Why Erin O’Toole is gambling on building a new, union-friendly Conservative voting coalition

Why Erin O’Toole is gambling on building a new, union-friendly Conservative voting coalition

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In 2005, Muttart started using intensive polling data to segment the Canadian population and pinpoint voters to target through tax breaks and tough-on-crime policies. But as he created an ideological map of Canadian voters, he found there was a “white space” made up of voters who are economically moderate or even left-leaning, but culturally conservative.

“They’re not socialist, but they may have left-of-centre instincts on certain things, and are driven more by economic performance rather than economic ideology,” Muttart said.

“But they do tend to be quite culturally conservative in that they believe in the idea of Canadian identity, they believe in the idea of strong, controlled borders, they certainly believe that the justice system needs to be tough but fair,” Muttart said. “And they also have a problem with pervasive political correctness, cancel culture, those sorts of things.”

Muttart, who is not advising O’Toole, said Harper made some progress in recruiting these voters, but it wasn’t a main focus.

“I think under Harper it was more about making traditional conservative economics relevant to the working class, or more white-collar middle class,” he said. “It was selling the agenda to this community. Whereas I think O’Toole is trying to do it the other way around. He’s putting the voter group first and looking to build out policy from that, so the policy is relevant to them.”

Harper’s message was centred on small government, free markets and free trade. Compare that to a video O’Toole released on Labour Day, where he promised a “Canada First” economic strategy that “fights for working Canadians.”

“The goal of economic policy should be more than just wealth creation,” O’Toole said in the video. “It should be solidarity and the wellness of families — and includes higher wages.”

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