John Ibitson, writing in the Globe and Mail, says what I suspect many are thinking: “The lacklustre race for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada is further evidence of the impossibility of conservatism in our time.“
It’s not that conservatism is dead, he says, but, he explains, and I agree that “in this century, conservatives have struggled to meet the challenge of climate change. Conservative governments wasted lives and treasure in a mostly futile war on terror … [but he fails to note, as do so many of his colleagues, that it was Liberals ~ Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin ~ who sent Canada to Afghanistan and then sent us back and then sent our soldiers to bleed and die in Kandahar. Afghanistan was a Liberal war that they bequeathed to the Conservatives who, eventually and painfully, cleaned up their mess. But the Liberal lie machine has made even Mr Ibbitson fall into the “it was all Harper’s fault” trap. And, John Ibbitson adds] … Globalists were far too dismissive of the costs of lost manufacturing jobs at home … [but, again, he fails to mention that the biggest Globalist was Jean Chrétrien; Stephen Harper tried to back away from China, but, once again the Liberal lie machine carries the day] … And then came COVID-19 … [and] … The only answer to the pandemic was to close businesses and schools, keep people at home, enforce physical distancing and, more recently, mask up. The only answer to the profound recession that resulted was government support for workers and businesses. To the extent conservatives resisted any of this in the name of individual freedom or smaller government, they looked like fools … [further] … there is no conservative response to the challenge hurled by the Black Lives Matter movement. Anyone who denies systemic racism has failed to examine their soul … [and, he says] … Conservatives have no prescription for the future … [but, and this is ironic] … Mr. O’Toole and Mr. MacKay offer sensible proposals for gradually eliminating emergency subsidies and moving toward a balanced budget, while targeting investments in technology, energy and infrastructure. Much of what they propose you will find in the next Liberal budget or Speech from the Throne.” I agree 100% with the last bit. I expect Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau to steal, shamelessly, the ideas that have been generated in the Conservative Party because they, the Liberals, have none of their own, the Liberals are tired, they have run out of gas, but they still have the best propaganda machine and they now appear to “own” the mainstream media.
John Ibbitson says that there are three “pillars” to modern Canadian Conservatism:
- “The first pillar is freedom. We should be free to live our lives as we choose, and we alone are responsible for the consequences. This is the conservatism of small government, low taxes, minimal regulation. This” he says, “is libertarian conservatism;”
- “The second pillar is fairness. Sensible conservatives know some people are held back by poverty and prejudice. While promoting individual freedom, governments should also help those who need help most. The rational half of this pillar is known as Red Toryism; the irrational half is populism;” and
- “The third pillar is respect: for history and tradition; for the institutions that sustain faith, community and public safety; and for the family as the anchor of society. Social conservatives embrace, but too often distort, these values.“
He says, and I agree, that “Conservative values anchored Western society through much of its history. But they proved inadequate to the crisis of the Great Depression and were rendered irrelevant by the social revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s .. [but, then] … A renascent conservatism rescued the dispirited West in the 1980s and 1990s: reviving stagnant economies, ending the Cold War, launching the information revolution and lifting billions out of extreme poverty through globalized trade and commerce.” The prissy, progressive, left-wing intelligentsia ~ the Laurential Elites and their media lackeys in Canada ~ sneered at Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan … and then they rebuilt their failed socialistic policies on the foundations of Thatcherism and the Reagan Revolution. And it’s happening again, I think. I suspect that the Reagan Democrats of the 1980s (and they re-emerged in the early 2000s to support Geroge W Bush) are the Blue Collar Conservatives who voted for Boris Johnson in 2019 and I hope that the tide might be turning again, in Canada because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ~ despite being on track to win a majority if he calls an election in the fall of 2020 ~ is pretty clearly in way over his head; he is, personally, inept and he is surrounded by second and third rate ministers. He is, even more clearly, corrupt. But he has ridden the coat-tails of Doug Ford and Scott Moe and he is likely to be able to beat any Conservative challenger if an election is held this year. That’s a sad commentary on Canadian voters, but it is also a fact.
Mr Ibbitson says that “Conservatism’s time will come again. Already the outlines are beginning to emerge. A conservative can march in the streets for greater equality for racial minorities – freedom and equal rights are at the heart of the conservative agenda – while defending the legacy and values of those who built this country and this civilization … [and, unlike the Liberals who (mostly ~ there are exceptions) mindlessly follow a morally weak and corrupt leader] … Conservatives can argue powerfully for defending democracy in places where it is under attack, especially from China.“
And, John Ibbitson says “the search continues for a coherent conservative approach to protecting the existing energy sector while transitioning to a greener one … [but, he concludes] … The Conservatives will once again have their day in the sun. But not today. Today, they simply have nothing to say.“
If he’s right, then either Mr MacKay or Mr O’Toole is being handed a hopeless task. Hopeless, perhaps ~ but we have all been surprised by national election results before, who else remembers the media reactions when Brian Mulroney won a thumping great majority with over 50% of the popular vote in 1984? ~ but not worthless. Even if they cannot win government, even if they cannot hold Justin Trudeau’s Liberals to another minority, they can enunciate policies that are based on all three pillars ~ personal freedom, fairness and respect, and that appeal to most Canadians. They can build a foundation upon with the next Conservative leader ~ perhaps a fluently bilingual Ontarian with strong roots in Québec, or, perhaps a newer, younger (also bilingual) person from the West ~ can build. John Ibbitson is right: “The Conservatives will once again have their day in the sun,” and it will not be 20 years from now. The essentials of Conservatism ~ those pillars he described ~ are strong and they are right for Canada. The Liberal lie machine is still working, parts of the Canadian media are little more than paid arms of it. But Canadians can see that Justin Trudeau is both inept and corrupt and they will throw him aside … not, perhaps in 2020, but sooner rather than later.