I was one of the many people who felt a sense of confusion when Councillor Duggan announced he was running – for the Conservatives! Mr Duggan had seemed one of the most progressive, ambitious, and daring councillors our city has ever had. Now, here he was proposing to turn the big oil tanker of Conservatism around, by running for a party linked to climate-change denial, the oil industry, Trumpism, and hostility to same-sex marriage, and so on. That was a common public perception which Mr Scheer did not dispel.
However, I have also just bought Hugh Segal’s book arguing for a basic income level for all Canadians. Segal is an establishment Tory, and for him to take such a progressive direction made me re-think Duggan’s ambitions. The election happened too quickly and all in the pressure-cooker that is an election campaign, but perhaps we are seeing the re-birth of a long and honourable Canadian tradition: the “red” Tories. Real progressive conservatives, in other words, Conservatives before Harper.
Conservatism seeks to preserve the best of the past – to “conserve” it. But without sacrificing the advances of each era. Modern Tories like Doug Ford and Jason Kenney – and Andrew Sheer, apparently – are the dinosaurs playing on our fears and insecurities to advance corporate and evangelical interests. Next time, and it may come soon, we might give Mr Duggan’s quixotic views a second look, Aylmer!