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on November 7, 2005
I read this book as the polling numbers of the Conservative Party of Canada passed the Liberal Party of Canada and it appears than a CPC minority government is a possibility within months. Does that mean that Canada's Right is saved? Ms. Kheriddin and Mr. Daifallah lay out the case that such a result would do little to change the long-term prospects of small-c conservatives in Canada. In their view the way to save Canada's Right is for conservatives to actually be conservatives - through building a right-wing infrastructure and clearly articulating a conservative ideology.
The book is split into three parts, The Past, The Plan and The Policies. The Past outlines the mixed (being generous) results of conservatism in Canada - from Sir John A. MacDonald to the wasted years of the Reform/Alliance/Progressive Conservative split of the '90s. The Plan provides evidence of the daunting work ahead for conservatives if they want a Conservative party to display conservative values. By showing the groundwork that has been laid out in the United States and Britain the authors provide a roadmap for Canadian conservatives.
This is presented as a daunting challenge. Canadian conservatives have decades of work to do to catch up, including the formation and funding of new think tanks, promoting conservatism in Quebec and gaining strength in traditional left-wing areas such as the media, the legal profession and within the immigrant community.
Where the book really shines is in the third section, The Policies. The real value put forward by the authors is introducing the positive vision of "Opportunity Conservatism". Instead of forcing standards down to provide an equality of results they present a vision of providing all Canadians with an equality of opportunities. In many respects this is a reintroduction of a Reagan or Thatcher revolution that never fully occurred in Canada. It combines free-market activism to solve problems in health care, the environment and poverty and bringing common sense policies to federalism, foreign policy and the family. It is not by accident that former Ontario Premier Mike Harris and former Reform Leader Preston Manning provide back cover reviews of the book.
A standout chapter in this section is on "greening the Conservative movement" and I will quote from it.
"Opportunity Conservative environmental policies are based on the tenets of free-market environmentalism. Free market environmentalists believe that non-governmental tools such as user fees, incentives, private property and markets will alleviate environmental problems more effectively than centralized, state-directed tools, such as subsidies, bureaucracy and regulation." (pg. 233)
...The Conservative Party and groups like the ones mentioned above must aim to debunk the myth that economic growth, free markets and conservatism are incompatible with protecting the environment. The two go hand and hand. The image projected by the left is that conservatives all shill for big business and that they want to clear-cut forests, melt the polar ice caps and kill off endangered animals. The truth is exactly the opposite. (pg. 237)
There are plenty of good ideas contained in this book for a one-time read or to use as a future reference and I definitely recommend it.
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