With Poilievre now chosen as leader, it is clear most of the Conservative base want to stick it to the Liberal elites and want to move closer to libertarianism. Below are my thoughts on two and why I believe party taking wrong path. Besides definition of liberal elites being vague (more on that later), I don’t think they are bad people and while not perfect by any means and don’t always agree, I really wish the bashing of them would stop. For libertarianism, I will explain why I think as appealing as it may sound on surface its a bad idea and attracts all the wrong people you don’t want to be associated with.
The term liberal elites is obviously a very vague term and who is and who isn’t one is not clear. But assuming you mean academia, public sector union leaders, government favoured business leaders, media, bureaucrats, and progressive politicians; below I will give my thoughts using that definition. Common stereotype is these are power hungry people who want more control over you and talk down to people and are condescending if you don’t think like them. I believe first is dead wrong. Yes its true most want a more activist government. But that is largely because they are educated and very compassionate and believe we can create a fairer and better society with a more activist government. And we should all want a fairer and better society, debate is how best to get there. On latter, I do think they have a tendency to be condescending, but I think that is more out of frustration. In many ways they sound an awful lot like a teacher or parent disciplining a misbehaving child. We all know teachers and parents care deeply for students and their children and do discipline them because they care. And I think they are simply using same instincts. Problem is when an adult stranger it is more likely to trigger a backlash rather than compliance. But I believe intentions are good even if wrong way.
I do not always agree with liberal elites, in fact on loads of issues I strongly disagree. But funny thing is when I sit down and talk with people with such views, our conversations are very constructive and usually we leave respecting each other even if we disagree. Main thing with liberal elites is if you are going to make an argument, do your homework and know your subject well. If you are like me knowledgeable on subject and can give strong evidence, they may give counter points but they will usually be respectful. And sometimes you can even find some middle ground. When they are more nasty is when you do so on falsehoods or come across as ignorant. I have had several debates with such people on why wealth tax bad, why we should have a parallel private health system, why affirmative action a bad idea, or why on climate change we should go slower. They obviously will disagree with my view, but if well argued most at least understand where I am coming from. And here is another thing Conservatives should learn: if you can win them over, policies likely to stay not be overturned next time Liberals return to government. Mulroney’s policies on free trade, loosening foreign investment rules, tax reform, and privatizing crown corporations were all at time opposed by liberal elites, but because he had strong arguments and they were well thought out, in the end he prevailed. While in 1985, almost all in establishment thought free trade with US was a bad idea, by 2000 virtually all supported it and same with GST. And for those of us who lean right should we want policies that will remain in place for years to come not be overturned by next Liberal government? When nasty and dogmatic like Poilievre, many quite rightly pushback and should he form office, good chance he simply makes conservative movement toxic and does more damage than good long term. Mike Harris in Ontario wasn’t able to bring them around and in end most of his policies were reversed and party spent 15 years in opposition.
Yes I get liberal elites are sometimes too focused on one issue and ignore collateral damage. Many want aggressive action on climate change because of its serious threat but ignore higher costs working people will have to pay or job losses, particularly in Prairie provinces. And also on COVID-19, some pushed for harsh restrictions without considering negative side effects. But making a sensible counter argument like we need to take action on climate change but also understand oil won’t disappear overnight so it will be a long gradual transition and during that time we can improve prosperity in Prairies which will allow for greater diversification so fewer job losses. On vaccine mandates and masking, they should have made it clear why needed and what metrics would lead to end (not no end in sight) and also made clear these were being done to avoid business & school closures so economy could stay open. So some grievances are very legitimate, but offer alternative solutions, not just bashing them.
Poilievre from what I have seen comes across as a libertarian. For full disclosure I was once a libertarian myself about 20 years ago back during my university days, but with more real world experience I have grown out of it. Unfortunately I feel Poilievre and his supporters have not. Libertarianism much like socialism may sound good on paper, but in reality is an unmitigated disaster. Both are dogmatic ideologies and showing no flexibility for a complex world. After all who doesn’t want more freedom. That sounds great to many. But when you drill down and see what it means, one should realize its not a good idea which is why very few places have gone down this route. We are part of a larger society and our actions impact others. Simply to deal with large challenges of the day be it climate change, pandemic etc, you need to act collectively and that requires government. Some things we can fix on our own, but other things we need to do collectively. Libertarians don’t understand this and that means many serious issues won’t get dealt with. Likewise as an advanced society, we have an obligation to look after our most vulnerable and minimalist government approach if taken to extreme means far too many will get left behind. Idea it will lead to huge growth and massive prosperity is a myth. Yes sometimes too much government hinders growth, but too little can too. Things like good education system, strong infrastructure all require government and all help increase not reduce prosperity. Likewise my biggest problem is types attracted to it. Far too many attracted to it seem like selfish types who basically want the right to be selfish. While Poilievre is not a full blown libertarian by any means, I worry he panders too much to people who want right to be selfish with no consideration for others. And I also feel much like Trudeau and Singh on left, he sells simplistic solutions that if you just get government out of the way it will solve all problems while Trudeau and Singh seem to think more government intervention solution. Truth is some issues require more government while some require less. And a good pragmatic leader will understand this as did Mulroney as did Chretien, as did Martin and even reluctantly Harper did too. Its fine to lean more in the socialistic or libertarian direction, but they should only mean when evidence inconclusive you go in preferred direction. It should not mean you go in that direction even if evidence says it will cause more harm than good.