Recently, Erin O'Toole railed against those communities which canceled Canada Day celebrations. Paul Willcocks writes:
O’Toole delivered a video speech last week to the party’s MPs, complaining about communities that have decided to cancel Canada Day events this year after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves holding the remains of Indigenous children taken from their parents.
“I’m concerned that injustices in our past or in the present are too often seized upon by a small group of activist voices who use it to attack the very idea of Canada itself,” he said.
It's a message which appeals to his party's base -- but only to the party base:
The Conservatives still have many supporters — they did win the most votes in the 2019 election. But their increasingly divisive approach seems aimed only at the people already likely to vote for them.
And Conservative supporters are outliers on most major issues, from climate change to immigration to the pandemic, and the party increasingly seems to be held hostage by religious social conservatives. Pandering to the base drives away centre-right voters who once were the party’s main constituency.
As the polls show. The party captured 34 per cent of the popular vote in 2019, when the Liberals won a minority government. An Ipsos poll last month found support had fallen to 26 per cent. (Making a fall election even more likely.)
By way of contrast, both Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh took a different approach:
“I think this Canada Day, it will be a time of reflection on what we’ve achieved as a country but on what more we have to do,” [Trudeau] told reporters. Federal government Canada Day events are going ahead.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh took a similar stance. “While there’s things that we can be proud of, absolutely, there are things that are really horrible, and that are a part of our legacy,” he said.
Both respected people’s right to make their own choices without judgment. Which likely makes sense to most voters struggling with the terrible contradictions of a country that claims a noble purpose yet has a history of genocide and continues to wage war against Indigenous people.
Like his Republican brethren south of the border, O'Toole is preaching to a shrinking choir.
Image: Brentwood Benson