Jean Charest: Canadian Conservatives need substantive political ideas — not conspiracy theories


“We don’t have a freedom problem. We have a Trudeau problem.”

Canada is one of the freest countries in the world. It’s not spin. This is a fact confirmed by Canadians in a recent survey.

But we cannot take for granted the real anguish and frustrations that many Canadians have felt and endured under Justin Trudeau’s identity politics regime for the past seven years.

He sowed the seeds of division – we see where this road leads.

Under the Trudeau government, Canadians have seen a surge in public frustration and an increase in lockdowns, whether on our critical resources and infrastructure or due to pandemic-related restrictions.

We have seen women in high-level decision-making positions being kicked out of his government for challenging his behavior.

We have barely heard a whisper of how his government intends to prepare us for future pandemics or an acknowledgment of the very real need to reform our healthcare system.

We have seen him prioritize ideology, imposing a carbon tax hike at a time when household affordability has never been a greater concern.

We stood idly by, unprepared to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion.

And this week, we were reminded that his inaction and indifference have failed to protect the rights of women, minorities, and LGBTQ2S personnel from an endemic culture of sexual misconduct in our armed forces.

We don’t have a freedom problem. We have a Trudeau problem.

Inflation out of control. An opioid crisis on our streets. A housing affordability crisis. Abandoned pipelines. Increase in hate crimes.

These are serious domestic challenges compounded by the war in Ukraine, a sovereign nation overrun by those who oppose democratic values.

You would think that, given the serious challenges facing our country, our Prime Minister would move with breakneck speed to get our economy back on track, strengthen our national defense and protect our most vulnerable.

But Justin Trudeau does none of that. He failed, and Canadians have every right to doubt the credibility of his leadership and the credibility of impersonating politicians.

The choices we make as the Conservative Party of Canada matter a lot to the future of our country – not just our Party.

I believe that Canada needs serious Conservative leadership to hold the Liberal-NDP coalition to account and prepare to govern during one of the most disruptive and difficult times in the history of our country.

I also believe that Canadians expect the Conservative Party of Canada to be the strong and serious alternative to Trudeau’s corner politics.

From the start of my campaign, I decided to focus on developing substantive political ideas.

We owe it to Party members and Canadians to debate what kind of Conservative Party of Canada we want to be.

What are we standing for? Conspiracy theories that encourage anarchy, promote bizarre economic ideas and exploit anger?

What do we care about? Shocking, amazed YouTube shares and comments to reward our social media algorithms?

I hope not.

I believe in a conservatism open to progress. This race was never about cutting conservatives. It was about being relevant on the issues that matter to Canadians today and into the foreseeable future.

As Edmund Burke said, “We must reform to conserve”. And we must preserve those things that matter so deeply to all of us – freedom of choice, the rule of law, human dignity, financial responsibility, duty to family and our national security.

We do not burn institutions for short-term political gain. This kind of shooting from the hip approach is dangerously nearsighted.

To meet the greatest challenges of our time, we need serious and thoughtful leadership to make our institutions more responsive to public needs, more nimble for the future, and more fit for our modern challenges.

Soundbites are easy. Creating bold policies takes courage and serious leadership.

This is the kind of Conservative Party of Canada that I believe we can be and that Canadians will vote for.

— Jean Charest is a candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. He was leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1993 to 1998, Deputy Premier in 1993 and Premier of Quebec from 2003 to 2012.


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