Dead conservatism or de-valued Coyne?

February 10th, 2009
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As advertized in his recent blog entry, Andrew Coyne has launched another salvo at the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister. No surprise there. In fact, his piece in this week’s MacLean’s repeats much of what Mr. Coyne asserted in that blog.

Again, there is reference to a “decade of climbdowns, reversals, and broken promises, dating back to the first efforts to merge the old Reform and Progressive Conservative parties (sic)”. And further about the “frantic backpedalling of the last decade, as each long-held policy was overturned and each conviction of a lifetime was abandoned”.

What Mr. Coyne fails to mention in his article (but mentioned in the blog) is that he doesn’t particularly care about the Conservative Party as such. In fact, he has many choice words for it –and he would in any case have preferred a “coalition” of the two pre-existing parties.

I don’t recall him lauding the Reform Party platform back in 1997, but I’ll take his word for it. Even, as he remarks, with a third of those polices gone in 2000, Stockwell Day won around 26% of the vote – about as much as Stephane Dion. Those were the days of Eleanor Kaplan calling us Holocaust deniers and Ms. Fry’s crosses burning in Prince George.

As I said last time, Mr. Coyne’s colleagues – the guardians of correct thought in Canada – had their magnifying glasses out at the 2005 Montreal convention to ensure that Mr. Coyne’s favoured policies were expunged from the policy book. To be fair, the delegates elected to that convention decided which would stay and which would go. So they were, I suppose, victims of the merger process he says he never supported.

He continues with the assertion that the Conservative government has not “moved to the centre, they have only succeeded in shifting the entire political spectrum to the left.” Perhaps the issue is something else altogether.

I suggested last time that Mr. Coyne has perhaps had some emotion invested in the success of the Conservative party after all. I think I was wrong. His repeated, rebuking, even contemptuous statements belie that hypothesis.

Perhaps an alternative explanation, offered by Mr.K., is the answer. He suggests that Mr. Coyne is actually suffering from displaced aggression. My blog-mate believes Coyne is actually angry with the Canadian public because they aren’t as conservative as he would like them to be. Of course he can’t write a screed against all Canadians (only Quebec nationalists), so he deflects his anger at Stephen Harper and all those dim-witted dupes who call themselves Conservatives. This test might be able to prove it one way or another.

To conclude one might simply say a half loaf is better than none – but he insists Conservatives haven’t gotten even a crust – they’ve gotten nothing, “nada”. This is simply wrong. I could easily name half a dozen initiatives in immigration alone that the current government has passed that Liberals never did or never would do. And you can repeat that department by department.

I like one of his phrases though – “convictions of a lifetime”. At the risk of repeating myself, the very process of forming a political party, or simply interacting with people for that matter, puts convictions on the line. I believe Mr. Coyne has eschewed political involvement, so he probably hasn’t ever had to face that situation. He can only mock compromise, as difficult as it often is, and deride concessions to those with which one must work.

I have a suggestion. Rather than mocking us unprincipled dolts and suggesting Canadians abandon the Conservative party, why not ask his readers to join it? Why not have his stalwart fans flood every riding association and take each MP and candidate to task? If there were any hope of getting the “Coyne programme” implemented, that might be a place to start.

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By John Weissenberger