Once upon a time, Canada had two major political parties – Liberal and Conservative. In the mid-20th century the Conservative party re-branded itself as the Progressive Conservative Party. With its economic stance set somewhat toward the right and its social stance being somewhere in the middle of the road, it catered well to those Canadians who identified as ‘centrists’, and tended its garden on the political right fairly well. However, as the NDP rose to federal prominence, the Liberal party was forced to make a rightward drift. Enjoying national popularity and avoiding divisive issues, the federal Liberal party was able to lay claim to the political center.
Facing obsolescence, the Progressive Conservative dropped the “progressive” label and united with the newly-formed Reform party – a party catering exclusively to those in the right wing – forming the Conservative Party of Canada. Because the far right had been all but ignored by the major political parties, the CPC was able to capitalize on a stumble from the Liberals and form government. Their popular appeal rested firmly on walking a tightrope between “Progressive Conservatives” – those with a conservative economic viewpoint but a centrist social viewpoint, and “Reform Conservatives” – what would be called ‘values voters’ in the United States (as though liberals don’t have values).
The problem with the Conservative party is that their base is fractionated – those who are turned off by hardcore social policy, and those that are growing increasingly tired of being slept on while they try and impose hardcore social policy. Until now, the CPC maintained their solidarity by publicly claiming to be socially centrist, whilst simultaneously whispering promises to the more extreme fringes of their base. Now, it appears that this facade is slipping:
Saskatchewan Conservative candidate says the federal government has decided to cut funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a decision he says was influenced by anti-abortion supporters. The decision on whether to fund the organization has not yet been announced. But Brad Trost, the incumbent candidate for Saskatoon-Humboldt, told the Saskatchewan ProLife Association’s annual convention last Saturday that anti-abortion supporters who signed petitions played a big role. In a recording of his speech, obtained by CBC News, Trost can be heard thanking those who had signed the petitions, saying his office was involved in spearheading the petition campaign along with other members of Parliament.
This is not an economic policy. Cutting funding to an international agency is a tiny drop in a much larger bucket. Canada’s foreign aid spending represents about 0.33% of GDP – falling far short of its pledge of 0.7%. Removing funding for one agency does not meaningfully reduce Canada’s budgetary deficit or national debt. Given the involvement of the anti-abortion lobby in this particular move, there is no conclusion one can reach other than the fact that this is an ideological move against abortion rather than anything that could be called economically conservative.
I won’t bother re-hashing all the arguments against defunding Planned Parenthood, except to say that the only thing this move accomplishes is to make it more difficult for people, particularly women, to get much-needed health care services. Abortions do not decrease when they are made illegal, and Planned Parenthood does not exclusively provide abortions – those kinds of services represent a tiny portion of a wide variety of health care procedures. But of course we are dealing with Conservatives here – facts and reality represent a similarly tiny portion of what informs their policy.
I’m not necessarily opposed to conservativism, although I do think it is a short-sighted and ultimately simplistic world view. Overdone conservatism, like overdone liberalism, can be incredibly destructive. However, a well-struck balance between the two opposite ideologies can move society forward in a sustainable and equitable manner. It is, therefore, with no small measure of sadness, that I am forced to announce the death of the Conservative Party of Canada. While Conservative in name, this party has revealed itself to be nothing other than the northern branch of the Republican Party of the United States.
The ugliest, most small-minded and hateful aspects of humanity are on full and proud display in the Republican party, and the Republican Party North (formerly the CPC) is pinning its future on the idea that Canadians are as stupid and short-sighted as our southern neighbours. Given that the CPC is polling around 40% (which, in Canada’s political system, is a majority – it’s because of the metric system), it appears to be a safe bet.
So if you’re Canadian and you’re not planning on voting in the upcoming election, or if you’re planning on voting Conservative in the upcoming election, please don’t tell me. With things like this happening in my country, I’m not sure I can maintain my trademark personal evaluation from ideological. If you’re so lazy that you can’t be bothered to stand up against the forces of stupid long enough to write an ‘X’ on a piece of paper, or so blinded by sound bytes and easy answers that you think that the Conservatives have anything resembling policies that will have a positive effect on the lives of Canadians, then I’m not sure I can know that about you without taking it personally.
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