IN THIS issue of Maclean’s Grattan O’Léary, asking himself the question, “Can the Conservatives Come Back?” discusses that party’s forthcoming convention in Winnipeg, expresses his views as to its possible future.
This publication has no party ties; no political loyalties. Its viewpoint in the matter of
any party convention is concerned solely with the national interest and the war effort.
Its editor, recently returned from a journey across the West, writes what follows as a matter of straight reporting.
There is much interest in the convention; considerable speculation as to the choice of a leader and the possibility of a reshaping of the party pattern and perhaps the reshaping of the party itself.
There is, so far as many average people are concerned, this feeling:
That if the motivating spirit of the convention should be the partisan one of devising political expedients with which to knock out the present government and attain party power, the Conservative Party is doomed to extinction.
On the other hand, if a leader can be found who will free the party from old die-hard Tory ties; •a leader who will give strong, vigorous constructive criticism when events demand it, at the same time supporting everything effectively designed to the furthering of our war effort; a leader who can convince the people that he is more concerned with winning the war than with winning political preferment; a leader who in the event of a new government being formed could bring to his support the best of the nation’s talent—then the Conservative Party, by that or any other name, may play an important role in the life of this nation at war and in the period of rehabilitation to follow.
The question “who might such a man be?” brings varied suggestions. It is recalled that in summoning the convention, Mr. Meighen stated that its base would be broad enough to embrace everyone of similar views concerning the prosecution of the war without regard to their previous political affiliation. This seemingly throws the door wide open.
Mr. O’Leary, listing possible candidates, mentions what he terms “seemingly fantastic reports” that there might be a move at the convention to draft Premier John Bracken of Manitoba.
On the other hand, in the West is heard frequent mention of Mr. Bracken as one who possesses the qualifications for so difficult and important a role as that outlined above.
Some friends of Mr. Bracken hold the opinion that he couldn’t be persuaded. Others think it would be a question of the sort of party Mr. Bracken might be asked to lead and the sort of platform he would be asked to sponsor; that, if convinced he could perform a wide national service, the Manitoba premier might not feel that he could refuse such a call.
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