Image Courtesy of Andre Forget at flickr.com
Jasper Danielson, Queen’s University
Edited by Sharon Yin
Erin O’Toole’s recent resignation has left open a large seat at the head of the Conservative party. Though a few names have been thrown into the mix, a new leader has yet to be found. The Conservatives’ search for new leadership, however, does bring a new problem to light: the massive divide between the party’s own members. Does this intra-party conflict suggest a much larger, nation-wide divergence?
Admittedly, polarizing issues such as those concerning COVID-19 policies will inevitably cause disagreements. However, such intra-party conflict may still be a sign of something bigger. Andrew Scheer, former leader of the Conservative party and current Conservative MP for Regina, has been very vocal about both his opposition toward vaccine mandates, and his support for the Trucker’s Convoy protest. This is apparent after a quick overview of his recent statements and the fact that Saskatchewan has already announced their annulment of the proof of vaccination and negative test policy which is in effect starting on February 14th. Scheer is not alone in the voicing of these opinions; they appear to be common for many of those residing in Canada’s prairie provinces, a historically blue region.
Alternatively, Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford, who is also a member of the Conservative party, has taken a much different approach. In comparison to other Conservative leaders, Ford has implemented a much slower provincial reopening plan, has remained adamant about the vaccine passport, and has even declared a state of emergency in response to the Trucker’s Convoy protest. Ford is not alone in his views either, as the large majority of Ontarians have voiced their (at least partial) support for the vaccine passport, while legal action against the truckers protest continues to be pushed forward by many of those in power.
The clear division between these Members of Parliament appears to be the result of diverging populaces. In order to remain in power, these politicians must pander to their audiences as votes are paramount – and what better way to gain support than making the majority happy? Scheer and the Conservatives in the prairies are tending to the views of those within their area, for how could they truly maintain COVID restrictions when public schools are being taken over by anti-mask protesters? Similarly, Ford is implementing policies favoured by those in Ontario, for how could he abstain from doing so when so many are counter-protesting against the Truckers Convoy protest?
The prevalence of this whole divide is simply proven by O’Toole’s ousting. He was unable to please all of his voters when there were clearly two opposing demographics within the same political party. One key demographic (the Conservatives in the prairies) is advocating in favour of fewer restrictions, while another key demographic (the Conservatives in the Ontario region) is advocating for the complete opposite. With this in mind, it truly seems that such a division between the Conservatives in Ontario and those in the prairies does in fact indicate a larger-scale disaccord between Canadians – the political ideologies and policy implementations within a single party are clearly contradictory.
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