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Bruce Anderson is the chairman of polling firm Abacus Data, a regular member of the At Issue panel on CBC's The National and a founding partner of i2 Ideas and Issues Advertising. He has done polls for Liberal and Conservative politicians but no longer does any partisan work. Other members of his family have worked for Conservative and Liberal politicians, and a daughter currently works for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. He writes a weekly digital column for The Globe and Mail.

In 1942, the Conservative Party of Canada changed its name to the Progressive Conservative Party.

The new brand lasted about six decades, until Stephen Harper became leader and the "progressive" part of the name was mothballed.

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Today, noticing how small the pool of people is who say they'd consider voting Conservative, there must be some inside the party who wonder if that was a mistake.

Those close to Prime Minister Stephen Harper are self-styled "mission conservatives," folks who care deeply about embedding conservative philosophy into national policy, for the long term. They say they'd rather lose elections than feel they are walking away from that mission to win votes.

In pursuit of that mission, they relished making progressive-minded conservatives feel unwelcome in the new Conservative Party. Red Tories were like a virus to be eliminated.

Those who thought the Conservative Party would be better off without progressive conservatives bought into junk political science. Buoyed by a sketchy thesis that Canada was moving right, they were sure time was on their side.

Taking the hint, progressive conservatives drifted away. No effort was made to recruit from within that place on the Canadian political spectrum.

Today, running for his political life, Stephen Harper could use a few Red Tories.

On his watch, the demise of progressive conservatives has brought a different kind of conservative voice to the fore. Too often, these voices come off like arrogant, complacent or obnoxious conservatives.

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Anyone who thought there was no risk to having Pierre Poilievre and Paul Calandra stand up in the House of Commons every day acting the fools had it wrong. Those moments of jollity on the government benches may turn costly for tight-race incumbent Conservative MPs.

Endless hours were wasted ranting about the Media Party, an idea conjured up by folks whose agenda was building a Fox News North-style TV network. Maybe the ultra cranky will vote their distaste for the media on election day. But there weren't enough Media Party haters to support the Sun News Network and there sure aren't enough to win an election.

It's quaint, or sad, or just ridiculous that anyone would have imagined otherwise. It's a sign of a party that has lost any internal checks and balances. People should have been yelling bloody hell about what was being done to their party, not yelling in unison with the people who were taking it in the wrong direction.

Almost daily, the Prime Minister soldiers on saying things that only the most faithful have any faith in. He also wants us to know how hard his job is, and how lucky we are to have him, imperfect and all, rather than one of those other fools.

It might be the worst pitch by an incumbent prime minister I've ever seen, if Kim Campbell's "An election is no time to discuss serious issues" 1993 campaign doesn't count.

I watched Mr. Harper's interview with Peter Mansbridge trying to spot something that might entice a progressive conservative back into the fold. After all, if you were running about 10 points below your performance in the last election, it's a thing you might work on.

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But mostly, he confirmed what his opponents have been saying about him.

If you think there isn't enough opportunity for young people or the middle class, you're being unrealistic. Lower your expectations.

If you want to hear about the environment, go listen to another leader. Join another party.

If you want Canada to do more to help refugees, you should know how complicated that is. Some of them might be terrorists. Plus, we've already done a lot. And our compassion should fit our budget, and we kind of tapped ourselves out this year.

You think anybody but Nigel Wright did anything wrong? Mind your own business.

There are two paths to victory for the Conservatives. One is a collapse of their opponents. It might happen, but it's at best a Plan B.

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A better plan would involve asking for the job again, not telling people why you deserve it. Reaching out to those who share many, but not all, of your values to say we need your support, please consider us.

Progressive conservative politics was sometimes unwieldy, but it built bridges between the West, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada and between rural and urban parts of the country. It made conservatives competitive with women, and gave more young people a reason to look at the party. This country's chock full of blue Liberals and red Tories.

There's time for the Conservative campaign to wake up and get serious about a strategy to reach beyond "the base" (a term that took on new meaning this week).

Most days they look like they just don't have the stomach for it.

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