Michael Den Tandt, writing in the National Post, yesterday, says something about which I have been harping, time and time again, ever since I began this blog: “Conservative can’t win by being the party of angry old men.”
Mr Den Tandt offers three notions he calls “immutable truths:”
- “Granddad, it’s time for you to take a step back. Conservatives can’t win by being the party of angry old men …”
- “Lynton Crosbie’s niqab gambit, if indeed that was the Australian consultant’s brainchild, was an unmitigated disaster. The party can’t win without support from new Canadians and ethnic and linguistic minorities …”
- “The Harper Conservatives were always more Harper than conservative. The party can’t win unless it stands for principles that are coherent and consistent, distinct from its competitors’ and popular …”
But all is not doom and gloom according to Mr Den Tandt, he also says that, “There is a way forward that addresses each of these points, and is in fact being eased by the Liberal and New Democratic parties’ own strategic shifts.” Of course, where there’s good news there’s always bad news, too, and according to Michael Den Tandt the bad news is that,” It,” the way forward, “requires candid self-examination and a transformation in mindset, something for which Conservatives have in the recent past shown no appetite.”
Well, so far, those who have followed my ramblings here and on Army.ca will be forgiven for believing that Mr De Tandt and I are one and the same person. No such luck: I am actually one of the “old men,” one of the granddad’s who need to get out of the way, or I would be if I was angry … but I’m not angry about anything. I am disappointed that almost 40% of the almost 70% of eligible voters who even bothered to cast ballots did so for a party ~ a noble and honourable party, by the way ~ that is led by a vapid dilettante who just happens to be both famous and possessed of a GREAT public relations team, but I also understand that we, Conservatives, had overstayed our welcome.
Mr Den Tandt has a prescription with I find general favour: “embrace moderate libertarianism,” he says, “cutting right and left simultaneously, in the process reclaiming the “progressive” mantle set aside following the Mulroney years from 1984 to 1993, and appropriating the fiscal street cred of Chretien Liberalism … [and] … This is not a Frankenstein monster, for all its strangeness in the recent Canadian context: It’s classical liberalism. There’s evidence the party is already moving in this direction, in Parliament anyhow. The foundation is there. What’s needed is a push.” The kind of classic liberalism it is, as Michael Den Tandy suggests, is that of John Stuart Mill, Palmerston and Gladstone and, in Canada, of Louis St Laurent.
I keep returning to Louis St Laurent as a model for Conservatives because, I am fairly certain that were M St Laurent alive today he would be a Conservative because Pierre Trudeau, especially, and Jean Chrétien, to a lesser degree, took the Liberal Party in which M St Laurent served and made it into something quite unrecognizable to Laurier, St Laurent and even Mike Pearson, and, as Michael Den Tandt says, Justin Trudeau seems intent on following his father and moving from the centre to the left of centre on my political bell curve:
I agree with Mr Den Tandt that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is giving us an opportunity to craft a centrist political platform that will appeal to well over 40% of the electorate.
We need to have fiscally sound, prudent, low tax/low spending policies.
We need to be socially moderate ~ always willing to make social progress but, as Prime Minister St Laurent did, always bringing the vast majority of Canadian “onside” first, before moving on most issues.
We have to have principled policies, not ones made to satisfy this or that constituency or the “flavour of the month,” and they have to be principles we are happy to explain and defend.
We have to want to be a leading middle power again. Many, many Canadians will accept increased defence spending if they understand that it is, indeed, helping to give us what Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin wanted: A role of pride and influence in the world.
The task is to convince the happy young urban-immigrant family in the left image, who share most of the same socio-cultutural and economic values as the rural, Canadian born family in the right image, to vote Conservative, too. We are not going to do that if the image we allow to be created for and of us is that of the angry old man …
… he’s not my kind of Conservative and I hope he’s not yours, either.
If we want to keep offering that face then we must, also, conceded, as Tony Clement says we already do, 100+ seats to the Liberals and NDP: the seats in major urban ridings, like mine.
Not all of my neighbours look like this …
… but some of them do and some of them have the same social, cultural and economic values as I, and you if you’re a socially moderate, fiscal conservative, and they are not all automatic Liberal-NDP supporters, but they tend to vote for something, not just against it and we need to offer them good, principled reasons to vote for the Conservative Party.
So let’s get the granddads, like me, out of the limelight and put a fresh, new, friendly face on the Conservative values we (mostly) share …
… and lets leave the “angry old (and young) men” meme to the other parties …
… and, while we’re at it, let’s offer a fresh, friendly, new set of fiscally prudent, socially moderate, principled and practical policies in the 2019 platform, too.