I ask this not out of any affection but as a means of understanding the future political landscape. The question does have some bearing now in terms of how we communicate our opposition. Is it to Harper? The Conservative Party? or to the Right Wing Failed Ideology that should be our real target?
The latter is the common element. The first two can be rebranded making our opposition efforts less efficient over time if we do not firmly reject the latter on principle. Historically conservative parties in Canada hide the fangs of their corporate agendas behind a dressing of an establishment avuncular mask. The word progressive was meant to reassure us that the party had not forgotten the people they really were screwing on behalf of the party's true ownership. Harper understood that a lot of their agenda could be accomplished for a while with the fangs exposed, without any pretense about what they were. And the party de-cloaked and gave us the "Harper government." But that phase will end. Maybe this October.
If the Conservatives lose badly in October they will re-tool. When they do this they will be aware that they have a branding problem. I believe this will be seen to be more than Harper. (To that end we must avoid *only* demonizing Harper while leaving the CPC unscathed as we want more than a leadership change before that gang gets to come back.) If the party is damaged enough, they will see the need to re-cloak in their former Progressive Conservative persona. They may even take back that name.
I suspect that in the post Harper leadership convention a new voice will come from Conservative ranks and it might be aided by Harper's unpopularity (if he loses in October he will be unpopular among Conservatives as well). It is easy to see what this new voice will look like. It will look like the old voice even if that was always a lie.
Canadians have said that the Conservatives are NOT the Progressive Conservatives. There is much longing for the Progressive Conservatives as most recently represented by the more balanced Red Tory Joe Clark. A fast revival of the Conservatives, rebranded again as the Progressive Conservatives remains a real risk. Taking the old name back would be the cleanest, easiest way to set aside the Harper leadership and strike into the future. It would provide a moderate face to the party to help cover the Harper scars. And it would be a whitewash.
The Progressive Conservatives of 2016 would be nothing more than the Conservatives of 2015 but without Harper. They would have all the others and they would have all the nasty views, just under the surface like they used to be. Under this coat of paint they might not be so in your face and blatant, but they would be a contender for power, dangerous and with the same motivations they always had. To those who long for the Progressive Conservatives, remember -- that party contained all that became Reform, CRAP, and Harper Conservative.
It is essential therefore to be clear that what we are rejecting is not just Harper. Not just The Conservative Party. But any incarnation of the same gang of people.
It is not enough for them to go back to PCs -- once more hiding their fangs.
And among our community let's reject any notion NOW that the Conservatives are not the same as the Progressive Conservatives. They are. If you get that wrong, you are inviting the Conservatives back re-cloaked as the Progressive Conservatives.
Be careful what you ask for.