Watching extreme-right conservative party candidates like Kevin O’Leary and Kellie Leitch gain popularity in the conservative party is frightening, and a lot of people feel helpless to prevent such an extremist conservative leader from gaining power. At a time in which our neighbours south of the border are leaning to the right, promoting xenophobia and racism among other things, it would be devastating if Canada followed suit. There has to be a way to stop the conservatives from electing a far-right leader — and a few Canadians have found one.
Instead of sitting idly by, many concerned left-leaning and liberal citizens have taken matters into their own hands by joining the conservative party, only to take part in the vote for their next party leader in May. These left-leaning citizens are being dubbed ‘imposters’ by the Conservative party for doing so, but Canadians are desperate to prevent an extreme right-winger from gaining control of any party in federal politics.
For only 15 dollars, a Canadian can join the party, as long as they are older than 14 years old and then take part in the internal party vote for the next conservative leader. The only other criteria to join the conservative movement is to accept the 22 principles of the conservative party, which are relatively moderate and democratic in nature. Examples of the principles include fiscal economic responsibility and accepting all Canadians, regardless of religion and ethnicity.
So, how does joining the Conservative party just to vote in a leader have an impact exactly?
Joining in order to vote in a more progressive leader could sway the vote substantially because of the type of voting system used in this type of election — a preferential ballot system. This means that if there is no clear majority winner, the voter indicates reference to each of the candidates listed on the ballot, and then the preferences are counted together until the winner is determined. If people are joining the conservative party simply to cast a vote for the leader, this system of voting preference could substantially change whoever the potential leader could be.
Joining a party to affect leadership is an unusual approach to democracy, but is a credible way to affect change to the right-wing political party in Canada. Kevin O’Leary is one particular leader who has little history in politics and extreme-right views, begging the question: ‘who does that remind you of?’. Kellie Leitch is another concerning candidate — woman who is pushing a xenophobic and racist agenda under the guise of “Canadian values.” She has argued for a ‘barbaric cultural practices’ RCMP tip line that has been criticized as islamophobic and is an ardent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump. Maxime Bernier is another strong candidate due to his long history in Canadian politics, but continues a long-held conservative tradition of being bland and never thinking outside of the box. He would most likely continue the work of former conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
With left-leaning citizens joining the conservative party in order to vote, it may be possible to get a more moderate candidate like Michael Chong into the position of the leader. Chong believes in imposing a carbon tax and doesn’t stray to the far-right in his policy-making. He may be a better choice for a conservative party leader, and wouldn’t lead Canada into extreme-right rhetoric that the United States in currently experiencing.
Having an extreme right-wing leader at the helm of the conservative party could be extremely damaging for Canada. The global sentiment is currently swaying towards xenophobic, nationalist and racist ideologies that are out-dated and downright dangerous. As Canadians, we need to ensure that we do not end up in the same place as our neighbours in the U.S. Though joining the conservative party to sway the vote may be extreme, protecting true Canadian values, and not the kind of ‘Canadian values’ that Leitch is referencing, is essential.
Ultimately, you decide what kind of country you want to live in. It is up to all of us, and as a Canadian mother, I know I do not want my daughter to grow up in a country built on right-wing extremist islamophobia and hate.