Oh, Canada: Whither the conservative movement in the Great White North?
With the leadership race for the Conservative Party of Canada underway to replace former prime minister Stephen Harper, a selection of less than stellar candidates have entered the race. Two of the most notable include Harper's former foreign minister, Maxime Bernier, and Kellie Leitch. Both are very liberal when it comes to social views, but that is the least of the concerns about their candidacies and what they say about the sorry state of Canadian conservatism.
Bernier's former girlfriend, Julie Couillard, was the subject of intense media scrutiny in early 2008, whereby the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir found that Couillard "had links to the criminal biker underworld as late as 2005 – [and yet] is the head of a high-tech firm that has been involved in airport security." Bernier was then forced to resign as foreign minister in May 2008 "after leaving NATO-summit documents in the home of his former girlfriend, Julie Couillard." A subsequent federal government national security investigation of Bernier revealed that "Bernier's carelessness hurt Canada's reputation within NATO circles and was 'injurious' to national interest."
Leitch, who served as the minister of labor and was also the minister responsible for the status of women under Harper, initially chose Nick Kouvalis to head her leadership campaign. Kouvalis – who was the campaign manager for Toronto's notorious crack-smoking mayor, Rob Ford – has been no stranger to controversy. In 2007, he was aquitted of uttering a death threat against a member of Parliament, and in May of this year, he pleaded guilty to driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.
Poor judgment and toxic individuals abound in the party, and continue to be recycled, making the party entirely unelectable at the federal level until a complete purge and reboot have been completed and demonstrated to the base. Unless that occurs, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau – and his successor(s), if the clean-out takes more than a decade – will remain prime minister. And quite frankly, the country is better off with a Liberal P.M. than having the conservative rot given another chance to govern: 2006 through 2015 were bad enough under Harper, and the next generation could truly drive the nation into the ground.
Hurting the chances for real reform and true conservative leadership in the party even more are the members of Canada's supposedly conservative commentariat. Romanian-born Financial Post contributor Lawrence Solomon, who wrote a glowing pre-election promotion for Harper last October, is self-described as "one of Canada's leading environmentalists" and was an "advisor to President Jimmy Carter's Task Force on the Global Environment (the Global 2000 Report) in the late 1970's."
And then there is American-born – and apparently still of dual Canadian-American citizenship – Margaret Wente at the Globe and Mail newspaper. Wente, like so much of the Canadian "conservative" commentariat, has an apparent habit of trying to claim more original credit for ideas than is warranted – a problem that is also endemic in the United States. Between 2012 and 2016, Wente's own newspaper confirmed repeated occasions of plagiarism, some of which dated back to 2009.
And in her latest article, the immigrant Wente proceeds to lecture on how Canada gets it right on immigration. Only she gets it wrong. Immigrants repeatedly vote overwhelmingly (generally ~70%) for the left-of-center parties in Canada, and the 2015 federal election was no exception. Consequently, if you are for immigration, you are against the electoral success of conservative parties in Canada. The data is clear, and this is more settled political science. As a result, the pro-immigration strategy of Jason Kenny – Harper's former minister of citizenship and immigration and multiculturalism – undoubtedly cost the party the 2015 election, and led to a 2011 victory less than it should have been, for the simple reason that it turned off much of the real conservative base, gaining fewer moderate voters than it loses off the right end of the spectrum.
Wente goes on to claim that somehow Canada's immigration has been more moderate than in the U.K., and this explains the immigration backlash across the pond: "The British ran into trouble because they've had too much immigration, too fast."
Wrong again. The U.K. has a 13.4% foreign-born population, while Canada is already at more than 22%. Since 2005, the international migrant stock as a percentage of total population rose by 3% in both Canada and the U.K., showing that Wente doesn't even understand the data she is dealing with. Canada's rate of immigration growth during the past decade has been as fast as in the U.K., and Canada's level of total immigration is nearly double that of Britain. She also tries to peddle the left-wing myths that in Canada, "public support for immigration is strong." Except that a comprehensive review of the data reveals a different story. Canadians are very skeptical of immigration and multiculturalism.
In Canada, the "conservative" media commentators are, in actuality, liberals caught somewhere between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the political spectrum, and their ideas of a reliable source of news and opinion are outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Vox.com. They regurgitate pro-immigration pablum because their corporate masters desirous of a steady flow of low-cost labor want them to.
Old stock Canadians aren't buying this fake conservatism anymore, especially from immigrants, which is why the Conservative Party is down nearly 2:1 to the Liberal Party in the polls. It will stay that way until the conservative cleansing takes place, which will involve a party that is far more socially conservative and nationalist.
Moderatism is dead. If the media and political face of the Canadian conservative movement continues to showcase the weak individuals it currently does, consider it unelectable in perpetuity.