Todd Purdom, who is an editor and political correspondent for Vanity Fair, reminded us, a dozen years ago, that the Rogers and Hammerstein musical ‘South Pacific‘ had, then, some lessons for us. He reminded us, specifically, of the scene in which the American officers are trying to persuade the civilian planter, Emile De Becque to go on a dangerous mission behind Japanese lines. ““We’re against the Japs”,” the American officer explains, ““I know what you’re against,” De Becque replies hotly. “What are you for?”“
It’s the same question that Edmonton accountant and Conservative political activist Natalie Pon asks herself in an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail. She says that “We need a leader who is focused on building strong communities and families,” she says “but doesn’t care what your family looks like. In our future leader, we should expect so much more than a declaration of support for same-sex marriage or empty chest-thumping about how blue you are. Let’s define what conservatism is for, and not let it become what we are against.“
It’s a point I have been trying to make for some years.
Conservatives cannot just be the party of angry, old, white men.
Sure, we can and should be angry about what Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland and their henchmen and women have done to our beautiful blessed country; but we have to offer something better. In 1955 the American author Robert Ruark wrote a best selling account of the bloody Mau Mau uprising in Kenya; he titled it ‘Something of Value.’ At the very beginning of the book he quotes an old African proverb:
If a man does away with his traditional way of living and throws away his good customs, he had better first make certain that he has something of value to replace them.
What Conservatives try to do, by their very nature, is to not do away with our traditional way of living; Conservatives try to not throw away good customs; that’s part of what makes them Conservatives. But, they also recognize that things change, people change, societies change and whole countries change … and often for the better. And when, as we change, as we get better, we put aside old, comfortable ways of living and old, good customs, we need to ensure that what we put in their place is, indeed, “something of value.” That’s what Ms Pon as asking for. She wants the Conservative Party to offer the hundreds of thousands, even millions of “conservative, university-educated millennial professional and visible minority like” her, “something of value,” something other than boutique tax cuts, “true blue” chest-thumping and wall-to-wall opposition to a carbon tax. But, equally, she wants a leader who “will not tolerate attempts to bully our members – not by those on the left, and certainly not by our own … [and, she adds, and I agree 100%] … To that point, the next Conservative leader needs to speak out against Quebec’s Bill 21, which bars some public servants from wearing religious symbols and clothing, and advocate for us regardless of race, religion or creed. Real leaders don’t stand idle while others have their rights threatened. Canadians deserve a leader who will defend all of us, without weighing the risk of alienating certain voters … [and] … we need a leader who will not let party members be tolerant of bigotry and racism – pure and simple. Such people will always exist in Canada, and they will loudly espouse their views. But silence on these issues in the name of free speech is no longer acceptable. For me, and many like me, this is non-negotiable. It will be either me, or them.” Andrew Scheer tried that in May 2019 ~ watch the whole 2 minutes of his famous “there’s the door” remark, please. But the next leader has to try even harder. The Conservative Party cannot afford to lose Natalie Pon just because an angry old white man wants to say that being gay is a choice or that Islam is a religion of hatred. There’s nothing wrong with angry, old, white men … I’m old, white and I’m often angry, too, especially since the Trudeau regime came into power, but I stop short of defining Canadians as “good” or “bad” because of their race, creed, sexual orientation or much of anything else.
I know what I am for:
- First, and foremost, I’m for smaller, less intrusive government ~ government that sticks t its own, proper, knitting and leaves me, and every other individual, to live our lives in peace;
- Second, I’m for liberal and capitalist democracy. which is based largely, on sound, independent institutions, led by the rule of law that always applies equally yo all, to governed and governors alike, regardless of race, creed, official language or anything else;
- Third, I’m for a principled suite of strong strategic (foreign, defence, fiscal, trade, industrial and energy) policies that serve Canada’s interests, around the world and here at home, too; and
- Finally, I’M FOR fiscal responsibility: modest spending, low taxes, zero corporate taxes (because corporations don’t pay taxes, consumers do ~ corporate taxes are only consumption taxes, rather like the HST/GST but collected inefficiently and at high cost) and balanced budgets.
Those are not election-winning positions, not in and of themselves, anyway, but they are positions that are shared by many Canadians, including by some who voted Liberal in 2015 and 2019. But they can and should be part of a Conservative platform, balanced by a suite of policies that address other concerns including climate change, First Nations, immigration, social programmes and multiculturalism.
My Canada and My Conservative Party have room for angry old white men like me, provided our anger is reasoned and well-focused on things that really matter, and for young idealists like Ms Pon. I am part of the nation’s past, and part of my anger comes from watching our collective past being pushed aside to make room for made-up myths, Ms Pon is our nation’s future and we all need to work together to make it brighter for her and her children and for all of our grandchildren.