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Clare Schulte-Albert

The Conservative future, Part 3: The movement

With the right ideas and the right leader in place, Canadian conservatives can start thinking about renewal within the movement - and we're not exactly starting from scratch. As I've noted previously, the Conservative Party of Canada continues to be blessed with a large and motivated membership base, a wealth of politically salient policies, and a very effective Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. While it’s important not to conflate the movement with the party, it’s important to note the movement is a critical engine for political change. What we mean by renewal within the Canadian conservative movement, or political movements more broadly, is the promotion of those activities and actions performed by grassroots conservatives to mobilize support for conservative principles and political goals, all of which ultimately facilitate the election of a conservative government. Big Tents, Small Minds In the weeks after October 19, many self-titled "progressive conservatives" came out of the woodwork to argue for more left-leaning policies within the party. In fact, many have speculated the upcoming leadership race will expose the alleged rifts between the progressive conservatives and the reform conservatives within the party. The strength of the conservative movement in Canada is reliant on unity, otherwise known as "big tent conservatism", where everyone shows a willingness to work together on those issues which matter most to conservatives of all stripes - lower taxes, balanced budgets, and getting government out of the way of success for Canadian families and businesses. While many Conservatives want to get rid of the perception of the movement as bigoted and exclusionary, it would be even more small-minded for certain groups to purge the rich diversity and engagement found under the existing big tent of Canadian conservatism. After all, it was the philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt who noted “freedom and a… Read More

The Conservative future, Part 2: Politics

In my last piece, I spoke generally about the types of ideas we need to see coming from successful leadership candidates in the Conservative Party. Now I want to take some time to examine the politics of a leadership race for the simple reason that what makes a leadership candidate successful is not just his philosophy, but also his political instinct or "political gut" if you will. Those who wish to run for the top job may have the greatest intentions and smartest ideas in hand, but if they do not possess that necessary internal compass to perceive political realities, they will quickly find themselves looking at the tail ends of their competitors. Out with the Old, In with the New In a leadership race, there is always a delicate balance of respecting the contributions of your forebears and distancing yourself from the less salient parts of their time in office. This is no less true for our favourite political party. It would be a mistake for any leadership candidate to ignore the rock-solid 30 per cent support for the Conservative Party which did not waver throughout 2015 in the lead up to Election Day. Internal polls showed the former Prime Minister's personal brand was extremely strong with Conservative-leaning voters. Despite how loud his critics were inside and outside the party near the end, Harper is revered and respected for many of the changes he brought about during his tenure and leadership candidates would do well to keep this in mind. Furthermore, any candidate who openly attacks Harper or fails to show the appropriate respect for our former Prime Minister (who pulled off a majority government in 2011) risks alienating this support base. On the flip side, anyone who hopes to run as Harper 2.0 will do no better because,… Read More

The Conservative future, Part 1: Policy

A respectable period of time has passed since the events of October 19. Canadian Conservatives have been through the five stages of grief. As we do with every loss, we prepare to tighten our belts and face the grim prospect of a country led again by a party which enjoys racking up debt for our grandchildren and touting progressive ideals without plans for their practice. As we close the door on the year 2015, let there be a fresh start for the Conservative Party of Canada going into 2016. Over the past few weeks, we have had the opportunity to use our 20/20 hindsight vision to reflect on the results of the 42nd federal election and to distill from our experiences and (late night) rants with fellow partisans those actions which we must now take to reinvigorate our party. This three-part series will share some personal reflections on what Conservatives should be looking for in developing a solid small-c conservative platform, identifying a strong, capable leader for the party and rejuvenating the right-wing movement in Canada. En Garde! – The Sword Issues The first quintessential item deals directly with the policies and "debates of substance" we need to have among our members. More importantly, these new or refreshed ideas need to be the bread and butter of our leadership candidates’ platforms. A good leader should be able to discern those issue areas where our philosophy and record have the upper hand and those areas where our voice is drowned out by more credible voices. Dealing with the first, many Conservatives agree there should be return to ideas of small government and tax reform as key pillars of the party platform, in addition to being champions of economic development and free trade agreements. Income tax reform is long overdue for the… Read More

Free Speech on Campus Series: Alive, Endangered or Extinct?

A few weeks ago, the MacDonald-Laurier Institute hosted a special debate on free speech on campus. The key question to be resolved by the debate: Is free speech in Canadian universities an endangered species? It's a pertinent question and one that will be explored in depth by this special series in The Prince Arthur Herald for the next two weeks. What is the status of free speech on campus today? Has it improved or deteriorated? What are people doing about it? What can you do about it? When I was involved in the campus activism movement in Ontario, censorship on Canadian university campuses by both university administrations and student unions was a very real problem. Censorship activities ranged from the student union shutting down prolife protests to pro-Israel groups shutting down Israeli Apartheid Week protests on campus, from preventing criticism of the student union in the campus paper to tearing down free speech walls. Even some professors created environments where students could be penalized for having a well-informed opinion running contrary to their own. Developed or not, the free exchange of ideas is and should be one of the founding principles of an academic institution. We learn nothing if we are taught to think the same without ever questioning why that thinking was propagated in the first place. Every university administration, every student union and every member thereof has a responsibility to create an environment where, as John Stuart Mill would put it, there is "freedom and a variety of situations" to provide meaningful human development. Some may argue that free speech empowers hate speech. I beg to differ. Free speech is a tool of enlightenment, revealing both truths and falsehoods for what they are. If Holocaust deniers are wrong or Israeli Apartheid Week constitutes hate speech, let free speech… Read More

Quebec Votes 2014 – What are the stakes?

With all the kerfuffle that has taken place this week with the dissolution of the Quebec National Assembly and the candidate nomination races, sometimes it's invaluable to just step back and take stock of the bigger picture. What does winning the election mean for the Quebec parties exactly? Who stands to gain and lose in this borderline-ridiculous game of thrones? And above all, where do those options leave Quebec voters? Here at the Prince Arthur Herald, we've got you covered. Let us walk you through what's at stake for each of the parties as they trip over each other to the finish line on April 7th. Parti Québécois With a minority government, the PQ's campaign slogan "Déterminée" is layered with meaning. For non-French speakers, "déterminée" can mean both the perseverance of Marois' party to become government and the ability of the PQ to help Quebeckers shape or influence their own future with respect to sovereignty. The word "déterminée" is also feminized indicating that Marois intends to see a Quebec with her at the helm. Marois has been aggressively recruiting star candidates including former  Quebecor President and CEO Pierre-Karl Péladeau, Lucien Bouchard's former communications director Évelyne Abitbol, ex-FEUQ student activist Martine Desjardins, and President of Quebec's Order of Pharmacists Diane Lamarre. Marois and the PQ want Quebec voters to return them with a majority government. At that point, there will be no more barriers to Marois triggering a referendum on the sovereignty question, something which she did not dare do with a minority. It will also give her licence to pass the Quebec Values Charter and tighten french language laws. Here lies the irony of the PQ's desire to make a Quebec that is "plus accueillant" (more welcoming) according to their web page, but welcoming for who? Parti Libéral du Québec… Read More
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