Social conservatism in Canada

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Social conservatism in Canada is a political attitude that is widespread. It represents conservative positions on issues of family, sexuality and morality. In the European and North American context believe in natural law, and traditional family values and policies.

Background[edit]

In modern times, social conservatism has not been very influential in Canada. The main reason is that Right-wing, neoliberal politics as promoted by leaders such as Paul Martin and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have not been linked to moral or social conservatism.[1] That is, there is no large political party behind it, and social conservatives have divided their votes.[2]

Social conservatives demand a return to traditional morality and social mores, often through civil law or regulation. Social change away from traditional values is generally regarded as suspect, while social values based on tradition are generally regarded as tried, tested and true. It is a view commonly associated with religious conservatives, particularly Evangelicals or conservative Roman Catholics.

Socially conservative values do not necessarily coincide with those of right-wing fiscal conservatism. Fiscally left-leaning politicians may embrace socially conservative values.

An example of a socially conservative Canadian is Christian Heritage Party leader Jim Hnatiuk or former leader Ron Gray.

Political impact[edit]

Stockwell Day

In modern Canadian politics, social conservatives often felt that they were being sidelined by officials in the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Many of them felt shunned by a party that was largely led and run by Red Tories for the last half of the twentieth century. Many eventually made their political home with the Reform Party of Canada and its forerunner the Social Credit Party of Canada. Despite Reform leader Preston Manning's attempts to broaden the support of the Reform movement through populism, the party was dominated by social conservatives. Manning's reluctance to allow his party to wholly embrace socially conservative values contributed to his deposition as leader of the new Canadian Alliance in favour of Stockwell Day.[3]

The social conservative movement remained very influential in the Canadian Alliance even after Day's defeat at the hands of Stephen Harper in 2002.

In the Conservative Party of Canada that emerged from a coalition of Canadian Alliance members and Progressive Conservatives, social conservatives are still a force to be taken into account, but many Conservative Party supporters have been disappointed with what they regard as the minimal influence of social conservatism in the Stephen Harper government. In part this minimal influence can be explained by the fact of a minority government, but some would blame it also on Harper's own lack of enthusiasm for the changes social conservatives would advocate.

There is a large relationship between fiscal liberalism and social conservatism among Canadian ethnic communities. These communities which traditionally vote Liberal, may now be considered fair game to the Conservatives.

The Christian Heritage Party of Canada is also socially conservative, as are its provincial wings like the Christian Heritage Party of British Columbia. There are other socially conservative provincial parties such as the Family Coalition Party of Ontario or the Alberta Social Credit Party.

Geography[edit]

Social conservatism is strongest in Alberta, long Canada's most conservative province, where the Social Credit movement preached evangelical values and came to power in the 1930s.[4] It is a factor as well in parts of British Columbia outside of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.[5] Social conservatives are strongest in rural settings, especially in Western Canada, however, social conservatism is not limited geographically to any one area or to any one political party.

Similarly, the REAL Women of Canada are a conservative women’s lobbyist group that contend that the nuclear family is an integral part of traditional Canadian living[6] that ensures social cohesion and should be supported by the government via legislation, as what they deem a western, Christian understanding of marriage and family life, heterosexuality, the role of women in society and the home, and the protection of those deemed innocent. The REAL Women of Canada are also against feminism, abortion, divorce, LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.[7]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ John Middlemist Herrick and Paul H. Stuart, eds. Encyclopedia of social welfare history in North America (2005) p. 143
  2. ^ David M. Haskell, Through a lens darkly: how the news media perceive and portray evangelicals (2009) p 57
  3. ^ Murray Dobbin, Preston Manning and the Reform Party (1991)
  4. ^ Robert Alexander Wardhaugh, Toward defining the prairies: region, culture and history (2001) p. 29
  5. ^ Robert K. Burkinshaw. Pilgrims in Lotus Land: Conservative Protestantism in British Columbia 1917-1981 (Mcgill-Queen's Studies in the History of Religion, 1995)
  6. ^ REAL Women of Canada: Home http://www.realwomenofcanada.ca/. retrieved 2013-06-04
  7. ^ REAL Women of Canada: About Us. http://www.realwomenofcanada.ca/issues/. retrieved 2013-06-04

References[edit]

  • Burkinshaw, Robert K. Pilgrims in Lotus Land: Conservative Protestantism in British Columbia 1917-1981 (Mcgill-Queen's Studies in the History of Religion, 1995)

External links[edit]

Some Canadian websites with socially conservative viewpoints: