The pandemic has exposed serious social and economic challenges that conservatives should be ready to address, and presents an opportunity to offer a relevant and expanded social conservative agenda, writes Ben Woodfinden.
In this piece I’m going to try and push back against some of the received wisdom about conservatism in Canada and sketch out what a contemporary social conservative agenda could look like. This agenda has been given renewed relevance by the pandemic, which has highlighted an underlying fragility of our social institutions and fabric that needs to be addressed. This is the longest newsletter so far, but given how long it has been since the last one I figured you’ll forgive me for this.
Social conservatism, properly understood, is not just about a few hot button issues. A concern for the health and wellbeing of the social world is ultimately built on a concern with the fabric and institutions that help people lead good lives in a free and flourishing society. It isn’t optional, it should be at the core of any substantive vision of conservatism.
This also presents a political opportunity for partisan Conservatives to put together a robust social conservative agenda. Developing such an agenda is stunted by the way debates around social conservatism generally take shape. I want to sketch out an agenda you could call socially conservative that explicitly isn’t about a few hot button issues, not because we can just pretend these issues and people that care about them should be ignored, but because we need this kind of an agenda regardless of where we come down on these other things.