FERNANDO: Right Here, Right Now

As Scheer Departs The Stage, Conservatives Must Embrace Populism, Not Become Another Elitist Liberal Party

By Spencer Fernando, Exclusive to the National Citizens Coalition


December 12th, 2019 is turning out to be a historic day for politics in the Anglosphere, with the Conservative parties in Canada and the UK heading in opposite directions.

In Canada, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announced that he would be resigning as Conservative Leader, having failed to take down a severely weakened and vulnerable Justin Trudeau in the 2019 campaign.

In the UK, Boris Johnson – derided by much of the establishment media as a clown – has won a massive majority government and has decisively crushed the dangerously far-left anti-Semitic Corbyn Labour Party.

As Canada’s Conservatives prepare for another leadership race and Justin Trudeau has a defacto majority government, the UK Conservatives are celebrating a massive win.

There are of course some big differences between politics in Canada and the UK, but there are important lessons for Canada’s Conservatives to learn from both the dominant UK Conservatives, and what’s happened in American politics.

The first lesson is that voters aren’t looking for another elitist Liberal Party. The corporate establishment and political elites will be trying to convince the Conservatives to become a Liberal Party clone, because having two Liberal parties would keep the establishment powerful and protected.

But if you look at the actual views of the Canadian People, it’s clear that much of the Liberal message has been rejected.

For example, polls show a clear majority of Canadians oppose the immigration level increases of the Liberals. Polls show Canadians wanting a tougher approach to China, rather than more trade with the Communist State.

Polls show Canadians feel our society is broken, distrust the government, believe politicians are liars, and feel the system is ‘rigged’ against the middle class.

In short, Canada is fertile ground for a Conservative Populist movement.

In both the UK and the United States, we have seen leaders elected who transcended the traditional political spectrum and confronted the establishment. Boris Johnson pushed back against the austerity of Theresa May, while also taking a strong stand by defending the democratic decision of the British People to support Brexit and embracing the UK Conservative history of keeping the UK strong and unified.

While Trump’s romp to the Republican nomination is often forgotten, his views on trade and issues like social security were the opposite of Republican orthodoxy, and he won big.

Both Boris Johnson and Donald Trump managed to add working class voters to the already-existing conservative coalition in both countries, and that led to their victory.

They were both tough on crime, an issue that has resonance as violent crime in Canada surges.

Johnson and Trump also championed a strong economy, massive infrastructure investment, protecting popular services, and utilizing national resources to make the nation wealthier, rather than pandering to anti-growth far-left sentiment.

If the Conservatives had managed to win working class votes in the GTA, Andrew Scheer would be PM today, rather than on the way out of his job.

Additionally, Donald Trump was seen as more pro-LGBTQ than other Republican leaders. Trump held a Pride flag on stage, and invited the openly-gay Peter Thiel to speak at the Republican convention, both things that previous Republican leaders had not done.

In the UK, the Conservative Party has officially supported gay marriage for years, and the issue didn’t even come up in the UK election campaign.

Now, the mistake that some have made is to allow the Liberals to brand support for LGBTQ people as a ‘Liberal policy.’ In fact, the Conservatives in Canada have a long history of supporting individual rights and individual freedoms, and by embracing that history the Conservatives can remain both ideologically consistent and in tune with modern Canada.

The lesson from the UK and the US is that economic populism, confronting the elites, and showing openness to the modern world is a clear path to victory for Conservatives.

Another key lesson is that Conservatives don’t need to become another Liberal Party in order to win.

The Liberals are on the wrong side of public opinion on multiple issues, including immigration, the approach to China, and increasingly the failing economy. And support for the carbon tax will decline even more when Canada falls into a recession (which seems to be increasingly near).

There is a clear opening for the Conservatives to regain the mantle of economic leadership, as Canadians are struggling under a mounting debt load, weak wage growth, and some recent job numbers that are absolutely horrendous.

If the Conservatives can convince voters that they are open and respectful to all Canadians, are willing to push back against the elites, and are willing to fight for middle class and working class people, then they can win big.

But there’s another lesson, perhaps the biggest lesson from the success of populism in the UK and the US:

The Conservatives need a charismatic leader.

Whatever people may think of them, both Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are able to command media attention, motivate their supporters, and inspire their voters to the polls. Canada is not the UK or the US, and a charismatic Canadian leader will not be the same as either Trump or Johnson. However, the Conservatives must pick a leader who is a big personality, and is interesting to watch. Picking another boring ‘managerial’ leader will lead to Justin Trudeau once again dominating the media environment and winning again.

So, with Andrew Scheer heading out the door, the Conservatives have a huge opportunity to win, if they embrace populism and pick a charismatic leader.

They don’t need to become a second Liberal Party. The last thing Canada needs is another elitist Liberal Party.

Instead, the Conservatives need to be true to themselves, true to their history, and true to the values and beliefs of the Canadian People.

The opportunity is there.

Now, it must be seized.

The National Citizens Coalition is pleased to announce that Spencer Fernando -- and his vital voice for Western Canada -- will be staying on as a Campaign Fellow following the results of #elxn43. His weekly column will continue to be made available via email to our 30,000+ list of supporters, and via NationalCitizens.ca.

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