With just two days to go before card-carrying Conservatives are set to converge on Calgary for what will likely be the last convention before the next election, it's time to take a quick peek at just what new policy initiatives will be on the table during the three days of good old-fashioned political policy debate.
It's not yet known which resolutions will make it to the floor to be voted on at the full plenary. According to the rules, a maximum of 10 per "stream" will be considered, but it's not clear exactly what that might mean in terms of last-minute prioritization.
Here's a quick look at the proposals most likely to spark a lively discussion when the confab begins — whether on the floor of the final plenary session, or in the hallways and at the hospitality suites. If adopted at plenary, these resolutions would be incorporated into the party's policy declaration.
Gender selection, assisted suicide and euthanasia
Gone, it seems — and likely not much mourned amongst the vast majority of card-carrying members — are the epic battles of yore over social conservative markers like same-sex marriage and abortion.
The closest that the Conservative Party will come to reopening those debates will come courtesy of reformed backbench rebel Mark Warawa's Langley riding association, which has followed up on the MP's erstwhile efforts with a proposal to have the party "condemn discrimination against girls through gender selection." (CSF 1-26-157)
Interestingly, however, it makes no explicit reference to prenatal sex determination — or, indeed, to pregnancy, abortion or termination, which would seem to render this particular resolution vague to the point of meaninglessness.
Meanwhile, Saskatoon Humboldt MP Brad Trost's riding association wants the party to go on the record as not supporting "any legislation to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide." (CSF 1-21-130)
In the aftermath of the abolition of the long-despised gun registry, Portage-Lisgar puts forward for consideration a proposal to tweak the existing text to make it clear the party's goal is now to prevent the resurrection of the registry, while adding a line that confirms the Conservative government "recognizes the legitimacy of private ownership of firearms and will resist any domestic or international pressure to the contrary." (RGTC 2-02-190)
A separate suggestion from Edmonton Spruce Grove would set out the party's belief in a "cautious approach to reclassifying firearms" while acknowledging that "the final decision... lies with the government." (RGTC 2-13-270)
The Cambridge riding association goes even further with a pitch to rescind the current Firearms Act, "which makes ownership illegal except under specific conditions of permission," in favour of one that "recognizes the right to own firearms unless that right is removed through due process of law on an individual basis."
The same resolution would also abolish the "prohibited" class for firearms, and restore restricted and non-restricted classes in its place. (RGTC 2-28-191)
With the Wheat Board, like the gun registry, now behind them, "a orderly transition away from supply management" is next on the to-do list for free marketeers in Medicine Hat, Edmonton Mill Woods - Beaumont, Calgary Nose Hill and Calgary Southeast. (ED 3-11-225)
On the west coast, Selkirk Interlake will push for the creation of a "voluntary dual market" that would give "fishermen currently under the monopoly of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation the freedom to make their own individual marketing decisions." (RGTC 2-03-233)
In a move that was likely triggered by the confusion over recent takeover bids in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Calgary West wants to expand the section on foreign ownership restrictions to explicitly support "openness and transparency in government decision-making regarding foreign acquisitions in order to bolster and uphold Canada's fine reputation as a predictable place to invest." (ED 2-20-063)
Amid a flurry of like-minded resolutions, Ottawa Centre Conservatives have submitted a draft for a new section of the policy book that would cover all issues related to the "rights of workers," from secret ballots to additional disclosure requirements, particularly "political donations, donations to media organizations and ... political activism and campaigns." (CSF 1-06-15)
There are also stand-alone proposals to ensure the party supports limits on both "forced financial contributions" and "mandatory union membership" (ED 3-02-69), enshrine "protections against forced union dues for political and social causes that are unrelated to the workplace" ED 3-05-74) — and, in the case of a joint proposal from Mississauga East and Sudbury, require the consent of members before union dues can be donated to any third-party organization (ED 3-14-68).
The Alfred-Pellan EDA wants the party to "strive to properly restructure legislative protection of the Rand formula so as to provide full and effective protection to the right of all workers not to associate with broad political positions that they deem oppressive of their respective personal identities." (ED 3-24-79).
Meanwhile, Perth Wellington members would extend that freedom of choice to student unions as well, while simultaneously imposing "clarity and public transparency in financial returns." (ED 3-19-77)
Free speech, privacy and cyberbullying
In a show of 905/416 unity, the Toronto Centre and Hamilton Centre riding associations have teamed up to call on the party to expand the section on internet connectivity to declare its support for "privacy and fair access for all Canadians," as well as its staunch opposition to "online censorship [and] regulation of content within the limits permitted by the Criminal Code." (CSF 1-04-210)
In nearby Etobicoke Lakeshore, the local EDA wants to see "digital communications," including text messages, be added to the Criminal Code S372(3) on harassment." (CSF 1-12-161)
Religious freedom and the right to discriminate
Souris-Moose Mountain wants a new section devoted to "faith-based organizations," which would initially consist of a statement supporting the right of such groups "to refuse the use of their facilities to individuals or groups holding views which are contrary to the beliefs or standards of the faith based organization without fear of sanctions or harassment," and further, to exclude "discrimination based on the beliefs of a faith-based organization ... from the definition of disallowed discrimination under Human Rights." (CSF 1-13-152)
Edmonton Leduc members would like the existing section on multiculturalism to be reworded to recognize "diversity" — specifically, the "embrace [of a diverse society which promotes core Canadian values such as: equality of gender; equality of all citizens; freedom of religion, speech and media; rule of law; strong personal work ethic and personal responsibility; centrality of family; tolerance; and individual liberty." (CSF 1-27-214)
Read the full resolution package here: