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Sidewinder: A truly conservative approach to solving Canada's problems

But ex-Maple Ridge city councillor always believed in a strong social conscience

I have always considered myself a conservative person, both socially and politically, but this is by my own definition, which will almost certainly clash with other people’s views of conservatism.

In general terms, being politically conservative means exercising caution when considering change, following traditional ways, and having a practical and ethical social conscience.

Being socially conservative means following much the same philosophy in terms of environment and lifestyle.

In my view, a conservative approach to social issues must be inclusive and reflect a strong social conscience.

It has always annoyed me that the NDP and its predecessor, the CCF, portray themselves as the only political party with a social conscience, something that is remarkably inaccurate and misleading.

It is in the nature of being conservative that we must consider the well being of everyone living on this planet.

At different times in my life, I have been a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and the British Columbia Conservative Party.

I quit both parties many years ago because most of their members forgot what being a conservative really means.

Now that I have stated my definition of what I consider being a conservative means, I will offer a few examples of those things or people that do not meet my personal definition of conservative standards ethically, socially or politically.

Kevin O’Leary jumps rout and lands right on top of my list of people who are definitely not conservative. He is joined on that list by many of the people currently vying for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.

O’Leary, much like Donald Trump in the United States, wants immediate change and couldn’t care less who or what gets hurt in the process.

O’Leary’s background in reality television reveals much of what we might expect from him in politics. In Canada, O’Leary is one of the inhabitants of the Dragon’s Den. In the United States, he can be found in the Shark Tank.

Doesn’t that tell you all you need to know in order to bypass him in his leadership bid?

O’Leary is not conservative. His attitude is totalitarian in nature, something that should find no safe haven in any democracy, conservative or otherwise.

Being conservative shouldn’t include bullying and denigrating refugees and imposing regulations, other than criminal code provisions, on any person or group of people which make it difficult or impossible for them to retain and practice their own culture or religion.

Kellie Leitch, a cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s government and a candidate for the Conservative leadership, has called for screening immigrants and even visitors, to determine if they reflect traditional Canadian values, a position first put forward by Liberal Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier more than a century ago.

Again, this is not conservative by any reasonable definition.

In a 1912 speech, Laurier had suggested that it was wrong to discriminate against immigrants based on race or religion, but only if they became assimilated into Canadian culture.

Carefully considering change doesn’t mean waving flags, stomping our feet or performing other symbolic protest measures in opposition to immigration or any socially acceptable progressive developments such as constitutional change.

That sort of action, such as Ontario and Quebec’s resistance to constitutional or senate reform, isn’t conservative; it’s selfish and self-serving.

In my opinion, a truly conservative approach to change simply means making sure the change is going to enhance life in our democracy for everyone and is not based on purely partisan views.

The good old boys school of backroom politics, favourtism and cronyism has plagued most major Canadian political parties, nationally and provincially, for decades.

Once again, this is something that is definitely not conservative in nature because it too frequently operates without conscience or respect.

It is all about power and influence with seldom enough consideration for those values which make Canada a beacon for freedom and democracy throughout the world.

The Conservative leadership vote is May 27.

Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former city councillor.