What is a Conservative?
Conservatives in Canada have a fine-line to tread – get too high on our moral horses and Canadians flee from trumped –up charges of abortions outlawed and women sentenced to 30 years in the home without chance of parole.
Get too “liberal” in our policy and our core voters turn on us like dogs in the manger screaming that we’ve become unprincipled and are in grave danger of losing that ideological edge that sets us apart from the mushy middle.
Will Canadian voters ever reconcile themselves to Conservatives in Ottawa, or are we destined to stand forever on the periphery of electoral success – always the bridesmaid, but never the girl you’d be proud to take home to Mom?
Many thoughtful Conservatives in this country believe that Canadians are actually inherently conservative creatures.
They value family, safe communities, a strong and vibrant economy and environment, equity for all, respect of fellow citizens and, perhaps most of all, hold a healthy and inherent distrust of big anything – be it government, business or the good ol’ US of A.
These are all conservative positions and if the Party can speak to them in a common sense and positive fashion, it can be both a principled conservative party and one that Canadians wouldn’t be embarrassed to admit voting for at Uncle Bob’s annual bbq.
Unfortunately conservative parties – like the old PC party, the Reform Party, the Canadian Alliance and now the hard-won Conservative Party of Canada – have focused too often on issues that divide, rather than unite, Canadians.
Divide up the conservative pie by hot-button issue of the week and you find not a lot of pie is left on the plate come election day.
And that, sadly, is what has happened to the Conservative Party in Canada. It has spent so much time and energy dividing Canadians into “fiscal”, “social”, “democratic”, “populist”, “progressive” and “wing-nut” conservatives that we’ve forgot to focus on what we share: a love for our country and a desire to make it a better place for our children.
These values, which most Canadians exhibit in spades, are sadly lacking in Ottawa today. There is no love for the country exposed when you rip the skin off the Federal Liberal machine – there is only base corruption and a desire to hold onto power at any cost.
The travesty of the advertising scandal which plunged onto the public radar last year and which nearly toppled the Liberal government in the spring should have been enough to unite conservative Canadians.
But it wasn’t. The Party was too busy deciding who was a “proper” conservative and who wasn’t.
Canadians have better things to do than watch the Conservative Party gaze at its navel.
They are going to raise their kids, go to work each morning, volunteer at their church or mosque or synagogue, donate to charity and take out the recycling.
And, come election day, if they can bring themselves to vote for the choices before them, they’ll vote for the party that they feel won’t divide our neighbourhoods and communities and country into little pieces – but that cares enough about Canada to bring us together.
Let’s hope that the Conservative Party can figure out the joy of a group hug – because bitter pot-shots about who is a better conservative just isn’t going to cut it with voters.