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WAGNER: O’Toole’s red Toryism failed, as it normally does

Blaming the People’s Party for the loss of Conservative seats is not an insightful analysis of what happened.

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Erin O’Toole’s plan to become prime minister by remaking the Conservative Party of Canada into a rebooted version of the old Progressive Conservative Party has failed. As it turns out, if you tell your most ideologically motivated and committed party supporters (whether social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, or libertarians) that they are not welcome in the “big tent” anymore, at least some of their support goes elsewhere. Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party were waiting for them with open arms.

Blaming the People’s Party for the loss of Conservative seats is not an insightful analysis of what happened. Given the choice between Justin Trudeau’s old Liberal Party and Erin O’Toole’s new liberal party, many conservatives and libertarians had the courage of their convictions to vote for something different. Despite their inability to elect a candidate, People’s Party supporters sent a clear message to the Tory establishment – you can’t manipulate them into voting for Liberal lite. Their voices deserve to be heard.

The government-paid media was thrilled with O’Toole’s repositioning of the Conservative Party back into the Red Tory camp. This way no matter who wins the election, liberal ideology wins the government.

Maclean’s magazine praised his new direction in an article entitled, “Erin O’Toole, socialist crusader.” And in an article entitled “Erin O’Toole is changing Canadian conservatism as we know it,” the Globe and Mail happily describes “the sharp left turn” taken by O’Toole. Unsurprising, this article explains that “Mr. O’Toole’s veer to the left has upset many traditional conservatives.” You don’t say.

This lurch to the left was a clear betrayal. As the Globe and Mail pointed out, during the Conservative Party’s 2020 leadership campaign, O’Toole “courted the social-conservative wing of the party. But behind the scenes, there was always a plan to change the direction the party would head in during an election if he became leader.” In other words, he intended to stab the social conservatives in the back all along.

This is a pattern in his leadership: “The Conservative leader has already been portrayed as a political chameleon, willing to change positions to suit his political needs.” You could say that again. He reversed his opposition to a carbon tax, he reversed his support for conscience rights for health care workers, he pledged support for a version of Trudeau’s vaccine passport, and he backtracked from his promise to repeal the Liberal gun ban.

When push comes to shove, what does O’Toole stand for? No one really knows, aside from his desire to get elected. He doesn’t represent a recognizable brand of genuine small-c conservatism, anyway.

In stark contrast, Bernier solidly stands for certain ideals and tries to convince voters to come his way. Whether or not you agree with him, you know what he believes and why he believes it. He won’t be taking a different position next week in hopes of increasing his chances of getting elected.

Putting principles first in this fashion – whether it be the right-wing populist principles of the People’s Party or the left-wing populist principles of the NDP – attracts those who get involved in politics to advance a particular cause that transcends the goal of simply getting elected.

Of course, pragmatists retort that you can’t accomplish any of your ideological goals unless you get elected first. That is true, but if you sell out your principles on the road to getting elected, the original purpose of getting involved politically is undermined.

And so, a “Conservative” Party that embraces the progressive principles of the Liberal Party has lost its reason for existence, if its purpose is to represent a recognizably conservative perspective. For many conservatives and libertarians, this is how things currently stand with the Conservative Party under O’Toole. For them, sticking to their principles is more important than getting “team blue” elected.

And yet, the Red Tory strategy of moving the Conservative Party to the left didn’t work out as intended by its proponents. It is in much the same electoral position as it was before. Being more like the Liberals didn’t win many votes in Toronto. Abandoning conservative principles wasn’t the path to victory after all. All Canadians got was a Liberal government with a liberal opposition.

There’s not much consolation for the Tories except that the mainstream media is excited about their new ideological complexion. The stinking albatross may be gone, but so is any reason for a principled conservative or libertarian to support the Conservative Party.

Michael Wagner is columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in political science from the University of Alberta. His books include ‘Alberta: Separatism Then and Now’ and ‘True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada.’



Michael Wagner is a Senior Alberta Columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in political science from the University of Alberta. His books include 'Alberta: Separatism Then and Now' and 'True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada.' mwagner@westernstandardonline.com

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. RM

    September 23, 2021 at 8:21 am

    A great many western conservative voters, against their better judgement, suppressed their gag reflex and voted for the O’Toole Conservative Party for the express purpose of sending Justin Trudeau back to drama school. What did they get for their efforts? More Justin Trudeau! Canada functioned as it was designed to with the election reflecting the wishes of Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto and utterly freezing out the aspirations, values, and beliefs of those who live west of the Manitoba border. Enough is enough. In future elections my vote is going to the candidate who best reflects my views and who will work for an independent western nation.

  2. Donald KEVIN Lafayette

    September 22, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    It used to be “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
    Two elections.
    “Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives are our only chance to defeat Trudeau.”
    Fooled you once.
    “Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives are our only chance to defeat Trudeau.”
    Fooled you twice.

    How many times are you going to fall for that line.

  3. Wesley

    September 22, 2021 at 11:04 am

    Mr.Wagner hit the nail on the head. I can still feel the knife stab in my back from this so called Conservative Party. O’Toole is an unprincipled weathervane leader. He gave me and I suppose thousands of ex CPC members no choice but to vote PPC. The new true Big tent Conservative party.

  4. Andrew

    September 22, 2021 at 9:50 am

    We need a Wildrose Independence Party government Alberta!

  5. Left Coast

    September 22, 2021 at 9:47 am

    During the Leadership race O’Toole outed himself as an Ontario Progressive when he defended his “sharia” lobbying Campaign Manager and got Karahelios tossed from the race.
    I have had nothing by contempt for the fool O’Foole ever since.

    Told my Con MP a year ago that this clown O’Toole could never win . . .

  6. K

    September 22, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Never voting conservative again because I’m not an idiot. PPC/WIPA are the only way out.

  7. Clash

    September 22, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Why didn’t O’toole point out that the Liberal policies and uncontrolled spending is what is raising the cost of living beyond most people’s means? Why was he not a “CONSERVATIVE”? LONG LIVE A FREE ALBERTA!

  8. Grace / John Roman

    September 22, 2021 at 8:00 am

    Great article and so true.

  9. Baron Not Baron

    September 22, 2021 at 7:34 am

    Yes, we did vote PPC

  10. Deb

    September 22, 2021 at 6:26 am

    Right on, Michael. You hit the nail on the head.

  11. Fergus Hodgson

    September 22, 2021 at 6:23 am

    The plain truth is that O’Toole and his handlers are progressives. That is why they ignored the PPC’s 5 percent and focused on progressives who had voted for the Liberal Party. O’Tool and Co. feel more at ease with the latter.

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Top Ontario doc says separating vaxxed and unvaxxed best way to get COVID under control

Ontario has had more than 626,000 cases of COVID-19 which has left more than 10,000 people dead.

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One of the ways to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control is to stop “the mixing of unvaccinated and vaccinated,” says Ontario’s chief medical officer.

“Basic means of protecting individuals is stopping the mixing of unvaccinated and vaccinated,” said Dr. Kieran Moore at a Tuesday press conference.

“And if our cases continue through and after the holidays we would make recommendations of government to continue the certification process in play. But we’ll continue to review the data. We do have a very robust testing strategy in Ontario for the winter months as we’ve released previously. We’ve purchased … 11 million rapid antigen test for all students in Ontario.”

Moore was asked whether COVID-19 is “something we’re just going to have to learn to live with” and whether it would ever go away.

“We have a long ways to go with the World Health Organization and other international organizations to try to decrease the number of individuals in which this virus can mutate and/or spread,” he said.

“But I do see a time when we’ll have low, endemic rates and it will turn out to be like influenza or other winter respiratory viruses where there’s a seasonality to it, where it does have an intermittent impact on our health-care system and like influenza, you need an annual vaccine to protect against it.”

Ontario has had more than 626,000 cases of COVID-19 which has left more than 10,000 people dead.

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Trudeau’s beach denier demoted

Trudeau was photographed twice on a beach in Tofino after deciding to skip the first day of a holiday he created — the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.

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The Justin Trudeau spokesman who told reporters the prime minister “wasn’t on a beach” when he was, has been demoted, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Trudeau was photographed twice on a beach in Tofino after deciding to skip the first day of a holiday he created — the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.

Trudeau had promised to “set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government.”

Alex Wellstead will be “taking on new challenges” as press secretary to the industry minister, the Prime Minister’s Office said yesterday.  

Wellstead. Courtesy Twitter

Wellstead in a statement called it “a very difficult decision to make.” He had worked as Trudeau’s official spokesman for 20 months.

Wellstead on September 30 issued misleading statements to conceal the fact Trudeau spent the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at a beach resort in Tofino, B.C.

“He wasn’t on a beach,” Wellstead told The Canadian Press at the time. Global News and the weekly Chilliwack Progress photographed Trudeau strolling on the beach and enjoying a glass of beer on a beachfront patio.

The Prime Minister’s Office claimed Trudeau was in private meetings in Ottawa. Staff flew an Indian Residential School “survivors’ flag” and issued a solemn statement in Trudeau’s name.

“We remember the children who never made it home,” it said.

Wellstead did not explain his conduct.

“You as a communicator need to understand everything,” Wellstead said in a March 30 interview with public relations students at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont.

The prime minister in 2015 Ministerial Mandate letters said officials must be truthful and transparent.

“Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, are professionals who by asking necessary questions contribute in an important way to the democratic process,” wrote Trudeau.

“Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential.

“We have committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government. It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves.

“Government and its information should be open by default. If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians.

“It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect. They expect us to be honest, open and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.”

Trudeau on October 6 apologized for the Tofino holiday.

“Traveling on September 30 was a mistake and I regret it,” the prime minister told reporters.

“What made you decide to take a personal trip on a day your government set aside to honour the victims and survivors of residential schools?” asked a reporter.

“Like I said, it was a mistake,” replied Trudeau.

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Feds threaten regulated businesses with COVID fines

The labour department in a statement said it would rewrite the Canada Labour Code to mandate vaccination for some 955,000 private sector employees in federally regulated sectors like air transportation, banking, broadcasting, grain milling, marine shipping, railways and interprovincial trucking.

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If they don’t mandate vaccination of workers, the Labour department is threatening to levy cash fines against airports, banks, radio stations and other federally-regulated employers, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

But the Liberals stopped short of repeating an earlier threat to strip workers of legal rights to challenge vaccine orders.

“It is time to move on,” said Government House Leader Mark Holland.

“Get vaccinated. That’s what Canadians expect to have happen.

“I think the country understands we have now 90% of Canadians who have had their first injection, over 86% with their second. All workplaces across the country” should promote vaccinations, he added.

The labour department in a statement said it would rewrite the Canada Labour Code to mandate vaccination for some 955,000 private sector employees in federally regulated sectors like air transportation, banking, broadcasting, grain milling, marine shipping, railways and interprovincial trucking.

First Nations businesses will be exempt.

“Employers who do not comply with their obligations under the Canada Labour Code may be subject to compliance and enforcement measures including administrative monetary penalties,” the notice said.

“The government will consult with key stakeholders, including representatives of small and medium-sized employers, as it works expeditiously to finalize the new regulations which would come into force in early 2022. The government will also develop resources to help federally regulated workplaces implement the COVID-19 vaccination requirements.”

The notice made no reference to a liability shield proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the election campaign. Trudeau on September 1 said a re-elected Liberal cabinet would shield employers from any legal challenge of vaccination orders.

“We’ll stand firm on our commitment,” said Trudeau, adding: “We’ll protect businesses that mandate vaccinations from unjustified lawsuits.”

Canadians who declined a COVID-19 shot were “more than just wrong, because everyone’s entitled to their opinion, they are putting at risk their own kids and they’re putting at risk our kids as well,” said Trudeau.

“What about my choice to keep my kids safe? What about our choices to make sure we’re getting through this pandemic as quickly as we can?”

The Liberal Party in its September 1 campaign platform stated: “A re-elected Liberal government will table legislation to ensure every business and organization that decides to require proof of vaccination from employees and customers can do so without fear of a legal challenge.”

Compulsory vaccination breaches federal law, according to a May 19 statement by Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien and 1996 National Immunization Report by the Department of Health.

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