The following essay is an introduction to a new blog hosted / edited by Ted Hewlett, President of BC Parents and Teachers for Life. We wish him the best of success with his new site, SocialConservatives.ca.
During the Canadian federal election just past, political speakers made vigorous attacks on social conservatives. The intention seemed to be to denigrate those who have socially conservative views about the future of our country. The implications were made that a social conservative was a very dangerous sort of beast. Conservatism was one thing, but social conservatiism was beyond the pale--unworthy of consideration. That seemed to be the message inherent in the attacks. And that message was inherent also in statements about specific issues that were brought up. Abortion, they told us, should not even be discussed. "We thought it was a settled question." Belief in the traditional definiton of marriage defended by most Members of Parliament just a few years ago, and defended by many in the last session of parliament, now was pointed to as a mark of bias, even of hatred.
What is a social conservative? Surely in the Canadian context it means one who regards as still valuable the ideals that have traditionally been regarded as central to the welfare of our society. Those who are socially conservative in Canada might be regarded as radical were they to promote their ideas in another society, such as Saudi Arabia. It makes no sense to commit to social conservatism out of a belief that whatever is past is best. It makes a great deal of sense to commit to it out of conviction that we have had in our heritage traditional ideals which are still valuable and which can be implemented in our present-day society.
Social conservatism needs to be distinguished from mere fiscal conservatism. Social converatism will deplore the waste of public financial resources, but it will not make the achievement of national wealth an aim to be divorced from the goal of enabling that wealth to benefit the people as a whole.
The term "social conservative" might be used for one who holds to particular ideals but has no concept of promoting them in society at large. But on this website we are concerned primarily with those who see social conservatism as something which needs to be supported for the benefit of society as a whole. Thus we are concerned with the role of government, which is capable of either supporting or undermining the foundations on which society has been built.
Unfortunately, as we have noted in the election campaign for the last federal election, those who wished to eliminate certain foundational concepts which are part of our heritage have sought to change them, often, not so much by argument as by manipulative propaganda. This propaganda has persuaded many people that those traditional ideals are no longer of value to our nation. The success of these propagandists has had a lot to do with the fact that Canada has become a place where many politicians see as suicidal the public defence of the most basic principles of morality.
Politics, it has been said, is the art of the possible. Politicians are basically concerned with how much it is possible for them to accomplish. Some politicians, once elected, do little more than test the current winds of public opinion and cast their votes in parliament accordingly. Others act as leaders, and help to form public opinion. But in any case, the success of the elected member of parliament is limited by the state of the public mind. The state of public opinion is determined by a host of factors, such as the messages received from the news media and from a variety of influencers. In fact, we all function to a greater or lesser degree as formers of public opinion.
Those of us who are social conservatives have been inclined, often with some justification, to blame the politicians for the erosion of our societal foundations. But of course we cannot blame only the politicians, who, in a democracy, are limited in what they can achieve by the climate of public opinion that we all contribute to.
If Canada is to be saved from its current plight where one after another its moral foundations are eroded and swept away, those who are capable of inflencing public opinion must make the most of the means at hand to do so on behalf of the ideals of our social heritage. This brings us to the purpose of this website. We hope that this site may be part of the beginning of a campaign to promote social conservatism in Canada. If the public can be brought to see that the welfare of our country depends on the restoration of basic moral principles, then our political leaders will have the ability to restore the health of our nation.
We do not seek to establish some sort of theocracy, where an elite group of people dictate the details of personal lives. Rather we would like to see established a country which will honor principles that have been recognized over the centuries by people of many faiths. A nation whose people have that respect for those basic principles can be expected to choose leaders who will exercise the power of government in a way that supports those principles. May that be so in our nation of Canada! --Ted Hewlett, editor of SocialConservatives.ca