As with most right-leaning folks in Canada, the federal Conservative leadership race is a big topic for me right now. I know who I support first and foremost(I'm volunteering for the Maxime Bernier campaign), but the rather dizzying variety of candidates out there and the use of a ranked ballot is making the detailed list of who to support in what order a complex task. So I'm going to go through them all and evaluate them. Because this post is so large, I've broken it down into several sub-posts, to which you can find links below.
I'll be judging each of them on seven attributes, and giving them a rating. However, the ratings will be out of different target scores, depending on how much the topic matters to me. The categories are:
Fiscal(6 points): How well they will do at creating a smaller, more efficient government that taxes less and avoids running a deficit, while allowing Canadians to build a prosperous economy.
Social(4 points): How well they will do at letting Canadians live their own lives as they see fit without undue government interference, while still maintaining the necessary fabric of society.
Foreign(4 points): How well they will do at promoting Canada's principles and interests abroad, particularly in the realms of trade and security.
Governance(3 points): How well they will operate the actual apparatus of the government, keep power in the hands of the people who are supposed to have it, and encourage a functional, federal, democratic state.
Decency(3 points): How much I trust them to be a good leader, stand up for what's right in principle, and avoid catering to the ugliest whims of the mob.
Electability(3 points): How well they will do at actually winning the next election and getting power to implement their plan.
Unity(2 points): How well they will be able to lead the Conservative party into the next election as a unified, functional whole and avoid another PC/Reform split.
A perfect score is therefore 25. And to be clear, I'm judging them by what's on their website - if they don't care enough to post it, they don't care enough to have me vote for them because of it. This is not my final ranking of candidates - a few strategic considerations arise, which are dealt with below - but this will be the biggest part of how I decide who I'm voting for.
The most generic modern conservative I can imagine should earn about 4.5 on fiscal, 1.5 on social(I'm socially liberal), 3 on foreign, 2 on governance, 2 on decency, 2 on electability, and 2 on unity, for a total of 17/25. That's thus my standard of enthusiasm - if you're not as good as picking the average of the views of a random CPC riding association, I won't be bothered cheering for you.
I've broken my ratings up into three groups, based on how well I think the candidates are likely to do.
The A-List: Bernier, Leitch, O'Leary, O'Toole, Scheer. These are the candidates who I think have a real chance of winning.
The B-List: Alexander, Chong, Raitt, Trost. These are the candidates who are unlikely to win, but who have meaningful numbers of supporters, and who represent substantial parts of the party.
The C-List: Blaney, Lemieux, Obhrai, Peterson, Saxton. These are the candidates who have very thin or purely local support, and will not play a serious role in the outcome.
Ranked Ballots 101: I've seen a lot of confusion about how the voting for this election works, so I've written a post about how it all works, because it has substantial implications for how one should vote in order to express their preferences.
My Ballot: A summary of the rankings, combined with the all strategic considerations, to help me figure out how I intend to rank my own personal ballot.
Strategic Thoughts: This is my strategic-level thoughts on how I expect the race to shape up.