The Conservative Party of Canada is shopping around for a new leader. Kevin O’Leary, the front-runner, doesn’t speak French. To my mind, this ought to disqualify him from serious consideration.
For a system of government such as ours to work, a Canadian Prime Minister must try to govern in the interests of the whole country (or, at the very least, as much of it as possible). The great conservative Edmund Burke makes this clear in his “Speech to the Electors of Bristol” (November 3, 1774): “parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament.”
Trudeau has shown his commitment to doing precisely this by supporting things (like pipelines) which will benefit regions of the country that didn’t vote for him (indeed, would never vote for him). To some extent, Harper made manifest the very same commitment by vastly improving his French in the full knowledge that Quebecers weren’t going to vote for him. In a federal system, gestures like this are incredibly important. Harper got that. Trudeau gets that. O’Leary does not.
The Republican Party didn’t even bother to run candidates in the South in 1860, much less campaign there. And yet Lincoln won. The message to the South was loud and clear: We can win federal elections whilst completely ignoring you, pretending you don’t even exist. As you might expect, the South was like, screw this, we’re out of here! Soon after that, a civil war broke out. It claimed the lives of 620,000 Americans.
Choose wisely, Conservatives, choose wisely. Order is fragile.
—John Faithful Hamer, Blue Notes (2017)