Catholic Insight's Alphonse de Valk:
It is highly undesirable that Stephen Harper continue to hold the Prime Ministership for very much longer for a number of reasons.
— First, he has made the mistake of coming to believe that his persona is the personification of Conservatism. Thus he tolerates no views other than his own, is suspicious of others in the party, bullies his MPs, and cannot delegate tasks without giving up personal control.
— Under his regime the PM’s Office (PMO) with over 100 people has consolidated the vices introduced under previous prime ministers. For example, during preparations for elections, candidates are parachuted in, ignoring the wishes of riding associations which increasingly tend to be bypassed anyway.
— The democratic character of the party organization is set aside whenever it is deemed desirable. Even the local handling of candidates is taken away, as was the case with Diane Haskett, a former mayor of London, whose efforts were thwarted by direct interference from Ottawa (which did not like her Christian convictions).
— Also, Harper seems to have turned his back on what he himself understood in earlier days to be threats to the nation, such as the electoral gag laws silencing third parties, as well as the ever more unsavoury actions of Human Rights Commissions which, instead of bringing equality to Canadians, are pitting groups against one another while extinguishing freedom of speech.
It is almost impossible to understate the influence of Mr. de Valk and his magazine, and you can make a good argument that Harper won the '08 election without the SoCon gang on-side and can therefore ignore them going forward. That is, Harper won by ignoring his base, not embracing it. But it is interesting that Mr. de Valk's commentary echoes, in some of its complaints re the anti-democratic process involved in choosing candidates, allegations made by disgruntled non-SoCons within the party. For example, Charles Conn (Mississauga Reform Party candidate in 1993) represents the small government/socially moderate wing of the CPoC. During this election campaign, Mr. Conn wrote:
The history books are full of 'strong leaders' whose dictatorial, my-way-or-the-highway rigidity led to disastrous consequences for their people.
...lwhatever you do, whichever party is involved, shun like the plague every appointed parachute candidate who was shoved down the throats of members in so many constituencies. Just last fall, an impressive majority of Ontarians rejected MMP. Don't let the backroom party big shots in Ottawa sneak it in by stealth.
So what's the possible upshot of this simmering discontent?
MPs should revolt over this “trained-seal” scenario by quietly but aggressively organizing a bloc of members who will, if necessary, break away to form a new Reform party and do what our Prime Minister will not do but what must be done to save Canada.
...a scenario which is probably not likely at the moment. But who knows? Given the economic hardship ahead of the country, and the persistence of Quebecers demanding money from the Conservative government while not offering it much in the way of electoral return, such cracks in the fragile alliance that is the CPoC could be exacerbated.
Update: What I said.