How to ensure voters demand policy alternatives over anger

The roots of the modern Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) date back to 1873. This party became the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (PC’s) in 1942. While they normally formed the official opposition to Liberal governments, they won huge majorities in 1984 in 1958 and a healthy majority in 1988. While in power during this period, they governed no significantly differently from their Liberal rivals. They were non-ideological, fairly moderate, completely deaf to Western Canadian and First Nations concerns, and, like the Liberals, dominated by the “Laurentian elite.” (The Globe and Mail journalist John Ibbitson described the Laurentian elite as “the political, academic, cultural, media and business elite” of central Canada responsible for shaping Canadian identity.)

This party began to disintegrate in the 1980s, when conservatives in western Canada were angry at then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s decision to grant Canadair a maintenance contract for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF18 fighter jets in Montreal over a cheaper, technically superior bid of Bristol Aerospace Winnipeg, founded the Reform Party. The Reform Party’s slogan was “The West Wants In” and referred to the domination of traditional Canadian federal governments by the interests of Central Canada (or the Laurentian elite). Choice.

The PCs were never restored. However, the Reform Party brought many important issues to the forefront of Canadian public opinion, including but not limited to (democratic reforms, politician recalls, referendums, balanced budgets, Western Canada concerns and the principles of the Clarity Act). However, the Reform Party had a strong base of social conservatives who felt ignored by the PC’s leadership. The Social Conservatives took control of the Reform Party, leading many moderates in the PCs to align themselves with the federal Liberal Party.

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In 2003 the wreckage of the PCs merged with the much larger Canadian Alliance (formerly the Reform Party) to form the CPC. This became a very different party from the earlier conservative parties in Canada. The CPC had a strong focus on grievances in western Canada, which was positive. While in power in 2006, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized for the hostel horrors. But there was still a general rejection of First Nations concerns within the party, a distrust of science, climate change denial, an acceptance of anger and complaints about politics, and a reluctance to support women’s reproductive rights. The social conservative base of the party appeared to be in control.

The situation today has not changed. The leader in their lead race is Pierre Poilievre. Poilievre, to be fair, supports women’s reproductive rights; However, he embraces the other uncomfortable aspects of the modern party (climate change denial, distrust of vaccines and science, etc.). Mr. Poilievre may well win leadership of the CCP, but that party will never come to power in its current form. And that’s not healthy for democracy. In a strong democracy, governments are kept on their toes by an opposition party that is ready to form a new government.

How do we resolve this situation? The answer is education. For example, if our education system teaches real history, then people will demand that their leaders solve First Nations problems and not ignore very valid concerns/complaints from Western Canada. A strong educational focus on science will help overcome climate change denial, mistrust of vaccines, etc. Teaching proper civics and providing a good understanding of how our system of government works will help voters demand political alternatives instead of anger. This can also help bring more women into the party, thus ensuring that women’s reproductive rights are fully supported by the CPC.

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Better education is key to building a new foundation for the CPC and paving its way to power.

Craig Wallace is a Hamilton resident, a Conservative, and the author of five books.

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