Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Death of Canadian Conservatism

Andrew Coyne blasts Harper as a sell out, and tallies the long term damage this budget is going to do at his Maclean's blog:

And whatever its likely consequences for the debt, its effect has already been to ratchet up expectations, to tilt the political landscape toward greater and greater interventionism, to change the very language in which we discuss these things. Again, this is unlikely to be easily reversed. Among the consequences of the end of conservatism will be to make it difficult, if not impossible, to muster a constituency even for restraining the growth of government, let alone rolling it back. When the “right” is defined as $34-billion deficits, record spending, and bailouts for everything in sight—when every other party is to the left of that—people lose the ability to think in any other way. They forget there was ever a contrary view.

Conservatives, then, should think hard about whether they can afford to support this government any longer. Its sole contribution at this point is to limit debate, to rule out of bounds any serious discussion of alternatives, since “even” a Conservative government now believes in an all-pervasive, ever-expanding state. The Conservative experiment—the whole enterprise of “uniting the right” in which conservatives have invested much of the past decade—has reached a dead end. They have not succeeded in replacing the Liberals. They have only succeeded in becoming them. Perhaps, some conservatives will conclude, it would be better if this government were defeated—if the party were to lose power, that it might find itself.


When there is no longer any budget constraint, when deficits are not evidence of incontinence, but “stimulus,” why should any project, any sector, any region be denied? More to the point, when there is no political constraint—when no party is pulling to the right, while four pull left—spending can only go in one direction. And for the foreseeable future, that’s where the action is going to be: sucking money from the gushing spigot of the state. Starting a business? Only a chump would spend his time worrying about pleasing the consumer. It’s the politicians you want to keep happy, mate.

It's such a massive about face. Has anybody turned so hard, and so fast away from their base before in Canadian history? I guess you could say Mulroney but when he got all those Quebec seats, I don't think anybody was surprised he was just a run of the mill pork barreler.

UPDATE: Small 'c' conservatives express their dismay in this CP article:

"But it looks like things are grinding to a halt. Are we just going to enter a period of political pragmatism, when all you do is fight to survive? That's very discouraging.

"We thought that Mr. Harper had the strategic acumen to survive and make some progress toward conservative goals."

Hat tip: Pat


  1. I think this is just starting to sink in with Conservatives. The shock will soon turn to outrage, and Harper is going to have to answer to his own people.
    The Liberals were correct, Harper did have a hidden agenda, it was to turn Canada into a socialist utopia. I think he just succeeded.

  2. Yeah, I think I'm still in shock myself. We all knew Harper had to make some consessions, and move to the centre, but I never saw him moving left of Trudeau. What the hell was he thinking?

  3. Outside of Alberta, a patch-work in the West and here and there in Ontario was there ever a true conservative movement large enough to consider it dead today?

    Every media outlet splits the Conservative party into two categories; Reform Tory and Progressive Tory and often the Reform is referred to with a sneer.

    Harper is/was a Reformer. If he couldn't battle the pressures from outside and within his own party no one can.

    Conservatism is not only dead it was never really alive. Harper gave us hope but... that's all it was. Until Quebec leaves Canada will we ever have a shot at a true right of centre party winning a majority. Otherwise, it just can't be done.

  4. Yes, that's it. We need Quebec to leave Canada. Maybe they could get one of those phony Brockville Quebec flag burnings again.

    Remember that? My friend in Quebec sited that once as a grievance. They burn Canadian flags in Quebec like they burn US flags in Iran. But some old people stage an event in the sticks outside of Brockville and that's a grievance.

  5. Strack, I somewhat agree regarding Quebec leaving. Bear in mind when ever there is a big upheaval, that is when change occurs. I can also see Quebec leaving, and having even more socialism written into a new constitution. The same way the NDP made sure private property rights were not included in the new Canadian constitution. The NDP even brag about their achievement.
    I also agree the conservative movement never really got off the ground. As of today it is now six feet, sorry 3 metres below ground.
    Regarding the flag burning, your so right. That was all over the news. The media would never cover a flag burning in Quebec. They are so objective.