From Andrew Coyne's Saturday Column:
"Whether out of sincere conviction or electoral calculation, the nominally Conservative parties, federal and provincial, have lost interest in the sorts of substantive policy changes to which their predecessors were committed. They are conservative only in the sense of wishing to preserve the status quo. But conservatives of the radical, reforming variety are now in more or less the same position as socialists: sincere, well-meaning, but without a hope of forming a government.
With the difference that the socialists still have a party to advocate for them, and as such to influence the policies of the other parties. The Liberals may be a classic interest-brokerage party at heart, but they have the NDP constantly at their elbow, pulling them leftward. No comparable party exists to the right of the Conservatives. The effect is to marginalize the most anodyne ideas as outside the mainstream. As in: “even” the Conservatives would not go so far as to propose x -- though x is as often as not no more than the consensus of modern economists, such as that high marginal tax rates discourage investment, or that minimum wage laws discourage employment.
So perhaps it is time for conservatives and market liberals to have a little rethink. The strategy of throwing their lot in with the Conservatives has been tried, and failed -- failed, not in the sense that Conservative parties have been unable to win power, but that they win power, if they do, at the expense of conservatism.
The broader question is whether exercising power directly, rather than indirectly via principled advocacy, is the best means of seeing conservative ideas put into effect. The NDP’s success over the years suggest the contrary. Might the time have come for an NDP of the right?"
As a Liberal/occasional NDP voter federally, I say go for it. Because we've already seen this picture before. In effect, Andrew is suggesting that the CPoC should disintegrate into a splinter party resembling the old Progressive Conservative Party (circa the late 1990s), and another splinter party like the Classic Reformers.
But a party of the Right based exclusively on right-wing Economic shibboleths almost by definition will not attract Social Conservatives, who are more concerned with gay bashing, repealing the metric system, curtailing abortion, and ripping the hijabs off Muslim women. They couldn't give two shits about "high marginal tax rates" and I doubt they even know what the words mean.
And a party of Right based on social issues, a party of SoCons...well, nobody outside of SoCons likes SoCons, do they?
And the difference between the NDP/Liberal symbiotic relationship vs. a potential Neo-Con/Neo-SoCon alignment is that the Libs usually command a base of about 30% of the populace, the NDP about roughly 15%, some of which the Libs can poach by leaning left occasionally. On the other hand, the CPoC breaks down into two population segments of about the same size (say 15% to 18%), one of which is based in the West, and the other sprinkled lightly over Ontario and the East Coast.
So the end you don't get the CPoC plus an "NDP of the Right", you get two roughly NDP-size parties that will spend the next decade hating one another and winning very few seats outside of Reform's old Western ghetto.
Back to the future, in other words. Maybe Chretien will come out of retirement. Once again: go for it.