No matter which party wins the 2021 election, small-c conservatives and classical liberals will lose. Progressives and a complicit mainstream media establishment have created an environment where any leader who deviates from their worldview is labelled as extreme. If a leader stands up for civil liberties, they are castigated as wanting to put the majority at risk for the sake of a minority. If a leader tries to keep their personal views to themselves, they are accused of being fanatics with a hidden agenda.
Elections are no longer about the exchange of ideas and policies. They are now races where leaders fall over each other to land in an inoffensive, progressive, mushy middle ground created by the establishment.
In 2019, Andrew Scheer fell victim to the hidden agenda card. While the Conservative Party had nothing in their policies that would usher in any form of social conservatism, they weren’t decrying it either. Scheer wouldn’t expand on his personal views and refused to condemn social conservatism in general.
The media were relentless, as were the Liberals. Scheer couldn’t get through a press conference without being questioned on his personal views. In refusing to play ball on the matter, Scheer invited political rivals and pundits to fill in the blanks on his behalf. He was painted as a person with a hidden agenda who would surely regulate abortion and reverse same-sex marriage rights despite there being utterly no real evidence of this. It was made abundantly clear that for one to personally hold socially conservative views is a disqualification for office as far as the establishment was concerned.
Erin O’Toole is taking a different approach in this election. Whenever it looks like he is about to be accused of deviating from the progressive establishment narrative, he flip-flops and embraces the progressive point of view.
O’Toole has been reticent on embracing vaccine passports for months. After weeks of browbeating from the media and activists on the issue, he is now proposing a national vaccine passport system. While he is still claiming that he opposes mandatory vaccination for civil servants, he is proposing an aggressive testing system which would likely prove so uncomfortable and awkward that it would morph into a full mandatory vaccination scheme.
O’Toole won his leadership by promising his conservative base in no uncertain terms that he wouldn’t support a carbon tax. He has since released a plan for a carbon tax.
O’Toole vowed to defund the CBC. Now he wants to “review” the national broadcaster.
In their official campaign platform, the Conservatives made it crystal clear that they would be repealing Trudeau’s sweeping legislation banning a number of firearms. O’Toole has now come out in complete contradiction of his own platform and is stating that he would not repeal the legislation.
While the Conservative Party was making strong gains in the polls during the first half of the campaign, they are now appearing to be in total retreat from their own policies and principles. They don’t even try to defend their position when the media turns their attention to a policy. They simply reverse course.
One of the most damning poll results on Canadian leaders recently was one that found most Canadians felt that Justin Trudeau would say anything to get elected. I suspect that number is shifting toward O’Toole as his campaign can’t seem to get out of reverse gear. It must be exhausting for his candidates to have to keep track of which principles they are supposed to be abandoning day by day. People want to see strength in leadership and if O’Toole keeps backing off on things, I suspect that many uncertain voters will simply go back to the devil they know.
With flip-flops building up and a list of high-spending and intrusive policies, the Conservative Party under O’Toole is quickly becoming indistinguishable from the Trudeau Liberals. Is this indeed the only way to win? Is it impossible to gain votes through standing up for positions when the legacy media labels them as controversial?
In two short weeks, we will know whether O’Toole’s gambit to chase progressive policies will pay off or not.
Standing up for individual rights, property rights, and small government simply isn’t considered to be a winning strategy anymore.
It is clear now though that no matter which party wins, conservatives will be the losers.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.