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The Problem With Canadian Conservatism

There has been a long running debate over the last decade trying to explain and resolve the problem with conservatism here in Canada. Greg Staples has been trying to stir the debate. As has Mark Steyn.

As Mark and Greg point out, conservatives in Canada can't come to terms with each other and create an agenda. Preston Manning was able to do this. Deficit reductions are his legacy. He framed the debate and never relented until his goals were met.

Who plays this role in conservative circles today? I like Stephen Harper as a politician but he does not fill this role. I'm not sure if that is because of a choice he has made or otherwise. That is another debate though.

Canadian conservatism needs to define a small set of goals and harp on them constantly until they are met. Canadian conservatism does nothing but complain about... everything. I personally consider myself to be conservative and I'll be the first to admit that we do nothing but complain. Read through the postings here at The Shotgun or any of the other Canadian conservative/libertarian sites and there is nothing but complaining. There is no plan.

Conservative politicians refuse to define the agenda and because of this get clobbered in the press galleries. Conservatives have allowed themselves to be defined as the 'radicals' when it comes to the gay-marriage debate. How is this possible? Radical for preferring the status-quo? This is a failure of Canadian conservatives and no one else.

So what is my solution to all of this? Simple... define 3 or 4 issues that must be addressed based on conservative/libertarian principles. All else is off the table. End of freaking story. And what if the national media doesn't want to discuss these 3 or 4 issues? Then take them to the local media. If you have 80 conservative MPs discussing an issue on their local news broadcasts it won't be long before it becomes a national concern.

So what should these 3 or 4 issues be. Well naturally I've got those too:

1) Lower taxes for the middle class.
2) A parallel private health care system.
3) Regional control over resources.

Why did I pick these? I picked them because I personally feel very strongly about them. But as well, I think these issues can be clearly defined so that they appeal to individual voters.

Go into any coffee shop and discuss these issues with people and you'll see what I mean. Ask them about the tax take on their last paycheck. What do you think their response will be? Huh? Ask Maritimers what they think of the federal governments involvement in the fisheries? Albertans and oil? Prairie folks and their farms? What kind of response will you get?

Ask people what they think knowing that only Canada and Cuba allow a government monopoly over health care. The response? Come on, this is easy.

Conservatives of all stripes, both politicians and average folk, need to force these issues onto the national agenda. Writing letters to newspapers. Politicians giving press conferences. Getting the issues in the local paper.

A non-stop marketing blitz pushed by thousands. Liberals do it. The NDP do it as well.

So why can't conservatives?

Anyways, my choices for top issues are mine alone. The opinions of others may differ. Regardless, key issues must be defined and everyone will have to get behind this clunker and start pushing.

It's either that or we all continue to be stuck here.

Update @ 9:23pm

I was going to leave the post at that but I've decided I have a little project for everyone. That project is to select the three issues that should define the Canadian conservative agenda for the next couple of years. The rules to the game are simple:

1) The issue must not be a guaranteed loser.
2) The issue must not split conservative and libertarian opinion.

Two rules. That's it. NOW GET TO IT!

Update @ 10:04pm

Apparently Greg's post was in response to a big fuss here between Norman Spector and Kathy Straidle. Bob has the roundup here. It's amazing how much a person can miss by being 'off-line' for a few days.

crossposted at The Shotgun

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