Moore is More

To win the leadership, Moore will need to win over red Tories in Quebec.

To win the leadership, Moore will need to court red Tories in Quebec.

Partly due to his one-man government, and partly due to a series of spectacular flame outs among heirs apparent, there hasn’t been a lot of leadership speculation during the Harper era, beyond the occasional question about how Brad Wall’s french is coming along.

Until now:

Industry Minister Moore has Conservative Party leadership potential, say sources

[…] Last May, Mr. Moore revamped his jamesmoore.org website—separate from his jamesmoore.ca site which is geared more towards his profile as the MP for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, B.C.—which appears geared towards highlighting his work as a minister. The change caught some attention in social media, stirring speculation Mr. Moore has leadership ambitions.

With the Conservatives down in the polls and 2015 likely (but far from certain) to be Harper’s last election, expect these type of articles to pop up more and more – and not just about Moore. The media love to speculate and politicians love to be speculated about, so anyone with even the faintest hopes of succeeding Harper is going to have their name floated at some point. Yes, even Pierre Pollievre – though most of those articles will be satirical.

However’s Moore’s candidacy is more plausible than most and deserves closer scruity since, at first glance, he’s everything the Tories should want in a leader. He’s young, well spoken, experienced, and hails from not Alberta BC. Most importantly, Moore is squarely a red Tory – he doesn’t consider arts funding an abomination, and was one of only 4 Conservative MPs to vote in favour of same sex marriage in 2005. That vote was reminiscent of John Diefenbaker’s time as a backbench MP when he was often the lone progressive voice from his caucus on issues such as the family allowance. These stands gave Dief the ability to tout the “progressive” half of the PC brand when he won the party leadership, key to helping him topple of Liberal dynasty.

Of course, there is still a very large “better dead than red” contingent in the Conservative Party. Many former reformers didn’t expect Harper to be the biggest spending Prime Minister is Canada’s history, recognize Quebec as a nation, and introduce NDP-style regulations on big business. Should someone with more conservative credentials, say Jason Kenney, step forward, you can be sure they would follow. Given Kenney’s connections in multicultural communities and religious organizations, his high profile, and undisputed reform roots, he would certainly be a membership machine come leadership time.

Again, things can change. Leadership hopefuls can leave tape recorders in cars and briefing books in bedrooms. Bernard Lord looked to be the conservative saviour for a while, but now he’s just a “former future Prime Minister”. We can speculate about Kenney versus Moore, but come 2016 or 2018 or 2030, the race to succeed Stephen Harper will most likely feature a set of candidates we’re not even talking about today.

However, what Kenney and Moore represent is likely to be what the fight to succeed Harper will be all about – power or principle, right or farther right, progressive or conservative, red tory or reformer. That battle may be years away still, and we don’t know the generals yet, but the battle lines are already being drawn.

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Federal Politics

About CalgaryGrit

A former Calgary Liberal, now living in Toronto. My writings on politics can be found at www.calgarygrit.ca and online at the National Post.

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7 Responses to Moore is More

  1. The Invisible Hand

    Most importantly, Moore is squarely a red Tory – he was one of only 3 Conservative MPs to vote in favour of same sex marriage in 2005.

    That’s got nothing to do with being a “red Tory.” David Orchard and Elsie Wayne were among the most prominent red Tories a decade ago, and both opposed SSM.

    Blue tory vs. red tory is a matter of economic issues (free markets, free trade, lower spending, etc), not social ones.

    Nitpick: It was actually four MPs (Moore, Stronach, Keddy, Prentice).

    • CalgaryGrit

      I’d argue that people generally include social positions in the red tory/blue Tory divide. Yes, there are examples and everyone probably sees it their own way, but social issues were one of the major clevage points between the PCs and Reformers.

      Oh yes, Keddy. I’d forgoten about him. Will update article.

      • hosertohoosier

        People doing so are WRONG. The reason is a lazy tendency to say “Joe Clark is a red Tory, therefore things he supports reflect red Toryism”. In fact many members of the PC caucus in the 90s were decidedly blue. Scott Brison is the best example (the centrepiece of his campaign was to abolish corporate taxes).

        “Red Tory” isn’t just a label, it’s a distinct political philosophy (and the founding ideology of English Canada): classical conservatism. It views society as organic, rather than being made up of individuals. Social and economic change, therefore, should happen through slow evolution, rather than revolutions.

        While unequal social hierarchies are inevitable (and should be maintained), classical conservatives do believe that the better off have a noblesse oblige to the poor.

        In the Canadian context, anti-American nationalism has also been a part of our Red Toryism. Greater integration with the US was feared as a threat to Canada’s collectivist institutions, and our tie to the mother country.

        Supporting gay marriage is not a good indicator of Red Toryism, given the prevalence of individualistic arguments in favor. That isn’t to say that no Red Tories would ever support it, but a Red Tory case for SSM would be different (e.g. “this is a new societal consensus”, “it was decided by the courts, we must respect their decision”).

        So lets not corrupt a useful term by using it indiscriminately. Say what you mean: socially liberal.

  2. JamesF

    Moore is an interesting name I think he’d stand a decent chance of taking it… except if Prentice were to run because I think they’d both end up chasing the same nickel.

    Right now in any hypothetical leadership race Kenney would be the one to beat… he’d have the old reformer frothing at the moudh set backing him and he’s got the contacts able to mobilize membership drives/member votes. That being said in terms of general electability I think he’s the worst of the credible candidates.

    • CalgaryGrit

      In the end, “electability” always becomes a big issue for voters, so even if Moore doesn’t have Kenney’s organization, I think he (or Prentice) could close the gap.

    • JC

      Kenney is a very interesting case. I don’t see how anyone can beat him in a leadership race, not only does he have the backing of the old-reform he also has the support of the “ethnic” vote. Being a popular figure in a demographic that conservatives have been trying to court (and have had quite a lot of recent success in) gives him extra brownie points.

      In an election though, I’m not afraid of Kenney. He’s a great leadership candidate but his strenght won’t extend to the general election.

  3. Robert

    We have added your post to our ‘Around the Blogs’ section on our website – looniepolitics.com

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