In the last federal election I was excited to vote Liberal. I would lean NDP if they figured out that the best way to be an issues party is to focus on specific social policies and environmental priorities.
Until May 27, I am a blue-blooded Tory. And if you have $15 to spare before March 28, you should also become a Conservative.
Right now, the second largest party in Canadian federal politics is having a leadership race. The winner will become the Leader of the Opposition and will soon have a chance to become Prime Minister. 14 people are currently campaigning. The race is more or less so boring that you can certainly be forgiven for not knowing that any of this is going on.
There are terrible people running to be leader. By appealing to extremist values, these candidates are receiving disproportionate media coverage. Kellie Leitch is famously pandering to the racist wing of her party by advocating to screen immigrants and refugees for “Canadian values” (whatever the hell those are). Chris Alexander is a coward who is willing to stand by while his supporters chant “lock her up” about the Premier of Alberta. Kevin O’Leary is a troll who somehow escaped from under his bridge. Any of these candidates could win.
However, there are glimpses of what could generously be called hope. There are people running who I respect, even if I don’t agree with what they’re advocating for. Michael Chong stands out as a bulwark against the racists who seem to be exerting undue power in this campaign. Lisa Raitt, Andrew Scheer and even Maxime Bernier are intelligent and articulate, though I think their policies would take the country in the wrong direction. I will take a leader I respect and disagree with over Kevin O’Leary any day.
Furthermore, you likely have an outsized voice in this election. It is run in such a way that each electoral district gets 100 “points” to allocate to candidates on a ranked preferential system. I am from a district where just over 7000 people voted Conservative in 2015, and many fewer than that are members of the party. Our district gets the same number of points as Calgary Southwest, where 43,000 people voted conservative in the last election.
If there is a rough correlation between voting and party membership, it means that my voice is six times louder in this leadership election than the voice of a person from Calgary. I plan to use that voice to stand up against discrimination and hatred as best I can.
You may think that this doesn’t matter, and that you will never support the party, nor the leader. Perhaps you believe that it would be better if the Conservatives elected a nutbag so that they would have no chance of winning the next election.
This is a dangerous line of thought (see: south of the border). The next leader has a real chance of winning. I would much rather elect a leader who is worthy of a basic level of respect than someone who will pander to rising far right populism.
The Leader of the Opposition also plays an important role in holding the Government accountable. A good Leader of the Opposition will make Trudeau a better Prime Minister by holding his feet to the fire when he breaks promises. O’Leary could not do this; he neither lives in Canada nor does he plan to immediately become an MP if elected leader.
You may never want to operate in a political system, especially one that openly perpetuates oppressive policies that drip with racism, sexism and colonialism. I have great respect for this. However, this party will only get worse unless reasonable voices are heard. There is no motivation for the party to change if the majority of the people who participate in the process are those who support discrimination. By making our voices heard and advocating from within the party, we have a chance to improve federal politics. It is at least better to elect someone who is willing to condemn Islamophobia (Chong) than someone than someone who’s trying to outflank Jordan Peterson to the right.
March 28 is the deadline to become a voting member. I beg you to join me if you have $15 to spare before then. Our nation will become stronger only through robust debate and disagreement with reasonable people. I do not believe that meaningful discourse is possible with someone like Kevin O’Leary leading the party. If you felt helpless while the USA drove itself off a cliff, then you should take this chance to stand up against bigotry and hate. Join the party.