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Editorial: Staking out Tory turf

Andrew Scheer spoke with The Telegram at the Comfort Inn on Thursday after meetings in St. John’s with provincial conservative leaders.
Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer during a visit to St. John’s. — Telegram file photo

It’s a little bit daunting.

In all, starting Thursday, delegates to the federal Conservative Party of Canada’s National Policy Committee Convention in Halifax have 30 pages of policy resolutions to consider. Some will make their way through the process to become party policy. Others will be weakened, defeated or will just disappear.

They range from the big to the small.

On climate change, a proposed resolution reads, in part, “We believe that it is the responsibility of government to ensure that the sometimes competing values of preserving the environment and creating jobs are maintained in proper balance. We believe that all environment and energy initiatives should be reviewed. … Recognizing the importance of climate change and the impact it has on Canadians, the Conservative Party of Canada will strive to be a world class leader in climate change adaptation and greenhouse gas reduction.”

Another resolution opposes all carbon taxes.

A proposed resolution from Cape Breton wants express support for tidal power – another, from New Brunswick, champions the Energy East pipeline. One proposes free interprovincial trade in beer, wine and liquor — another proposes requiring the cost of ferry traffic between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to be reduced to what it would cost to drive the same distance on a highway.

Others are more Conservative Party of Canada motherhood and apple pie issues. There’s improved financial resources for seniors, modifications and simplifications to the tax code, more competition in the airline, cellphone and banking business, and broadband for all.

The party will be looking at a proposal aimed at, “eliminating corporate welfare, bailouts, grants, and government investment in for-profit businesses.” Delegates are going to argue about whether the party should shed its current position that “a Conservative government will not support legislation to regulate abortion,” replacing that language with “The Conservative Party recognizes that it is a perfectly valid legislative objective to protect the life of the unborn child.” Whether religious organizations should have to “allow the use of their facilities for events that are incompatible with their faith and beliefs.” Whether the party should allow individual workers to opt out of unions and union dues in unionized workplaces.

At least, those are a few of the things that are on the table.

What’s not on the table, but is certainly very much front-of-mind?

The interplay between the wishes of those who are diehard Tories now and want to set the direction for their party in their own image, and the wishes of the voters that the Conservative Party of Canada has to woo between now and the 2019 federal election.

That’s what makes policy conventions so much fun: when the political ideologues meet the electoral pragmatists. Go too far, and you’re not conservative enough. Don’t go far enough, and you’re not politically attractive.

Let’s see which side ends up winning the most ground.

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