Saturday, May 12, 2007

"Reform" - the sequel!

I sometimes think back fondly to the federal election of 1993, when the Conservative Party was virtually wiped off the electoral map. At that point a Conservative government of any kind, even a minority, would have been unimaginable. Although the Conservatives largely imploded under Mulroney, their complete destruction at the hands of the electorate was due in part to the splitting of the right-wing vote by the Reform Party. The Conservative minority government we ended up with 13 years later couldn't have happened without the political consolidation of Conservatives and Reformers. So I find it hugely amusing to see some Conservatives now grumbling about forming a new, more right-wing party:

"Somewhere in Kingston Saturday, a small group of disaffected Conservatives will meet to discuss what would have been unfathomable in the heady days that followed the last federal election: refounding the Reform Party.

Organizers say they have room for just 30 people, but that this weekend's event is a mere prelude to a much larger meeting later this month.

'It's now or never,' the online invitation says. 'This new party will never be infiltrated by Red Tories, special interest groups or Quebec again.'”

"Red Tories" are fiscally conservative, militarily hawkish but socially liberal. Social Conservatives are the disgruntled element who can't abide Red Tories; church and state separation, gay rights and abortion rights are the defining issues. Socons feel that they've been rooked by the Conservatives, who pandered to them to get their votes but have now moved to the political center and aren't paying any attention to their pet issues. So there's a mutiny brewing; socons are talking not only of starting up Reform again, but of starting other socially-conservative federal parties along the lines of the Family Coalition Party ("family" = "we hate gays and women").

Socons are right in their assessment that the Conservatives have moved more to the center, (although they're still a right-wing party; the liberals are right-of-center). Their goal of a majority government is unlikely anyway, but would be impossible without attracting moderates. And moderate tories have a libertarian streak that would chafe under the dogmatic demands on the personal lives of citizens that define social conservatism.

It was bound to happen: socons look south and see what Falwell and Dobson have been enjoying for the last 6 years, and they want it up here. But it ain't gonna happen: the US has always had a much larger proportion of social conservatives than Canada. Thanks to Quebec, Canada has always had a more European outlook on social issues, and for the most part socons are rightly regarded as friggin' wingnuts, even by their fellow conservatives. Their issues are largely non-issues to 80% of Canada. Nobody gives a shit, and rightly so. They can blather and jabber all they want, have their anti-abortion marches and their anti-gay gatherings, and still nobody will give a shit. Canada's moved on. If they don't want to move with it, then they absolutely should form their own party.

In fact, I'd highly recommend it.

(h/t bread n roses)