Last week, I attended the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa. I had the pleasure to meet one of the greatest defenders of freedom and small government in the world, former Congressman Ron Paul, who gave the keynote speech. I also made a presentation on how to attract new supporters to the Conservative Party at one of the panels with my colleague Jason Kenney (photo: Jake Wright). The text of my speech is reproduced below.
How to advance conservative ideas
Manning Networking Conference 2013
8 March 2013, Ottawa
We are discussing today on this panel if the federal Conservative Party has reached a high water mark. I hope not. Because if that’s the case, there won’t be any Conservative left in Quebec when we hit the low water mark! I mean, outside of my riding of Beauce, of course!
So, to answer the question, how can we continue to attract new supporters?
In conventional politics, the way to get more supporters is usually to reach for the center. If you are on the right for example, all voters who share right-wing beliefs and ideas are assumed to support you already. So if you want to get more support, you make proposals that are a bit more to the left. You do the opposite if you are a left-wing party.
That may be a winning strategy to some extent, in some circumstances. If we’re talking about social or moral issues, or foreign policy for example. It’s obvious that we need to be sensitive to the majority’s opinion and to reach for a broader consensus on such issues.
But when it comes to economic issues, I don’t buy that. I think being more conservative on economic issues is the way to make our economy more dynamic, our country more prosperous, and ultimately to increase our support among voters.
There are only two directions we can take on this issue. Either we create new programs, increase spending and increase taxes – in short, increase the size of government. Or we do the opposite and reduce the size of government.
The evolution of government size