Being Conservative

Updated: 15 June 2018
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.

“What I believe in are a set of principles having to do with the freedom of the individual, the usefulness but not infallibility of markets, and the legitimate but limited role of the state. There are, in brief, a few things we need government to do, based on well-established criteria on which there is a high degree of expert consensus. The task is simply to get government to stick to those things, rather than waste scarce resources on things that could be done as well or better by other means: that is, government should only do what only government can do.”
– Andrew Coyne
National Post
Mar. 10, 2012
Soon after my thirtieth birthday, however, I realized progressivism offered a false prom­ise, and I joined the Progressive Conservative Party at both the provincial and national levels.

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.

In May 2015, I ceased being a member of any political party, but still consider myself a fiscal conservative.

My general principles, my moral compass, so to speak, includes:

I consider myself a one-nation Tory or progressive conservative—I believe in small “c” conservatism that incorporates certain progressive policies alongside conservative policies and values.

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 in lower taxes, smaller governments and general fiscal prudence. I do also, however, believe in the importance of a social safety net to deal with poverty. I also support limited redistribution of wealth along with government regulation to regulate markets in the interests of both consumers and producers. I believe 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 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 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/her life. In repeated offences of pedophilia and rape, I’d reluctantly settle for surgical castration.

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.

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 settled and prudent mitigation strategies should be developed and deployed.

Russ Campbell