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Lets Have This Discussion Again

I wrote this post yesterday suggesting that the Conservative Party did not need to change much of it's platform in order to appeal to Canadian voters.

In the comments to the post a lot valid points were made which brought up a few things I would like to address.


Based on the comments there is very little agreement about how to define 'social issues' in this country. Perhaps I'm totally out in left field here. Or perhaps people are just nit-picking. I'm not sure.

Regardless, as Alan points out in one of his comments, whether a topic is a social, property, or economic (Any others?) issue depends on what your predetermined view on the issue is. This of course makes it very difficult for two opposing views to converge on a compromise position. As Alan says in regards to abortion:
To me, the most difficult of the so-called "social" issues is abortion, because inherent in the debate is the question of how to characterize the issue in the first place. If you think it's a social issue, you're probably pro-choice. Pro-life people ultimately see abortion as a crime against an individual and therefore not a matter suited to settlement via the ebb and flow of popular sentiment.
So my question is: Is it possible to change how a person classifies an issue be it social, property, or economic? The response to this would of course affect how a party presents its platform. In my view the Conservative Party allows others to define the issues which naturally puts them on the defensive when presenting their views.

Anyways from now on when I refer to 'social conservatives' I am referring to people who in a general sense view social policies from a traditional and/or religious vantagepoint. That is still a definition filled with holes but I figure its good enough.


Many people have also suggested in the comments that the socially conservative wing of the Conservative Party of Canada should basically hush up so that the Conservative Party can win an election and form a government.

People who are making such suggestions are basically saying that social conservatives should vote for the Conservative Party yet expect nothing in return. They want social conservatives to vote Conservative so that they can have lower taxes, less government involvement in their lives, etc... for themselves. But what exactly are they offering someone who is a social conservative? As far as I can tell, nothing.

Nobody has made the case why social conservatives should vote for the Conservative Party if the decision is that the party will not represent them or their interests.


A different view of point #2 is that people are suggesting that the social conservatives should shut up so that the Conservative Party could win an election at which point they would be rewarded for their support. Perhaps this would make political sense but it is far from being morally honest or in the long term interest of our democracy.

Now I'm sure someone will say that the point it irrelevant because that is how politics works in the first place. Perhaps. But what guarantee do social conservatives have that their support would be rewarded. A common complaint that many people raised against the PC Party led by Brian Mulroney was that social conservatives were not given a voice in the party. Are some people suggesting that this scenario won't repeat itself?


Another train of thought I see in this discussion and in the media in general is that many people, who would probably be better classified as libertarians, feel that no party with a significant membership of social conservatives will ever again be elected in Canada. In a sense it seems some people would like a national alternative to the Liberals that was basically socially liberal and economically conservative. This is in many ways an attractive proposition which in principle I would probably support.

But in order for this to work this party would have to convince social conservatives that it deserves their support. Personally I don't think this would be very difficult. Most social conservatives in my view don't wish to impose their views on others, they just want to ensure that their government will leave them alone and will not be hostile to them. These requirements are perfectly compatible with a more libertarian type of government.

So where does all this leave us? Heck I don't know. If I did I'ld be leading a political party wouldn't I?

But I do know that my interests are not best served by winning one election. They are best served by creating an atmosphere where the majority of Canadians see the value in implementing and living by conservative principles. These principles are self reliance, independence from the government, optimism, confidence in our culture, and respect for each other. Having Canadians believe in these things is more important than winning an election.

Update @ 7:20pm

Check out Andrew Coyne's post concerning the past election. I'm in total agreement with Andrew's analysis. Also check out this revealing comment left by Miles Jenkins:
As a footnote to this statement, consider the following tantalizing number: 16,803. That’s the minimum number of Liberal votes in the election which, had they been Conservative, would have made Stephen Harper PM.

The Liberals finished 35 seats ahead of the Conservatives (considering Chuck Cadman a Conservative). The aggregate margin of victory in the 18 closest Liberal-first, Conservative-second ridings (13 in Ontario, 3 in the West, 2 in the Maritimes) was 33,570 votes. Divide by 2 and add 18 and you get the number of swing votes that sadly went unswung - less than one-eighth of one percent of the 13.5 million votes cast!

16,803 - a miserable Argo-crowd’s worth of backsliders to be set right before the next election. So put away those cyanide pills and razor blades, Conservatives!
Miles is one sharp fellow.

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