09.29.2016 01:46 PM

A snippet from next week’s column: how are the Tories doing?

Am I right? Am I wrong? Let me know in comments!

A year ago, the Conservative Party had become pretty lousy at government.

A year later, the Conservative Party has become pretty good – really good, actually – at opposition.

That’s not to say they’ve redeemed themselves for running a ridiculous election campaign entirely about a hijab worn by all of two women in all of Canada, of course. Nor have they been forgiven for their leadership race, which is a presently a contest between political pygmies, the prize apparently going to the one who can sound most like Donald Trump on refugees and immigrants. No, they have much to atone for, still.

But when it comes to being Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, in the House of Commons? There, at least, they are really, really effective. There, and in a very short time too, they have transformed into the most effective opposition Ottawa has seen in quite a while. And they have done so usually employing that most old-fashioned of Opposition tactics: dropping smart written questions on a free-spending government.



  1. PJH says:

    If it aint broke dont fix it………Rona Ambrose appears to be doing a good job as interim leader……and should be allowed to run for permanent leader if she’d like the gig…….

    I’m growing tired of Justin’s grinning mug already………His father won in an overwhelming wave of popularity and was reduced to a minority in four years time…….History can repeat itself……..

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      The Rae Principle does not allow for that going forward.

      • PJH says:

        I figured that might be the case……but being that there doesn’t appear to be a Dauphin waiting in the wings, as was the case of the Liberals, I thought the powers that be in the Conservative Party might revisit their rules…….but I suppose they want a fresh face……or at least one that can draw the youth like Justin….

  2. Charlie says:

    I completely disagree.

    Firstly, as far as “effective oppositions” go in Canadian history, I think the NDP deserves credit for being perhaps the best Official Opposition from 2011 to 2015. With the Duffy Scandal coming to light, the NDP displayed a truly admirable tenacity in holding the government to account on its indiscretions.

    Secondly, the Conservative party is self-cannibalizing. The leadership contest is, and will continue to result in party politicians eating one another in an attempt to establish dominance. Its resulting in some incredibly damaging rhetoric to ooze out and reversing any efforts by the CPC to be a different kind of conservative party.

    Thirdly, with the exception of Rona Ambrose — who I will admit, has been great as Off.Opp. Leader — the Conservatives have been a predictable mess in Opposition. They are playing an incredibly transparent game of selective amnesia; vociferously criticizing the government for problems they either created or contributed to while in government. They are sticking with a strategy that just hasn’t worked with the personal character attacks on the PM or Ministers. It’s exactly the kind of thing Canadians hated the CPC for while they were in government. There are plenty of reasonable points on which to criticize the Liberals, but the method that the Conservatives are employing is ineffective.

    After the election, some CPC MPs acknowledged the need to push reset on the way their party presented themselves. Well, they aren’t demonstrating that and the Liberals will continue to benefit (as polls indicate) from a Conservative party that looks too angry and tired to change.

    • Maps Onburt says:

      Balderdash… the NDP (and the Liberals) went on for months frothing at the mouth about Duffy and exactly what did it come to? ZERO. That’s an effective opposition all right – NOT. People are starting to see that they were right about certain things. The leadership hasn’t really even started yet and I’m sure that something will shake out. The candidates haven’t even all declared yet. The NDP was so effective they’ve run themselves down to the teens in the polls. Trudeau won because he projected a sense of optimism and Angry Tom wasn’t the slightest bit appealing. Good grief.

      • Charlie says:


        First off, go take a Xanax and lay down for a bit.

        Second, what did it come to, you ask? It came to the Conservative party being dwindled down to a nub of a caucus at 99 MPs and Stephen Harper losing to the very person he so loathed — thats what it came to. You obviously know very, very little of politics and come here to frantically rant about things you neither understand nor have any experience with.

        The Duffy scandal itself contributed massively to the deterioration of the Conservative party and Stephen Harper’s credibility in the public eye. In terms of political ramifications, it created a narrative of dishonesty within the PMO and the answers we were getting from the government at the time only begat further questions. I don’t make a habit of ever praising the ever-arrogant Tom Mulcair, but his fervent prosecution of the PM in Question Period during the Duffy/Senate scandal was exactly the sort of thing you would expect from an Opposition leader when duplicitous behaviour is being exposed on the government side.

        You are talking about two completely different things here:

        1) The NDP’s time in Her Majesty’s Official Opposition
        2) The NDP’s spectacular failure during the 2015 campaign

        While I agree with you that the NDP’s time in Opp. since 2011 did nothing for the orange team during the election, one cannot discount the effective job they did in hammering the government in what was an historic time in Canadian politics.

  3. BillBC says:

    “election campaign entirely about a hijab”…oh, surely not. I’d say the election was an image contest between glamorous young T and distinctly unglamorous old Harper. The hijab and similar issues were important only to political groupies, such as those who read this column…

  4. Ridiculosity says:

    I don’t think they’re being effective in opposition at all.

    We’re still hearing the same type of snipes and venomous, hateful remarks we heard from Harper.

    Ambrose just has a better haircut. Same sarcastic, patronizing smile though.

  5. jay says:

    Some people–forgive the Trumpian phrase–thought they were a good opposition when they were the government. Now that they know where their true talents lie, long may they serve there.

    • The Doctor says:

      Yes, we should just switch to perpetual one-party rule (Liberal, of course), with Justin and his descendants as our rightful rulers. I mean, look how well that sort of arrangement has worked out in places like Zimbabwe and North Korea.

      • jay says:

        Point taken, Doctor–but I hope they’re given enough time in opposition to become much much better at it. Practice makes perfect.

  6. dave constable says:

    So far I think they have been doing okay in opposition. Ambrose, Lebel, Vecchio, Raitt, have been doing well…especially with follow up questions.

  7. Russ says:

    l don’t think they have been all that great. To much focus on the picayune and not enough on matters of substance.

  8. billg says:

    Well, they’ve been given a lot to work with.
    Bloomberg had a story out yesterday that will define the next 3 years for Mr Trudeau.
    We are a resourced based economy with a new Gov’t that yelled from the highest mountain that they were all about the Environment.
    1 in 5 NDP and Green voters thought Mr Trudeau meant what he said and voted Liberal.
    The LPC now has to grow our economy and hold true to their electoral green promises, which, cannot be done.
    I really like Rona Ambrose, not really sure she wants the worst job in Canada, being PM.

  9. Lukelele says:

    I feel like the Conservatives are being too holier-than-thou about things, given that they were in power recently and did many unseemly things. I think they are in a difficult place. It is their job to oppose, but in so doing is making out to be a touch hypocritical.

  10. Lance says:

    Warren, is this your cheeky, round about way of saying the Tories are effective in Opposition because they’ve had so much practice at it?

  11. Bruce Arthur says:


    Well, that didn’t last.

    They’re all the same.

    Why is Canadian politics so petty?

  12. Doug says:

    If the Conservatives were really smart, they would quietly focus on undermining Gerald Butts. Backing him into a corner about moving expenses was a good opening shot. The end game should be a Nigel Wright like resignation. How long would Trudeaupia last without the man behind the curtain?

  13. Conservative says:

    The Liberals have largely continued Harper’s policies, with a few high profile exceptions (ie census). They kept Harper’s climate plan and his health care plan, they even cut taxes. Not only do I disagree that the Harper gov. was lousy, but it appears the Liberal gov. disagrees as well.

    I disagree about the hijab thing too: Rosie Barton asked Harper 20 questions in her mid-campaign interview, 6 were about hijab/niqab/etc. Media drove that one. The scope of government is enormous and no serious person would reduce it to niqab policy. Having said that, the policy is enormously popular with Canadians and if you want to answer that by saying they are racist, be my guest and good luck.

    Ambrose is likely the worst “Loyal” “Opposition” “Leader” in Canadian and possibly Commonwealth history and the Conservatives are stinking the joint out. Cheap Gainesburger “expense trap” stories in lieu of actual, substantive opposition. Criticism of deficits don’t work since Conservatives ran up $150 billion in deficits.

    Ann Coulter described the immigration issue as a hundred dollar bill sitting on the sidewalk, waiting to be picked up by an opportunistic populist. Canada has several sidewalk c-notes policy-wise and the Conservatives can’t be bothered to pick any of them up. They would rather be pals with the media that wants to destroy them.

    A crafty old politico whose name escapes me once described his days in opposition as follows (I paraphrase):

    We woke up in the morning and attacked the government. Had breakfast, then attacked the government. Morning meetings, then attacked the government. Some more attacks on the government, lunch, attack, dinner, attack, time with family, attack, off to bed.

    Does that sound like Rona Ambrose and this batch of Conservatives? LOL, no, and that’s why you Liberals love her. The “star” point guard of the Washington Generals.

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