Andrew Coyne’s Mission To Move Conservatism Leftward

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on June 16, 2023

There is little doubt why Andrew Coyne has been for a long time the favourite conservative pundit of the legacy media. Not with media consumers, but with the legacy media establishment itself.

Coyne is not a conservative, and really never has been. He believes in institutionalism but calls it conservatism, the belief government institutional efficiency is the highest political goal. With these hollow managerial principles, Coyne continues to float towards the left while scratching his head wondering why the Conservative Party is moving away from him. 

In his mile-long article titled “Right Now: What conservatism ought to be” he wrote after then CPC leader Andrew Scheer failed to beat Justin Trudeau in the 2019 election, Coyne reveals his extremely thin conservative principles.

Despite trying to do his best impression of William F Buckley Jr. throughout the article, who Coyne seems to imagine himself to be like, Coyne over and over again endorses government action over small government conservative principles.

In one section where he discusses how he believes Conservatives should look at economics, Andrew Coyne states:

There is a difference between free markets and laissez-faire: conservatism cannot serve as an excuse for inaction, where action is warranted. The trick, rather, is to design such interventions on conservative lines, with due regard to such traditional conservative concerns as individual initiative and consumer choice; not to replace the market with the state, but to harness each to the task for which it is best suited.

This idea of the “social market” offers one possible route to a conservative intellectual revival. In general, the idea is to redistribute rather than to regulate: to provide a minimum income in place of fixing a minimum wage; shelter allowances, in place of rent controls; social benefits in cash, rather than as services.

I could pull more quotes from this Coyne article, but I think this one is sufficient. Andrew Coyne pays lip service to free markets and small government but always goes back to endorsing ways for the government to be more involved. His idea of the “social market” is just big government management of the economy. When did bloated handout programs become conservative? 

Coyne probably sees tax cuts as being far too simplistic and vulgar for his brand of “conservatism.”

Coyne does this sort of thing over and over again. He states his support for a conservative principle, then adds a left-wing caveat, and then pretends those conservatives who disagree with him lack substance or are “extreme.”

More recently during the wildfires across Canada, Coyne took the opportunity to jump on the Liberal and NDP bandwagon claiming carbon taxes are the solution to the problem; the problem that exists in spite of 8 years of a federal carbon tax program. 

In his article titled “After this season of fire, the Conservatives must make their peace with carbon pricing” Coyne said toward the end of his piece that:

The lesson of the past three elections is that carbon pricing has become table stakes in federal politics, at least among voters in the regions and demographics the Conservatives need to reach: the sign of whether you’re serious about climate change, and therefore fit to govern. After this season of fire, that is only likely to be more true.

For the Tories, then, to have any chance of repealing the “no more pipelines” bill or the Clean Fuel Regulations or the emissions cap or any of the rest of the litany of Liberal awfulness, they are going to have to come to terms with carbon pricing. Surely the best way to do that is to make it their own.

It’s not even all that shocking that Andrew Coyne, as a man who has lived out most of his career in the media, believes that Conservatives should capitulate on the carbon tax to avoid criticism in the media during an election. 

Erin O’Toole did exactly this and got clobbered in 2021. But Coyne liked O’Toole because he put out a 50-page-long policy document nobody wanted to read, and which was full of middle-of-the-road pablum and massive policy contradictions. Andrew Coyne has a great affinity for people who also hide behind length to make up for coherency.

In contrast, Coyne thinks current Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre ran a leadership campaign full of empty populist rhetoric which doesn’t impress him.

What Andrew Coyne misses about Poilievre is that people resonate with him because the speeches he gave during the leadership campaign may seem light on detail and “extreme” to a  non-conservative like Coyne, but to real conservatives, Poilievre articulated a clear small government vision. 

I personally believe Coyne has developed a dismissive and condescending attitude towards Poilievre because he refuses to play to pretentious pseudo-conservative media pundits, and that is a good thing in my book. 

The Conservative Party should decisively be a party of the political centre-right to right, and I hope Pierre Poilievre and the rest of the Conservative MPs continue to ignore legacy media “conservatives” like Andrew Coyne trying to push them back to the left.

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

Comments are closed.