News & Analysis

Social conservatism outperformed liberalism in CPC Leadership race

There’s been a lot of analysis since the leadership vote. It has focused largely on breaking down Andrew Scheer’s path to victory, where it was that the Bernier campaign could have improved, the crucial role played by Trost and Lemieux supporters in crowning Scheer victor, etc.

But one theme that hasn’t been drawn out, is how candidates with platforms that included pro-life and pro-family policies greatly outperformed those who presented as social liberals, or who lacked pro-life/family policy positions.

On the first ballot, the top six performers had campaign platforms which featured strong social conservative policies, and in some cases, pro-life voting records too.

On the flip side, the poorest performing candidates, those in spots 7-14, were either out-and-proud social liberals, pro-abortion, gay pride marchers, or otherwise, they had little-to-no policies that appealed to social conservatives.

Bernier, for example, who has a poor voting record on abortion-related bills and has marched in the gay pride parade, made a dramatic shift to the right during this campaign.  He pledged to repeal Trudeau’s Transgender ideology bill C-16, said he welcomed a private members bill on abortion, and that he’d be willing to re-open the abortion debate.

Of course Scheer had a well-known pro-life voting record.  O’Toole voted for the Unborn Victims of Violence bill. Trost and Lemieux ran bold, pro-life/pro-family campaigns.

Although Chong was a gay pride marcher and often voted badly on abortion, he pleased many social conservatives by taking a principled stand against Stephen Harper’s suppression of MPs’ democratic rights, specifically in the case of MP Mark Warawa’s bill to condemn female gendercide abortions, when the PMO quashed it.

Chong maintained as a central campaign policy, that he would uphold the democratic right of any MP to bring forward whatever private members business they wish, without interference from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The worst performers on first ballot include those who rubbed their social liberalism in the face of the grassroots conservatives, who are largely pro-life and pro-family, by marching in the gay pride parade, loudly touting their opposition to the traditional definition of marriage, and having generally bad voting records on pro-life issues.

The one candidate in the list of poor performers who did include pro-life policies in his platform, and directly asked for the support of pro-lifers was Rick Peterson.  However, he handled it rather badly. He put out an announcement stating that as PM he would criminalize sex-selective abortions, and would copy Trost’s policy of making Canada the most adoption-friendly country in the world. However, in the same breath, within the same announcement, he turned off so-cons by bragging about his social liberalism:

“I am pro-choice.  I support same-sex marriage.  I support LGBTQ rights.  I support the right of adults in grievous and unending pain to end their life with a doctor’s help.”

It seems clear from studying the contrast between the top six candidates and the poorest performers, that the grassroots members did not want a social liberal leading the party who would be hostile to their values.

These first ballot results, and the results overall, makes a case quite contrary to what the mainstream media and CPC establishment have been telling us for years. That is, being socially conservative and including pro-life, pro-family and pro-faith policies helps make you more electable as a Conservative, not less so. 

We hope Canada’s conservative politicians - federally and provincially - take note of the lesson taught by this leadership vote.