The political Centre and Right-of-Centre in Canada offer a vast political landscape of views and opinions about what is wrong with this country and how to fix it. In terms of definition, what is the Centre/Right of Centre? Labels such as “social conservative”, “fiscal conservative”, “libertarian”, and “populist” only take one so far in capturing what a majority of Canadians identify as on any given issue.
At one level, these labels suggest that there are differences on the Right, just as there are differences on the Left. And while there are differences of opinion and policy preferences, there is no denying commonalities that unite the Right. In other words, the Right has more things in common that they agree about at a basic level then they have differences. This is not to ignore the fact that there are differences. Indeed, a hallmark of any civilized society is how well it manages those differences while at the same time finding meaning and strength in what unites it.
Recognizing what we agree on can, in both the short and long terms, offer the best hope of creating a viable alternative. With that in mind, and painting with a broad brush, let us consider three examples of unifying themes: limitation of government power; individual and community; and open debate.
Distrust of government
History and experience have taught many that “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” are indeed the most terrifying words one can hear. The myth persists to this day that somehow “the government” is the answer to every ill facing the individual and society. Yet, in fact, the reality is that government only makes things worse.
At the very least, a healthy scepticism about government and its abilities is readily found in those of the Centre and Right-of-Centre. That scepticism naturally leads to the awareness that government’s power must be limited, and that its exercise be accountable.
Practically speaking, this is reflected in distrust, for example, over schemes that require and expand federal power over areas of provincial jurisdiction. It is also expressed by the idea that government—whether federal, provincial, or municipal, exists to serve the people, not people the government.
Importance of the individual and community
Individuals cannot exist without some sort of community—human beings are, after all, social animals. The first “community” we know, for good or ill, is that of our family. At the same time, we recognize that any community is only as good and vibrant as the individuals who comprise it. As individuals, we all have different strengths, abilities, and weaknesses, but the idea of taking individual responsibility for one’s actions transcends those differences.
Practically speaking, this means that instead of looking to government for the solutions, we prefer to look to individuals with their inherent creativity free of the bureaucratic mindset of restraint as well as our natural communities of family and friends, to provide answers. It also means protecting and preserving the family unit from government run “day-care” and so-called support schemes that only weaken the bonds of familial affection and responsibility.
Openness to debate
Ever wonder why the current political establishment is all too happy to criminalize free speech? The answer is simple: open and honest debate on “contentious” issues would expose the lies and falsehoods of that establishment and their all-consuming Leftist agenda. Free speech and open debate are the lifeblood of democracy, without which there can be no progress or truth.
Practically speaking, this means giving MPs the ability to speak and vote their consciences, independent of the party leadership. It also means that no topic is off the table, including abortion and euthanasia. Efforts to protect the most vulnerable of our society from the unborn child to the aged and infirmed, must be focused on changing hearts and minds, and that can only be accomplished by a frank and open debate about the most fundamental question of existence: what does it mean to be human?
Consensus not dictatorship
There are other points of agreement in addition to the three mentioned above, on which to build a united Centre/Right-of-Centre coalition. Bringing unity to the Right, however, will not be easy nor happen overnight. This is where real leadership comes in; leadership that checks its ego at the door and understands the value of consensus in leading and that consensus once reached is, by definition, open to refinement, re-examination, and restatement based upon new facts and data.
Apart from consensus-building, there is a need to re-engage with Canadians especially given the low voter turnout in the 2021 election—62% voter turnout, which means that 10,331,969 Canadians on the electoral list of 27,366,297 did not cast a vote. The alarming reality is that with over a third of electors not voting, government is not being held accountable.
The Right in Canada has done it before with the Reform/Alliance/Conservative mergers of the late 1990s/early 2000s, and at this juncture it looks like history will repeat itself, but with one important difference: no illusions this time regarding the terminal condition of the Conservative Party of Canada, a party “conservative” in name only!
The place to start is found in making common cause together in stopping the dangerous policies of the Left that are bankrupting Canada economically, socially, and politically. The answer lies not in looking to government to “fix things” but rather to ourselves to secure a better future for us and our posterity. It requires “thinking outside the box”, a way of looking critically at past mistakes in public policy and offering creative and free-market oriented solutions that can only be achieved through freedom and individual responsibility. Today is a time of challenge and opportunity, let us hope that we do not waste it.