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Good advice from Warren

One of the shocks I had to get used to after returning home from Argentina was the erosion of support the Tories experienced. I leave the country for two weeks and look what happens! All is not lost, however, they still have time to slap themselves in the face, dunk their head in some ice water, and get ready for the next round. Warren Kinsella, of all people, has some good advice on what Stephen Harper and the Conservatives should be doing:

- One, you don't have to be an expert in public opinion to know that voters strongly suspect Conservatives don't like Canada, or Canadians, or anything that makes modern Canada so great -- i.e., the Charter of Rights, public health care, diversity, an independent foreign policy. Here's one Liberal's free advice: Start talking, and looking, like you like the place. Then the voters will let you run it. Canada is the greatest country in the world. Start saying so.

- Two, whenever a political party dips in the polls, the media will call up anonymous nervous nellies to get a quote about the need for an immediate leadership convention. The media do that all the time -- and, all the time, it is generally only the Conservative party's nervous nellies who rise to the bait. My advice: Stop the nervous nellyism. Focus on the long game. You Tories brought the most successful political machine in Western democracy to within one vote -- a single vote! -- of a humiliating defeat in the House of Commons. You forced the Martin Liberals into all sorts of tawdry, backroom deal-making to avoid an election. And, now -- a few short weeks later -- you are all inexplicably committing ritual political suicide in public. My advice: Fire the nellies, strap on a set of gonads and fight like your lives depended on it. And quit the kvetching in public.

- Three, Conservatives should stop talking about scandal so much. The media can always be counted upon to go on and on about scandals, real and perceived. They love that stuff. But voters don't believe that a Conservative politician is more ethical than a Liberal politician. Voters think all of us involved in politics are morally deficient, even when we're not. So, instead, Tories should talk up ideas -- the things Conservatives are for, and not just the things they are against (e.g., gay marriage). In particular, Stephen Harper should promote the fact that his caucus -- which is younger, and more ethnically diverse than the governing party's -- has come up with a platform that is moderate, centrist and packed with great ideas about how to make a great country even greater.

To this, I'd add a couple of other points. First, stop acting like losers. Offering to support the Liberals on their Santa Claus budget in exchange for putting the same-sex marriage issue on the back-burner is what a party that has no self-confidence would do. So what if some polls say you're being too obstructionist in Parliament -- that's your job. Leadership and confidence in your decisions is important too.

Second, don't be afraid to touch the third rail. Canadians know somethings got to be done with health care in this country and know a Conservative government would have to act. By not saying how you will act, Canadians are apprehensive about what you might do. It's a tough issue, but avoiding it makes things worse. But the recent Supreme Court decision might give you an opening -- by allowing you to claim to be for 'choice' in health care.

Okay, now I know you can take this guy. Get in there and take him down. We're all counting on you.

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