It has been three years since I began to write for the Prince George Citizen.
During that time, I have been blessed enormously by supportive editors, faithful readers and challenging critics, all of whom have made this experience infinitely rewarding. It is my sincere hope that I can enjoy the privilege of publishing in this excellent newspaper for many more years to come. To that end,
let me revisit the topic I usually discuss at this time: those in leadership or aspirants of it.
The Conservative Party of Canada is currently in the middle of a crowded and lively leadership race for the helm of an organization that was effectively conceived, built, lead, and governed by one man: Stephen Harper. As of the electoral defeat of the Harper Conservatives in 2015, the former PM summarily resigned as leader of the party, which began the process of opening up this position to any would-be successors with a membership.
To date, this race has yielded 14 leadership contestants and their ideas, as well as identities, have proven heartily that the party is indeed an alliance between different groups rather than the monolith that many critics have attempted to paint it as. To make this more clear, it might help to note that the stated positions of the candidates vary to the point where some are advocating immigration screening, others a carbon tax, and still others "Harperism" with a smile.
This is, of course, both the greatest strength and burden of conservatism - that it is indeed made up of tribes of tories, and not clones of unprincipled pragmatists of varying identity-politics allegiances like so much of the current left. And while it is tempting to delve into the roots of these differing views and their effect on Canada as well as the wider Anglosphere, the question at hand is which candidate should win and why will that candidate be able to beat PM Trudeau in 2019.
My own choice for leader will be Maxime Bernier and I will not be marking a single other name on the ballot. The reasons for my choice are simple: he's a happy warrior for personal liberty. There are many grumpy tories and naive liberals, but to find a man of character who can say with a sincere smile that this country could be so much more if government would just get the hell out of the way is very rare indeed.
In Bernier I see the living reincarnation of all Laurier's good ideas and Deif the Chief's pan-Canadian optimism. His promises are consistent - lower taxes, end corporate welfare, build pipelines, reform the equalization formula, respect the Constitution - and his demeanor is encouraging as he ever seems to be grinning bashfully. He appears to be so honestly excited at the prospect of getting our country on its feet again that he can't help but chuckle to himself.
Bernier will be able to beat PM "Sunny-Ways" Trudeau by simply outflanking him at his own game in both languages fluently. Canada is not in the same position as our southern cousins - we are not yet ready for the angry man revolt. But give Mr. Dithers at 24 Sussex another four years and I promise you Leitch and O'Leary will look like friendly, tolerant people by comparison to whoever beats Trudeau in 2024. Whatever your faith, pray it does not come to that.
Bernier's platform has something for voters of all stripes: the uncompromising call for more personal liberty and less political chicanery in all their forms.
If Canada has an identity worth defending, it is "the true north, strong and free." Our current well-wisher isn't getting us anywhere near this ideal, so let's try the happy warrior.