Back in 2004, I was somewhat wary of then-Opposition Leader Stephen Harper becoming the first head of the Conservative Party of Canada..I remember thinking Harper was less principled than he was pragmatic and the party should remember the motto: “No left turn.”.Well after the desultory and destructive years of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, give me Harper’s pragmatism any day. .By endorsing MP Pierre Poilievre (CPC-Carleton) as the next leader of the CPC, Harper is, in essence, saying “No left turn.”.Harper has all but sealed the deal for Poilievre winning the contest. Not only was it the obvious choice, but by selecting the MP, Harper ensured unity will continue to define the party. Harper retains an enormous amount of gravitas within the party and the country and his word and opinion are respected. .Harper was unquestionably the first real ideological conservative to head a major political party in Canada. Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had moments where he actually inspired political change, but ultimately his government could never quite sell the conservative brand that his political peer, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, was so successful in communicating to the American masses..Harper gave us hope a positive conservative message of lower taxes, decreased regulation, law and order and a strong national defence would resonate with voters. .Quite clearly the CPC has been uncertain of its ideological design since Harper’s 2015 defeat to Trudeau. Although Andrew Scheer was well-intentioned, he could never seem to the spokesman for the conservative message in Canada and was ultimately lost in the dissonance of the campaign. Erin O’Toole, despite being an absolutely nice guy, allowed the CPC to morph into another Liberal Party with policies that often mimicked the Trudeau government .That election was a marathon for all parties, but unfortunately Conservatives relied too much on Harper’s image and personality to win that campaign and ultimately came up short because other bright lights in the party were banned from the stage at campaign functions and while the campaign strategists opted for an all Stephen Harper, all the time election campaign..It was still a shock to see Trudeau win that election because he did not appear today to possess the acumen to lead the country any more than he did in 2015..Unfortunately, instead of going for jugular in campaign ads, the Conservatives ran that silly :”Just not ready” ad campaign that implied Trudeau would in fact be ready some day.We’re still waiting..So why did Harper insert himself into this leadership race?.The former prime minister is making it clear just as he was a departure from previous Progressive Conservative leaders, Poilievre is taking the party in a candidly and unapologetic conservative direction and he represents a break from the past seven years. .Former PC leader and Quebec Premier Jean Charest would be an extension of the O’Toole years and he does not offer a new beginning for rank and file members who were clearly discouraged with the party’s leftward tilt, but believe they have found a true believer in Poilievre who is still attracting enthusiastic crowds wherever he speaks. .When the Toronto Star almost weekly opines Poilievre is too extreme — or too far to the right — and his leadership will bring catastrophe for the party, you know he's doing a lot of things right..Catastrophe will only result if Poilievre moves to the left for the federal election in an attempt to attract Liberal voters..Let me tell you this: most Liberal voters are not going to vote for a Conservative touting another party’s philosophy. They're certainly not going to stampede for Poilievre..Poilievre needs to continue to emphasize his common sense conservatism and populism because he doesn’t need to attract left-wing support when he's opening the floodgates for hundreds of thousands of discouraged Canadians who stopped voting because all the parties were writing and speaking the same talking points..Poilievre is building a new conservatism that's cutting deep into the Liberal Party’s base of support. Just attend a Freedom Convoy rally or last weekend’s demonstration in support or Dutch farmers. These people are young, motivated, multi-racial and often new to Canada.. This is definitely not only the folks who founded the Reform Party — but they’re in there, too, and feeling like someone at the front is actually listening to them..If Poilievre captures the CPC leadership and goes on to become prime minister, he could potentially usher in a seminal moment in Canadian politics and have the opportunity to actually change things in Ottawa — a city that has become a metaphor for all that is stale, outmoded and ineffective about politics. .He must seize fate by the horns and move the party forward with him. And any party strategists who want to market their version of Liberal-lite had better go out the back door.