By Rory Leishman
There is much shrewd policy advice in Rescuing Canada’s Right: Blueprint for a Conservative Revolution, by Tasha Kheiriddin and Adam Daifallah. However, the overall plan of the work is fundamentally flawed: If Stephen Harper and his conservative advisers were to adopt the libertarian policy platform advocated in this book, they would consign the Conservative Party of Canada to political oblivion.
Kheiriddin and Daifallah have been led into error by a misunderstanding of small-c conservatism. They describe it as “a political philosophy loosely based on the ideas of classical liberalism as outlined in the writings of John Locke, Adam Smith and more modern thinkers such as Friedrich Hayek. It emphasizes free markets, individual rights over collective rights, limited government, private property rights, and personal responsibility.”
Notably missing from this list is the core attribute of British, Canadian and American conservatism; namely, a due regard for the accumulated wisdom of our ancestors, especially as enshrined in the common law and the traditional principles of Judeo-Christian morality. In this sense, Locke, Smith and Hayek were all conservatives.
Kheiriddin and Daifallah are libertarians masquerading as conservatives. While they allow that: “Conservatives by definition respect tradition,” they have scant respect for the sanctity of human life and the traditional principles of sexual morality that uphold the natural family.
To the contrary, Kheiriddin and Daifallah favour gay marriage and legalized abortion on demand. They write: “Let’s be clear: An overtly socially conservative platform calling for implementing so-con ideas through legislative means – i.e. through laws restricting abortion, outlawing gay marriage, etc. – will not resonate with the majority of Canadian voters. Unlike the
More’s the pity. We Canadians are also less apt than the people of the
Of course not. Kheiriddin and Daifallah admonish conservative Canadians to dig deeper into their pockets to support the Canadian equivalent of think tanks like The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute that have been so successful over the past 25 years in educating the people of the United States about the follies of tradition-bashing liberalism.
Consider The Heritage Foundation, in particular. It describes itself on its website as “a research and educational institute -- a think tank -- whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” In conformity with these principles, The Heritage Foundation opposes gay marriage, favours laws restricting abortion and promotes abstinence-based, sex education in the public schools.
There is in
Kheiriddin and Daifallah suppose that the Conservative Party can win power with a libertarian platform that combines economic conservatism with innovative liberal values. That’s a delusion. To rescue the right in
To this end, Harper has promised that a Conservative government would allow a free vote in Parliament on contentious moral issues such as banning at least late-term, partial-birth abortions and reaffirming the traditional definition of marriage as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman. If Harper were to abandon this commitment by endorsing abortion on demand and gay marriage as urged by Kheiriddin and Daifallah, he would destroy the Conservative Party.
President Ronald Reagan put together an enduring coalition of libertarians and conservatives in the