January 15th, 2021

2019 a missed opportunity for Conservatives

By Nick Kuhl on December 28, 2019.

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


Like many within the Conservative Party of Canada, Lethbridge Member 
of Parliament Rachael Harder can’t help but look back at 2019 as a 
missed opportunity. With the Liberals and Prime Minister Justin 
Trudeau on the ropes following the now infamous SNC Lavelin and black 
face scandals, the Conservative Party couldn’t land the knockout blow 
in October’s federal election.
Harder says there is more than enough blame to go around with the 
results, and she refuses to pile on outgoing leader Andrew Scheer — 
as many within the party have done in the past few months.
“We need to take ownership (of that election failure) as a 
collective, and as a team,” she says. “Politics is a team sport, 
and looking back on the elections one of the observations I would have 
is we probably made a mistake in terms of having a very leader-centric 
campaign focus. Instead, we probably should have been a team. Why 
didn’t we use strong members within our caucus to go out with Andrew 
and communicate our policies and vision for Canada? There are some 
really great players at the table who are very good at articulating 
our (Conservative) message.”
Harder also rejects the opinion of those who have stated Scheer’s 
social conservative values were what led to the Conservative Party’s 
election loss.
“We have a great big tent which spans the individual who isn’t all 
socially conservative, but who is very fiscally conservative,” she 
says. “And then we have the individual who is very socially 
conservative and very fiscally conservative. And we have individuals 
who would identify as very traditional in their values and beliefs, 
and then we have those who are progressive in their values and 
beliefs. And all those individuals find a home within the Conservative 
Party of Canada.”
For Harder, the election loss comes down to tactics and messaging.
“Our messaging could have been more crisp,” she admits. “We 
probably could have done a better job at packaging our policies, and 
communicating those well to the Canadian public. We have great 
policies… but we probably needed to do a better job in terms of how 
we were communicating them to the general public.”
In the end, Harder says the Trudeau Liberals won a renewed mandate, 
albeit a minority one, despite being one of the most divisive parties 
in recent memory when it comes to pitting region against region. And 
that’s not even yet mentioning Trudeau’s personal moral failings, 
she says.
“Trudeau’s overall hypocrisy, I think, should be appalling to 
Canadians,” she says. “And not just because his actions are 
hypocritical, but also because his actions are altogether unethical 
and should be concerning to Canadians. One of our biggest concerns 
with this election is really Canadians just sent a message to Trudeau 
that it’s OK for the Prime Minister not to have an ethical standard. 
It’s OK for him not to have moral values. And it’s OK for him not 
to have a positive vision for our country which unifies it from coast 
to coast.”
That was the result, says Harder, now it’s up to the Conservative 
Party to find ways to make this minority parliament work to the 
advantage of all Canadians until the next writ is dropped — whether 
that be six months or two years from now.
“A more methodical approach will be required to accomplish anything 
in this minority parliament,” she admits, “and maybe that’s a 
good thing. It encourages further dialogue. It encourages (parties) to 
work together. And I think the ruling party, the Liberals, is put in a 
position where they have to be open-minded and able to work with 
others, which is probably a good thing.”
Harder gives an example of how this might work in practice drawn from 
the recent parliamentary session.
“The very first vote taken in the 43rd parliamentary session was won 
by the Conservatives. The way we did that was we put a motion forward 
to strike a special committee to study China-Canada relations. We 
reached out to the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, and they saw the 
importance of this committee and its formation, and they so they voted 
with us to strike that committee. That’s a huge success; so I think 
there is opportunity for us to collaborate with other parties in order 
to be able to complete something good.”
But Harder also acknowledges her party’s attention may be split over 
the next little while as it tries to find a replacement for Scheer. 
Harder does not know who she will be supporting in that regard yet, 
but she has an idea of the characteristics she would like to see in a 
new leader.
“I have not made a decision with regards to who I will be supporting 
in this race,” she admits, “but there are a few things I will be 
looking for. Number one, I will be looking for someone who is a 
unifier — someone who can unify our country from coast to coast, who 
will appeal to the farmer getting off his tractor in Carstairs, 
Alberta, while simultaneously appealing to the corporate executive in 
downtown Toronto.”
“In addition to that,” she says, “I am looking for someone who 
will unify caucus, keep us strong as a team, and who will value our 
voices and talents as individual caucus members. I will be looking for 
someone who has a grand vision that is both clear and captivating for 
our country.”
And with that, Harder adds, she will be looking for someone who 
functions with the “utmost integrity and who shows themselves to be a 
person of character.”
She hopes such a person will be able to articulate a vision for this 
country which puts the emphasis on economic prosperity and Canadians’ 
safety and security while at the same time re-establishing Canada’s 
place on the world stage.
As for her own triumphant re-election this year, Harder says she 
continues to be grateful, and ready to serve the residents of her 
riding in any way she can.
“It has been an incredible joy for me to stand up for the citizens of 
Lethbridge and be able to advocate on behalf,” she says.
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

Share this story:
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Rachael’s own campaign benefited hugely from the “big tent” she created locally. She made sure there was leadership and participation from senior to teen. The wisdom of experienced campaigners and the enthusiasm of new young conservatives; every person helping to energize and drive the entire movement. Result: an overwhelming win for Lethbridge Conservatives.

John P Nightingale

Of course Harder would not admit that it was Scheer’s socially conservative values that led to election defeat. Those are her personal convictions also and whilst they appeal to like – minded individuals here in the south, those “values” do not extend to the majority of Canadians.