May 26, 2017

As Conservatives gather, watch the “So-Cons”

David MacKenzieRebel Columnist

Politically speaking, Canadians very rarely get statesmen or -women anymore, because we are routinely reminded never to vote for anything other than the highest probability of success.

Recently, for example, former Alberta Wildrose Party leader, Danielle Smith, commenting on the new United Conservative Party and its challenge to the governing NDP, said:

“If this race turns on abortion, gay rights, assisted death, marijuana regulation, it is not going to be successful.”

Scare tactics as usual. As predictable as dusk, Smith’s depiction of political “success” is predicated on the necessary dismissal of all moral arguments, or socially conservative principles. To her (and others), they are losing issues.

Given the general moral climate, of course, this could be perceptive advice. Yet, what does this insight also say, if not that the pursuit of power is more important than addressing a nation’s moral climate?

Interestingly, all this libertarian “pragmatism” talk takes place among politicians who (if one really cornered them) would likely admit that a thoroughly immoral people would be nearly impossible to govern.

Nevertheless, given the trending climate, should any member of the electorate be surprised when we get unprincipled pragmatism (politics as usual), and not principled behaviour from our representatives? Smith, and many others like her, keep telling us that traditional moral principles and political success are mutually exclusive, and we keep believing them.

Then, wonder of wonders, we are somehow shocked to find that our politicians don’t stand for anything. They cross the floor without telling us; they pursue power to the detriment of their own commitments. For a time, we may express some outrage, but we still listen to their counsel and (long after they’re gone, apparently) think it to be wise.

Voters need to wake up to something different. For starters, we should insist upon principle above everything else. When potentially uncomfortable truth becomes more important than mere win-ability, we will have started to think differently. When we begin to look for leaders who can tell us the uncomfortable truth without suffering the wrath of our offence, then, perhaps, the whole system will begin to breathe again.

In the meantime, let us closely watch the Canadian Conservative leadership race this weekend. Particularly, we should watch the strength of the “So-Con” contingent: Brad Trost, Pierre Lemieux, and Andrew Scheer. If conservatives in this country are beginning to wise up, then this contingent will be stronger than what the mocking progressivist critics believe.

Watch this closely, because socially conservative issues are a quick distinguishing factor between the right and the faux-right in Canada. If those who voted actually want some dimension in political life (dare we say some real “choice”), they will have to begin to support those politicians whose moral principles are significant enough to guide them, personally, and significant enough be articulated publicly.

It is the tree that grows in spite of the predominant winds that is the most defiant of all. It may look even gnarled, but it is tough by necessity.

If we want leadership these days, we don’t dare vote for copper wire, but for surgical steel. We vote for people who are dogged enough and defiant enough to resist the cultural temptations that are politically risk-less to adopt.

In truth, very little bravery is required in repeating liberal talking-points these days. It’s positively fashionable to smoke weed, repeat a “diversity” mantra, or to affirm a woman’s right to choose-to-kill. Typical Canadians are, for the most part, non-interventionist: lax and laissez-faire.

Likewise, it takes next to no political courage to tax and spend. It is simply governance as usual. And, as for our own increasingly hedonistic and self-indulgent culture, fawning government can easily buy us off— provide us with the modern equivalents of “bread and circuses”.

This is “feeling the feels”, folks. Our leaders can smile their supportive smiles, and say anything wrapped up in nothing, and we’ll let them get away with it if they’re deemed nice enough.

But to announce something unpleasant, something prophetic, something controversial that actually might offend part of the culture— especially when it’s truth— this is the “losing thing”, the far-too-risky thing.

Paradoxically, however, leadership is formed in a crucible just like this. It is precisely those who would risk offence that actually possess character— who become leaders, not mere ciphers. It is precisely because certain values are politically unpopular, that they who advocate for them have a superior training ground for character.

Or, as G.K. Chesterton once noticed:

“To be in the weakest camp is to be in the strongest school.”

Watch the So-Cons carefully…

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commented 2017-05-28 11:13:58 -0400
Thank you, Elton. Good morning, Glenn. Glenn, I hope you appreciate the fact that I cannot spare anyone any sermons, or articles such as this. This, apparently, is part of what I have been called to do.
Thank you for relating your story; it’s always good to hear a personal account. In previous articles for the Rebel, I’ve spoken about Pilate’s commentary more than once. There is plenty of irony in his speech to Jesus.
As regards the warning against oaths, in Scripture, there are a number of Biblical accounts where vows end up being pure evil, to be sure. The account of Herod and John the Baptist is a classic example. More recently, Dietrich Bonhoeffer argued on behalf of the passage you cite when he suggested that to give special credence to bolstering truth with a vow is to make all other speech look like lies. And for this, Bonhoeffer wasn’t a fan of the way courts handle the issue, as well.

To be completely fair to the system, and that idealistic youth who was you, however, one could notice that the way the court requires a response is actually in-keeping with the rest of the passage. A person is simply required to say “yes” or “I will”— much like a wedding or confirmation service might use, “I will, God being my helper”.

As for the rest, I congratulate you on your moxie— you willingness to expose the hypocrisy that we all, occasionally, are part of. However, that being said, I think we should all agree that the degree to which all our lives come into closer parallel with the will of God, is not only to our personal benefit, but to the country’s, as well. Hemp is an interesting, and God-ordained plant. But that which “overcomes a man (that which addicts him), to that he is enslaved.” And we are called to freedom, with wisdom and self-control.

Sunday morning sermon complete… :-)
commented 2017-05-28 01:18:02 -0400
As much as I respect your opinions Glenn I have to say as a Christian I totally agree with David. As I’ve been saying a long time to all the conservative candidates that what Canadians need is a strong alternative to the godless bs that is infecting our country. We may well need a larger pile of corpses before Canadians are ready to accept that a move to the Christian Right back to our original principles that this country was built on is a much better alternative. People are getting fed up with the lack of morals in this world and it’s only a matter of time before they start standing up for them. Liberal lite won’t cut it.
commented 2017-05-27 23:07:59 -0400
Just while I am up and at it I will relate to you an episode in my life. I was just 18 years old and I took the Bible very seriously, so seriusly in fact that I risked a contempt of court charge for doing it….but since I was looking at years and lashes for pot possession I figured I had nothing to loose.

An officer of the court presented a Bible to me and said “DO YOU SOLEMNLY SWEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH?”

In response I quoted the following two passages of scripture:

(1)Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.


“And Pilate sayeth unto him ‘What is truth?’ "

The magistrate got quite annoyed and admonished me that I could be held in contempt…I replied that if he nor any officer of that court were not duely ordained clergy of one of the Orthodox churches that attended the Eccumenical council of Nicea that set the canon of the book they held out to me then none of them had lawfull standing to invoke anything regarding that book. And what is more if any of them had bothered to actually read it they would find that Christ had nothing good to say about lawyers.

I went on further to say that if pressed on the matter I would be delighted to tell about the ounce of marijuana in the glove compartment of the provincial RCMP commissioner’s car left there by his son if that was not more “truth whole truth and nothiing but the truth” than they were comfortable to hear.

Spare me your sermons Reverend MacKenzie
commented 2017-05-27 22:39:46 -0400
@David MacKenzie….loose the chauvanism David….the Aztecs who cut out people’s hearts and offered them to the sun were under the illusion that they were enfranchised by the sun to do so. The sun is no man’s franchised property, neither is the air, neither is truth, neither is morality. Nobodyhas ever become a special friend of God by reading ink stains on paper…and “the truth is what remains when all voices are silent”….Zen master Long Tan
commented 2017-05-27 17:33:19 -0400
Hi again, Glenn: there’s much that we could say as regards the differences between the “theocracy” often anxiously feared in a Christian context, and the theocracy that Sharia represents. Ultimately, in a Christian sense, there is no theocracy without Christ’s return in a Christian context— it’s like asking for a kingdom without a king.
The other side of that argument, however, is this: insofar as our general disdain for theft, fraud, perjury, greed, murder and more already exist, the moral benefit of ALREADY living inside a society “salted” with Christian belief is there. Even the Mayflower pilgrims who stepped off the boat to our south, wanted a COMMON covenant grounded in the will of the participants, that was informed by Biblical belief. This is not all that different than what So-Cons want today.
commented 2017-05-27 10:02:22 -0400
@David McKenzie…for the record Brad Trost was my favoured candidate and Pierre Lemieux is the doe eyed Hobbit I would trust to carry the ring to Mordor. But I put them at three and four on my ballot. I voted for Erin O’Toole and Andrew Scheer for practical reasons. By co-incidence (though this is a deal breaker issue for me) they were the higest rated for libertarian stance on firearms ownership by the NFA which I am an associate member of.

The government that you describe fits the mold of an Islamic theocracy almost exactly but with one small detail….they would prohibit alcohol and permit marijuana.
commented 2017-05-27 09:31:26 -0400
Andrew Stephenson said, “No politician around is going to deliberately lose on principles.”

What an unbelievably crackpot thing to say.

If a politician runs for office on principles, then he/she believes there are enough people out there to vote for him/her who believe in those same principles. The politician is not running on principles for the expressed purpose of losing.

Andrew, the very fact that you think that having principles will automatically cause the candidate to lose reveals more about your distorted view on the world than the politician’s.
commented 2017-05-27 04:09:34 -0400
Thank you David for your comments. I agree with you that a principled conservative would be better, but do not forget that most Canadians voted for Trudeau for his marijuana stance and his looks. The majority are uninformed and will vote for someone that will put more money in their pockets, give them jobs, manage the out-of-control debt, and most importantly has the courage to talk about muslim immigration. So far, nobody has had that courage and it’s sad because, after innocents being killed numerous times in the West, this is one problem that would attract the majority.
commented 2017-05-27 02:17:40 -0400
Thank you David MacKenzie for writing this piece. I really appreciate your writing style… you really have a way with words! I particularly like the following:
“Watch this closely, because socially conservative issues are a quick distinguishing factor between the right and the faux-right in Canada. If those who voted actually want some dimension in political life (dare we say some real “choice”), they will have to begin to support those politicians whose moral principles are significant enough to guide them, personally, and significant enough [to] be articulated publicly.”

And this too:
“Paradoxically, however, leadership is formed in a crucible just like this. It is precisely those who would risk offence that actually possess character— who become leaders, not mere ciphers. It is precisely because certain values are politically unpopular, that they who advocate for them have a superior training ground for character.”

The type of leader you describe is the type of leader I want as my Prime Minister, someone with character and not a trust fund.

I know the “progressives” in the party have referred to Lemieux, Trost and Scheer as the “so-con axis” like the so-cons are some type of evil force. LOL! Wow, who would have thought that actually being conservative in the Conservative Party of Canada was something negative? These three candidates have a strong bloc of conservative support, and thanks to the ranked ballot and point system, it is very possible one of them will be walking away with the leadership title.
commented 2017-05-27 01:18:07 -0400
You’ve nailed it David. When we, as a society & culture, leave our values & consider morals as a past thing only to be mentioned in books and start believing in success at any cost is what matters in life we are bound for an end. People with high morals & values are difficult to conquer. History is witness how many cultures have died when morals were replaced with greed & lust in the society.
West is headed towards the same destiny. It’s no surprise that people from islamic & other third world countries who couldn’t make their own societies any better are easily gaining power & control over western societies.
commented 2017-05-27 01:12:35 -0400
One thing missing in previous elections regarding so-con discussion points was that there was no counter offensive against Lib/NDP policies. Next election there will be.
So-cons can ask the public if they prefer the Lib/NDP anti-woman, anti-freedom policies over discussion about things like late-term abortions, gender abortion, and FGM barbarity.
No longer will Liberals be able to accuse Conservatives of wanting to take rights away from women when it’s the Liberals who are today doing just that by being Sharia compliant, which is inherently anti-woman.
commented 2017-05-26 23:21:55 -0400
No politician around is going to deliberately lose on principles. There are far cheaper and less ponderous ways to proselytize whatever cause you believe in.

To be a successful politician, you need to find a platform that reflects what people actually want and expect from their country. Smith is right – the majority of Canadians are not interested in rehashing those debates, and you’re headed right for a “principled loss” if you try. This is why “So-con” Trost and Lemieux are such long shots, and why “So-Con” Scheer has basically left the core SoCon issues out of his platform and moved sharply to the Centre once he realized he’s actually got a chance.
commented 2017-05-26 22:46:09 -0400
All I can say at this moment is good luck fellow Canadians…we got a goofball in the PMO with a bunch of goofballs telling him how and what to do to destroy Canada and Human Rights in a once great Nation of good heart’d People with good Souls.
commented 2017-05-26 22:33:49 -0400
Glenn: for the record, I have much sympathy for the best of libertarian concerns. I have zero interest in the State-as-god. But the trouble is, without godliness, the libertarian often descends to the cultural level of the libertine. It seems strange to me that the same culture that has no trouble enforcing child safety seats, has an abortion crisis that is, literally, consuming millions of future Canadian taxpayers and labour pools. And while the sexual revolution has been deemed the means by which the feminists were freed, it is now the means by which professors are chained. Experience should tell us that it is not a question of whether government will attempt to moralize; it is really a question of whose morals will they use— good morals or horrid ones.
commented 2017-05-26 22:05:13 -0400
David I cannot agree with your views. I am a libertarian. I joined the conservatives when they purged their caucus of nutbar feminists and defunded status of women’s menagerie of strange pets. Morality has no merit when the government enforces it. Morality has merit when it is the result of your own discipline. Even the writings of Paul the apostle say this and I am not a big fan of his writings.

I think that the only way to reform and salvage democracy is to ban political parties altogether and select our parliament the way you would select a jury. Switzerland has a much better democracy because all major issues are settled by referendum. It should be illegal for any lobbyist to even speak to an elected representative and they should be required to make their pitch directly to the voting public. Party whips should be treated like any other gangster thug who intimidates an elected official.

The conservative party you describe would be something I would be inclined to rebel against. Nothing annoys me more than people who want to pick other people’s noses. Collect the garbage, plow the roads, make everybody drive on the same side of the road….after that….it’s all open to discussion debate and referendum.
commented 2017-05-26 22:04:59 -0400
Gary Wiebe, I can understand why you are angry, and feeling bitter. This should never have happened. I don’t know when you joined the party, I do remember a notice explaining if anyone is considering becoming a CPC member and wanted to vote in the upcoming leadership election, they had to register by a certain date to ensure processing takes place and a ballot goes out in time.
I’m sorry you had so much follow up & still did not get the opportunity to cast your ballot for the candidate you wished to support.
I hope you will consider asking them to investigate this further, to figure out what happened with your ballot.
commented 2017-05-26 22:02:33 -0400
Carole: Just a comment. If you think that there SHOULD be a difference between legal and illegal immigration; if you think climate change IS a lie; and if you think profligate spending takes no character and self-discipline whatsoever, then why would you NOT want to focus on socially conservative concerns? The political issues that you have named all touch upon issues of moral principle— the very things we discount when we don’t take moral issues or social conservative principle seriously.
commented 2017-05-26 21:00:01 -0400
We hae much more pressing and important issues right now in the country. Like immigration for example, like reducing the size of gov’t, or fake climate change theories, or debt level. That would gain votes and we need to win to put TruDope back in the nothingness where he comes from.
commented 2017-05-26 20:57:44 -0400
As a retiree who has watched politics sink into the toilet for many years I finally decided to do something besides writing letters to the editors. I joined the federal conservative party with the hope my vote for a new leader might make a difference. I had a candidate all picked out until I realized I couldn’t agree with one of the planks in her platform and I told her if she stuck to her thinking I would not vote for her. Guess what? I never received a ballot in time to vote. After numerous emails and leaving messages with various candidates detailing what happened I received a response from one candidate. He tried to help me but it was too late and I missed out on an opportunity to be part of the political process. The result? I will not change my conservative views; the Liberals and the NDP will do whatever they can to destroy us and that, to me, is intolerable. That does not mean I will vote conservative any more. Except for that one candidate, I was treated like one of Hilary Clinton’s “deplorables” and I will never again vote conservative. Bitter? Angry? You bet!!!!
commented 2017-05-26 20:32:46 -0400
More important right now is the federal conservative leadership race – I voted, I;m watching it now and I have to say I am proud of all the Candidates this array of conservatives vary greatly in ideologies – the big tent works – I think there is a place in the cabinet for all these candidates – Impressed particularly by Lisa Raitt although I disagree with her she is a statesman/woman who has integrity of her convictions and love of this country. Damn I’m proud of these fellow Canadians