You are here

Conservatives are the party of the far-right convoy

September 14, 2023
If there was ever any doubt, the recent Conservative party convention put it to rest – this is the party of the convoy. The far-right politics that animated the Ottawa convoy, anti-vax and anti-trans movements are now firmly embedded in Pierre Poilievre’s party. 

Policy resolutions calling for an end to medical support for trans kids and against vaccine mandates passed by super-majorities and the far-right is feeling vindicated and emboldened by the support. 

The anti-trans position is also being bolstered by Conservative provincial premiers who are recognizing the value of whipping up a fanatical religious base. Doug Ford, reeling from the revelations of the Greenbelt scandal, used the same language to deflect attention from his own corruption.

The communication team for Poilievre has been focusing on bread and butter issues such as housing and the cost of living in recent months, yet the policy resolution to outline how they would support housing didn’t even make it to the floor of the convention.
The only resolution that was voted down was a weakly worded one about protecting fresh water sources – even that was too “woke” for this Tory mob.  

Of course, the Conservatives don’t really have any intention of making housing more affordable. For Poilievre the main culprit in creating the housing crisis is ‘red tape’ imposed by Liberal governments which is apparently slowing house construction. What he fails to mention is that this 'red tape' is often the only means of creating affordable housing. For example, in most jurisdictions in the country, developers are required to set aside a certain percentage of new housing units as affordable. Definitions of what is affordable are inconsistent and outcomes often don’t help those in need – but even those slight measures are too much for the Cons.

Yet they are leading in the polls in most places across the country and their support is growing. 

A party that is basing itself within the political fringes on many social issues and has an atrocious track record on cost of living issues and an even worse environment record is ahead. How do we explain this?

For one, the policies of the Trudeau Liberals have done nothing to make things better for ordinary people. Poilievre may not have a solution to the housing crisis but the Liberals have overseen the largest increase in housing costs of any government in Canadian history. Yes, provincial premiers are also responsible – but for people worried about how to house and feed themselves, they are going to look at the big cheese as a primary culprit. 

If one is worried about the state of the climate and environment, Trudeau – despite his lofty rhetoric about being a climate champion – is spending billions on new pipelines and is looking to expand fracking operations in southern Alberta. 

Trudeau has demonstrated his contempt for workers, legislating dock workers in Montreal back to work and threatening the same with longshore workers in BC. His government nickel-and-dimes federal public sector workers while wasting billions on corporate subsidies. 

He has raised anger with his carbon tax, a regressive tax that forces working people to pay for the climate crisis while letting the big oil companies off the hook, and which is hopelessly inadequate for dealing with the scale of the crisis. 

He may have convened a meeting to get to the bottom of the soaring cost of groceries, but will do nothing to slow the greed and profiteering of the big grocery cartels who are making billions while food bank lineups grow daily.
Trudeau is an easy and deserving target. But the track record of Conservatives — including in provinces with Tory governments — shows that they have no intention of reining in corporate greed. Indeed, they have always been the biggest champion of the oligarchs in the country. 

The real problem is that there isn't a left of centre party that can articulate the class demands of working people. The NDP is seen as nothing but a prop to the Liberals and has become a bit-player both federally and provincially. 
It is testament to the ineptitude of the NDP that the Conservatives have been able to situate themselves as the champion of the working class while consistently working against the interests of workers.
For example, on interest rate hikes the Tories outflanked the NDP quite easily. The party gave little indication that it would challenge the hikes, which are squeezing even more out of working people. Instead, we have Doug Ford taking credit for stopping a recent hike.

This has created a vacuum on the left which the convoy movement is trying to fill, aiming to become the voice for people angry at the system and the elites who benefit from attacks on workers. In the absence of another pole of attraction, it is seen as the only alternative. 
This is incredibly dangerous. The convoy movement was led by far-right racist, homophobic, transphobic figures and has the potential to be the base of a fascist movement.
Many who are attracted to the Conservatives are not full-blown racists. But the party's embrace of the far-right assures that Tory supporters will begin to rub elbows with these elements and can be brought further towards more hardened positions.

NDP brass will point to one or two tiny metrics to suggest that they are on the way up – boasting, for example, about Jagmeet Singh having the highest approval rating of any federal leader. Yet they are still languishing in 3rd place and haven’t budged since the last election. They will point to the dental care policy as a victory, and it will help some poorer Canadians – but that is a drop in the bucket for people who can’t afford homes and groceries.

If there is a glimmer of hope for a left alternative, it isn’t coming from the halls of Parliament or the boardrooms of union bureaucrats. It is coming from the picket line. 

The recent Metro strike in Toronto enjoyed the highest level of support for any strike in decades. People understand that workers are generating billions for the bosses, and deserve a fair share. Essential workers in many sectors have found a voice, and are calling for a more equitable society. 
In fact, we have seen a shift to offensive demands in some strikes. In recent decades, strikes were often about saving jobs and reducing the attacks on workers. The strikes today are being led by workers who are fed up and need to fight because they have no choice but to demand more simply to keep up with the cost of living.

The fact that we saw workers reject deals recommended by their union reps — at Metro, BC ports and Windsor Salt — shows that workers are willing to fight. 

The education workers in Ontario who struck and defeated an anti-union law, and the PSAC strikes which showed widespread militancy, suggests that this can happen in the public sector. Unfortunately in both cases, the union leaders called for the pickets to be shut down and recommended that the workers take bad deals but the readiness to fight from the base is not in question. 

These worker’s movements are the nucleus for a possible fightback that is not dominated by the far-right. The fact that convoy forces harassed pickets during the PSAC strike exposed the lie that they are movements of the working class. Picket lines clarify class demands and show workers who is actually onside with the fight for a better world. 

The potential to link strikes and fights has also been squandered by national union leaders and the CLC. In Ontario the OFL took its lead not from strikes, but from a failed ONDP campaign in 2022 that saw the ONDP lose 800,000 mainly working class votes in the middle of near general strike of building trades. Union leaders keep looking to anywhere but the shop floor to build a fight against the right, some sadly have cheered on the NDP and Liberal coalition style government, again ceding the anti-Trudeau ground to the far right.
We are two years out from the next federal election and the prospects look grim when watching the polls – but a lot can change in that span of time.
There is a prospect, for example, that the global climate strike can grow and break out of the pandemic doldrums that saw numbers dwindle from the high point in 2019. 
There are also new strikes on the horizon, with more grocery workers entering bargaining and the Big Three auto manufacturers are facing high strike votes and advanced demands.

In Ontario, the Greenbelt scandal and the destruction of healthcare are key focal points and have the potential to crush Doug Ford and crystallize as a new opposition to the Tories. 

The NDP still has time to do more than simply tweet pictures of leaders shaking hands with workers. They could use their platform to help build the strikes and protests. They could use their infrastructure to build solidarity networks that materially support strikes. Workers want to fight. The question is whether the NDP has the political will to bolster that fight in a meaningful way, to create a pole of attraction on the left that can build a real movement for the change that is so desperately needed. 

Geo Tags: 

Featured Event


Visit our YouTube Channel for more videos: Our Youtube Channel
Visit our UStream Channel for live videos: Our Ustream Channel