The federal Conservatives want some Atlantic Canadian love.
So much so, they are holding a federal caucus meeting in Halifax today and tomorrow.
“Conservatives have made re-connecting with Atlantic Canada a priority,” the party announced in a release last week.
“We look forward to engaging directly with community and business leaders in Halifax and working hard to earn the trust and confidence of Atlantic Canadians by standing up for them every day in the House of Commons.”
It’s an important move for the Conservatives as the party tries to rebuild across the country, a party that current doesn’t represent a single person in Atlantic Canada.
There were 13 Conservative MPs from this region heading into last fall’s federal election.
None were left standing after the vote.
We showed them the door.
If the Conservatives want Atlantic Canadians to let them back in then they have some serious work to do.
Visiting Halifax — we highly recommend the beautiful boardwalk along the waterfront — is a small step but it’s not the long run needed to make us even consider voting Conservative.
What we ultimately need is continued commitment, promise and proof that this party genuinely cares about this region and its people.
The Conservative’s former leader, Mr. Harper, never seemed to like us. Not even a little.
Even before becoming prime minister, he told reporters in 2001: “There is a dependence in the region that breeds a culture of defeatism.”
Yes, he tried clarifying those remarks countless times, but he did little to prove he truly felt otherwise during a decade in the prime minister’s office.
In fact, when politicians from Atlantic Canada fought to make life better here — think former N.L. premier Danny Williams — Harper fought back.
And instead of working with the people from other parties who we sent to Ottawa — think Nova Scotia’s Bill Casey — Harper seemed to work against them.
So, if the Conservatives want to reconnect, build trust and gain our confidence, they need to let us know, and show, they have our best interests in mind.
They can do this by actually connecting with Atlantic Canadians regularly, listening to their ideas and hearing what matters to them.
They can do this by holding the Liberal government accountable if it introduces a policy or practice that negatively impacts Atlantic Canada.
They can do this by offering attractive, achievable, honest and innovative platforms that appeal to the people of this region.
And they can do this by treating us in a way Stephen Harper didn’t — with respect.
Otherwise Atlantic Canada will truly have a culture of defeating Conservatives.