Canada Also Experiencing Shift in Conservative Politics

By: Justin P. Goodrich, LL. M.

Last month I wrote about the U.S. Presidential Election; more specifically, the fracturing that had been taking place within the Republican Party.  Having taken the time to comment on what was taking place in the United States, I thought it only appropriate that this month I reflect on what is taking place within Canadian politics.  More specifically, what is taking place within ‘conservative’ Canadian politics.

During the last election I was, admittedly, troubled by the state of the Conservative Party.  Though I have never held anything but a conservative membership (my first federal membership was as a teenager with the Canadian Alliance Party before they merged with the Progressive Conservatives in 2003 to form today’s Conservative Party of Canada), in recent years I have struggled.

Now before I go any further, I should say that although I still identify as a conservative, over the past five or six years my political thinking has changed and I now find myself identifying more so as a progressive conservative.  So what does that mean?  It means that while I still believe strongly in core conservative principles – free enterprise, international trade, a strong national defense, local government, etc. – I also hold liberal (small “l”) views on social issues.  For example, I have no problems with the legalization of marijuana, and I am honored to be attending my first gay wedding next summer.

Though perhaps what I have just written is disturbing for some conservatives, I am delighted by the fact that they are now becoming the minority within the party.  Indeed, over the past few years the Conservative Party of Canada was staring to feel a lot like the Republican Party (very, very right of center), and though there are still those elements within the party, more and more conservatives are taking an active role in reshaping the party’s narrative.

Whether it be changes within the party’s very own constitution which now recognizes that marriage is between two people who are in love regardless of gender, to the example set by the Hon. Michelle Rempel who, just last month, championed a motion in the House regarding Yazidis refugees (a very different approach to immigration compared to Republican’s); the reality is that more and more conservatives are focusing on issues that truly matter.  Indeed, from social justice, to the environment (our very own Abbotsford MP, the Hon. Ed Fast doing an excellent job as the Environment Critic), to immigration, the Conservative Party is turning a page – one that has progressives like me find very optimistic!

For the Record…

Not too long ago I was meeting with a local Conservative MP.  He introduced me to his staff as “this is the Justin we like… except for his hair… we all have to admit, the other Justin has much better hair.”  We all chuckled, myself included, because let’s face it… Mr. Trudeau has great hair and I hardly have any.  However, despite his good looks, charm, and international rock-star status, the question still remains – what good is a country with a popular Prime Minister, if our economy is being driven in to the ground?  To that end – and further to the shift I have spoken about within this months column – it is my sincere hope that the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada not only fosters progressive values, but also has the charisma and depth so that we can enjoy the best of both worlds – a country of equality for all, and a strong economy to support it.

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