|A casual shot almost not taken. |
What came out was something very deep, something that has quickly taken on a meaning of its own.
Full disclaimer; I enjoy a lot of the articles and cartoons created by Vancouver based political pundit J.J. McCullough. I find much of his work refreshing, funny, and often times pleasing to the conservative partisan whom stands fixed in my soul. His cartoon “How to be Prime Minister” for example has provided me with repeated laughs time and time again.
However his recent article, “If you value free thought, you should value Rob Anders”, which deals with the recent Blue-Red Tory battles taking place in Alberta, has prompted me to respond the only way I know how, through writing. To provide a little background for non-Canadian readers, or even Canadians unfamiliar with the article’s pretense, Rob Anders is the long-time Member of Parliament for Calgary West and a member of the Blue Tory faction of the Conservative Party. With the redrawn boundaries coming in time for the 2015 Federal election, Anders is seeking the nomination of the new Calgary-Signal Hill and will be challenged by former Alberta Finance Minister and media-dubbed Red Tory, Ron Liepert.
Now with rather unflattering polling numbers for the Federal Tories and the reemerging thoughts of a “post-Harper” Conservative Party, this contest has shaped up by many observers and pundits as proof of the fault-lines which remain between the Alliance faction and the Progressive Conservative faction, which have been held at bay under the leadership of Stephen Harper.
Anders himself is, at least in my own humble opinion, a rather unappealing politician with rather unappealing positions, and Mr. McCullough himself seems to agree with me in this respect. I won’t go into any details, there’s plenty of information to either back up my claim or disprove it, depending on your point of view and personal ideology. Yet my beef is not with Anders position as a Blue Tory, nor with the ideology expressed by Blue Tories, but rather the idea put forth by both Mr. Anders and Mr. McCullough that Red Tories are in the wrong party and should leave. For some people there seems to be a problem with those who value any concept viewed as “progressive” or “Left-Wing”, suggesting that the Conservative Party holds no room for it. Once again, let me make myself perfectly clear, I have no problem with Blue Tories and I believe they are a fundamental part to the Tory party as a whole, both with respect to ideological balance and electoral success. However the position I am taking is that they have not accomplished either alone.
In his article Mr. McCullough states that Red Tories are “people who are either too stupid to realize they're Liberals or New Democrats, or do realize it, but live in ridings where it's impossible to get elected,”. He contends that Red Tories are not in fact the open and tolerant, and in his opinion don’t actually exist, although I am pretty sure that he may be wrong in that fact (Trust me, I checked). Because Red Tories are seeking some form of ideological purity by challenging a Blue Tories, which he compares to the Tea-Party challenges of the United States. Yet by advocating that Red Tories leave the party, Mr. McCullough is advocating the very same thing, that there can only be one brand of Toryism. I also find it personally odd that he seems to suggest that Tea-Party challenges are wrong, when they are simply the strengthening of so called “True Conservatism”, an idea to which both he and Mr. Anders are clearly supporters of.
While he never openly states Red Tories should leave the party, his message is clear; the Conservative Party is the home of Blue Tories, and anyone else should leave. In a 2010 article concerning why Jim Prentice would never become party leader, journalist Robert Silver suggested, because he had no facts to cement the claim, that the party membership was closer to being 80% Blue Tories and only 20% Red Tories, imaginary numbers which would not permit a Red Tory ascension to the leadership. While I would argue that the divide is much closer, I will concede that the pluralities of the membership are Blue Tories. However I argue that the success of the Conservative party, beginning with the creation of the party itself, is due to Red Tories.
Without the Progressive Conservative Party consenting to the merger, there would be no Conservative Party as we know today, and possibly no conservative government today. By the latter statement I suggest that, with or without the Tories the Alliance stood a chance of forming the next government, eventually, but only after moderating some of their views and turning away from the blatant advertisement of social conservatism. Social Conservatism deserves a place in the national debate, but when issues such as Gay Marriage or Abortion have been so clearly settled by the electorate, continued arguments over them are poorly thought-out. The only reason the Conservative Party was able to form the government, aside from Liberal Party corruption and fatigue, was that it moderated, that it appealed to the Red Tories, Moderates, Blue Liberals of Toronto, Vancouver and Quebec City.
On another note Mr. McCullough states that the idol of all Red Tories is former Prime Minister Joe Clark, who has since the merger become a fierce critic of both the party and of Mr. Harper. Let me say this, I do like Mr. Clark in some respects, I’m more of a Robert Stanfield Conservative myself, but historically I like Joe. That being said, I strongly disagreed with his refusal to cooperate with the Reform Party and the Alliance over ideological grounds, because all voices deserve to be respected, and his actions clearly showed disrespect to Blue Tories across the nation, many of whom had previously called the PC Party home prior to 1993. His refusal to back the merger or join the party was in my view childish, for if he truly wanted to prevent any take-over by the Alliance, he should have stayed active within the party, as opposed to throwing a hissy fit and endorsing Paul Martin as he did.
Let me reassure Mr. McCullough of this, Red Toryism is not in fact a “pseudo-intellectual cover used by a certain segment of the Canadian left” used to engineer a political environment where everything is the same, and I have personally no interest in silencing Mr. Anders ideas or his voice in national affairs. The game of politics sometimes sees ideological challenges, and that game sometimes sees a winner and a loser. Just because one brand of ideology loses in one contest doesn't mean it should or will be totally excluded from either the Party or the debate.
To conclude this response, which I am sure is filled with factual errors and whatnot, let me say that I respect your ideas and your positions J.J., and am pleased that you bring your voice to the Conservative Party. I just wished you felt the same of me.