Don Martin: Mad Max's backstabbing exit could unify Tories
Far from handing the Liberals the next election, Mad Max could trigger the Belinda Effect.
Maxime Bernier’s backstabbing exit has the potential to unify the Conservatives in the same way that party’s runner-up leadership candidate Belinda Stronach’s defection to the Liberals in 2005, after insisting Stephen Harper was too extreme, energized a demoralized caucus.
The mood at this convention seems a similar circling of the wagons against traitors from within, mixed with relief.
There’s no doubt Maxime Bernier is a loss in the Conservative political ledger. He had the Quebec City region under the spell of his family name and he had the golden touch in fundraising.
His exit obviously hurts the party’s government ambitions in Quebec because his fledgling party isn’t going to steal votes from the Liberals or NDP. Only the Conservatives will shed support if Bernier’s party gains political traction.
But still, bolting from the party on the eve of the policy convention has delegates here strangely pleased. It means he won’t be bathed in camera sun guns, the centre of contrarian attention as the tagalong media scrums pepper him with questions about his turncoat tweeting and leadership doubts.
In the hours after his resignation announcement , the convention turned him into the butt of jokes, the sneer of smears and generally dismissed him as the vain emperor clothed only in naked ambition while believing he’s draped in principled honour.
They seem happy to be rid of him.
Time may prove Bernier right that Andrew Scheer is Trudeau Right and Conservative Lite and he will leave the voters underwhelmed to the point of voting abstinence.
But there was never any doubt the party believed Scheer had one election to lose before internal doubts were raised on social media about his abilities or his policy positions.
Bernier was severely impatient -- unwilling to outlast his victorious rival, unable to stomach the political realities of embracing compromise in the pursuit of power and vain enough to think he can single-mindedly change the course of Canadian conservatism.
As a result, Mad Max may well replicate the longer-term results of the Belinda Effect.
Nine months after Stronach defected to the Liberals, the Conservatives won the election.
This story has been updated to remove an incorrect reference to Stronach losing her seat. She stepped down in 2008.