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.