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Jackson Doughart

Jackson Doughart joined the Prince Arthur Herald staff in June 2013, and now serves as Editor of the English section. He holds a master's degree in political studies from Queen's University and formerly interned at the National Post. By day, he is Research Coordinator at the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a public policy think tank in Halifax.

The “defining issue path” to Conservative recovery

Could a renewal of the Conservative Party be formed not by a debate over first principles, but by a single major issue? The possibility of electoral victory upon ideological conservatism has never been great. To see eventual policy life, conservative principles must become part of the wider political culture, and not the priorities of one party. Consider that our country’s most-needed bout of fiscal restraint and recovery came not under Conservative rule, but rather the finance ministership of Paul Martin. Fortunately, the Liberals had enough “street cred” as a governing party that the country took its medicine of social program and public-sector cuts. The success or failure of conservative ideas, then, lies less with a power-contending political party, and more in the persuasive capacity of their expositors in the media, think tanks, and the like. Though the Conservatives are often analyzed as the northern version of the Republican Party, Canada does not have the bases of perpetual discontent which make the G.O.P. a permanent American fixture. Our white majority, though in fact larger in proportion than its U.S. equivalent, is not self-conscious or worried about its demographic decline. The relationship of provincial to federal jurisdiction is not tense enough to stoke a “state’s rights” movement. Illegal immigration is not a political issue, and legal immigration is barely resisted. Canada’s military is not large or important enough to make any kind of “Canadian exceptionalism” possible or relevant. (If anything, Canadian exceptionalism — peace keeping, honest brokerage, non-combat humanitarian efforts, soft power, etc. — is a calling card of the Liberals.) Furthermore, Canada is a much less religious country, and the tying up of religious belief with national identity or patriotic feeling is next to non-existent. The controversial social and moral issues that dominate attention on both the left and right wings… Read More

No, we don’t need a referendum on electoral reform

A lot of conservatives seem convinced that nothing short of a referendum can legitimate changes in the electoral system. Supposedly, the achievement of a majority vote in the House of Commons would not be enough to defeat the present first-past-the-post model. I’m not convinced. Granted, I’m ordinarily a big supporter of direct democracy, and would be the first person to advocate the integration of more binding public polling — including the right, as exists in the constitutions of many U.S. states, for citizen petitions to overturn laws if enough signatures, and then enough votes, are collected. One fails to see how the experience of the United States and Switzerland lends anything against a greater voice for the people. But those systems have such direct democratic procedures as an integral part of their political model. In both countries, referenda are fairly commonplace, and their workings are established. I know it’s horribly pedantic to write about how “our parliamentary system works,” but there really isn’t a clear foundation for referenda in Canadian politics. Even the constitutional amendment formula does not require direct plebiscite — only the consent of seven of the ten provincial legislatures representing at least half of the national population, in addition to the approval of both federal houses, is needed. And yet the electoral formula isn’t even part of the constitution. Parliament makes the rules for how its members are chosen through election laws, with the usual requirement that enough legislative votes be passed to amend those laws. If a higher standard were required to change the system, the framers ought to have included such a specification in the bill of rights articles on democracy. Or at the very least, Parliament itself should have passed something to the effect of requiring something more than a majority to pass such a law.… Read More

Call the ambition of “gun control” by its true name: prohibition

                  The formula is now concretized: a mass shooting occurs in America, and the “gun control” lobby appears confident to have finally found a case that will clinch the argument. Yet invariably, little to no progress is made in convincing the population to abandon its acceptance of private firearm ownership in light of said shooting. I put gun control in quotation marks because that phrase is really not an accurate description of such activists’ goals. The arguments that they put forward — most prominently the maxim that a gun ban would prevent mass shootings, and the belief that owning a gun for self-defence constitutes an infantile and unsupportable practice — are not consistent with regulation. Indeed, the need for regulation — or perhaps more accurately the need to more efficiently and practically apply the regulations that already exist — is quite inarguable. In fact, gun-rights activists must know that a stronger regime of regulation against gun possession by the mentally ill and criminally-convicted strengthens the case for legal ownership by the ordinary man or woman. So what the mainstream Left wants here is not regulation or restrictions, as those terms are normally understood. Rather, it questions the entire principle of legal civilian gun ownership — prohibition, in other words. Even when gun controllers prioritize the banning of certain guns but not all guns — as for instance the New York Times did in its anti-firearm editorial following the San Bernardino massacre — this amounts to a statement of strategy, not principle. When they fail to admonish the constitutional right to bear arms, it is not because they respect that right as a fundamental principle of the republic, or as a popularly-understood safeguard against tyranny, but only because others do respect it, and… Read More

Trudeau versus Trump

Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump have both shown moments of ignorance, from the latter’s inability to identify the sectors of the U.S. nuclear triad to the former’s incoherent musings about “space and time.” It is no secret that media in both countries are quite in love with Justin and quite fearful of The Donald. But what is striking is how unconcerned with both men’s policy substance they have lately been. In democratic politics, there is always an opportunity within populism for ambitious people who display — sometimes even advertise — their simplistic understanding of important issues. So long as the ultimate subject of judgment is policy proposal, whatever its source, it shouldn’t matter whether a politician is from “the establishment,” or whether he or she fails to speak with an incredible, scholarly eloquence. This is why it is so concerning that the style of rhetoric by Trudeau and Trump, as opposed to their wisdom, has figured so prominently in media appraisals of them. Trump’s musings about deporting illegal immigrants, only to allow the “good people” among them to come back, as well as his plan to institute a moratorium on entry to the U.S. by non-citizen Muslims, are chiefly castigated on their supposedly racist underpinnings. What has been lost in the heat over his rhetoric is the emptiness of the policy. Neither of these suggested actions is in the least way practical: the cost of barring persons on the ground of religion would be vast, so much that it would doubtless detract from law-enforcement efforts to intervene in terror plots — not to mention the ill-will that the ban would signal to the Muslim world, and to the Muslims in America, citizens or not, whose assistance is needed in addressing jihadism. Likewise, the idea of removing illegals to be judged… Read More

Michel Houellebecq’s “Submission”

Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission should be widely read, as its author characterizes the distinction between Western and Islamic visions of society so well. The true nature of an Islamic government for a hitherto Western country, he claims, is not one of jihad and genocide. Rather, it is a fundamental shift in governing emphasis toward family values and religious education, which more than economics or politics or foreign policy would dramatically alter such a country. Most of the reviews of this book have regarded the plot as a fairly insignificant part of their analysis. But the story of France’s 2022 election and its imagined aftermath is what I find most impressive about Houellebecq’s work. His narrator explains how a Muslim political party manages to outbid one of the two traditional parties in France (the socialists and the gaullists) in the presidential primary, as Jean-Marie Le Pen managed to do in 2002. Only this time, the leading party in the primary is Marine Le Pen’s Front national, leaving neither of the usual players on the ticket for the run-off. Fearing the actions of the Front, both the conservatives and the socialists support the Muslim party, who defeats Le Pen and takes the presidency. Giving most executive departments to other parties, the Muslim government insists only on the portfolio of education, banking on the principle that the societal group which can pass on its values and have the highest birthrate will thrive in the long term. They gut funding for public, secular schools while allowing Saudi-funded Muslim charter schools to flourish. The University of Paris becomes the Islamic Sorbonne, which fires all female professors as well as males who refuse to convert. Polygamy is legalized. In the end, the atheist-professor main character converts to Islam to get his job back at Paris III,… Read More
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