Liberal and Conservative, Right and Left, in Canada

Here I’ll help clarify things… or further muddy them!  See, Canadian (and by extension any country using the Classical meanings of “liberal” and “conservative,” ie, most of the world) “liberals” can be what many people consider “right”- OR “left”-wing… and so can Canadian “conservatives.”  I offer this because some discourse in Canada has been infected with American ideologism, which is doing its own muddying of the waters up there!

Left-wing Classical Liberal is what I believe a significant minority of the Canadian Liberal Party’s supporters – though not many of its leaders – are: similar to American “liberal Democrats.”  That’s why its successful leaders have “campaigned from the Left, and governed from the Right.”  Political and social progressivism with individual liberties, a fair bit of government regulation and intervention.  In terms of current Canadian issues: Afghanistan, same-sex marriage, marijuana decriminalization, peacekeeping, English AND French, proto-republicanism/anti-monarchy, health care, etc.  The New Democratic Party (NDP) would mostly fit under this rubric, but being social democratic, go farther in a progressive and labor-oriented direction; and the Bloc Quebecois in the non-nationalistic aspects of its agenda, though somewhat less so – see below.

Right-wing Classical Liberal is what I believe the former Reform/Alliance members and supporters of today’s Conservative Party of Canada are, as well as “Blue Tories,” ie, Peter MacKay and other former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada members and supporters who share much of the Reform/Alliance agenda, and in a big way though not completely, the perrennial leaders of the Liberal Party; identifiable with the U.S. Republican Party as it has increasingly become after Eisenhower.  Political and social regressivism with fewer individual liberties, pro-business, pro-American, more militaristic, very little governmental intervention except in favor of business and against labor, anti-European, North American/isolationist, “red meat” for “conservative” religion, (small-R) republican/anti-monarchy.  Commonly called “neo-conservative” in North America (sometimes “neocon,” even “theocon”), more correctly called “neo-liberal” elsewhere.  To be clearer, the Reform/Alliance are the most right-wing, the Blue Tories less so, and the leading Liberals even less so, but definitely still there (except probably their new Leader, Stephane Dion, and his [very small] coterie).

Right-wing Classical Conservative is almost non-existent in the U.S. and Canada.  Some Roman Catholic traditionalists/ monarchists in both countries would qualify, including some political (as opposed to solely cultural) Jacobites, and some of the radical Papal-loyalists nurtured by the current Pope of Rome and his predecessor.  Anti-democracy, anti-civil liberties, anti-constitutionalism, politically and socially regressive, moralist, very religious and clericalist, aristocratic and monarchist (some might say “absolutist”), medievalist.

Left-wing Classical Conservative is this blog, most Canadians I believe, most Western Europeans I believe(!), even most Americans I think if they knew it was an option – part of why I write!  As I once saw written on a church wall (roughly), “Conserving what needs to be conserved, progressing in what needs to be progressed in.”  I think most recent Liberal Party voters in Canada have done so out of misunderstanding of the former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, or disgust with its increasingly “Blue” leadership after Diefenbaker; and now since the successful movement (misnamed!*) to “Unite the Right,” because the Liberals seem the only realistic option, the small NDP not yet considered a realistic political option.  (The Liberals lost their majority in the House of Commons mostly because of the Sponsorship Scandal… but only just barely! It was like most of the Palestinians who voted for Hamas to punish Fatah for corruption. Some choice!! The problem with a virtual [or actual] two-party system!)  As I said, the NDP is Canada’s labor/social democratic party, but more than one analyst has detected Classical Conservative notes in socialism, such as a restored sense of society/solidarity and not just individualism, and a restored sense of trying to apply right and wrong in public affairs versus laissez-faire/ dog-eat-dog/ war-of-all-against-all.  And the Bloc Quebecois may be in some ways the exception that proves the rule: Quebec separatism aside, its agenda is very much like the NDP’s.  Why?  Because they’re “socialist”?  Or because they’re Catholic?!! or both?!!  The Catholic Church and faith in traditional senses have had a lower explicit profile in La belle province since its “Quiet Revolution” in the ’60s, but you don’t kill an ancient culture that quickly, and contrary to popular (mostly Protestant) opinion, most First-World RCs are center-left politically and socially today, and may even have been in their own way – the Classical Conservative way – since ancient times!  So Quebec’s Catholicism may still be very implicit in its politics… even if some of them don’t go to church as often as they used to!

In fact, here’s something to think about: Canada has even had some prominent “progressive conservatives” who were considered Marxian!  I guess they’d be the really “Red” Tories!!

(*–Or maybe not, since so many Red Tories have been left homeless by the PC/Alliance party merger!)

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