Canadian conservatives?

Author:Allen, Paul
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

Raymond J. de Souza's "Unsettling Canada" (October 2004) contains solid hints about why social conservatives continue to forge ill-advised alliances with political conservatives. However, in noting the weakened position of social conservatives within Canada's Liberal Party, Father de Souza does not fully say why there exist identical tensions within the Conservative Party--tensions that would lead to virtually identical setbacks if the Conservative Party were to assume power in the future. Just consider the record of almost every recent conservative government in Canada, whether provincial or federal.

For social conservatives to build alliances with political conservatives they must bargain away long-term social objectives in favor of perceived short-term political opportunities. Time and again, politically conservative power-brokers have ignored, defeated, or buried social conservative views, except during the odd election campaign. In the end, what is the real difference between the avowedly secularist liberal left and the effectively secularist right? Given the genuinely isolated position of social conservatives, it is not inconceivable that a better political strategy would be to work with the left instead of the right.

One reason for suggesting this strategy is purely pragmatic. As Ft. de Souza notes, most new immigrants to Canada are predisposed to social conservative views, yet they tend not to vote for conservatives. Perhaps this is because these immigrants are turned off by a platform that favors U.S. foreign policy, economic privatization, looser environmental controls, and the erosion of publicly available health care. These are the policy options espoused by political conservatives in Canada.

If social conservatives decamp permanently in the Canadian Conservative Party, I fear that they will end up being taken for granted and ultimately marginalized from public discussions altogether. Social conservative views need to be voiced in other political parties, where other positions of ostensibly equal importance to social conservatives are already articulated and defended.

Paul Allen

Department of Theological Studies

Concordia University

Montreal, Quebec

I appreciated Raymond J. de Souza's thoughtful article reminding Canadians that the new Conservative Party must espouse conservative views. Now is not the time for so-called compromise on divisive issues such as the military, abortion, and same-sex marriage; it is time for leadership...

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