“Conservatives must keep far-right in check,” says the Toronto Sun

Tom Parkin, writing in the Toronto Sun says that:

“Before Stephen Harper became Prime Minister, he made a pact – and mostly kept to it – to tamp down the right-wing of his own party. He promised to not legislate abortion access. And he didn’t. He acknowledged social diversity and sent then-Minister Jason Kenney to court new Canadian associations. He did not debate or bring back the death penalty.

To be sure, Harper took steps to keep the right-wing from rebellion. He created the office for religious freedom. He celebrated the military and royalist symbols of Canada’s colonial past.

But for most of his ten years the Harper coalition included libertarians, foreign policy hawks, free-market conservatives and the business elites and lobbyists often drawn to the Liberals. Right-wing insurgents were excluded.”

That’s all true and it is a large part of the reason that our Conservative Party of Canada captured, in 2011, virtually the same vote share as the Liberals did in 2015. It’s why we formed a majority government in 2011 and why the Liberal Party of Canada forms one now: we brought enough Canadians under our “big tent” then and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did so last year.

I know I’m repeating myself, but:

Canadians are, broadly and generally a “moderate” people, they we hew to the “mushy middle,” and we will not allow either the far left or the hard right to govern us.

Canadians are willing to accept a “conservative” agenda as long as it is prudent, fair and moderate. We must not waste money trying to appease narrow factions …

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We must not insult them and try to turn one community against another, as we did with the barbaric cultural practices theme …

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And we must not pander to the extremist fringe …

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Tom Parkin concludes his article by saying:

“Federal Conservatives considering the way forward, take note. Harper held the insurgents at bay for most of the last decade. And won. In weakness, at the end, he appealed to them again. It failed.

Rona Ambrose should take a tougher line on Harper’s xenophobic error soon — before some leadership candidate begins to rally the insurgents and sends her party back a decade.”

I’m convinced he’s right. We, our party, made some bad campaign choices in 2015 but I am convinced that Canadians did not vote against the general tone and tenor of Prime Minister Harper’s government, they didn’t vote against the broad , general thrust of his cautious, incremental programme; they voted against the Conservatives because we had worn our our welcome ~ Canadians seem to have adopted the American notion that eight years is about right for any one person to lead an administration ~ and because our party ran a bad campaign.

We really don’t need to reinvent the policy wheel. I outlined what I believe is “good policy” a few weeks ago:

  • Social moderation ~ (s)he, the next leader, may hold whatever personal views matter to her/him but (s)he will recognize that issues like abortion and gay marriage are “settled” in both law and society at large;
  • Good, fiscally prudent administration and management; and
  • A principled foreign policy backed by an efficient, effective, and strong national defence.

 

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