Christian activist groups told The Globe and Mail last week that they have made concerted -- and often successful -- efforts to win Conservative nominations for members of their faith who are willing to go to Ottawa and fight against measures such as the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. They said members of congregations were urged to take out Conservative memberships and flood meetings to ensure the candidate of their choice was elected.
"If they have won the race fair and square, and as long as they sign on to 100 per cent of our platform issues, then they have the right to run," Mr. Clement said. "The minute they veer one centimetre away from the defined policy position taken democratically by our party, then I have a problem."
At the recent Conservative policy convention, the party said MPs should have the right to vote according to their consciences in the House.
While Mr. Harper has not commented on the push by the Christian right, others in his party have concerns.
Gerald Keddy, a Conservative from Nova Scotia who is one of a handful of Tory MPs to support same-sex marriage, said people opposed to same-sex marriage have called his office to say they would organize candidates to run against him -- an idle threat given that all sitting Conservative MPs have had their nominations protected.
Mr. Keddy said the democratic process of nominations must be respected, but single-issue candidates will have a hard time persuading voters that they will represent them in Ottawa.
The "single-issue candidate" is a misconception that the media will not correct, because it makes reporting on politics that much simpler for lazy journalists on a deadline.
These "single issues", social or economic, may motivate candidates to run. But any serious candidate knows that he will have to respond to many more issues during an election campaign and in office.
These "single-issue" candidates are, for the most part, people who have been involved in party politics for a long time. If they don't know the platform and local issues inside out already, they'll be quick studies. They couldn't have got past the nomination committees to the nomination meeting otherwise.
But articles on these candidates' views on regional development programs or interprovincial trade barriers would hardly sell papers now, would they?