To Win in 2019, Conservatives Should Choose Michael Chong

Chong is the best bet for millennials and immigrants
Tristan Johnston, Coordinating Editor

Copy of debate (2)

Michael Chong (left), Erin O’Toole (middle) and Steven Blaney (right) discuss whether or not they would conduct themselves the same way that Trudeau did during his meeting with President Trump. (Stock File)

As a left-leaning, swing-voting millennial who acknowledges the urgency of global warming, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a Michael Chong-led Conservative party would be a very attractive option for my vote come 2019.

However, it’s extremely frustrating to see that Kevin O’Leary is the key frontrunner amongst Conservative Party members, according to recent Mainstreet and iPolitics polling. While I wouldn’t say that O’Leary is exactly like Donald Trump, the similarities between the two are difficult to argue against. Both are businessmen, have poor tempers, and seem to talk less about what they would do in power and more about how much the other side is screwing up their country.

As a candidate, Maxime Bernier comes in close second. I could at least imagine Bernier being a party leader, given his political experience and the fact that he speaks both of Canada’s official languages fluently, while O’Leary has skipped every French-language event that he could have attended. And while Bernier is against carbon taxing, he is at least fairly libertarian, believing in the legalization of marijuana, and vowing to stop corporate welfare.

It’s upsetting to see Michael Chong so much lower on the list than his competition. He received approximately 3 per cent of the preference in the pollings, compared to O’Leary’s 22 per cent and Bernier’s 18 per cent. It’s disheartening that Kellie Leitch, who’s dancing with anti-immigration Trump-like ideas, is getting around 7 per cent.

In a recent Nanos poll, however, O’Leary and Chong rank 1st and 2nd on voter preference amongst Canadians in general, not just Conservatives.

For Chong, it seems fairly certain that his support of a B.C.-style carbon tax is keeping him down in the polls, even though he argues it well and relentlessly. Unlike most in the Conservative race, Chong wants to use a free-market method to discourage firms from producing greenhouse gases. Other Conservatives argue that this would make it harder for companies in Canada to do business, even though Chong says that he would use the carbon tax revenues to lower taxes in other areas.

The other element that might push him lower in the rankings is his support of certain Liberal party messages, such as M-103, the anti-Islamophobia motion put forward by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid to ask the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to collect data on hate crimes and investigate ways that racism and religious discrimination can be reduced. Support for this motion was absent among the Conservative candidates. While Pierre Lemieux, Bernier, and Lisa Raitt are all opposed to Kellie Leitch and Trump-style approaches to immigration, many of them don’t support the motion, or have been silent on it. But Chong voted in favour of M-103.

It was during this controversy that Chong pointed out the hypocrisy of opposing the motion on the grounds of “singling a group out,” considering that past motions on anti-semitism, Coptic Christians and Yazidi peoples have received almost no controversy.

If the Conservative Party’s goal is to increase the number of people willing to vote for them, and to “future-proof” their party by attracting new Canadians and younger voters, then they should select Michael Chong to be the next Conservative leader. The Conservatives lost in 2015 by being the party of exclusion, and the party that acknowledges climate change but doesn’t act meaningfully against it.

If the Conservatives are down for carbon taxing, inclusivity of new immigrants and being reasonable on marijuana and other social issues, it would make them very competitive in 2019.

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