What went wrong? Joe Oliver reflects on the Conservative campaign
Outgoing Finance Minister Joe Oliver says that at its core, the Conservative defeat in last Monday’s federal election was about a failure to communicate.
Speaking with The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos a few days after losing his own seat in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence and watching his party move from government to official opposition, Oliver said he believes the Conservatives effectively targeted their base but were unable to deliver their message and explain their policies to the rest of the Canadian population.
“We need to broaden our focus,” Oliver said.
“Broadly-based, I think we have to make sure that our party is representative of a good section, a good cross-section, of the Canadian population from coast to coast. And that’s of course what we’ve always wanted to do and what we’ll be focusing on in the years ahead.”
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Oliver also cited “some policies that may have sent signals that were less welcoming” as an element in the Conservative undoing. Asked which policies he was referring to, Oliver cited the expansion of the tax-free savings account program, saying many Canadians didn’t realize it was reaching middle-to-lower income brackets.
Outgoing Conservative Leader Stephen Harper was accused of using the wearing of the Muslim niqab during the swearing of the citizenship oath and fear of terrorism on Canadian soil as wedge issues during the campaign. Oliver did not address those issues specifically.
Whoever the next leader may be, Oliver said, he or she will need to start fresh and attempt to grow the Conservative base. In the end, the former minister conceded, Canadians may simply have been ready for a change in Ottawa.
“The government had been in power for nine-and-a-half years,” he said.
“Resentments build up and it’s perfectly normal that it becomes increasingly difficult for a government that’s been in power that long to get re-elected. That’s been the history of Canadian politics.”
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