At times, the party leadership race turns on some pressing questions of politics. Often, they are tough competitions for organizational muscle and name recognition, with few substantive issues at stake.
But this Conservative leadership campaign is something else again, one that appears not to be about leadership – the party is giving every sign that it has already made up its mind – nor politics. Instead, to at least judge by last week’s candidate debate, the only issue is who can take the most muddled positions on the most dangerous topics.
I’m not talking here about “fighting”, i.e. the sinister tone of discussion, personal attacks and what not, the subject of a lot of comments afterwards. It would be nice if politicians took the high road once in a while, but let’s be serious: It’s like asking a heavy metal band to sing. La Traviata.
Nor is my complaint that the candidates are not centrist enough, or too ideologically conservative. Those, like current interim leader Candice Bergen, who advises the party to avoid trying to portray itself as a “lite liberal” are right, not because he can’t win that way – strange things have happened – but because of it it wouldn’t matter much if that was the case.
Quite the contrary: the campaign, like the party, is not ideological enough. This has been a problem for many years. In the Harper years, the party abandoned its most serious ideological differences with the liberals in favor of mindless partisanship.
In its current incarnation, it is more inclined to deviate and shy away from sarcasm: conspiracy theories of all kinds – is it George Soros who secretly controls our lives, or is it the World Economic Forum? Denying vaccines, encouraging the lawless mob that took over Ottawa earlier this year.
Oh yeah, and the shilling for bitcoin as an alternative to the dollar.
Three of the five candidates on the podium last Thursday represented this kind of thinking. When Leslyn Louis took on Pierre Poilifri for his support of the illegal siege, which paralyzed the city center and terrorized many of its residents for weeks on end, it was only to scold him for not being early or enthusiastic enough in his support.
Meanwhile, Roman Baber’s main reputation seemed to be that he was upset at the caucus of Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Doug Ford last year over his opposition to the county’s lockdown policy, to which he has since added his own. mask And Vaccine Mandates: Denial of the Trifecta.
What will be noted about all this is how little it has to do with conservatism. There is nothing conservative about endorsing massive and continuing breakdowns of law and order, especially when these violations are combined with assaults on the public: quite the contrary. And no ideological conservatives are required to sign up to outlandish theories that the annual celebrity talk shop in the Swiss Alps somehow rules the world.
There is a libertarian streak of conservatism that would reflexively question the need for shutdowns or mandates for a vaccine – but after plunging into the backlash, the libertarian thinker will consider the exceptional circumstances that have forced such extraordinary measures: a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 15 million people all over the world, and they would have killed many times that number in their absence.
By contrast, consider the conservative issues and policies that have been ignored throughout the campaign thus far. There has been no discussion of the federal deficit and debt, at least in terms of concrete actions to address either. Likewise, no serious proposals have been made to improve Canada’s anemic productivity growth—whether by reforming our rigid tax laws, or opening up protected sectors of our economy to competitive stimulus.
Faced with a liberal government that, for all its talk of carbon pricing, relies on costly and ineffective subsidies and regulations for two-thirds of emissions cuts, conservatives say only that they will rely more on submarines and logs. In the midst of the worst international security crisis since World War II, is even a candidate talking about reforming the infamous military procurement program — not just to spend more, but to spend better?
There is an audience of proponents of conservative thinking on these and other issues. Another constituency is willing to try any responsible alternative to the liberals. But neither of those issues have been addressed while the candidates focus on the 7 percent of the adult population who has not received a vaccination, the smaller minorities still buying bitcoin or worrying about the World Economic Forum.
But the candidates may be just beginning to prepare. There are still weeks until membership sales are cut off. There is another discussion on Wednesday night. Maybe things will turn around. Can. But why do I think they wouldn’t?
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