Friday Sep 20

Northern Light: Conservatives Looking to Remake Canada


Jason Kenney, a former Stephen Harper Cabinet Minister, is now the Premier of Alberta. His United Conservative Party swept into power by defeating the second to last NDP government still governing in the country. The Conservatives are winning at the provincial level in Canada. If they win the upcoming Federal Election they will be able to make constitutional amendments in their quest to make Canada conservative.

Not sure if you can say the new wave of conservatives are more right-wing than ever. Canada’s founders were ardently sexist, racist, and murderous. Yet this new batch of Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, François Legault, and Andrew Scheer are more right-wing than their peers from a generation ago. Doug Ford is making massive cuts in Ontario: library funding cut by 50%, legal aid services (helping poor people get lawyers) cut by 30%, public health funding cut by a billion just to name a few. François Legault passed a bigoted law banning any Quebec public worker from wearing religious clothing, a clear attack on muslims in Quebec. Jason Kenney is too new to legislate awfulness in Alberta yet, but the once bragged about helping overturn a California law that granted gay men visitation rights to dying family members while he was a college student in San Francisco in the 80’s. These guys are horrifically bad.

2019 may go down as the best year ever for conservatives in Canada. So far this year their provincial parties have taken power in five provinces, only losing out in Newfoundland Labrador, and are now in control of seven out of the ten Canadian Provinces. To make matters worse for Canadians, the federal Conservatives led by right-wing leader Andrew Scheer is consistently polling ahead of Justin Trudeau’s scandal-plagued Liberal government. A Scheer victory would give conservatives more control over the country than ever.

In order to make changes to the constitution you need the approval of both Parliament and the (unelected) Senate, along with the support of two-thirds of the provinces, as long as those provinces populations add up to 50% Canada’s total population. If things progress for the rest of 2019 the way they have in the first half of the year, the country is in for bumpy ride. They will have the two thirds of provinces behind them and will start staking the appointed senate with conservatives.

Now, who knows exactly what they do with this power, if they get it, but the prospect is frightening. Canadian labour has been able to win victories at the Supreme Court that enshrine collective bargaining as a right. Conservatives would love to destroy that! The path would be clear to diminish the powers that the federal government have over province which could severely undermine Canada’s universal health care system, and the any role the federal government wants to have over energy and climate change policy. They would be enabled to developing ways to roll back civil rights victories for women, indigenous people, and minorities. So many options would be open to conservatives if they win federally.

With fools like Jason Kenney and Doug Ford wielding unprecedented power in Canada, we all have something to worry about. And, if Trudeau gets replaced by Scheer, Canada could get real Trumpy real quick.

John Anderson is the Field Director for ACORN Canada. Since 2004 John has helped to develop the ACORN Canada operations in Toronto, Ontario, and British Columbia. He is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg.

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