We close the 2010’s as we opened them here in Canada: superannuated ex-politicians eating the young, centrism as dominant as ever, a precarious economy, a non-existent culture, endless re-litigation of regional grievances, and voters who compensate for the fact that they have no power to change anything by viciously squashing any threat to the status quo.
Nowhere is this state of affairs more apparent than in the contrast between the US Democratic Primary and the something-approaching-a-leadership-race that the Conservative Party of Canada is about to drag itself through, assuming the potential candidates don’t just meet at an Ottawa pub and play a hand of euchre to decide the next leader of the Opposition first.
Down in the States, the Democrats are engaged in a passionate struggle over what their party stands for as they gird to take on Donald Trump next year. Will the Democratic Party be ruled by the stumbling nostalgia of Joe Biden? The unabashed socialism of Bernie Sanders? The high-handed wonkishness of Elizabeth Warren? Or perhaps the bloodless technocracy of Pete Buttigieg?
Up here, the question has become, “Who can restore the Conservative Party of Canada to its ancestral location of being a right-leaning branch of the Liberals the fastest?”
After a decade of Stephen Harper and the Scheer interregnum, the perpetual cries for a kinder, gentler conservatism that marches in gay pride parades and shuns low, base partisanship to deliver a truly PROGRESSIVE conservatism appear to finally be winning out. The path to power is clear: “modernize the party” by finally, once and for all, dealing with those pesky concerns about how the right doesn’t really care about climate change and the rights of minorities.
This is done by electing the Right Leader, a leader whose character is so utterly unimpeachable that all they have to do is stand erect with their hands on their hips, capes fluttering in the wind, and Liberal attacks will bounce right off their chests like bullets bouncing off Superman, with a comfortable 200+ seat majority in the HOC the inevitable result.
Now, if we are actually keeping score at home, we know that some of the greatest disasters in Canadian Conservative history stem from these bluebloods assuming that this is a viable electoral strategy. John Tory’s faceplate as Ontario PC Party leader in 2007. Kim Campbell’s vaporizing of the old federal PC Party in 1993. Patrick Brown’s 2018 implosion after his repudiation of the so-cons and totally unbelievable greenwashing.
But this is not about facts or history. The persistence of this narrative owes itself to Central Canadian grandees not wishing to dirty themselves through interaction with the common folk or having to endure the chiding of their Liberal friends at dinner parties about Doug Ford’s latest inelegant turn of phrase. Were it not for their inability to accept, as the Liberals do, that the rule of law must be a distant second to attaining and maintaining political power, they would have crossed the floor a long time ago.
Because they must convince themselves and others that they are good despite being enormously corrupt, obscenely wealthy, and barely capable of dressing themselves, they must take pains to never fight the Liberals on their own territory, be seen to expend effort justifying their own existence, or taking any real responsibility for their failures. They have much in common with the odious Jeremy Corbyn, who was carried out on his shield utterly convinced that “winning the argument” should be enough for the true believers, and that anyone who isn’t satisfied should blame some other culprit – those conniving Remainers, the media who repeated the other side’s campaign of lies.
And so, since we apparently have to re-learn the lesson every generation that you cannot out-Liberal the Liberals, especially if you don’t try to campaign like them or fight dirty like them, I say let us give the Red Tories free reign this time around. If John Diefenbaker himself is resurrected with a lightning bolt, I say we let him pick up right where he left off. Let there be banking services at local post offices, and let infrastructure funding be returned to the provenance of the Bank of Canada, and most of all, let us be content to suffer forever under the yoke of our betters, for that is our duty as Canadians, apparently.
Photo Credit: Saskatoon Starphoenix
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