Canada needs more political engagement outside official party structures.
A recent report in the Hill Times discusses the controversy around the new group Conservative Futures.
The group was formed in the aftermath of Maxime Bernier’s campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party, and includes some former members of his campaign team.
The controversy surrounds the idea that some people see the group as a continuation of the campaign, and would rather see political discussion happen within the Conservative Party, rather than from the outside.
While I can understand that viewpoint, I strongly disagree with it.
Canadian political parties are not really democratic
I’ve had an “interesting” political history to say the least. I’ve been involved with the Conservatives at both the federal level, and provincially in Manitoba, and also spent time with the Manitoba Liberals. While it’s not the conventional experience, I am glad for how it worked out, because I learned quite a lot and was able to see the broken political system from many different sides.
One thing that is clear – regardless of party – is that political parties in Canada are elected dictatorships, rather than truly democratic institutions. Consider how little room there is for any real debate or dissent. If anyone steps out of line of “the leader,” they are quickly punished, and often kicked out of the party.
Even elected members end up being reduced to parroting talking points written by other people, rather than expressing their own opinions or truly representing their constituents.
It’s a serious problem, because a truly advanced and mature democracy should be able to handle different points of view – even within political parties.
That’s why a group like Conservative Futures is so important.
It provides a space outside of the restrictive and stifling party system for people to advance ideas and express a philosophy that our country sorely needs. I took a look at how the group describes itself, and it’s a message that certainly resonates with myself, and many other Canadians. I’ve included it below:
“The future of conservatism is about the empowerment of the individual.
We believe that the way to lift people out of poverty is through free markets, and increased freedom to flourish without the restraint of big government.
The future will be determined by the individual.
Everybody has greatness inside of them. We want to ignite burning passion of entrepreneurial spirit inside the hearts of the nation.
Greatness doesn’t come from the state, it comes from the individual.
We want a country and a world where people are free to succeed.
We promote the core values of a new era of conservatism. We believe in personal liberty, and that the government should treat everyone with fairness and respect.
Our goal is to reshape the political climate in Canada so that politicians can adopt policies for more individual, economic, and personal freedom.”
It would be a real shame if a group advocating those ideas was forced to be subsumed within an official party.
After all, the current party system – and the way the establishment media discusses politics – is completely broken.
The moment someone express a hint of critical thinking or independent thought they get shouted down for being “off-message.”
We aren’t truly a democracy unless we build a vibrant culture of discussion, debate, and a willingness to put forward new and controversial ideas.
Canada needs a group like Conservative Futures, and all of us should help encourage more Canadians to express themselves politically outside of the broken system.
The Conservative Party should see Conservative Futures as something positive. After all, the ideas expressed by the group are the total opposite of Justin Trudeau’s dangerous big-government agenda, so having more people building support for freedom and liberty can only help defeat Trudeau.
And when the Conservative Party takes power again (hopefully in 2019 for the sake of Canada’s future), they should resist the temptation to clamp down on communications. One lesson of the Harper era is that wining elections doesn’t mean winning the underlying cultural debate, as Justin Trudeau has been able to easily sweep away almost all of the positive things Stephen Harper did to strengthen our economy, balance the budget, and give Canada a voice of strength and justice on the world stage.
Because there wasn’t enough of an underlying change in the country, those good changes under Harper only stayed in place as long as he was in power, and are now gone.
However, by encouraging and strengthening groups like Conservative Futures, there can be an underlying change in the country that builds support for policies that go beyond holding the levers of power in Ottawa. Additionally, considering the willingness of the Trudeau Liberals to get help from foreign third-party groups in the last election, patriotic Canadians need to make sure there are Canadian groups to push back against that.
Conservative Futures is good for Canada, and those of us who want to see Trudeau defeated should be glad to see the group grow and succeed.
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