Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Social Conservatism in Canada

Paul Tuns, a Canadian conservative writer, has an excellent article in Comment that examines some of the reasons why Canadian social conservatives have not been as successful politically as their cousins in the United States.

He essentially boils it down to three main reasons:
1) the lack of conservative infrastructure such as foundations, think tanks, and publications;

2) the failure to organize and become part of a larger conservative coalition;

3) Charter-era politics.

Tuns makes the case that the same-sex marriage debate may help galvanize social conservatives to help offset points one and two, but the increasing supremacy of the courts makes it difficult to debate moral issues in the political arena.

It’s a thought-provoking piece.

1 comment:

Miles Lunn said...

I cannot see social conservatives gaining the kind of traction they did in the United States. If the Conservatives wish to form government, they are best to stick solely to economic issues as it is naive to assume that Canadians who are fiscal conservatives are automatically social conservatives. In fact more often than not, they are not the same type of voters meaning any party that tries to run on a right wing platform is doomed to failure. Even though most Canadians are neither economic or social conservatives at least there are enough economic conservatives that the Conservatives could potentially form government. Lets remember neither Mike Harris or Margaret Thatcher won more than 50% of the popular vote. All they need to do is convince 40% of the population to support them, which is usually what is needed to bring about a majority government. The fact is Canadians have radically different values than Americans and you cannot easily change one's values. What the Conservatives have to do is argue they share the same goals as the Liberals, but they believe those goals are more achievable through smaller government and lower taxes. Arguing for less government along ideological lines won't work. Canadians clearly believe in a society that looks after its most vulnerable so Conservatives must demonstrate that free markets benefit not harm the poor. Trying to use American tactics in Canada is doomed to fail is Canadian values and American values are radically different. The success of the right has much to do with the fact Americans already have a strong belief in individual liberty, a weary of the state, and place a high value on their faith.