By Letter to the Editor on December 24, 2019.
We appreciate Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean’s historical perspective on how and why conservatism has changed since being taken over by Preston Manning’s Reform Party. Harper’s giveaway quote, “Centrists don’t belong in a conservative party,” says it all, despite elections showing repeatedly that at least 60 per cent of Canadians are just that, or some minor variation thereof. That’s a majority, and the only reason that isn’t reflected in the current House of Commons is because the right wing is now united while the left remains fragmented by the usual political narcissism of small differences.
She reveals definitive Reform-Conservative strategy when she talks about a “preferred narrative.” Their tireless commitment to this is reflected in the dynamics of language – they are now called “cons.” The best example is their proud claim of being a product of the “grass roots,” when the far more rigid roots of religious doctrine is what actually guides them. This is that famous “hidden agenda,” about which polite, tolerant Canadians have expressed themselves most openly in the voting booth.
Religion is not mentioned in Deirdre’s article, but she refers to the consequences of its doctrine that keep appearing as an intractable and growing encroachment on evolving human rights, starting with women of course, as religious doctrine invariably does. Forty-five “pro-life” federal MPs and 28 UCP MLAs attest to that. And yet “social conservatives” are counted among those most unhappy with the very Catholic Mr. Scheer, who’s obviously not religious enough for them. If we look at the GOP, and Trump, casual destroyers of truth, as the ultimate aspirations of the religious right (90-plus per cent of evangelicals voted for him), it’s starting to look like the more “purist” they become, the closer we all get to living in the fantasy that is theocracy. Just one that’s hiding in plain sight is all.
Many of us long for the former Progressive Conservatives who were mainly differentiated by some variations in fiscal policy, but were certainly not interested in using that as a Trojan horse to covertly and incrementally meld church and state. Huge difference. Meanwhile, the flag is flown by recurring private-member bills regarding women’s basic reproductive rights.
Back to history, here in Alberta 55 per cent of people proudly and defiantly do not learn from it, which is another of reform conservatism’s least appealing features – overt anti-intellectualism.
Patricia and Tony Pargeter