Big letter politics is the divide that will prevent our governments from moving forward on the big issues of the day. Justin Trudeau is a big L liberal, Chrystia Freeland is a big L liberal, however Bill Morneau was a small L liberal which might be the real reason why he is no longer Finance Minister and not his ethical breaches.
Erin O’Toole is a small C conservative; Stephen Harper was a big C conservative that governed as a small C conservative government. It’s no surprise to any of us the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh is a capital P progressive and recently in a podcast with David Herle Green Party Leader Annamie Paul declared that Greens will be the party of large P progressives.
Is Doug Ford the big C conservative that Trudeau and others tried to war us about? No, he like all conservatives govern with fiscal responsibility and that meant the end of programs brought in by Kathleen Wynne and David McGuinty (respectively there were a large and small L liberal) but not the type of policies feared of in the 2018 Ontario election.
When I ran for a seat in the Ontario legislature, I ran as a small P & C progressive conservative. I believe we need to watch our bottom line, but we cannot leave others behind. I am a moderate politician and that puts me out of line with others in my party.
The rise polarization in politics is not new, what is new is that these polarizations are now at our doorstep. Recent events in Washington indicate to me that we, not just Americans, have gone too far to either sector of the political scale – there is no one in the middle.
An election in Canada is looming, and what do the pundits say? The middle is not being represented, that will ask voters to decide which end of the scale they want to go. However, when we decide to go left or go right the other side says, “look at them, they are the not who we should be”. It goes back and forth when, in reality, voters are forced to choose a side.
Anne Applebaum’s book ‘Twilight of Democracy, the Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism” provides recent examples in the last 20 years of big letter politics in Europe, the UK and the US. Applebaum writes in Twilight of Democracy that “Democracy itself has always been loud and raucous, but when its rules are followed it eventually creates consensus. The modern debate does not. Instead, it inspires in some people the desire to forcibly silence the rest.” I know that even in my own party this has been the case. The Conservative Party of Canada leadership was certainly a case of this as was the US election.
Big letter politics might be fine for the base of a political party, what we’ve seen in the US and the implosion of the Republican Party is what happens when its leadership refuses or denies that it has to pivot from being in an election to that of being a political voice for its beliefs and policies. Back home, my preference is to see the Conservative Party talk and act like it wants to attract the voters in the centre.
After his selection as the new leader of the Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole stated that he wants Canadians “to see a conservative when they look in the mirror”, it was in that statement I saw the hope for Canadian politics and voters to move away from big letter politics. There are two things that prevent that statement from ever happening. The inability of some segments of the party to join the ideal conservatives are more than big letter politics and can support a wide range of moderate policies. The second are attacks from Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh that big C supporters will ruin us as a country and yes, equate American politics to that of Canadian conservatives.
Big letter liberals and progressives (and conservatives) build the wall that divides politics most Canadians have a fear of. It’s my belief we are all big C Canadians and moderate in our politics. We want and need a government that will reflect that, not a government that is formed out of the fear of what “could or would be” we hear from big letter politicians.
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