My news and social media feeds are full of outrage at the angry, foul-mouthed and semi-violent antics of a few individuals ~ mostly, it appears, supporters of Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party and, it also appears, somewhat organized, who are trying to disrupt Justin Trudeau’s campaign. Let me be very clear: people have an absolute right to attend public political events and to try to shout down candidates. These rallies are organized, by the candidates in the hopes of drawing a crows. They would really like to draw a crowd of happy, cheering supporters but they will settle for any crowd, even a crowd of angry hecklers if they can then manage to appear steadfast and courageous by standing up tp them. I believe that this is exactly what Prime. minister Trudeau’s campaign is doing: welcoming these angry demonstrators because they make their candidate appear to be under attack and, in standing form, to be noble, even brave.
The common narrative seems to be that these people are conservatives, of some sort. That narrative is:
- False; and
- Intended to help Prime Minister Trudeau and harm his Conservative opponents.
In fact, the people ~ many in the media ~ who propagate that false, partisan and simplistic narrative display only their own ignorance.
These angry demonstrators are NOT, in the main, conservatives of any sort; they are, especially not Canadian political Conservatives. The problem is that many, many people don’t know what a conservative is … nor do they know what a liberal is.
Conservative (always with a lower case ‘c’ ~ except when it is the first word in a sentence) is NOT the opposite of liberal. The opposite of conservative is progressive. The opposite of liberal is illiberal. Here is a graphic illustration of that fact:
I assert that most Canadians are somewhere near the centre of that graph, and so are most political parties ~ like this:
I believe that most Canadians are somewhat left of centre (progressive) and somewhat illiberal ~ they believe in the utility of governments. They are statists. The illiberal slant is, I believe, most pronounced in Québec and in large city centres. I believe that the prairies are the most liberal region of Canada.The relative sizes of the party blocks is based on very recent polling that says that the CPC has a 54% chance of forming a government while the LPC has only a 45% chance. Just for reference I have put my own personal opinion of my own political position on the graph, too.
This brings me to the issue of liberalism. and this article in The Economist. Liberals, like me and like The Economist, itself, it says “believe that people should be able to flourish whatever their sexuality or race. They share a suspicion of authority and entrenched interests. They believe in the desirability of change … [and] … the precise direction of progress is unknowable. It must be spontaneous and from the bottom up—and it depends on the separation of powers, so that nobody nor any group is able to exert lasting control … [and, further] … liberals believe in setting fair initial conditions and letting events unfold through competition—by, say, eliminating corporate monopolies, opening up guilds, radically reforming taxation and making education accessible with vouchers.”
One point where I diverge from The Economist, and this is the point that helps explain why I position myself (on the gr ah, above) where I do, is that The Economist says “Individuals, not just groups, must be treated fairly for society to flourish.” I agree, but I take exception to the idea implied by “not just groups.” The implication is that groups have rights. I fundamentally disagree with that idea. I believe that ALL rights belong to individuals. I reject the very notion of “group rights.” That means that I reject, for example, Canada’s constitutional guarantee of language rights. I agree that each person has freedom of conscience which includes the right to hold his or her religious views, however adios or just silly I might find them. But I also hold that churches (in the broadest sense meaning any and all organized religions) have no rights at all. Individual pastors and imans and rabbi and so on have aight to preach what they will, so long as they do not cite violence, etc, and others have equal rights to make counter arguments.
The Economist says, and I agree fully, that it’s hard to be a real liberal in this modern age because “Aspects of liberalism go against the grain of human nature. It requires you to defend your opponents’ right to speak, even when you know they are wrong. You must be willing to question your deepest beliefs. Businesses must not be sheltered from the gales of creative destruction. Your loved ones must advance on merit alone, even if all your instincts are to bend the rules for them. You must accept the victory of your enemies at the ballot box, even if you think they will bring the country to ruin … [and the authors add] … In short, it is hard work to be a genuine liberal.” But liberalism is what made the truly modern world possible. Illiberal; societies can copy some of the aspects of either liberalism or (successful) conservatism ~ which works quite well in some Asian (Confucian) countries, but illiberal, often autocratic societies lack the capacity to manage that “spontaneous” and “unknowable” change which is the hallmark of liber aloes. The illiberals want to control change, they want change to meet specific objectives.
This leads me back to our current general election. I think that the three main national political party leaders can be added to my chart, here:
I believe that Erin O’Toole an d Jagmwet Singh are both pretty much aligned with their parties and with the majority of Canadians. I think that Mr O’Toole is little more progressive and a bit more liberal than are many in his party and I suspect that Mr Singh is is a bit less progressive than his party base. Prime Minister Trudeau, in my opinion, is the least liberal prime minister I modern Canada history. I think that he is, essentially, the other side if the Donald J Trump coin: they are, in my opinion, again, both highly illiberal ~ Mr Trump is a regressive illiberal while Mr Trudeau claims to be a progressive but I believe that both are very illiberal and Mr Trudeau’s progressivism is, as one of his former parliamentary secretaries put it, “fake as fu_k.”
I believe, with The Economist, that liberalism is under attack from autocracies like China and illiberal politicians in the West like Donald Trump’s followers and I believe that liberalism is under threat, here in Canada, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party.
I believe that the Liberal Party of Canada is a priceless national institution which is in dire need of reform. That reform, which is urgent, cannot begin until Justin Trudeau and many, many of his followers, have been tossed aside.