OTTAWA — Getting rid of supply management and regulating abortion are just two of the more than six dozen policy resolutions that will be on the agenda at the federal Conservative party’s biennial convention in Halifax later this month.
The gathering marks the first such policy convention since Andrew Scheer became leader, and will set the stage for the party’s bid to wrest power away from the governing Liberals in 2019.
The resolution to phase out the supply management system for dairy, eggs and poultry comes from riding associations in Ottawa and Red Deer, Alta., not from renegade Quebec MP and former leadership contender Maxime Bernier, an ardent opponent of the mechanism.
It seeks to replace the current party policy of supporting supply management, which allows producer marketing boards to set quotas and regulate prices for dairy and poultry production.
It appears the party has ranked the resolution so low on the order of precedence it may never actually make it to the floor for debate.
Two other resolutions seek to break the party’s silence on abortion, including one calling for a “pre-born child policy” that would declare protection for unborn children “a perfectly valid legislative objective” for the Conservatives.
The party has approved 74 resolutions for consideration at the convention and grouped them into three lists to be debated first by smaller groups of delegates in workshops. Only about 10 from each workshop will be considered by the entire membership.
The supply management resolution is 26th in a list of 26 resolutions on the list for one of the three workshops.
Supply management has become a tinderbox within Conservative ranks, thanks in large part to Bernier’s very visible, vocal disdain for the policy — and his razor-thin loss to Scheer in last year’s leadership race.
In an unpublished book about his political ideals, Bernier wrote that Scheer only won because “fake Conservatives” in Quebec who wanted to save supply management joined the party in order to keep the Beauce MP from winning.
Bernier’s efforts to promote the book ultimately cost him his role as a critic in Scheer’s shadow cabinet.
The Campaign Life Coalition is trying to get 1,000 members registered to attend the convention to help support the abortion resolutions, which are listed second and seventh on one workshop list, giving them a decent chance of being fully debated.
The coalition says its membership was so well represented at the 2016 convention, it helped pass a “conscience rights” resolution to protect health care providers from prosecution if they do not want to perform abortions or play a role in a medically assisted suicide.
A resolution on the table this month calls for that right to be extended to faith-based institutions.
The convention is scheduled to take place Aug. 23-25.
Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press