So-cons to Harper: You owe us

By: on June 23, 2011 | Politics

<spanlang=”EN-US”>The recent Conservative election win is, for social conservatives, excitement that must be tempered with facts. The Conservatives dismissed the possibility that a majority government would restrict abortion or re-visit same-sex marriage, and since election night, the Prime Minister has not wavered. This is so and despite how social conservatives assisted the Conservatives, whether through riding-level volunteering, private donations or support at the polls.

<spanlang=”EN-US”>The relationship between social conservatives and the Conservative party brings to mind a thought from Søren Kierkegaard, who wrote that the only affliction that causes complete death is despair.

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<spanlang=”EN-US”>For example, Lazarus rose from the dead because his disease was not “unto death”; although he physically died, his death failed to end his existence. Had it, he could not have been raised. Kierkegaard writes: “If you have lived in despair then whatever else you won or lost, for you everything is lost.” Those consumed with despair are lost death because they saw nothing else to hope for.

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<spanlang=”EN-US”>Social conservatives may experience this now. It is easy enough to believe that if a Conservative majority will not promote pro-life policies or traditional marriage, then no one will. This logical thought process is actually despair.

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<spanlang=”EN-US”>Thus, one can imagine social conservatives retreating from partisan political life, and in so doing, softening Conservative support to the benefit of “progressive” parties. But in their dejection, social conservatives risk ceding their place on the political stage. If so, others will move into that space to deleteriously influence Canadian politics, at least from the socially conservative perspective.

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<spanlang=”EN-US”>However, this sickness is not unto death. While the new government intends to push aside older issues, this does not mean that all socially-conservative policies are dead. The soul of social conservatism stretches beyond the traditional ones.

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<spanlang=”EN-US”>But on at least two issues, social conservatives can and should expect a majority Conservative government to repel creeping liberalization. Due to recent court cases, the government faces challenges to the criminality of narcotics and polygamy. Social conservatives support keeping these issues illegal since their restriction promotes traditions that benefit society.

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<spanlang=”EN-US”>Narcotic addiction may impel one into violent crime in order to satisfy that addiction. Polygamy undercuts the biblical tenet that marriage is an exclusive union where two flesh become one in order to create and nurture children. Instead, multiple women “wed” one man; often the women are abused and children exposed to unhealthy socialization. If social conservatives rest their hopes on these issues, they can expect to have their support for the Conservatives validated.

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<spanlang=”EN-US”>Regarding narcotics, in Vancouver, the federal government is currently fighting to close Insite. That’s a drug-injection centre where heroin addicts, assisted by medical professionals, freely shoot up. Many conservatives – large C and small c – oppose Insite because they argue the centre harms society. Also, the party has promoted mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, including cannabis. Given the Conservative party’s consistency here, social conservatives can justifiably anticipate that the country will not be transformed into a grow-op.

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<spanlang=”EN-US”>Moreover, a British Columbia Court will soon rule on whether the current prohibitions to polygamy offend the Charter rights of Canadians. Should the Court rule that polygamy ought not be outlawed, it would be reasonable to expect the Conservative government to fight back.

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<spanlang=”EN-US”>The government has sufficient power and political capital to pursue the case to the Supreme Court. Moreover, because a strong majority of Canadians support the current ban of polygamy (an Abacus Data poll in April 2011 showed that 68% of Canadians agree with the current law), it is plausible that the government could invoke Section 33 of the Charter (i.e., the Notwithstanding Clause), if necessary. The Conservatives supported traditional forms marriage in the past; one can suspect that this trend will continue vis-à-vis polygamy.

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<spanlang=”EN-US”>The Conservative government has received considerable help from social conservatives in the past. However, the Conservative party is less than anxious to act on policies that most social conservatives consider essential. That should change on at least two matters: narcotics laws and any openness towards polygamy.


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About Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson is a recent PhD graduate in Political Science from the University of Calgary. He is originally from the Halifax area.