Thursday, January 29, 2009

The End of Canadian Conservatism?

Who can save us?

Andrew Coyne paints a rather bleak picture of the prospects for Canadian conservatism moving forward:

With this week’s historic budget, the Conservatives’ already headlong retreat from principle has become a rout — a great final leap into the void. Understand: there will be no going back from this, for the party or for the country.

Mr. Coyne is perfectly correct on one count: Harper's 'retreat from principle' in the recent budget seems to sound the death knell for the Conservative Party's present momentum towards their much-desired majority government. The man who has been branded a tyrant by his political opponents has allowed himself to be bullied into submission by the weakest Liberal Party that we have seen in decades.

If Harper had stood his ground, would Ignatieff have called him on it? Perhaps. From all accounts, he is nowhere near the anorchid bureaucrat that was his predecessor. But, so what? Ignatieff hasn't had the chance to sell himself to Canadians yet. Harper would have come off as strong and unflinching by standing up to the coalition and the LPC's new leader. If the governor general had allowed the coalition to take over (unlikely), the electorate would have punished the Liberals in the following election. If the governor general had called an election, Harper would have been returned to power with a strengthened mandate and a shot at a majority.

The main thrust of Coyne's argument can be found in the following warning:

We are on course toward a massive and permanent increase in the size and scope of government: record spending, sky-high borrowing, and — ultimately, inevitably — higher taxes. And all this before the first of the baby boomers have had a chance to retire.

What is it about twenty-first century 'conservatives' and expanding the size of government?

But what of Coyne's prediction that this budget marks the death of the Canadian conservative movement? Is it truly as dead in the water as he suggests? The answer to that question depends entirely on us: its constituent parts. Many on the right have appropriately chosen to reject Harper's budget. Many have called for a return to economic conservatism - i.e. a return to the capitalism that has allowed the western world to achieve the unprecedented level of wealth and wellbeing that we currently enjoy. This is the key to the future health of our movement. There is nothing to be gained from the compassionate-conservatism of the George Bushes or the pragmatic-conservatism of the Stephen Harpers or the red toryism of the Jim Prentices.

So who does that leave us with in the CPC?


Rona Ambrose?

Not too many tories seem to fit the bill. If you have any better ideas please put them in the comments.

Stumble Upon Toolbar