Andrew MacDougall, a former director of communications to Stephen Harper, is a communications consultant based in London.
Well, it didn’t take long for the clouds to roll in.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer barely had time to try on his new title before the “sunny ways” Liberals deployed two attack dogs to criticize the 38-year old Catholic father of five.
“Make no mistake about it,” warned Toronto Liberal MP Adam Vaughan, “[Scheer] is somebody who has voted against every single civil rights advancement in the last 25 years.”
“At the end of the day,” added Montreal Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez, “it was a contest between the far-right social Conservatives and the far-right economic Conservatives and the far-right social Conservatives won the day.”
Mr. Vaughan’s and Mr. Rodriguez’s comments were in reference to Mr. Scheer’s voting record supporting his Catholic beliefs: pro-traditional marriage and life, and opposition to transgender rights.
Not mentioned by the Liberals was the fact that Mr. Scheer has pledged not to reopen either the marriage or abortion debates. So much for the shinier, happier politics promised by Mr. Trudeau.
This kind of anti-Christian sneer is nothing new for the Liberals, and it comes from the top. It was Justin Trudeau who declared in 2014 that no candidate could run on the Liberal ticket in 2015 if they opposed abortion (existing MPs were exempted from the diktat).
So much for tolerance.
These actions have successfully silenced the Liberals’ own socially-conservative wing, even if it has produced some discord. Long-time Liberal MP John McKay, an opponent of abortion who voted against his own government’s same-sex marriage bill in 2005, even went as far as to label Mr. Trudeau’s stance on abortion a “bozo eruption” before being forced to apologize.
One wonders if Mr. Trudeau was brave enough to scold Pope Francis today in Rome for holding the same beliefs as Mr. Scheer? Of course he wouldn’t have been. Mr. Trudeau is quite happy to stump for Catholic votes so long as none of his MPs are allowed to remain true to Catholic beliefs.
Hypocrisy doesn’t begin to cover it.
Of course, with Liberals, it’s not the beliefs; it’s who holds them, and from what religion. The Liberal position appears to be that you can be a social conservative, as long as you’re not a white, Christian social conservative.
It’s hard to imagine the Liberals would be so aggressive in criticizing the new Conservative leader had that person been a Muslim or Orthodox Jew who shared the same social beliefs as Mr. Scheer. If you were to survey these communities, you would find much more support for Mr. Scheer’s social beliefs than you would the Liberal Party’s.
This was one of Stephen Harper’s great insights into so-called “new” Canadian communities; they are often socially conservative and could be made comfortable in a political movement that rewarded family, hard work, and a role for faith in life, if not state-sanctioned society.
It wasn’t a perfect fit.
The Conservatives suffered the reverse blindness exhibited by Liberals; the Tories were happy to have faith-based socially-conservative voters unless they were Muslim.
Will one party ever be able to unify socially-conservative voters? Not likely. The Liberals don’t like the beliefs and the Conservatives don’t like some of the believers. That’s not likely to change. It’s also simplistic to assume voters only cast ballots based on their religion, or that all adhere to all tenets of their faith.
But in this existing battle of blindness, it’s advantage Liberals.
For in today’s Canada – and in most Western democracies, for that matter – you can get away with criticizing a Christian far more readily than you can for criticizing a Muslim, even if you’re talking about the same social beliefs.
As the gleeful Liberal attacks on Mr. Scheer prove, that’s not likely to change either.