After watching the riot on capitol hill, it made me reflect on how did we get to this? I realize Canada is not the United States, but I’ve always said on any policy, we can learn from what works elsewhere (not just in US but anywhere) and what doesn’t work. And I have come to conclusion that the vile ideology of Trumpism didn’t develop overnight and Trump was more symptom than cause. Whether it be Southern Strategy or more recently tea party, both opened the party up to people on extreme right. And although initially a minority, these are types that give them an inch, they take a mile. And moment you let them into party, its very hard to get rid of them until they take over and push others out. Its same reason I opposed proportional representation as I feared it would allow extremist parties to win seats and this give them legitimacy. Now lets be clear, the Conservative party of Canada is nowhere near as extreme as GOP. And Erin O’Toole is no northern version of Trump. But he has been way to willing to tolerate Trump like people within party. And I have decided leader and majority of party not being Trump like is not good enough. Such elements must be purged from party.
Now this does not mean I will be voting Liberal next election. Let me make 100% clear, there is absolutely zero chance I will vote Liberal or NDP and you can take that to the bank. Nor does it mean I will rule out voting Tory. It simply means I will not endorse party, not campaign for, or donate. And it also means if they don’t change between now and election, very real risk I won’t vote for them at all. As for what I will do? I honestly don’t know and plan to take a wait and see approach. Instead until either Liberals or Tories change leadership and direction, I will be neutral on who I want to win and instead focus more on ideas and policies. I will praise good ideas from any party and I will criticize any bad policies. While I ruled out voting Liberal, I would consider going Liberal if they had a centrist leader in the Martin/Chretien mold, but I don’t see that happening for at least a few years. Below are elements of Trumpism and right wing ideology I see in party that are deal breakers for me and party must move away from to regain my support. I really want to be able to support the Tories and I really hope for sake of Canada, they get with the times, but I am not too optimistic.
- Using Trump like language with take back Canada, cancel culture and the whole idea of owning Liberals. This may sound innocuous but it is clearly a dog whistle to the 18% of Canadians who wanted Trump to win.
- Making free speech a huge issue. I am all for free speech, but lets get real here: free speech is not threatened in Canada. This is a code word for saying we want to allow hate speech and bigots to be able to spew their bigotry. I’ve always said that rights end the moment you harm another and hate speech does just that. I am all for freedom so long as it doesn’t harm others.
- His cozy relation with Jason Kenney and endorsement of him on Covid-19. While other Tory premiers like Ford and Pallister are taking pandemic seriously, Kenney was lecturing about protecting freedom. I believe the most important freedom is right to live and I believe those opposing lockdowns are being selfish. I have no interest in supporting a party that puts selfish interest over greater good. If there was no vaccine on horizon, I would accept we would need to have a difficult discussion. But there is one so asking people to hunker down for a few more months is not unreasonable. I am all for debate on how far we should go, but I believe in listening to science and experts not ideology
- Refusal to boot Derek Sloan out of caucus. Derek Sloan is an extreme right winger who is a Trumpist and people like him are both hateful and toxic to our discourse. Kicking him out of party is not intolerant of different beliefs; it is re-enforcing what they stand for. Nothing stops him from running as an independent or spewing his nonsense. It just makes clear that Tories oppose it.
- Several members being on Parler. Any alternative media or website pretending to be a place for conservatives, I avoid like a plague. Despite all the complaints of liberals dominating other areas, I believe that is totally over the top. I have found most those over the top sites aren’t really conservative, they are hate sites. Most on left may disagree with conservatives, but are not opposed to debating them. They are opposed to hatred.
- Doing an interview with Rebel media. Rebel media is a hate website which no politician should have any association with in any way shape or form. They may have legal right to spew their vile views, but no decent Canadian should associate with such an immoral and repugnant website. US got to where it was by allowing toxic sewage in right wing media to be normalized and embraced not marginalized. We cannot and should not shut down such sites, but politicians also should lead by example by not associating with such sites.
- Coziness with gun lobby. I have interacted on twitter with more than enough of CCFR and NFA types and let me tell you; a lot of these people are downright scary and fact they have guns is especially scary. We can debate how strict gun laws should be, but groups pushing idea of gun ownership being a right or idea public must be armed to prevent tyranny must be avoided like a plague. CCFR and NFA are not mainstream nor representative of most gun owners. They are the NRA of the north bringing the same kind of toxic vile garbage NRA brings. In fact if anything, I would argue gun confiscation protects and enhances democracy not reduces it. It should be ballots not bullets that decides who form government and sadly too many in gun lobby I worry from comments don’t share this viewpoint. I know just posting this might get me hit with a lawsuit by CCFR, but let me say I have right to my opinion and will not be silenced. I also think all political parties need to cut ties with these groups. If Tories are for representing legal gun owners, work with gun clubs or hunting organizations, not rabid gun lobby types.
- Having a deputy leader caught wearing a MAGA hat. I get before election, O’Toole had to be careful what he said about Trump lest Trump get re-elected and O’Toole be prime-minister and had to work with him. But he should have taken same approach Trudeau did. And now that Trump is on way out, it is time to pick a side and be clear do you support white nationalist authoritarianism or do you believe in an inclusive liberal democracy.
I understand during leadership, O’Toole sadly had to be move to right to win party nomination. But I expected he would pivot after winning and has not. Reality is party isn’t going to be accepted by putting off dealing with problem. Fact is there are too many extreme right wingers in party and as difficult as it may be, a real leader would purge them. Being a leader means having good judgement and doing what is right not necessarily easiest. And even if there was a risk of party splitting (I believe this is overblown), it is better to lose and be right than to win and be wrong. History judges people kindly who take tough but courageous decisions while looks badly on those who take easy route.
I have always described myself as a Progressive Conservative. I never supported the Reform Party and nor have I endorsed the GOP for years. I didn’t leave the party, the party left me. I will return when it comes back to its PC roots and ends its flirtation and tolerance of hard right. If any one from Vancouver Centre riding association is reading this, chose your candidate wisely. I will ask tough questions in next campaign and will consider voting for one who promises to fight to moderate party but will reject any that goes along with this.