Are conservatives in crisis?
To attract support Conservatives, engage and pander to xenophobes and homophobes is old news. That a sizable Canadian
Conservative membership rejects multiculturalism, the supremacy of Charter rights, thinks climate change is not important or real and seeks to reduce immigration to preserve Canada’s white “old stock” is a fact.
That there are pockets of single-issue Conservatives who oppose stricter gun control, abortion and protecting minority sexual rights is also a fact.
At the 2017 Conservative convention in Halifax, 70% voted to repeal automatic birthright citizenship if elected. Conservatives divide Canada along class, age, ethnic and geographic lines.
Pollsters tell us economic unhappiness and cultural insecurity is driven by an older demographic who have become angry about and reactionary towards intergenerational social/political change; creating a kind of class war between younger educated progressives and less-educated, older, well-off rural Canadians who unfortunately have difficulty coming to grips with the new digitally connected information-based economy that is demanding a new mindset from all of us.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer told his caucus, “I find the notion that one’s race, religion, gender or sexual orientation makes anyone in anyway superior or inferior repugnant, and if anyone disagrees, there’s the door. You’re not welcomed.”
Strong and needed words for sure.
But, Scheer won his leadership against Maxime Bernier by a hair in a split vote; half voted against Scheer’s leadership, even members who decided to stay in caucus, like Bernier’s former B.C. campaign chairman local MP Dan Albas.
Can Scheer keep down internal dissentient voices or pressure from single-issue conservatives and postulating social conservatives, or down with elites populists? That means suppressing a sizeable portion of the party, forcing them to fall into line, to convince Canadians the Conservatives are a safe bet.
Can Scheer do it? The voters will decide.
But, it raises another question. If the Conservatives did form government, then in order to keep party members motivated, how long before we see Scheer’s necessary compromises with his single-issue ultra-conservative membership begin to come out from behind the conservative woodwork?
Remember the barbaric hotline, or the niqab ban, or killing of the long-form census and refusing to fund global NGOs providing safe abortion and contraception in devastated regions, or repealing the long-gun registry, gutting the environmental review process or silencing government scientists.
We’ve been through this before.