About 14 months ago, when I started this blog, I said:
- “I’m an old, retired soldier with an interest in politics. I self describe as a classical, 19th century liberal ~ which means, in 21st century Canada, that I’m a Conservative … [and] … I believe in four fundamental rights for each and every individual: Life, Liberty and Property, as described by John Locke in 17th century England, and Privacy, as defined by Brandeis and Warren in 19th century America, but expanded, to fully include absolute control over one’s body and the “right to be left alone.”“
- “I believe that the next leader must aim to please the 90±% of Conservatives who are somewhere on the Social and fiscal moderates through to Social moderates but fiscal hawks segments on the spectrum. I think we can, even should, be prepared to jettison the Red Tories and the Social conservatives, if necessary to preserve party unity, and the two extreme fringes if they cannot stomach the “mushy middle.”“
- “I self identify as being in about the middle of that conservative spectrum and I want a leader who, even though (s)he holds e.g. a principled pro-life position, recognizes and affirms that abortion is a settled issue, some Conservatives may wish to debate it, that’s their right, even to raise it in parliament, but the party’s position is that choice is a woman’s right and the issue will not be revisited by a Conservative government; I want a leader who will be brave enough to roll back some social programmes and repeal the Canada Health Act, leaving provinces free to experiment with whatever models make fiscal and political sense; I want a leader who will stop the cronyism, pork barrelling and corporate welfare that masquerade as “regional economic diversification” programmes; I want a leader who will make practical policies that aim to stop the human rot that infests too many (arguably most) First Nations ~ First Nations people need to be able to stand, proudly, on their own merits, and through their own efforts as happy, prosperous Canadians; I want a leader who will explain to Canadians why we need to pay for a modest but efficient and effective military, even though it may be a “waste” in pure economic terms; finally I want a leader who will enunciate a practical (affordable), principled and even visionary foreign policy that sets goals for Canada in the world.“
I wish to reaffirm that nothing has changed.
I have expanded on these themes several times, going so far, in May of last year, as to describe myself as a social libertarian, saying that “I think government has little if any business in the private affairs of individuals … and I mean that there is no need for any government involvement, even remotely, in any form of regulation or even definition of marriage.“
In fact there are a lot of areas in which the government need not intrude, except perhaps to set minimal standards of performance and regulate fund raising. Take a look at this list of Government Departments and Agencies. Assuming that each and every one serves some useful purpose, even the Canadian Pari-Mutual Agency, do we really need 250 departments and agencies and cannot, should not some be in the private sector? It is the fiscal hawk in me that wants “leaner,” more efficient and, consequently, more effective government and, preferably at lower cost. I would have the private sector do more so that public funds can be directed to those activities, the defence of the nation being one of them that must be done by government, alone. I am not advocating “pink slips and running shoes,” but I am asking Conservative leaders to give us cost effective, efficient and smaller, less intrusive government.
Just I advocate a 2% solution for our national defence, and, as I said above, I advocate an 80% solution for securing a Conservative victor in 2019. The 80% solution depends upon understanding that most Canadians fall, pretty neatly, under a standard bell curve …
… many of us (almost 40% of Canadians) are in the ‘moderate (or mushy) middle:’ we can and do vote either Conservative or Liberal. Some of us (about 30% are on the left or right of the moderate middle but still, essentially moderates: we usually vote Liberal if we are Centre left but some of us might shift to either the Conservative or, more likely, the NDP given a critical policy issue or an attractive (or unpopular) leader; we generally vote Conservative is we are Centre right but, again given an issue or a leader, we might vote Liberal or, less likely NDP. Almost 20% of us are either Left of centre or Right of centre and we almost always split our votes between the Liberals and NDP on the left or give them almost exclusively to the Conservatives on the right. There are, also, over 13% of us on the hard left and hard right and we split our votes between the NDP, mostly, and some fringe parties on the left or between numerous fringe parties on the right. We, Conservatives have a pretty good, loyal base of 30% in the Centre, Centre right and Right of centre. The Liberals have a similar, pretty secure base on the left of centre part of the spectrum. What we, Conservatives, need is a leader and a team and a suite of polices that appeal, broadly, to enough of the 80% who are either, generally, ours anyway and/or can be persuaded to support us to win 170 seats. In other words we need the centre ~ the mushy middle. If a leader or too much of the team or too many policies do not appeal to the centre then we will lose, again … and we will deserve to lose again.
Moderation is not a sin, it is good politics, it is the politics that wins elections. If d means we lose a bit more of the small bit (5%) on the right to e.g. the Christian Heritage Party or the like then so be it. We must be a big tent party and within that big tent we must recognize that we have a spectrum from old fashioned Red Tories to the religious right. We must respect everyone in that big tent, we must listen to them, respectfully, but, finally, we must make most of our platform appeal to most of the electorate and we must ensure than none of the polices we include will alienate segments of the electorate that we really need to attract in order to win. Stephen Harper understood this … it’s how he won in 2011, it’s also how the Liberals won in 2015: they got half of the 80% solution.
We need an attractive, media savvy, functionally bilingual leader. We need a team that represents our big tent and represents us to 80% of Canadians. We need a platform that appeals to enough of that 80% to secure a majority government and that does not alienate a slice of the electorate, as I have argued we did in 2015.
For my part, I have made my views know; I do not expect that any leadership candidate will mirror them but I do expect that, like every those of every other Conservative, my views will be heard and respected.