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Technicians prepare the set for the Conservative Party of Canada English leadership debate in Edmonton on May 11.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Respected voices inside the federal Conservative Party of Canada are hinting at serious internal problems that portend a bleak future.

In fact, it doesn’t take much divining to see seismic fractures are beginning to emerge, ones serious enough to spell doom to a coalition masterfully held together by Stephen Harper but now teetering.

Last week, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner wrote a long screed outlining her reasons for deciding not to pursue the leadership of Alberta’s United Conservative Party, chief among them being a divided and dysfunctional caucus. She took the opportunity to point out her federal Tory caucus is plagued with the same problems.

This paragraph stood out: “ … in both parties there have also been squabbles that have erupted in the pages of national media, public meltdowns, nearly missed physical fights, coups, smear jobs, leaked recordings and confidential emails, lack of consensus on critical issues, caucus turfings, people harassed to the point where they resign roles and hours long meetings where members have been subjected to hours of public castigation.”

Rarely do you see a federal MP air their party’s dirty laundry in such a manner. Ms. Rempel Garner seems like someone who has had enough and is not afraid of incurring the wrath of the power figures (she would say bullies) inside the federal caucus today. She said this dysfunction led to the demise of former leaders Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole. “Knives were openly out for both of them from day one.”

Since her letter went public, The Toronto Star reported on efforts to see her expelled from caucus. It’s a mess.

More recently, Marjory LeBreton, the respected former Tory Senator, gave an interview to Global News in which she expressed concern that her party is “fracturing beyond repair.” She also conveyed her clear contempt for the support some Tory MPs, including leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre, offered the so-called Freedom Convoy that shut down downtown Ottawa for weeks and blockaded borders.

She was doubtlessly appalled that two dozen Tory MPs, including leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis, met with three central leaders of the Freedom Convoy recently in Ottawa. The trio gave speeches that contained anti-vaccine, anti-vaccine mandate messages. They promoted a newly formed organization called the Canadian Citizen Coalition, whose mission is to return the country to a “free, fair and just society.” Saskatchewan MP Jeremy Patzer said the convoy leaders had “allies” in the Conservative party.

If Ms. LeBreton and Ms. Rempel Garner are worried about the direction the party is heading who can blame them? The CPC caucus has become toxic, with those holding the most extreme views of conservatism exerting greater control over the direction of the party.

And their views are very much being embodied in the candidacy of Pierre Poilievre.

Even Mr. O’Toole has decided to speak out recently, with his first public comments about the state of his party and conservatism in Canada since he was dumped as leader in February. Speaking on CBC Radio’s The House, he said the next leader of the party needed to strike the right balance between traditional conservatism and populism.

He warned about adding “fuel to the fire,” of public frustration, instead of advocating for positive change. Who in the world might he be talking about?

Mr. O’Toole earlier made an appearance on a podcast hosted by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith. He lamented the direction in which he saw some politicians heading. “But what I worry about is with the populism of anger or frustration or dislocation … that can undermine institutions, it can undermine national unity. And so I think this is something all candidates have to be aware of.”

He added: “ … you have to be very careful, not presenting some bogeyman as the reason why you’re having trouble paying the bills or something with inflation.”

Is there a Tory leadership candidate engaging in such activity? Yes, one: Mr. Poilievre.

There will be many Conservative MPs and party supporters who will dismiss the warnings of Ms. LeBreton, Ms. Rempel Garner and Mr. O’Toole as the bleatings of disgruntled losers, a small rump that represents the out-of-touch moderate old guard.

Anyone who holds that view is deeply misguided.

Mr. Poilievre is taking the Conservatives in a radically different direction, one in which it has never been. It is a deeply divisive and corrosive path as well, one along which not all party members and elected representatives will be comfortable travelling.

When the party ruptures, as it surely will, Mr. Poilievre can’t say he wasn’t warned.

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