Do we need another left-of-centre political party in Canada? I don’t think so and neither, apparently, does Erin O’Toole, a candidate for leader of the federal Conservatives, who has warned of the danger of that party becoming “Liberal-lite”. There is no doubt that Conservatives are doing a lot of naval gazing these days and given the results of the most recent federal election, that is likely appropriate. But in doing so, there is a line they should not cross.
Main-stream media takes great delight in the current disarray of the federal Conservatives and are doing everything they can to perpetuate it. Chief among their tactics is to portray Tories as homophobes who think women belong in the kitchen and men should tell them how to run their lives. That of course is total nonsense.
Every political party has its extremists who misrepresent what the majority stand for and the Conservatives are no exception. In my view, those nuts who espouse that sexual identity is a choice or that conversion therapy is appropriate or that government should tell women how to control their bodies may have a home in an alt-right party like the one led by Maxime Bernier, a political movement that hopefully will never see the light of day, but there is no place for them in Canada’s Conservative Party.
It is sad to me, therefore, that much of the media, many Canadians, and certainly some political parties try to paint Conservatives into this corner on so-called social issues, when the vast majority of its members are factually progressive in these areas, believing that people come the way they are wired, have the absolute right to be who they are, and that all Canadians fully deserve to be treated equally under the law. That does not stop any person from having their individual beliefs. We do, after all, live in a free society. It does mean, however, that no individual in Canada should be marginalized, persecuted, or treated differently because of who they are. The truth is, that while Liberals and their left-wing counterparts like to think they have a monopoly on so-called social issues and that they are the only ones with a social conscience—and as much as the main-stream media promotes this—that is simply not the case.
So what is the real difference between a Liberal and a Conservative and why is it important? The main difference, as I have said many times, is that Conservatives believe that government should not be all things for all people. Limited government is better than excessive government. At all times the public interest must be the priority of government, but individuals should be free to make their own decisions whenever possible. Equally important is living within our means. Liberals, as evidenced by the current Government in Ottawa, do not care about debt. Under their watch, it is out of control and a huge problem for future generations. This fiscal year alone their deficit is billions over their own projections.
It is important to have a strong federal Conservative Party, just as it is important to have a strong Liberal Party. Canada did not get where it is today—one of the strongest economies and admired countries in the entire world in spite of its limited population—by accident. It has thrived because over the centuries there has been a balance of left-of-centre and right-of-centre policies and initiatives and relatively moderate prime ministers on both sides who, with the support of Canadians, have steadily built a nation where the standard of living is high, international respect is strong, and in which all of our citizens can take pride. It took both ideologies to accomplish that and it is important for it to continue.
The question then follows as to who can best lead the Conservative Party as Canadians move into the future. Who has the potential to be an effective prime minister? There are already some disappointments. Rona Ambrose, former interim leader of the Conservatives would have been a great candidate. She is a good Conservative with a strong social conscience and a solid record of service to Canada. There is a rumour circulating that she might change her mind and I hope she does. Lisa Raitt, also a former cabinet minister, would have been a good candidate as well but she, too, has decided to stay in the private sector. John Baird, a former federal and provincial cabinet minister, would also be an excellent candidate. I am not so sorry to see that Pierre Poilievre has dropped out. To me, he was too rough around the edges. His sudden belief that he needed to spend more time with his family after weeks of planning for a leadership run is somewhat suspicious. Makes me wonder if he has something to hide. Or maybe he just looked at the polling numbers!
Of the several candidates who have declared for the Conservative leadership, Peter MacKay seems clearly to be the front runner. My hope is that he does not make it to the finish line. I believe, like Erin O’Toole, that he tends to be Liberal-lite and will cater more to populism than to a limited role for government. He has had his chance to lead the Conservative Party and he did not succeed. He is yesterday’s man. He seems more concerned about Trudeau’s campaign paying for his yoga than his performance as Prime Minister. Who cares about the yoga? Certainly, I do not.
Of the current candidates in the leadership race, my choice is Erin O’Toole. A former military officer, he is a member of Parliament from Ontario where federal Conservatives need a serious boost. He is compassionate and he is also principled. He believes that all Canadians should be treated equally and will happily march in gay pride parades. But he will not participate in any parade where some sections of our society, such as uniformed police officers, are not welcome. I agree with that. O’Toole is a strong fiscal Conservative. He knows how important it is to control government costs. He has proven leadership abilities. He operates well under fire and he is respected by those who work with him. He would be a reasonable alternative as prime minister of Canada.
Conservatives have a chance to carve out a traditional and effective role for themselves which is socially sensitive and fiscally responsible. It will be interesting to see if they can pull it off.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!