There are two components to any political movement: theory and reality. A coherent political ideology is crucial to any functioning party, but so too is recognizing a viable path to success. Few Canadians have as much direct experience fusing political theory with political reality as Tom Flanagan − scholar, author and senior decision-maker in three major conservative political organizations. In the second installment of C2C Journal’s Future of Conservatism Special Series, Flanagan reveals four important lessons from the recent past as the Conservative Party of Canada reassembles the shards of its devastating October electoral defeat.
What’s old is new again, and that extends well beyond aviator shades and flat-billed caps into the political realm. New again and, sometimes, even more urgent than the first time. The federal votes had barely been counted last month before calls erupted to dust off the Alberta Agenda, aka, the “Firewall Letter” of 2001. Some see its measures as forming Alberta’s first big step towards independence; others hope the same policies would help douse separatist flames. Just as quickly, opponents confidently pronounced all of the Agenda’s items unworkable. Tom Flanagan, co-author of the original Alberta Agenda, reviews its five policy recommendations and evaluates their merits in the light of current circumstances.
The ever-shifting scope of the constitutional “duty to consult” with aboriginal groups increasingly thwarts development in Canada, including resource projects critical to the country’s economic growth and prosperity. The recent court decision against the Trans Mountain pipeline is the highest-profile recent example. University of Calgary professor emeritus Tom Flanagan tracks the jurisprudence that elevated this legal concept into a de facto aboriginal veto and suggests ways that governments, with the support of pro-development aboriginal groups, could move to clearly define and limit its power.
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation lower the mortality rate from cancer, whereas reliance on homeopathic remedies is a death sentence. The University of Calgary’s Tom Flanagan, on why the scientific method matters.
“There is no shortage of offences with which to charge those who threaten Canada’s national security, writes University of Calgary professor Tom Flanagan in his call for treason to stay, for all practical purposes, buried in Canada’s past. While Flanagan does not see removing treason from the books as desirable, neither are new prosecutions with treason as a charge. As for other non-criminal matters such as Quebec separatists, “In a democratic polity, such large-scale problems of allegiance can only be solved by political conciliation, not by hunting down and punishing traitors,” writes Flanagan.
This article by Tom Flanagan about Indigenous entrepreneurial involvement in natural resource development shows how far ahead of the curve he’s been on this subject. Today, many people are concluding the only way to get the TransMountain pipeline expansion built is through native ownership. This could herald the end of the old aboriginal/green obstructionist alliance, and the arrival of a new aboriginal/industry partnership revitalizing Canada’s resource sector.
Absolutist conservatism is currently represented in Canada by Max Bernier’s new People’s Party, Wild Rose loyalists scornful of Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party, and faux-Viking elements in the yellow vest movement. A decade ago it was the Fraser Institute, Canadian Taxpayers Federation and Reform Party nostalgists – all unsatisfied with Stephen Harper’s then-young Conservative government. Tom Flanagan’s advice on the virtue of “incrementalism” rings as true now as it did then.