Inclusiveness: A Canadian and Conservative Narrative

The Need for a Narrative

On CBCs Sunday Scrum on the morning of January 7, 2018 John Ibbitson said, “The opposition, Liberals and like minded folks, like to portray the Conservatives as racist, homophobic, and sexist and they will succeed so long as the leader is not able to produce a counter narrative." I believe he has a point, not so much about the leader specifically, but rather that the party as a whole needs a narrative to counter the Liberal portrayal with one that is more fair and accurate, and which shines positive light on the inclusiveness of the Conservative Party; inclusiveness which is notably absent from the Trudeau-led Liberal Party.

In 2014 Trudeau said, “The party that we’re building, and that we’re continuing to build as we form government, will be resolutely pro-choice… I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills.” (

Inclusive Party, Inclusive Country

By contrast members of the Conservative Party can be pro-choice or pro-life or anything in between. Many Canadians who devoutly follow one religion or another will favour a traditional understanding of marriage and of the family. Liberals will call these people homophobes and misogynists. The Conservative Party has room for the meaningful participation of religious people side-by-side with people who are not so religious. The Conservative Party is a party where meaningful and fierce discussion can take place internally because it is an inclusive party that resembles the variety of views that exists among the Canadian people. The Conservative Party is not one in which members are expected to have views on every social issue which are cloned after the leader. Herein lies our narrative.

Real and meaningful inclusion is indeed a Canadian narrative. For a time I lived on a Native American reservation in New Mexico. I quickly discovered that the people of the reservation liked us better than the non-native Americans who lived there. Furthermore, when friends and relatives from Canada came to visit with us, the Native American people quickly became friendly and comfortable with them. The local people immediately sensed that these Canadians were people who accepted them for who they were immediately at the point of introduction. Until that experience I had no idea how much my country had shaped my character as it shapes the character of all of its people. Canada is a beautifully inclusive country. I fear we are at risk of losing this most precious gift.

A Philosophy Lesson

In order to explain the mechanics of Canadian inclusiveness I would like to attempt to deliver a simple lesson in philosophy. One of the major branches of philosophy deals with what we know or what we believe to be true. (You do not need to know that this branch is called epistemology.) There are many ways that people will come to know something or believe something to be true. Here are a few: 
  • Authority: I believe something because I trust the source from which I learned it. The source may be a book, a parent, a teacher, or a CBC reporter. 
  • Democracy: I believe something because everybody around me seems to believe it. The reason that Canadian views around healthcare and gun control are so different from American views can be explained by this means of truth finding. 
  • Experience and Experimentation (also called Empiricism): I believe it because I have first hand experience. The belief that childbirth is a painful experience is believed by men and women for different reasons. Only women experience it. 
  • Intuition: I believe it because my gut tells me it is true. Sometimes my gut tells me who to trust. We all believe some things due to our intuition. 
  • Pragmatism: I believe it because it works. Much of our belief about how to deal with criminals is based on what we believe will work to keep convicted people from re offending. 
  • Reason: I believe it because it makes logical sense. We tend to try to put everything into this category, because reason is respected in a secular society. 
  • Revelation: I believe it because it is in a Holy Book or my religion teaches it. 
All humans believe things for a variety of reasons. No-one can claim to be purely scientific or purely reasonable. No one can claim that everything they believe is in the Bible. We prioritize these ways of truth-finding differently. Leaders need to better respect all of the various ways that the people they represent come to know and believe the truths they hold dear. Here is where the liberals fall down. Not only do they fail to understand this. They demean people whose way of truth finding falls short of the secular standard they have set for all Canadians. They have placed the inclusiveness that has become a hallmark of the Canadian way of life in jeopardy. They have broken Canadian public discourse by asserting that one way of truth finding is the right way.

Fixing What is Broken

Some keys to repairing the broken public discourse in Canada rest in our ability to learn how to identify the things that we agree on; things like justice, health care for all, sound economic principles, an educated population, equality, and democracy. We must then seek to understand why we disagree on other things, with an earnest desire to understand one another.  We must put aside the judgmental attitude which polarizes our conversations. We must major in the majors, minor in the minors, and acknowledge that we are going to disagree.  Sometimes all we gain is a little more understanding of our counterpart, sometimes we crawl a little closer to consensus, and on rare occasions we are going to change our minds.

Canada is a beautifully diverse country. Because of that diversity we will disagree on things like the right to die, on a woman’s right to choose, on free trade, on supply management, on troops in the Middle East, on climate change, on pipelines, and on restrictions to free speech. This disagreement is a fact of life in a country where we are free to believe in accordance with our own truth-finding tools. This disagreement is a result of something beautiful.

The narrative of the Conservative Party of Canada is that it is not only the home of inclusiveness in the House of Commons, but it is Canada’s best hope for reversing the imposition of just one way of truth and knowledge finding in a country which boasts a sensational diversity of truth. This is not a new narrative that must be devised. This is who we are already. It is the party that will accept you as you are. It is the party that is as inclusive as Canada itself.