Canadians discovering their inner conservative

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The Article

Since starting this web site in the late 1800s, I have, at some risk, preached that the problem with the Conservatives isn’t that they’re “too conservative” for Canadians, it was that they were muzzling their conservativeness and appeasing the Red Tories and left who think, like all liberals, that they know everything, and that the Conservative Party should move to the left.  Take Scott Brison and Belinda Stronach.  And they did.  See?

In other words, I said, to win elections, don’t move left, embrace your rightness and win.  Canadians wanted, I said, a party that embraced their conservative values.  Those were, in fact, Canadian values, notwithstanding Liberal-Leftist Paul (“we lead the world”) Martin’s ever-so electrifying pronouncements about his neo-leftist secularist post-modern version of “Canadian values”, which in actual fact, he made up out of thin air with no basis in, well, anything.  That’s liberal.  That’s progressive, I kept saying, and still do as you may have noticed.

The Red Tories already have a party—we don’t need a “Liberal Party Too” as I always called it.  (I’d have to re-setup our old discussion forums to find quotes from my old columns to verify this for you and maybe I will someday because I’m just that vain). 

Ronald Reagan gave that a whirl before I said it and it worked out pretty well for him.  For that matter, George W. Bush won the most votes in American history largely on that basis too. 

Two National Post writers write today on that same theme (frustratingly for folks like me who risked their reputation and web sites, they write as though they and they alone were the purveyor of this line of thought, argh). 

Canada finds its ‘inner Conservative’


George Koch and John Weissenberger, National Post
Published: Friday, May 26, 2006

CALGARY – “In our budget, all parents with pre-school children will now receive a Universal Child Care Benefit of $1,200 directly. Because we believe parents, not governments, should make their child care choices.”—Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking Wednesday in London, Ont.

In the past, policy advocate and essayist Harper might have expressed such a position with words like: “Statist solutions to the child care issue are sub-optimal.” The rhetorical adjustment—reflected in virtually every announcement and decision of the new government—goes a long way toward explaining the federal Conservatives’ growing popularity.

Just before the 2004 election, we wrote on these pages about a curious phenomenon: The Conservative position on a wide range of policy questions consistently outpolled the party itself, sometimes by a wide margin. While only a small percentage of Canadians defined themselves as “conservative” or “on the right,” large percentages held various conservative views.

Fifty-three percent, for example, opposed the federal gun registry. These voters should have been owned by the Conservatives, for they alone advocated scrapping the billion-dollar fiasco. Strong majorities wanted government to adopt family-friendly tax policies; or to be tough on crime, illegal immigration and bogus refugees. Large percentages even held socially conservative views.

In short, many millions of Canadians held views compatible with, or to the right of, the then-new Conservatives in 2004. Yet a mere 27% of respondents planned to vote Conservative.

Thus, it wasn’t the party’s policies that were holding it back in 2004, but other weaknesses—in particular, the perception it was a mere regional movement.

We concluded the key to growth lay not in abandoning conservatism and lurching leftward, as many Red Tories and media commentators demanded. Instead, the party should work to link itself to popular policies, helping more and more voters discover their “Inner Conservative.”

This week’s news that the Conservatives have climbed to 43% voter support—a level unequalled in 20 years, and a gain of seven points since the election—suggests this is occurring. A majority government, if not in clear sight, is at least on the radar.

Party strategists recognized the trend just in time for the 2004 election campaign. That campaign offered numerous policies with 50% or greater public popularity.

[… Read the rest (30 seconds) …]

Joel Johannesen
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