Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Not Your Grandfather's Party?

Mike Duffy hails the Tories as the party of the future

There's certainly something ironic about being told the Conservative party "is not your grandfather's party" by someone old enough to be almost anyone's grandfather.

Yet that was the scene at a recent Conservative party fundraiser in Wendover, Ontario when Conservative Senator Mike Duffy promoted his party as the party of the future.

“The Conservative Party is not your grandfather’s party, it is the party that will take Canada into the future," Duffy announced. "You have many achievements to be proud of.”

Duffy alluded to a few specifically: Canada's first Muslim MP, Canada's first black MP, Canada's first female Cabinet Minister, and the first French-Canadian Governor General.

It's true that the Conservative party has accomplished far more than it tends to get credit for. Progressive Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker eliminated racial criteria from Canadian immigration policies. Fellow Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was instrumental in leading the international charge against South African apartheid.

Yet Duffy's insistence that the Conservatives are the party of tomorrow falls fairly hollow when one considers that the party doesn't have a youth wing.

It does have various campus organizations at Universities across the country, but there's little question that the party is neglecting to develop the talents of its youngest members and supporters.

Certainly Preston Manning's Manning Centre for Building Democracy does a lot of valuable work in this regard for Canadian conservatism in general. Furthermore, the Tories do have a number of rising young stars in their caucus, both in the House of Commons and the Senate.

But if the Conservative party wants to be the party of tomorrow, it needs to start building for tomorrow today. A national organization would allow young Conservatives to gain valuable experience in the party and begin the arduous climb up the party ranks.

The Liberal party and NDP both have youth organizations to build for the future. In not having such an organization the Tories have placed themselves at a distinct disadvantage.

If the Conservative party wants to escape the fate of being the Grandfather's party of Canada it needs to start incorporating its grandsons and granddaughters into its organizations.

The establishment of a youth wing would be a pivotal start.

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