“. . .evermore divisiveness has become our values and identity and is Trudeau senior’s true legacy.”
Andrew Scheer May Win The PocketBooks Of The Canadian Voter,
But Can He Lead A Movement?
Scheer and company would be wise to parse the Maxime Bernier narrative of this last week carefully if they want to avoid a conservative vote split in 2019 or what may be a greater headache for Scheer, an angry conservative voter, frustrated at their own Party.
It is highly unlikely that Bernier will come close to power in 2019. He and others have held up as an example the Reform Party’s rise in Canada, ultimately supplanting the PCs. But the Reform Party had a different motivated base, an alienated Western voter and social conservatives, that formed a core to build upon. Along the way, they took on the economic responsibility mantle, the grown ups in the room, that signalled the death of the Progressive Conservatives. It was the true alternative with defined and distinctive right wing ideas that were able to take hold in Canadian minds once the perpetual fear of “losing Quebec” boogeyman no longer terrorized the political landscape in “The Rest of Canada”.
The Bernier reach to that base is limited. He is by no means a social conservative. He is a product of the, now ingrained, laissez-faire liberal mindset on social issues that pervades Quebec. While one of his key issues, illegal immigration, has a psychological carry-over from the crisis in America, in Canada, illegal immigration is not the same dire issue, although four more years of Trudeau’s hubris over Trump might make it so. Bernier’s only real distinctives are purist conservative economics. Careful adoption of the best of those policies by Sheer’s Conservatives would easily neutralize the maverick Bernier.
Andrew Scheer and CPC must understand, though, that beyond the content of Bernier’s Twitter grievances, ordinary Canadians are hungry for voices, leadership that dares speak of things taboo in politically correct Canada. Voices that honestly talk about values, about identity, about what is the composition of the nebulous “social fabric” buzz talk. What is diversity vs. unity? What is tolerance vs. intolerance? What about a faith worldview in the public debate? Whose speech is sacred and whose speech is prohibited? Maxime Bernier dared broach a dialogue on one issue, multiculturalism, and became instantly an enemy of Liberals and toxic to Conservatives, while Canadians, in polling, support Max’s questioning. This bravery in the face of established liberalism is the essence of the conservative gains and the advent of the Trumpian era in the States. It is someone or some movement that dares to express a new thought that differs from established, handed-down wisdom.
Canada is late coming to the game and Bernier is an early player but by no means alone. There were early Canadian pioneers like SunNewsNetwork and Rebel Media who unfortunately, in Jethro-like fashion, with an American toolkit, managed to burn a whole forest to the ground rather than wisely chopping down select trees. Despite that, Canadians are still desperate for plain spoken “rebellion” leaders. Jordan Peterson is part of that Canadian phenomenon. His following has catapulted him up to cult-like territory because of one thing: he dared to challenge the recent accepted wisdom concerning transgender pronouns. That’s it. From that Canadians, and now people world-wide in the West, are clinging to every book, video and interview that Peterson is in or writes. Why? The sentiments expressed by students after the Lindsay Shepherd, Sir Wilfred Laurier inquisition that raised Peterson’s star, are telling. Usually, there is an expression of “Wow!” followed by “I didn’t know I was allowed to think that way.” Like Bernier, Peterson’s attractiveness is only really on a few issues. Dig deeper with Peterson, like a recent interview with Ben Shapiro, and you find that Jordan is in a strange thought-world all his own. But Bernier and Peterson represent more than the content of their ideas. They are bullhorns to individuals in an ideologically repressed nation, saying, “I will lead you and give you permission to challenge what you thought was not challengeable.”
Canada has come full circle, Trudeau to Trudeau, and is ripe for true change, not electioneering slogan type of change. It was Trudeau senior who brought in Multiculturalism as a Canadian identity policy that Bernier is tilting at today. But Pierre Trudeau’s legacy was more than that. He also transformed Canadian society socially, morally and ethically. The moralist, finger-wagging Trudeau junior, inheritor of his dad’s Canada, is presiding over the end of the socially accepted norms that PET kickstarted, whether he understands that or not. These norms are the “shut up and follow” progressivism that dictated to Canadians what the content of Canadian values are and what Canadian identity is. Canada moved from a responsibility-based society that saw it through two world wars symbolized by a proud, constitutional monarchy framework to a rights-based society. There was the sense of unity of the greater good, something bigger and more valuable than oneself that morphed into perpetual division as we continually invent new individual rights, group rights, race rights, and sexual rights to litigate against fellow Canadians. This evermore divisiveness has become our values and identity and is Trudeau senior’s true legacy. Many Canadians have had enough of being silent at this descent. Consequently they are clinging to any form of leadership that permits them to say the proverbial “the emperor has no clothes on” that the wise ones have shushed them about. As flawed as the Berniers and Petersons of Canada are, they represent a voice; not of racism, sexism, bigotry etc. (fill in your own liberalist reactionary term) but a simple, quiet voice of the polite Canadian, saying, “why can’t we talk?”
Andrew Scheer has the chance to truly lead a movement rather than just right Canada’s economic ship, as desperately as that needs doing. Scheer has a chance to be great, not just a great financial manager. Initially though, he is content with the latter. For example, the CPC campaign against the carbon tax is in full force, built solely on how devastating to the economy it will be. Good. But to be a real great change agent, Scheer could unmuzzle the discussion of why the carbon tax is proposed in the first place. There are genuine scientists and revered people in the scientific community who have logical, fact-based arguments against the cataclysmic claims of the Anthropogenic Global Warming community. A great leader would allow even the smallest of things like a debate on the core issues.
Today’s Canadian conservatives, like their counterparts in the new movement in America, for sure, want economic freedom with even just some of the shackles of government removed. But, like the sentiment sweeping America, they also want freedom to speak, to discuss and to disagree about values, identity, morals and all the other “fabric” issues from a conservative perspective. If Scheer and company cannot embrace, guide, and lead that movement, they will forever be dogged by a significant proportion of disgruntled conservative voters led by Bernier or whoever else may arise in his stead.
August 28, 2018
“ordinary Canadians are hungry for voices, leadership that dares speak of things taboo”