By David Ng
Last week, if you looked past the spangled stars, Chanel suits, Orwellian backdrops, sheepish enthusiasm, and blind adulation, you would have found something unexpected at the Republican National Convention: Canadians. It was with noble enthusiasm that a group of Conservative MPs, including John Reynolds, Stockwell Day, Jason Kenney, and Peter Van Loan represented the Conservative Party of Canada at the convention. The group was hosted by the International Democrat Union, which is an association of over 80 conservative Christian parties from around the world.
The stated purpose was to discuss trade issues like the beef industry and softwood lumber. It is hard to question such righteous intentions, but the trip was more of a pilgrimage to the Mecca of radical conservatism.
Our MPs were there to learn from the Republicans. It would have been an intense experience for Stockwell Day and company. They learned about free markets (corporate welfare), limiting a woman’s right to choose, infringing upon civil rights, breaking international law, and choosing ideology over one’s country. Maybe they learned the answer to the question that neo-conservatives in Canada have been seeking: How can we make a narrow-minded, right-wing agenda palatable to the Canadian electorate?
Yet there is no reason to set up ideology detectors at the border. In Canada there is no fear of ideas or discourse. As an open society, American Republican conservatism will be debated and discarded. For Canada is distinctively different from the U.S. Our media is less concentrated, we respect our traditions on social policy, and we believe in a strong independent Canada. It is for these reasons that Republican-style conservatism will never be accepted. This is even recognized by the Stronach camp within the Conservative Party of Canada, which preaches a more socially moderate platform (but still seeks to undermine our sovereignty through closer integration with the U.S.).
There is a growing fundamentalist deluge in conservative politics. The Conservative party is part of this international wave, and it has washed progressive from its name. We live in an age of “cross-border conservatism,” where traditional Canadian conservative values, like a strong sovereign nation, have been replaced by a creed that seeks closer integration with the U.S: economically, culturally, and morally.