I was in a funk for a couple weeks following the US election. Much of my negativity showed through emotional responses in social media forums, (I should really try to find a better outlet). I was overtaken by fear. I fear President-elect Trump’s protectionist view on trade and the impact that could have on my business. I fear for the rights of vulnerable people in an increasingly polarized world where leaders sell hate to gain support, and I fear because the man that will have access to the American nuclear arsenal can’t control his temper when Alec Baldwin makes fun of him on SNL.
Thankfully, I am married to a brilliant person and one day Jess sent me this wonderful piece by Daniel Dennett. I have left this open on my computer, rereading it from time to time. Nothing will be accomplished through bellyaching on Twitter and I have found myself trying to apply Mr. Dennett’s method when facing something that normally would infuriate me. A month ago when the youngest MPP in the history of our province was sworn in I found that this approach allowed me to identify that I had some things in common with Sam Oosterhoff. In an interview where he was badgered continually to give some clarity on his thoughts around same sex marriage he managed to communicate that he felt that investment in infrastructure and energy prices were more important than his socially conservative views. While we might not agree on social issues, it appears that Sam and I agree that good infrastructure and affordable energy are key to a well-functioning economy. Old Stewart probably would have just shut his ears when Sam started talking and I never would have learned about the common ground we share.
Working at Queen’s Park allowed me to confirm something that Terry Fallis’s character Daniel Addison discovered at Parliament Hill in his novel, Best Laid Plans. People who work in and around politics are either an idealist policy wonk or a cynical political operative. I fall into the 1st category and I’m not a huge fan of the cynics. I don’t like the operatives because they prey on people’s base instincts and they can allow the pursuit of power to derail good policy implementation.
Cynical politics are powering a couple prominent campaigns in the Conservative Party of Canada race and it is coming at the cost of the general public ignoring some very interesting policy because there are too many dog whistles blowing. Cynical operatives know the best way to get power is to do the calculus on their voter base and then make statements that appeal to the base emotion of powerful subgroups within their party. I doubt very much that Kellie Lietch herself suffers from Islamophobia but she knows that by making seemingly innocuous statements about Canadian values it will tap into the current wave of Trumpian Nationalism that is sweeping the globe right now. Cynical politicos rely on the high engagement levels of single issue voters and because overall participation in partisan politics is so low, this can be a very successful strategy.
I think the current Conservative leadership race is an excellent time to throw a wrench in the plans of the cynical political operatives. They are not expecting a group of people to band together to ensure the Conservative party does not get hijacked by a Trump of the North. This data is a touch old but according to StatsCan only 9% of Canadians were members of a political party in 2013. My rough math says that means there are 25 million people eligible to join the Conservative Party of Canada before March 28th, 2017 and vote in the leadership race.
A strong Conservative party is important for a healthy Canadian democracy and they have good candidates running to be the leader. Micheal Chong acknowledges that inaction on climate change is unacceptable and he has a plan to address it. Maxime Bernier has some thought-provoking ideas on monetary policy but his narrow interpretation of Supply Management, which is incredibly important to the health of rural Canadian communities, drops him off my list. Erin O’Toole would be best for agriculture and I think that Lisa Raitt and Deepak Obhrai deserve to be considered.
Canada needs a Conservative leader who embraces real Canadian values. Someone that has an alternative to a national carbon tax instead of a refusal to acknowledge the threats of climate change. Someone that cares about fiscal responsibility and doesn’t care who you love. Someone who understands that there are more than just economic deficits; they need to have a plan to address infrastructure and knowledge deficits. If you are interested in having a say in this leadership race start here
The first political party I ever joined was the Federal Progressive Conservatives and I really do believe that Canada needs a strong Conservative party. The historical balance between the two governing parties is what has made our country so great. My last post I said I would be back in a week, that was silly. Family and Farming leave very little time for writing. However, I am going to continue to write once and awhile about the race.
Until next time