From Centre Ice Conservatives to Canadian Future, a new federal party takes shape

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

The interim leader of Canada’s newest fledgling federal party says he wants it to be an option for people who are tired of both the governing Liberals and the Conservatives, who he says are guilty of “rage farming.”  

New Brunswick Independent MLA Dominic Cardy made the comment as the group Centre Ice Canadians announced its plans Wednesday to form a new party called Canadian Future. 

“The problem we see is that we’ve got a Liberal party that is trapped in some sort of weird nostalgia dream of the 1990s and continues to believe that you can solve problems by just throwing money at them, without any particular concern about results, as long as the (communication) package is good,” he said in an interview Wednesday. 

“You’ve got a Conservative party that seems to be channelling, increasingly, basically American politics.” 

Cardy said the group, which had first been called Centre Ice Conservatives, decided to change its name after months of consultation on the idea of launching a new party.

A group of moderate Tories used the group as a vehicle to push for change during last year’s Conservative leadership race, arguing their party should focus on topics such as affordability rather than issues arising out of the COVID−19 pandemic. 

They eventually broadened their scope, swapping out “Conservatives” for “Canadians” in the title so as to include Liberals who were interested in the push for a more centrist message in Canadian politics.

Pierre Poilievre ultimately won the Conservative leadership race with a resounding first−ballot victory, in part by appealing directly to those who opposed mask and vaccine mandates, as well as people who supported the “Freedom Convoy” protest in Ottawa. 

Cardy said Wednesday that the new party plans to hold a convention next year and hopes to run a slate of candidates whenever the next federal election rolls around. 

Its launch happened with minimal fanfare. A new Twitter account created for the party only boasted 168 followers by late Wednesday. 

But Cardy said what they want to do is get away from a style of politics driven by party leaders who are vying for social media clicks. 

Instead, what he said backers of the new party want to focus on is providing policy solutions for the wide range of issues Canadians are facing, from housing affordability to threats from a more authoritarian China. 

“We’ve already seen the example in recent years of Max Bernier’s party having an outsized influence on the federal Conservative party,” Cardy said, referring to the People’s Party of Canada. 

In June, Bernier lost a federal byelection contest in Manitoba. Branden Leslie, a former Conservative staffer, was elected to succeed former longtime Conservative MP and former interim party leader Candice Bergen. 

During that race, the Conservatives attacked Bernier for having appeared at past Pride events as he tried to campaign on the issue of “parental rights” when it comes to how schools handle LGBTQ+ issues.

The contest was seen as a rematch of sorts, after a 2021 federal election in which Bernier’s party earned slightly more than 20 per cent of the vote in the staunchly Conservative riding. 

That result set off worries within the Tory caucus that it may have bled support to the People’s Party by trying to present more−moderate policies under former leader Erin O’Toole. 

Cardy suggested a more−moderate approach could yield dividends.

“We wanted to have that force in the radical centre to be able to push back to some evidence− base policy, evidence−base politics, not rage−farming and click−baiting which seems to be most of what occupies federal politics these days,” Cardy said. 

banner image: The Canadian Press

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