The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has been traditionally a big-tent party attracting members and supporters from across the political spectrum. Without such broad appeal, it could never have ruled the province for 80 of the 141 years since Confederation, including its 42-year run from 1943 to 1985—which included the Big Blue Machine era. So having so called red-Tories in our midst is nothing new.
There was a marked swing to the right under former premier Mike Harris and his Common Sense Revolution, but Ernie Eves and John Tory yanked us back to the left or, at least, much closer to the centre.
Comparisons of the four contenders’ relative “left-ness” and “right-ness” are inevitable as we the question what it might be like to have another red-Tory at the helm.
So I thought about what it is like for me to be a conservative in 2009, and here’s what I came up with.
MPP Frank Klees offered one of the best quotes of this leadership campaign:
Freedom of expression is a core value of democracy from which all other rights naturally flow. Without that, our democratic system of government itself is at risk.
To that I would add that individual rights and freedoms should be favoured over group rights. I agree with Ayn Rand who asserted that a group, as such, has no rights. By joining a group a person can neither acquire new rights nor lose the rights that she or he does possess.
I hold conservative values dear. That’s not to say that I do not welcome change, for I do when it is for the better. But in a society, change is best when it is evolutionary.
The “anything goes” sort of social liberalism is corrosive. On the one hand, we need rules. And once we make them, enforce them. On the other hand, the paternalistic, government-knows-best philosophy is smothering. Let’s just stick to essential basic laws.
Society’s rules are better when:
- they are made by elected legislatures and not by judges;
- they are adjudicated by an independent judiciary (i.e., courts of law) and not by quasi-judicial tribunals; and
- they are mindful of individual rights.
I’m for smaller governments at all levels. Take care of the basics, let the private sector look after the rest.
I’m for a secular government that does not subsidize organized religions or their schools. And I do not believe that belonging to any organized religion should confer a special right or privilege. Religious practices should be tolerated, but not necessarily respected.
These are my core values. Proposed policies that protect and support these will get my vote.