April 25, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Whenever a conservative political party goes down to electoral defeat in Canada, social conservatives are inevitably blamed for the result. The surprise resurgence of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives at the expense of the Wildrose Party has mystified some political observers, been cited as a stunning example of “strategic voting” by others, and led many pundits to point their fingers at the apparently anachronistic social policies of Wildrose, or, at the very least, some of its candidates.
To address the reason why a party that was leading in the polls by seven to nine percentage points a mere 24 hours prior to election day would lose by that same margin the next day, it would seem apparent that Liberal and NDP voters did vote PC in a concerted effort to block the election of Wildrose candidates. To view the number crunching on a riding by riding basis, there is a clear case of the liberal vote coalescing against Wildrose. Whether that collusion was orchestrated by left-leaning institutions like labour unions or merely a reflexive response by like-minded voters who vowed to elect Anybody But Wildrose, it was a consequence that enforced a stark political reality on Monday night, shocked many commentators even as they watched the numbers coming in and led to a PC majority government.
The question is why did these voters opt to staunch the growth of Wildrose; did it have something – anything – to do with social policies? Moreover, did social conservatives, who might have voted overwhelmingly for Wildrose, decide to stay home and refrain from casting a ballot because they took offence at recent comments from Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, who declared herself pro-abortion, in favour of same-sex marriage and unwilling even to consider de-funding abortion because she considers it a constitutional right?
These same questions arise every time that a conservative party is defeated in an election where the fire of social policy is lit by a party candidate and then quickly extinguished by the party leader, who usually declares such talk off limits and unwelcome in the Canadian public square. Inevitably, social liberals – from throughout the political spectrum – will announce that Canadians neither want to talk about social issues like abortion, that these issues are “settled” and that candidates or parties who raise these issues “scare” voters. Concurrently, social conservatives will raise the specter of disaffected faith-based voters who decide to register their disapproval of the party hierarchy by not voting at all.
So which is it? Without some degree of scientific polling and analysis, the question will remain the purvey of punditry that will continue to present conjecture as political cause and effect.
What can be said of this week’s election is that Danielle Smith, whether unwittingly or not, may have further eroded the presence and influence of social conservatives in Canadian political life. Not only has the liberal media insisted that she lost the election because of “alarming” comments by social conservative candidates, but during the election Smith herself took the completely unnecessary and detrimental step of declaring that de-funding abortion would be contrary to the Charter of Rights and thus not a legitimate or obtainable political goal for the pro-life movement. So while she allegedly lost the election by being remotely associated with social conservative issues, she consciously attempted to reduce the opportunities to reduce or restrict abortion in this country.
That might be deemed the worst of both worlds.
Furthermore, despite fielding candidates who were pro-life and opposed to advancing the homosexual agenda, Smith made it abundantly clear that a Wildrose government would act no differently than a PC government in the realm of social policy. In reality, to many voters there would have seemed no difference between the two parties as far as actual policy was concerned. Ergo: how can anyone legitimately blame social conservatives for losing the election?
What is really occurring in the left-wing analysis of this election is the insistence that social conservatives just cease and desist from speaking altogether. There should be no discussion, no dialogue, no debate, no diversion, no dissent – just accept the social status quo and like it.
But that is not going to happen. Social conservatives need to ensure that no issue is settled in this country – or in any democracy for that matter – and that until the conservative movement embraces a holistic philosophy that includes a culture of life and a recognition of traditional values alongside a commitment to free markets, we will continue to erode free speech, preside over moral decay and lose elections.
David Krayden is the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies, an independent, not-for-profit institution dedicated to the advancement of freedom and prosperity through the development and promotion of good public policy.