Thursday, November 17, 2011

What “being a conservative” means to me

Most writers have biases of one sort or another, and I don’t pretend to be any different in that respect. My opinions reflect my core values and beliefs. Readers of this blog may therefore find it instructive to know more about my political philosophy, such as it is.

My journey, politically, to the point of publishing this blog has taken some five decades. I consider myself to be old fashioned: I believe in honour, basic decency, individual rights and civic ob­liga­tions and responsibilities, which, perhaps, is why I lean to the right politically. There was a time when I saw myself as modern and progressive: I voted Liberal federally and provincially—though, sometimes, Progressive Conservative provincially.

Soon after my thirtieth birthday, however, I realized progressivism offered a false prom­ise, and I joined the Progressive Conservative Party (such an unfortunate name) at both the provincial and national levels. I have voted conservative ever since. I have canvassed in sup­port of candidates at all three levels of government, have sat on my local riding’s board of directors and served on a regional committee of the provincial party.

When the federal PCs brought back the ineffectual Joe Clark to lead their fading party, I shifted my allegiance to the relatively new Reform Party and followed it through its attempts to remake itself into a political party Eastern Canadians would feel comfortable supporting.

I now consider myself a Blue Tory, aka, a Mike Harris Tory or a small “c” conservative.

As general principles, my moral compass, so to speak:

I believe in the supremacy of the rule of law—secular law.

I believe in equality of rights under the law for every Canadian man and woman, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Canadians.

I believe in equal opportunity for all Canadians, but am suspicious of affirmative action programs (based on race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin) since they too often lead to unfair levels of discrimination against other Canadians.

I believe in freedom for the individual in both the economic and social spheres and that human and civil rights and obligations attach to individuals rather than to groups.

I believe all religions should be tolerated, but need not necessarily be considered equal or even be respected.

I believe Canadian citizenship, though a birthright, is also a privilege that confers equal rights and demands obligations—such as the duty to vote—from all recipients. I also believe Canadians who are serving in federal penitentiaries should have their citizenship and right to vote suspended for the duration of their term of incarceration. And those who take up arms against Canada or a Canadian ally (on the battlefield or in an act of terrorism) should forfeit their citizenship, as should any Canadian convicted of treason.

I believe in lower taxes and smaller governments, with limited government re­gulation of every-day life, business and investing. I do believe, however, that while individuals should retain primary financial responsibility for personal needs—including housing, childcare, retirement income and health-care cover­age—there is a role for governments to provide funding in these areas.

I believe in a mixed economy based on economic liberalism with limited, prudent state intervention and regulation—i.e., a largely free-market economy based on a free price system, free trade and private property.

I am anti-supply man­age­ment (or other economic planning schemes) and government spon­sored or owned monopolies, as for example alcohol and gambling.

I believe the federal government should vacate areas of provincial constitutional responsibility and cease duplication of taxation and costs and other interference in provincial jurisdiction.

Canada should have a Canadian head of state, cutting formal ties with the British monarchy, and an elected senate.

I am pro-life. Though I’d not ban abortion, I’d place restrictions on those performed in the later months of pregnancy and de-fund abortion when it is used as just another form of birth control.

I believe certain crimes are so de-humanizing—extreme cases of premeditated murder, terrorism resulting in loss of life, violent rape and molestation or extreme cases of gross neglect of a child—they should forfeit the perpetrator his or her life. In repeated offences of pedophilia and rape, I’d reluctantly settle for surgical castration.

I believe gays and lesbians should be treated like anyone else and have the same individual rights under the law. I do, however, believe the traditional institution of marriage should be reserved for the union of one man and one woman. Same-gender unions should be provided for and offered similar but separate legal status.

I believe provinces should fund for every Canadian child a minimum of 13 years of schooling (including one year of kindergarten) plus a two-year employment-related post-secondary college or apprentice program. I also believe Canadians should have greater choice in primary and secondary education, and for this reason, I favour allowing “charter schools” as is done in Alberta, or something similar.

Unions should no longer be allowed to represent workers in the public sector, including teachers. Public sector workers, however, should have the right to form non-union-affiliated “employee associations” to represent them in matters of common interest, but should not have the right to withhold labour. And the government of the day should have the final say in all matters of public sector employment, including payroll and benefits.

Public sector departments should only be allowed to perform work not reasonably available from private sector sources, i.e., contracting-out should be the norm, not the exception. Defence and national security departments and police services should be the only exceptions.

Bilingualism (in official languages) should be encouraged, but not mandated unless all provinces accept equal treatment of English and French. Unilingual labeling of products should be accepted in any Canadian province that is not officially bilingual.

Free speech protection should be strengthened in our constitution and criminal code, and only a court of law should be allowed to adjudicate cases of abuse relating to hate speech. Hate speech should be defined legally to specifically exclude “hurt” speech.

I believe immigration should be encouraged, but only so far as it is a net benefit to Canada, both economically and socially. Immigration to meet Canada’s economic needs should be promoted over family unification. And immigration policies should stress obligations as much as rights.

I believe immigrants should assimilate and become Canadians, not remain in economic, religious or social silos. While multiculturalism in diet and generally accepted cultural practices should be tolerated, it should not be officially promoted. Reasonable accommodation of foreign cultural practices should be applied with caution so as not to adulterate Canadian norms, values and practices.

Canada should be able to protect itself militarily at home and abroad, and should have the wherewithal to project power internationally when our vital national interests or international treaty obligations require it. To do so, Canada should allocate an average 2.5% per annum of GDP in every ten-year cycle.

Veterans of Canada’s wars should be treated with respect and dignity and be given the benefit of doubt when dealing with government agencies—better ten veterans get more than they are entitled to than one veteran be denied her or his due.

Canada should maintain a policy stance that recognizes that the science on man-made global warming is not yet settled.

Russ Campbell


© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or posi­tions of political parties, institutions or organi­zations with which I am associated.


  1. Russ... bravo for utilizing your name instead of an avatar fantasy, and the bold statement where you stand.

    There is one particular fellow, who tries aggravate on Blue Canada forum, but since I am a wordsmith my counter-comments exposes his limitations.

    However, I linked your piece to give him an idea what it means to be an honest and decent conservative.

  2. What is your opinion of Question Period?
    The misleading information is OUTSTANDING
    and is later quoted by the media as the "Gospel"

  3. I find you did an excellent job of clearly stating where you stand on issues. It should be imperative for politicians of every political party and at every level (federal, provincial and municipal) to do the same when campaigning instead of all the negative attacks and holding their finger to test the wind.

    As an example of this had a local politician running for election stated the same, he or she would have got my vote. I have some views which are different from the ones you state, but overall I would be able to live with the total package without too much difficulty.

  4. Well done, Russ. Canada would be far better off if we had more folks who aren't afraid to put forward their views in such a forthright manners.

    I'm with you on most of your points and the ones where we disagree aren't worth mentioning.

  5. Interesting list of beliefs.

    As you state them, they are nothing but an à la carte compendium of opinions. They can't be taken seriously as you present them: for that to happen in the marketplace of ideas, you need to give principled arguments to support each of them and all of them as a whole, and demonstrate why those arguments are ethically superior to arguments that support different conclusions. This, the lack of a consistent defensible ethical and factual basis, is the great weakness of "conservative" ideologies.

  6. kiwehtin,

    These are not "opinions", they are values and beliefs. And I don't have to defend them or "to give principled arguments to support each of them" to anyone, I simply need to own them.

  7. Amazingly I agree with about 90% of your viewpoints.

    Several thing bug me, such as your language view. Its an easy way out for the Anglophone majority (I get it, I just don't agree).

    As for gay marriage, your implication is that "gay love is less then heterosexual love" Pushing your argument to the limit, the only valid marriage would be those that produces off-springs!

    I'm surprised you didn't mention the Tories mandatory spending.