Craig Copland, LI’s Graduate of the Week, Converts to Conservatism and Creates Useful Political Tools

October 11, 2011 | By Lauren Hart

Retired Canadian entrepreneur Craig Copland, the Leadership Institute’s graduate of the week, created tools for conservatives involved in the public policy process after attending LI’s Campaign Management School in December 2010.

“The programs offered by the Leadership Institute are by far the most cost-effective and time-effective ways of learning how to be a conservative activist,” Craig said. “The Campaign Management School was an exceptional program that provided quantity and quality of useful information, expert and inspirational instruction, and supportive and convivial interaction with fellow conservatives. And it was a lot of fun.”

“My week at LI changed my life,” Craig said.  “This is no mean feat when one is over sixty.  I realized that while I had no interest in personally running for elected office, I could actually do something significant that might help other conservatives win elections. I perceived two needs in the conservative movement that I could respond to:

1) A simple handbook that laid out what you had to do and not do to win elections; and

2) A way of using the Internet so that conservatives could share with each other their stories and lessons learned about election campaigns.”

And less than a year later, Craig has done just this.

“I work on projects that will, I hope, help advance conservatism in Canada and the U.S.,” Craig said. “In addition to the 2012 Conservative Election Handbook and the ConservaWiki.com site, I have just started a Conservative Buyers Club that will serve as a fundraising tool for conservative organizations, churches, and political campaigns while saving individual conservatives hundreds, perhaps even, thousands of dollars.”

“We cannot afford to ‘re-invent the wheel’ during every election campaign. Conservatives must learn from each other if we want to win consistently. The Leadership Institute has been foundational in this process,” Craig said.

“We, the privileged graduates of LI, must expand and share the lessons learned not only directly in our local communities, but also through the limitless resources of the Internet, a medium which we must confess the liberals have been much better at making effective use of than we have . . . so far,” Craig continued.

You would think Craig was a life-long grassroots conservative. However, it took him working in five developing countries caught up in major crises before Craig came to understand that government isn’t the solution—it is the problem.



Born and raised in Toronto, Craig says, “Whatever I may be today is primarily due to the influence of a loving, conservative, Christian family and a very conservative local church and Christian summer camp.”

Although he grew up in a Christian family with conservative political views, he strayed in graduate school.

“I admit to having voted for the Canadian socialist party when I was a grad student. As a young man,” Craig said, “I was an ardent liberal do-gooder and extensively involved in the early days of the environmental movement.”

After graduate school, Craig spent more than 20 years travelling the world, working in international development, child care, and humanitarian aid. He assisted with aid programs during the Ethiopian famine of the mid-1980s, the civil war in Sri Lanka, the disasters of Somalia and Rwanda, and the innumerable miseries that affected Haiti.

“It was during this period of my life that I was ‘mugged by reality’ and came to understand that ‘Government is not the solution to the problem. Government is the problem.’ Slowly, perhaps even reluctantly, I turned right,” Craig explained.

“Since then I have become quite involved in conservative politics as a volunteer and consultant for election campaigns and conservative organizations,” Craig said.

When not working at his consulting and marketing firm, Craig spends time as a volunteer for charities—Habitat for Humanity International and the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, to name a few—that are active in Eastern Europe and Africa.  Craig also enjoys spending time with his three daughters and three “gorgeous and perfect grandchildren.”

Craig, a believer in free markets, desires to expand the conservative base by electing more to office.

“Except for a very few rare anomalies, all senior elected officials in America began their political careers down ballot,” Craig reports.  “If we want to conserve America, in depth and breadth, we cannot do it by winning only one, big elected office. We need to win 600,000 elections.”

His creations—the ConservaWiki.com and the 2012 Conservative Election Handbook—are a pursuit toward this goal.

“Neither of these accomplishments is perfect or anywhere close, and no doubt they will be improved on by others more capable than I,” Craig says, “but these were two things I could do to help, now.”

You too can make a splash for the conservative movement. Come get Leadership Institute training  like Craig.

Check out the full schedule of LI’s upcoming trainings.

To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate you know to be featured as LI's graduate of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Hart at LaurenHart@LeadershipInstitute.org.