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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already led the most left-wing federal government in our country’s history. That’s a widely accepted statement of fact. His working agreement with Jagmeet Singh’s NDP will push it so far to the left that it will be, as interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen observed, akin to “backdoor socialism.”

Several policies of mutual interest, including national dental care, pharmacare, reducing carbon emissions and a so-called “fairer tax system.” are multi-billion programs that will undoubtedly continue to escalate on an annual basis. This will enable the Trudeau Liberals to continue its reckless trend of spending taxpayer dollars like drunken sailors. If some of these policies find a home in the April 7 federal budget, those tipsy seafarers could be left in a permanently inebriated state.

The Conservatives, who are in the midst of a leadership race, can’t stop the financial bleeding if the Coalition of the Left runs its course. Fortunately, they’ll have time to rebuild the party into a desirable political alternative. To accomplish this, the new leader should utilize a successful electoral strategy from the not-too-distant past.

There are four main leadership candidates. Two are classified as Blue Tories, or right-leaning Conservatives: Pierre Poilievre and Leslyn Lewis. The other two, Jean Charest and Patrick Brown, are classified as centrists by some, and Red Tories (or left-leaning Conservatives) by others.

Conservative party members have gradually become more right-leaning. They favour Blue Tory principles like small government, low taxes and more individual rights and freedoms. Charest, a former federal PC leader and Quebec Liberal premier who raised hydro rates, auto insurance fees, set provincial, Kyoto Accord-like targets and imposed a carbon tax on businesses in the latter role, is therefore completely out of step. So too is Brown, a former Conservative MP and Ontario PC leader who supported a provincial carbon tax and likes to tout his “pragmatic Progressive Conservative” roots.

Poilievre, a Conservative MP since 2004 and cabinet minister under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Lewis, a lawyer and rookie Conservative MP who ran in the 2020 leadership race, both offer a more succinct political message. Nevertheless, the former stands head and shoulders above the latter – and all other candidates.

I’ve known Poilievre for years. He’s intelligent and media savvy. He admires great Conservative thinkers and leaders, including Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. He’s a strong fiscal conservative who supports free markets, private enterprise, trade liberalization and oil and gas development. He has a clear foreign policy vision, and wants Canada to be a leader and not a follower.

In many ways, Poilievre is similar to Harper. He’s also starting to face the same sort of media scrutiny his predecessor did. That is, he’s “too conservative” for Canada, “out of touch” when it comes to funding social services and protecting society’s most vulnerable, and has an “unwinnable” strategy.

Poilievre, as a good student of history, knows differently. Canada is a Liberal-leaning country, but not a socialist monolith. They’ll vote Conservative if they tout a positive, forward-thinking message. Hence, he needs to implement Harper’s successful electoral strategy of incremental conservatism.

University of Calgary professor Tom Flanagan originally defined incremental conservatism as “endorsing even very small steps if they are in the right direction, and accepting inaction in areas that can’t feasibly be changed right now, but opposing government initiatives that are clearly going the wrong way.” An informal 10-year plan was then crafted by Harper to shift Canadian conservatism into a positive political force for change – and build a “conservative Canada” in its place.

Harper favoured targeted tax cuts rather than broad-based tax relief. Small private reforms to health care were championed, but a firm commitment to universal health care was maintained. He increased military spending and defended veterans, apologized to Chinese Canadians for the discriminatory Head Tax, supported farmers, amended the vetting process for immigration, and allowed free votes on issues like gay marriage. In foreign policy, Harper took a leadership role in Afghanistan, publicly condemned totalitarian regimes like Syria and Iran, defended Israel and told Russian President Vladimir Putin to “get out of Ukraine” at a G20 meeting in 2014.

Harper won three elections (2006, 2008 and 2011) with incremental conservatism as his guiding force. He showed that Conservative ideas can become part of mainstream thinking in Liberal Canada. Existing myths and concerns some Canadians had about conservatism could also be chipped away and, in many cases, permanently dismantled.

Poilievre has a significant lead among Conservative supporters. A March 15 poll by Angus Reid found he had 54 percent support, followed distantly by Charest (15 percent), Lewis (9 percent) and Brown (5 percent).

If Poilievre becomes the next party leader, he should immediately channel his predecessor’s winning electoral strategy. This would be the perfect counter to Trudeau, a tax-and-spend Liberal who formed a Coalition of the Left to stay in power, and would help make Canada’s Right an attractive political alternative once more.

Michael Taube, a long-time newspaper columnist and political commentator, was a speechwriter for former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

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Justin Trudeau has been Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister since 2015. Contrary to popular belief that’s been widely propagated by Liberal supporters and spin doctors, he’s accomplished almost nothing in office.

Until Monday evening, that is. Trudeau earned an unusual political distinction that no other Canadian PM has ever achieved. He found a way to shift the most left-leaning government in our country’s history even further to the left.

How did he do this? By signing a three-year agreement with Jagmeet Singh and the NDP.

Delivering for Canadians Now, A Supply and Confidence Agreement details the working arrangement between the two parties that will run from March 22, 2022 until Parliament rises in June 2025. It’s not an official coalition, which means no New Democrat will have a seat at the cabinet table. Rather, the NDP “agrees to support the government on confidence and budgetary matters – notably on budgetary policy, budget implementation bills, estimates and supply” and the Liberals commit “to govern for the duration of the agreement.” Moreover, the NDP has agreed to “not move a vote of non-confidence, nor vote for a non-confidence motion during the term of the arrangement.”

As the agreement states in part, “The parties have identified key policy areas where there is a desire for a similar medium-term outcome. We have agreed to work together during the course of this Parliament to put the needs of Canadians first.”

Some of these key policy areas include: introducing a dental care plan for low-income Canadians, passing the Canada Pharmacare Act in late 2023, new affordable housing measures, initiating massive emissions reductions by 2030, introducing Just Transition legislation to help workers, unions and other communities, ensuring ten days of paid sick leave is in place this year, additional investments for Indigenous housing, a fairer tax system, and removing barriers to voting and participation.

Dental care and Pharmacare, which are part of the current NDP playbook, have been rooted in socialist thinking for decades. They’ve been previously rejected by most Canadian voters, and not just right-leaning ones, due to the enormous costs and inefficiencies these state-run plans will undoubtedly incur. With the Liberal-NDP agreement in place, a proper debate in Parliament won’t happen and these policies will easily pass in a minority Parliament operating like a majority government is in charge.

Canada will also witness massive increases to the size of government, rate of taxation and role of the nanny-state. Any hope for a return to small government, low taxes and more individual rights and freedoms by voting out the minority Liberals has fizzled out in one fell swoop. If you thought things were bad under Trudeau for nearly seven years – and it’s been bloody awful – you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The Liberals and NDP are both declaring victory with the signing of this agreement. That’s predictable, but here’s the thing. Only one of them has the right to do so, and it’s not the junior partner in this arrangement.

Singh naively believes Canadians will give his party full credit for bringing in programs like public dental care and Pharmacare, if they’re successful. Not a chance. Most people barely remember what they had for breakfast a couple of days ago, let alone the specific party that proposed certain policies. If these social programs (and others) achieve what Trudeau hopes they’ll ultimately achieve, he’ll take all the credit – and the voters will reward his Liberals for introducing these policies.

Here’s a historical example to prove my point.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation exists in Canada due to the efforts of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett and the Progressive Conservatives. They launched the state-owned Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, the CBC’s predecessor, in 1932. Without it, our public broadcaster may never have come to fruition – or could have ended up looking very different than it does today.

How many Canadians know this? Other than a smattering of historians and political junkies, the numbers are relatively small. Most Canadians would likely (and incorrectly) assume the Liberals and NDP had something to do with it, since they vigorously defend the CBC. Today’s Conservatives largely believe in either reducing funding for the public broadcaster, or defunding them altogether. So, their historical role has either been forgotten, ignored or usurped by parties that had nothing to do with the CBC’s creation.

That’s what will happen to Singh and the NDP.

Without any representation at the cabinet table, the NDP’s initiatives will be lost in the political wilderness. Singh’s memorable opposition to Trudeau’s three instances of blackface will become a tiny footnote in history. His party has seemingly accepted the fact that they’re irrelevant, can’t win federal elections on their own, and are more undeserving of representation in the House of Commons than ever before.

The NDP will be remembered for a couple of things. Protecting Trudeau, a weak, ineffective Prime Minister who has repeatedly embarrassed his country on the domestic and international stage. Propping up a Liberal Party that’s won the last two federal elections with minority governments and finished second in the popular vote both times, and giving them a safe political ride for the next three years.

Oh, and signing on to a misguided agreement that is, in the words of interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen, “little more than backdoor socialism.” Singh and Trudeau are probably both fine with this, truth be told.

Michael Taube, a long-time newspaper columnist and political commentator, was a speechwriter for former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.



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