Honesty, transparency, empathy and character.
Those are the key pillars for any political party looking to get elected in Canada in 2016, says Preston Manning, and they just didn’t shine through in the Conservative federal election campaign.
On the heels of the Manning Conference in Ottawa, which drew Conservatives from across the country this weekend, Manning spoke with Tom Clark about the retreat of conservatism across Canada, at all levels of government, and what that means for the right.
“We asked Canadians what’s most important to you on a scale of one to 10?” said Manning, the former leader of the Reform Party.
“Honesty, transparency, empathy, and character trumped everything else. And I think there’s a lesson in that, not just for the Conservatives, but for every political party. That you can have good policies, you have skillful people, but if you don’t appear to have those characteristics, inspire trust, the rest almost doesn’t matter.”
WATCH: Conservative party’s future is focus of Manning Centre Conference
The task of rebuilding the Conservative Party is a momentous one, Manning acknowledged, and it will require coming up with policy alternatives for voters beyond just the fiscal management that right-of-centre parties tend to emphasize. The same is true of provincial Conservatives, who now find themselves on the Opposition benches as well.
“What’s a constructive Conservative alternative on health, education, and social assistance, which are the three biggest areas of business if you’re in a provincial government,” he said. “And what’s your alternative on the environment?”
Manning also addressed the rise of populist leaders like Donald Trump, saying there’s a danger in promoting a leader simply because he or she is the polar opposite of the typical politicians in any given jurisdiction.
“A little bit like in Toronto, (which) went looking for the opposite of David Miller and got Rob Ford.”