Restoring Authenticity to the centre-of-right in Canada

Written By Anthony Daoud, Posted on February 11, 2020

Going forward, Canadian conservatism’s most daunting opponent isn’t elitist liberalism nor socialism’s phalanxes youthful sojourners. Instead, it’s itself, chiefly the deeply embedded identity crisis that has rendered the Great Tradition into a debilitated state. For a political philosophy expounded by brilliant thinkers, holding a treasury of noble principles, and an innate tendency to preserve what is beautiful, the ongoing bastardization of Canadian conservatism is formidably disheartening. The sole executable remedy is to rekindle authentic conservatism and elements of libertarianism 

Politicians who are poorly versed in theory, or who’ve become comfortable with conceding on principle for career success, are those primarily responsible for hemorrhaging conservatism in Canada. This isn’t an indictment per se against multi-party collaboration or searching for commonality with political opponents to ensure Canadians can lead better lives in the pursuit of happiness. 

One needs to look no further than the current crop of CPC leadership hopefuls to realize, safe a few, and there is no viable steward of conservatism left. Of the group, the two clear frontrunners, Peter Mackay and Erin O’Toole are uninspiring lukewarm centrists who only faintly espouse conservative ideology. Now, although both have valuable parliamentary experience and occupied positions worthy of respect, their victory would all but deoxygenate the party’s flame.  

As previously addressed, Canadian conservatism is afflicted by a pronounced crisis in identity whereby politicians have a moderate semblance but hold a liberal-esque ethos. It is unequivocally evident the conservative movement has been capitulated by such politicians who are principally vacuous. And when confronted by heterodoxy, or anyone who seeks to challenge their contorted narrative, they’re overcome by a frenzy of anger, unrepentant to employ characteristically left-wing tactics to subdue their opponents. 

Lately, the party has been redundant by only offering Canadians rudimentary “boutique tax-credits” and propping abstract promises of minimizing government to reduce individual dependence on the multiple government apparatus. But Canadians have grown accustomed to this rhetoric and, as suggested by last year’s election results, simply no longer care for it. 

At the epicentre of Canadian conservatism’s identity crisis is the conflict between conservatism and liberal contractarianism, or what I will label as 21st-century libertarianism.  

21st libertarianism 

Installing a 21st-Century, libertarian government in Canada would produce chaotic dysfunctionality. 21st-century libertarianism should no longer be associated with conservatism because it, too, has holistically emancipated from its intellectual heritage. Nonetheless, it has unhurriedly become the CPC’s dominant dogma and has led to a brand of faux-conservatism. As a shameful parody, this dishonest ideology will face difficulty in elections because it’s forever nestled in a broader liberal shadow. 


This faux-conservatism is not ex-nihilo. It germinated from the corruption in classical liberal thought whereby true liberty was substituted for licence and its associated vices of nominalism, moral relativism, and the tyranny of individuals. A modern laissez-faire approach that is innately juxtaposed to early libertarianism because it aims to mimic liberalism has ensued and been employed as the sole channel to lead. As such, any mention of the right to life, tradition, protecting the family institution and having a healthy discussion about immigration have become taboos. 

As of now, all that is left to campaign on indeed are tax reductions and the blunders of opposition politicians. Many tories happily abide by political correctness and blindly chase the ever-shifting positions of left-wing politicians and ideas to win elections. Our identity crisis has become so egregious that five conservative Members of Parliament voted in favour of implementing the Orwellian changes to Canada’s national anthem. Worthy of lamentation, the decision is ultimately no surprise. As previously stated, this decision resulted from the CPC blithely embracing faux-conservatism, to win elections. This short-sighted mentality prioritizes the realization of political aspirations over the amelioration of a country, should be rightfully condemned. In the absence of principles, politicians become heirlings to the zeitgeist and not representatives entrusted with leadership.

Since 21st-century libertarianism developed into the second tier of liberalism that stands for nothing, sits as a bystander on most issues, and zealously follows contractarianism. It is unfeasible to pursue because the Canadian government is already structured to be large. 

A middle ground?

The CPC can succeed in reconciling conservatives and libertarians while dismissing the ideas of faux-conservativism. 

I make the argument that libertarian theory primarily emanated from St. Thomas Aquinas and John Locke. Both philosophers, despite writing centuries apart, valued the individual family unit as the core regime in a society whereby all subsequent forms of government would consecutively valence each other. Professor Holly Hamilton-Bleakley writes on this Thomistic understanding:

“Men were free agents in the state of innocence; thus, some would have advanced further than others in righteousness. These men, then, should exercise their gifts and be in authority over the rest, and it is after the order of nature that they do so (ST, 1a, qu. 96, art. 3). Thus, political institutions, like the family, are a natural part of our human existence; they would have existed if there had been no sin.”

The attitude is later iterated by Edmund Burke, who reminds us that families, or “little platoons,” are the most prolific means of transmitting culture, customs, and traditions. Further, they are instrumental in the survival of civil society. 

In arguably his most vital article for the Guardian, the late-great Sir Roger Scruton provides depth insight on the family, invoking Edmund Burke’s “little platoons” that imprint culture on the future generations. Scruton is also unambiguous in reprimanding contemporary conservatives for cowering from discussing families, noting marriage and the family “have no clear endorsement from our new political class.” 

The 14th-century philosopher’s conceptualization is echoed by Friedrich Hayek, who is widely regarded as being a libertarian thought leader, the supporters of Viennese economics, and, more recently, John Horvat of The Imaginative Conservatives who recently argued why the family should not rely on the government. 

Domestic issues 

Aquinas was also a trailblazer in establishing subsidiarity in a coherent political theory. Subsidiarity closely resembles federalism, whereby a hierarchy of government branches coexist in relative autonomy. For individuals, the municipality is at the epicentre because laws, according to Aquinas’ subsidiarity, are constituted by locals for a community rather than our widely conceptualized top-down approach. It is in those communities where they can, as individuals free from an authoritative interjection, can deliberate on how to govern themselves best. Ergo, the federal government’s powers are strictly limited to matters of security and defence.

Granted, it is impossible to implement Thomas’ theory of subsidiarity accurately. Authentic conservatives and libertarians can together ensure that all delineation of power is observed and respected when proposing legislative solutions. It is also a measure of gesturing towards making the federal government more proactive in perfecting its limited functions, including healthcare, social security, and our military. 

Aquinas supplemented his idea on the family with a very rigid stance on patriotism. For him, each person is a “debtor to his/her country,” and places the paying of this debt under the virtue of piety and advanced that one cannot properly worship God unless he also honours his country. His reasoning, akin to his philosophical inspiration Aristotle, is tied to virtue, for the greater virtue always includes the lesser. 

Two of Britain’s greatest thinkers, G.K Chesterton and Sir Roger Scruton wrote extensively on patriotism. Chesterton firmly classified patriotism as an immutable virtue while Scruton eschewed a similar argument made by Orestes Brownson in noting: 

“One of the fundamental differences between Western civilisation and every other civilisation is that in a typical Western nation-state the political and the personal are demarcated. Clearly delineating the political sphere […] involves separating (or quarantining) the political from the personal, thus allowing self-determining individuals to pursue happiness and fulfilment in their private lives without some version or other of Big Brother meddling in their affairs.”

Last Chance 

The CPC needs to be salvaged before surrendering itself further to the faux-conservatives who’ve adopted a 21st-century libertarian approach and miserably failed at being the standard holders of Canadian conservatism. The faux-conservatives have demonstrated they are ready to abandon all principles to imitate the left in the hopes of yielding personal and electoral gains. 

Anthony Daoud

2 responses to “Restoring Authenticity to the centre-of-right in Canada”

  1. Larry Pope says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the problem with conservatism in Canada. There doesn’t seem to be anyone within the CPC who has the drive and conviction of their beliefs to successfully defend conservative principles. Either that, or those that could are unwilling and/or afraid to speak up loudly enough to be heard over the constant drone of lib-left talking points from the bought-and-paid-for mainstream media. The Liberals and our lap-dog media have done a very good job painting conservatives as out of touch and out of line with their so-called "values". At the risk of being attacked for the mere thought, I think Canada needs a disruptor like Trump to smash the glass house Liberals have created and remind Canadians that their freedom and well being are being eroded, not enhanced by liberalism.

  2. Laurie Conn-Zuckerman says:

    Do we have a right of centre candidate? If not, what next? Do we support the PPC?