The previous century was a stark one for the Conservative Party: of those 100 years, 70 of them were governed comfortably by the Liberals, making the party not only the most powerful in Canadian history, but also the most successful in the western world.
The effects of this white-knuckled grip on power are distinctly present in our country’s culture. All of those monumental, culture-provoking decisions and events that would come to determine our identity, came under the guidance (for better or worse) of a Liberal prime minister. By all means, the Liberal Party has cultivated Canada in their own image: to this day, It is piercingly obvious that our latter-day culture, identity, and conventions of Canada were either manufactured or furthered by those commanding Liberal statesman: Pearson, Trudeau, and Chrétien.
One can only imagine the despair a Conservative must have felt in those rouge, 20th century days. It must be faintly comparable, I imagine, to the sentiment of mute pessimism and defeatism that lingers over the Conservative movement today.
Unlike the previous century, today’s anguish derives from a leader who is totally incapable of carving a path to power, and a movement that relies on a jittery collation of conflicting voters—unwilling to exchange their ideology for the pragmatism that winning requires.
What makes all this particularly depressing is that the Liberal Party have managed to become “Canada’s natural governing party,” not through exciting policies or even through some cynical disregard for democracy (as any self-respecting ruling party should), but because their opposing party is the most incompetent in the free world. It is a painful observation to consider that the Liberal Party is successful not in spite of the Conservative party, but because of it.
The 2019 election has been a poignant reminder of this. Not only did the Party’s membership choose Andrew Scheer as leader, so comically unqualified that he had to take frowning lessons, but he also, rather tediously, fell over that old tripwire of social conservatism.
As the former Harper minister Peter Mackay said, social issues “hung round [Scheer’s] neck like a stinking albatross… it was like having an open net and missing.” Rona Ambrose, the former Conservative leader, has also declared her discontent, telling her followers on Twitter that she “was proud to have been the first Tory leader to march in a Pride Parade”; it was a direct attack on Scheer’s stollid leadership.
It would be unfair to suggest that Scheer did not improve over the course of the campaign. This slight improvement, however, was far too little, far too late for the Canadian public. And so, despite facing a Liberal prime minister who had routinely embarrassed himself and his nation, the country still put their faith in Justin Trudeau.
Despite the CPC’s federal flop, there is, nevertheless, an appetite for conservatism in this country. Take, for instance, the province of Quebec, who in 2018 voted In the CAQ—the most refreshingly reactionary party in the province’s history.
Even in Ontario, a province that was far more elusive to the CPC than their leadership could’ve imagined, Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford managed to sweep the province, capturing much of the red-washed GTA.
The Progressive Conservative’s and the CAQ’s stonking election victories should serve as a lesson to Canadian conservatives: that there is a demand for Conservative governments, even in progressive nucleus like the GTA and Quebec.
Tantalizing as this may be, for any of this to be achieved the Conservative Party must perform unconditional and absolute reform. If they continue as they are, content with the foggy vision of Andrew Scheer, then the party should prepare for, and does indeed deserve, another decade of powerlessness.