Canada Primer p3: GOP North, eh

Back before 2003, Canada’s right-wing existed in two parties: the “socially progressive fiscally conservative” Progressive Conservatives of Canada; and the Reform Party, which is what the tea party would be if they had maple syrup rather than tea. Then in 2003 the two parties merged and formed an effective political strategy using the “big tent” under the banner of the “Conservative Party of Canada,” wherein “respectable” conservatives would court less savoury voting blocs under the assumption that the demands of these blocs would be defeated in government so as to continue winning their vote without actually implementing their shitty policy, whereas the respectables would get their agenda through.

This was the function of Conservabot Model 4.16A, aka Stephen Harper. Harper was able to somehow project the image of being a moderate, even handed conservative, even whilst he executed an alarmingly Randian agenda. People seemed to fixate on the fact that some Conservatives voted in favour of legalizing gay marriage in 2005, forgetting the rest of the big tent that had been screeching brimstone and hellfire the entire debate. Harper refused to put abortion rights to a vote, maintaining a quasi-legal status quo, but his religious backbenchers huffed and puffed. Rinse and repeat for a number of important progressive causes–Harper didn’t support them, but simply not antagonizing them was somehow seen as a sign of Conservative moderation, even as vast tracts of his party nearly burst at the seams any time it was suggested the government ought to acknowledge the humanity of anyone who wasn’t white, straight, cisgender or a man, and even as he made some pretty fucked up policy.

But, you know, it’s hard not to notice those Conservative backbenchers with the sort of voting records you’d expect from a tinpot dictator. Those of us who’ve been watching closely identified nearly a decade ago that Harper was the only thing filtering out the worst of his hoary-throated reactionary dipshits under the new “big tent,” but these people still had seats of government and they were clearly jonesing for some regression, even as the rest of the country marched on. American readers are familiar with this too, given that their de facto two party system by definition tries to mash together political alliances that often manifest as separate parties in other countries.

Then Harper resigned after his 2015 defeat, in which the country gave the Liberal party a majority in Parliament.

With the party’s filter removed, the big tent appears to be unraveling spectacularly.

The first question, then, is whether the new “big tent” will fly the flag of so-called moderates, or whether it will fly the flag of Canada’s aluminum-sheet-flailing-anti-reality bloc. The second question is whether they will maintain their big tent at all. And the third, if the big tent is preserved, will the so-called moderates gamble on the rights of minorities to vote for tax cuts in their favour or will they finally have the sense to see the pus-filled pimple growing steadily in their midst and consider the not-terribly-liberal-anyway Liberals?

It will all depend on who wins the leadership race. The political geoscape at the federal level can change rapidly depending in the course of the right-wing cruiser.

And here’s a fun game for y’all: Let’s play Spot the “Moderate.”

The Conservative leadership race (or who I’m paying attention to, at least)

Kellie Leitch

Or “Leech,” as I so affectionately nickname her, is the first clown to exit the clown car, to roll into the “populist fascist” corner of the ring. She is the same sort of asshat in the vein of Marine Le Pen–same contempt for empathy and justice, just with a candy gloss and some sprinkles. Having successfully inoculated herself from facts, she intends to lead Canada’s defeated Conservative Party into an era of “Canadian-values tests” for brown people immigrants and “barbaric practices” snitch-on-your-brown-neighbour phone line.

In other words, she’s paying attention to how fucking fragile white people can be, campaigning with a slogan that might as well say “BROWN SCARY!”

In a November 9, 2016 interview with Toronto Life magazine, Leitch would not confirm nor deny that her proposed Canadian values test would apply to Catholic immigrants who opposed Canada’s acceptance of same-sex marriage.[28] Leitch also argued that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms only applied to Canadian citizens, although all rights are guaranteed to all citizens, permanent residents and immigrants to Canada.

Yeah. Ain’t fascism grand? (Protip: If they ain’t universal, they ain’t rights). If Leech wins leadership of the Canadian Conservatives, I fully expect the spineless pundits to downplay the Gestapo sheen, because at least Leech won’t increase taxes. (For the rich, anyway–Harper’s conservatives yanked up my meagre income bracket.)

Leech’s Conservative party would look quite familiar to Americans. Anti-immigration, pro-surveillance, pro-interventionist shenanigans in the Middle East, etc. etc.

Brad Trost

Contributing to the extensive evidence for the phenomenon of conservative time travel, as he seems to think nothing between 2003 and 2016 has actually happened, Brad Trost cartwheels into the social conservative corner of the ring.

Trost’s spokesperson apparently said Trost wouldn’t actually campaign on a platform to reverse gay marriage, just that he “personally disagrees with the way MPs voted” back in 2005. Why on Earth someone would make their personal beliefs (that they allegedly won’t act on) the centre of a leadership campaign is a mystery to me. Nonetheless, the Conservative party recently removed the definition of marriage from its policy handbook, meaning those who want to campaign for the reversal of gay marriage might not find much reinforcement from the current iteration of the Conservative party.

Oh, and he’s a forced-birther too. Nothing says “pro life” and “freedom” like operating from the premise that women are chattel property of the State!

Kevin O’Leary

Mr. O’Leary can speak for himself:

“Here’s the right thing to do: Elect me as prime minister for 15 minutes. I will make unions illegal. Anybody who remains a union member will be thrown in jail.”

“No one could contain unions in hell. They were so evil they came out of hell and they came upon Earth.”

“Let’s be realistic about this and pragmatic. Which one is easier to replace: the business or your girlfriend? … The answer is this, he is very happy, he has many girlfriends because he’s very wealthy now.”

On a recent episode of the Canadian business show The Lang and O’Leary Exchange, O’Leary applauded the recently released statistic that the combined wealth of the world’s 85 richest people is equal to the wealth of the 3.5 billion poorest. “Of course I applaud it,” O’Leary said. “What could be wrong with this?

–Kevin O’Leary

I rest my case.

Michael Chong

Chong at least has the courtesy to speak plainly, rather than doubletones and dog whistles. Like Conservatives before him, he believes in tax cuts for the wealthy. Unlike the reality denying chucklefucks racing to catch the past, he not only believes that climate change is real but would use a carbon tax to make up the income losses from wealthy tax cuts. He is the only candidate I’ve seen so far where we can roughly agree on what the issues are, even if we differ as to what the solutions should be. He gets major points for being the only candidate to release an actual, detailed plan, unlike Leech, O’Leary, and Trost, who expect voters to make judgements based on what makes their dicks hard.

Which means he’s toast. Conservative supporters recognize competence and fucking hate it, because it puts into question that the government can’t handle anything.**

Strangely, he also supports expanding tax rebates for lower income families. This kind of leaves me scratching my head as to how, exactly, Chong would plan to pay for a government. Somebody has to. I assume a pair of scissors are involved, consequences for the working poor be damned. If someone thinks a couple hundred off your yearly income tax would make up the shortfall for gutted education or healthcare, you’d be wrong.

In Conclusion

A populist fascist, a Christofascist, a union-busting misogynist, and a misguided moderate all walk into a bar…



*Canada is already a surveillance state thanks to Bill C-51, Harper’s lasting legacy of sweeping domestic spy powers for our intelligence agencies. The Liberals campaigned to “amend the bill” to be less problematic. Nothing has happened to that end as of yet. But Leech is a big fan. Maybe it’d be more accurate to characterize her position as renovating Sauron’s Eye, since Harper installed it.

**The NDP in Alberta are a prime example of this. The closest we’ve had to a government scandal is the NDP pulling out the skeletons the PCs tried to bury. A squeaky clean party passing evidence-based policy turning the province out of a recession is still being endlessly inundated in Postmedia news with spittle-flecked doomsaying. It’s fucking unreal.


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    O’Leary has a clear lead in recent polling. Personally I don’t see how anyone can listen to the fucker for a minute and not want to puke,

    I don’t think Trost has a chance, but Lisa Raitt, Maxime Bernier (Randian) and Andrew Scheer (God-botherer) are worth keeping an eye on. I like Raitt in spite of her politics.

  2. Siobhan says

    @Rob Grigjanis

    Personally I don’t see how anyone can listen to the fucker for a minute and not want to puke,

    You say that like this is a bug, rather than a feature, for some within the big tent.

  3. says

    To go further back with the Reformers and the PCs, the Reformers were a splinter group that left the PCs because they didn’t feel they were right-wing enough. Eventually the two groups came back together and the combined party was pulled rightward.

    We’re seeing the same thing in Alberta with the far right Wildrose splintering off from the provincial PCs, and while there was some talk before of “uniting the right” (that they themselves disunited), the election of the NDP has made this a huge goal for them now. The front-runner of the current PC leadership race is further right than Harper was, and even further right than much of the Wildrose.

  4. says

    Trost used to be my MP. Fortunately the redrawing of the ridings before the last election resulted in him running in a new neighbouring riding. Kevin Waugh, a long serving sportscaster at CTV Saskatoon got elected for the Conservatives in this riding. I suspect Waugh might be a one term MP given his age, 60.

    I wonder how well Trost is known outside Saskatchewan. I wouldn’t be surprised if before the campaign he was best known as the sidekick of now retired Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott. I would suspect he’ll be one of the first to drop out of the campaign.

    I’m pretty sure it was the Royal Canadian Air Farce who once referred to the old Progressive Conservative Party as the Backwards Forwards Party.

  5. AlexanderZ says

    Rob Grigjanis #1

    Personally I don’t see how anyone can listen to the fucker for a minute and not want to puke

    That describes Trump perfectly and look where we’re at now.