beat Justin Trudeau in the next election.

Burn your boat, not your ballot.

Craig Chandler is the Executive Director of the Progressive Group for Independent Business (PGIB) and the Alberta Chair for the Dr. Leslyn Lewis campaign. He ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada leadership in 2003.

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