There is something that bothers me about the smears that have been thrown at me throughout this race, and it has nothing to do with the deliberate misinformation itself. That is just part of being in politics.
The thing that bothers me is that I have rarely been attacked for anything I’ve done, or said, or any of my policies. Instead, it has all been conjecture about who I’ve been in the past.
And my question for these people is: “so what?”
What if I had been a green energy activist, (I wasn’t).
What if I was a Liberal, (I definitely wasn’t, I was involved in the reform party since back in University)
Or what if I had joined the board of LEAF ten years ago to further a leftist agenda, (I joined to try to push them to the right, though I left after it was apparent they weren’t open to it). And for the record, it was at a point in LEAF's history where the Harper government had defunded them, so there was a conscious effort on the Board’s part to include several conservatives like myself.
What if the worst version of all those stories were actually true, instead of blatantly false. Would that preclude me from ever being involved in our party?
To win the next election, we must convince Liberals or NDP voters that the Conservative party truly has Canadians' best interests at heart.
We need to bring back members of the PPC and WEXIT movement, by showing them that our party is the one where everyone has a voice and every region is respected.
We cannot judge people who have changed their minds, because that is a part of maturity and being human. We cannot grow as a party if we attack people based on who they were in their past, or create false narratives based on fear to get votes.
Why would anyone want to join our party if they see it as a club of unwelcoming purists? We condemn cancel culture, and promote diversity of ideas, but then condemn people who have crossed the floor or who were not previously conservative — this is destructive, self-righteous hypocrisy.
As conservatives, we must live up to the legacy of our party being one of free speech, free thought, and vigorous debate.
I am willing to change my mind. I am actually proud of that fact. It is what has made me a good boss and an effective leader.
I respect people who are willing to change their minds.
Erin O’Toole ran as a pro-choice “red tory” in the last leadership race. He is now running a campaign that is appealing to a wider group in our big blue tent. Good for him for learning while leading.
Derek Sloan ran in the 2019 election claiming* that the Paris Accord targets were part of "a great plan". He has since changed his mind. Good for him for being honest with Canadians about his convictions.
After asking Peter MacKay to clarify his position on pro-life conservatives serving in his cabinet, he appears to have changed is mind. Good for him for being open to change.
Our party needs to be a place where people are allowed to change their minds.
My campaign has been consistent with my long held positions. We need to defend our energy sector, put forward real environmental solutions, and work with all parts of the party and our country. Also I’ve stood by my convictions in defending life with my "No Hidden Agenda" policy.
But if these were new positions, if I had held different positions 2, 5, or 10 years ago, I think I should be applauded for changing my mind. And that’s how I will treat anyone who joins our party.