Doug Ford shows Conservative parties aren’t what they used to be

Doug Ford shows Conservative parties aren’t what they used to be

By Shachi Kurl, Executive Director

Notwithstanding the audible gasps from the chattering classes and the vocal cries from opponents in the face of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s vow to use the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to shrink the size of Toronto city council, one thing is for certain: This is not your grandfather’s Conservative party.

That couldn’t be more obvious as stalwart grandfathers of the party, such as former prime minister Brian Mulroney and former Ontario premier Bill Davis took turns this week voicing their disapproval of the clause itself and Ford’s determination to use it. In political terms, however, their figurative jowl-shaking matters little. Ford and his advisers know what they are doing, and public opinion suggests they know it will work.

Many point to Ford following a path first set by former prime minister Stephen Harper, a stalwart of the Conservative new school. As has been well documented by now, Harper wasn’t shy in railing against the activism of the bench, attacking Supreme Court justices and sitting out the 30th birthday party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 2012.

He did so because he believed it, but also because it appealed to his base. Indeed, past Conservative voters are two-to-three times more likely than past Liberal and NDP voters to say the Charter has been “bad” for Canada than they are to say it has been good. Conservatives voters are also the least likely to express confidence in the courts.

For the rest of this piece, please view it on the Ottawa Citizen’s site, where it was initially published.


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