Jordan Peterson's free speech brigade has a new leader.
This weekend, the federal Conservative Party of Canada selected its new leader, Andrew Scheer, the former Speaker of the House of Commons in the last Harper Government. Scheer was a name that didn’t come up in the media much during the run up to the vote, with most coverage devoted to the more attention-seeking candidates such as Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary and Dr. Kellie Leitch, who proposed a test to screen all immigrants for “Anti-Canadian Values.” Scheer was viewed by some as a relative moderate compared to the libertarian Maxime Bernier, who led in the voting all the way to the final ballot, but the Family Values wing of the party were quite pleased with the outcome, citing Scheer’s strident opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, and Scheer gave this constituency some immediate hope when he confirmed he would not be attending this year’s Toronto Pride, citing as the reason the organizers’ decision to ban uniformed police from marching in the parade (if that was the dealbreaker, this presumably indicates Scheer will be attending Pride parades in Montreal and Vancouver instead).
Canadian conservative editorialists went into overdrive to present Scheer as not the hard-right ideologue the left-wing namby-pambies say he is, but as a relatable everyday guy who may just have what it takes to bring down Justin Trudeau in 2019. Sun columnist Anthony Furey, who last week misinterpreted Lou Reed lyrics to own libs, continues to elaborate on the “Conservatism is the New Punk Rock” theory by stating that Scheer represents a “new counterculture” that will inevitably triumph over “political correctness,” especially in our colleges and universities:
Shortly after his victory speech Saturday night, I posted to Twitter that the Conservatives had just elected as leader someone who pledges to defund schools over social justice warrior shenanigans. So far it’s been liked or repeated around two thousand times.
Most of these are people who love the idea. Some, I could tell from the responses, were those on the far-left opposed to it. Either way, it shows just how much of a hot button issue this has become in broader society.
So there is a disconnect here, with Conservative editorialists saying Scheer’s prioritized promise to defund universities that won’t defend “free speech” (i.e., a professor’s right to refer to trans women by male pronouns in the classroom) is NOT an indicator that they are an “aggressive social conservative.”
The Globe‘s Margaret Wente is also quite taken with the new Conservative leader, although she buries the lede that Scheer apparently violated a core Conservative principle, respecting the age of consent for marriage:
“Mr. Scheer and his wife, Jill, have so many kids that his Wikipedia entry can barely keep up. Mr. Trudeau had a lot of carefree bachelor days; Mr. Scheer got married and settled down when he was about 12. He has never been interested in anything but politics. He has no known vices. He is as cheery and reliable as they come.”
Wente also agrees Scheer stands a chance at beating his opponent in the 2019 election, and paints a picture of an effete Volvo-driving latte-sipping incumbent begging for a comeuppance:
Mr. Trudeau is highly popular right now. But he’s not invulnerable. And among his chief vulnerabilities is class. No one embodies the sensibilities of the progressive urban elites more than Justin does. He is determined to save the environment. He marches in the Pride Parade. He hobnobs with the Aga Khan (a celebrated do-gooding billionaire) and has a bromance with Emmanuel Macron, the current saviour of France. He has a gorgeous, New Age wife and a large Indigenous tattoo on his shoulder. (Oops. Is that okay any more?)
John Ivison over at the Post gives one of the more backhanded compliments to Scheer, confidently predicting he will be the next prime minister of Canada…a year after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Another upside of Scheer’s election is his relative youth—seven years younger than Justin Trudeau.
Most prime ministers who win a majority find themselves re-elected four years later. The Liberals could yet make a total hash of things and defeat themselves.
But, if he’s smart (and he is), Scheer will look to add to his seat count in 2019 and move in for the kill four years later, when he will be the grand old age of 44. Short of a meltdown in 2019, it is a fair bet to say that one day, Andrew Scheer will be prime minister of Canada.
This theory of eventual triumph is, of course, based on the Conservative Party not tossing Scheer out on his ear if he fails to deliver a death blow to Trudeau’s Liberals next time. You will recall the last Liberal leader who strung together consecutive majorities, Jean Chrétien, faced eight opposition leaders along the way. Is “a friendlier Stephen Harper” really what Canadians want from their next prime minister? Scheer has two years to make the case, hopefully with the help of some of Canada’s finest Hot Take columnists within the establishment press.