The sad tale of Canadian conservatism

As any recovery conservative will tell you, today’s Conservative Party of Canada bears little resemblance to the conservativism of the past (or even the current conservative rhetoric). National Post‘s Andrew Coyne offers a nice overview of how the Tories have lost their way:

Good luck with that. You have spent your time in office educating people in what they should expect from government in general, and your government in particular. You have established the criteria by which they should judge you: as the party that brings home the bacon. They might be forgiven some distress at finding their bacon rations have suddenly been shortened. And they will be disinclined to trust you as you begin to tell them some hard truths, since you have been so little disposed to earn their trust until now.

Read the whole thing.

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. You didn’t just sell out. You bought in.

    That’s a great line.

    I wonder how much of Canadian conservatism’s problems are purely home-grown, and how much is it a consequence of the influence of the weird perversion of conservatism in the U.S.? Not that I want to take a “Canada is just out 51st state” approach, but I know you all get way too much of our news and pay way too much attention to U.S. politics. So did our conservative craziness infect your conservatives, or was there a domestic cause? (Or some of both?)

    • There is no doubt that U.S. conservatism has an effect on Canadian conservatism. In a letter to the editor disagreeing with Mr. Coyne, a reader lamented that he didn’t pay enough heed to great conservative thinkers, and included Ike and Pere Bush in a list of such (yet no mention of any Canadians other than the current PM). This is pretty typical (and a trap I used to really fall into).

      If you follow a lot of Canadian blogs, you’ll notice a lot of commentary on U.S. politics, and the adoption of U.S. politicians as icons. There’s an conservative blog aggregator called Blogging Tories, and if you scroll through it, you’ll see a lot of chatter about U.S. politics.

      That being said, the problems with the Conservative Party are a little more homegrown that that – though they’re also quite universal. This party has been focused on gaining power, retaining power and gaining more power (they’ve had a couple of minority governments before winning a majority last spring). I think most of their moves have been purely political. I’ve read a lot of conservatives who have hoped that now that the Tories have a majority (and don’t have to worry about maintaining a minority government), they can finally rule like the small-government conservatives they have always claimed to be.

      Personally, I’m not so optomistic (and, current evidence isn’t encouraging).

      • My own take: As the centrist Liberals shrank the conservatives adopted a massive slew of those cynical, centrist, vote getting, power gaining policies that offered access to the center of the voter spectrum. Now with the Liberals marginalized they’re sitting in the middle and it’s so.. so easy to keep slurping away at those kind of policies. They poll great!

        And yes, I’d say the deficits don’t matter attitude is definitly imported from the US. Along with a certain opposition mindset that is a result of the Liberals pretty much claiming and owning the fiscal discipline mantle under Cretien and Martin (until they started spending like madmen in an attempt to buy more time).

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