Canada is one of the freest countries in the world. That’s not spin. It’s a fact confirmed by Canadians in recent polling.
But we cannot take for granted the real angst and frustrations many Canadians have felt and endured under the identity politics regime of Justin Trudeau these past seven years.
He has sowed the seeds of division – we see where that road leads.
Under the Trudeau government, Canadians have seen a sharp increase in public frustration and a rise in blockades, whether over our resources and critical infrastructure or due to pandemic restrictions.
We’ve watched as women in senior decision-making roles were expelled from his government for challenging his behaviour.
We’ve heard barely a whisper of how his government intends to prepare us for future pandemics or an acknowledgement of the very real need to reform our healthcare system.
We’ve seen him prioritize ideology, ramming through a carbon tax hike at a time when household affordability has never been a greater concern.
We stood by, left unprepared to support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.
And this week, we were reminded that his inaction and indifference have failed to safeguard the rights of women, minorities and LGBTQ2S personnel from a rampant culture of sexual misconduct in our armed forces.
We don’t have a freedom problem. We have a Trudeau problem.
Out-of-control inflation. An opioid crisis on our streets. A housing affordability crisis. Pipelines left to waste. Rising hate crimes.
These are serious domestic challenges compounded by war in Ukraine, a sovereign nation invaded by those who oppose democratic values.
You would think that, given the severe challenges facing our country, our Prime Minister would be moving at breakneck speed to get our economy on track, shore up our national defence, and protect our most vulnerable.
But Justin Trudeau isn’t doing any of that. He has failed, and Canadians have every right to feel uncertain about the credibility of his leadership, and the credibility of copycat politicians.
The choices we make as the Conservative Party of Canada matter a great deal to the future of our country – not just our Party.
I believe Canada needs serious Conservative leadership to hold the Liberal-NDP coalition accountable and to prepare to govern during one of the most disruptive and challenging times in our nation’s history.
I also believe Canadians expect the Conservative Party of Canada to be the robust and serious alternative to Trudeau’s wedge politics.
From the onset of my campaign launch, I decided to focus on developing substantive policy ideas.
We owe it to Party members and Canadians to debate the kind of Conservative Party of Canada we want to be.
What do we stand for? Conspiracy theories that encourage lawlessness, the promotion of bizarre economic ideas and the exploitation of anger?
What do we care about? YouTube shares and shock and awe commentary to reward our social media algorithms?
I hope not.
I believe in a conservatism that is open to progress. This race has never been about hyphenating conservatives. It’s been about being relevant on the issues that matter to Canadians today and for the foreseeable future.
As Edmund Burke said, “We must reform to conserve.” And we must conserve those things that matter so deeply to us all –freedom of choice, the rule of law, human dignity, fiscal responsibility, duty to family, and our national security.
We don’t burn institutions to the ground for short-term political gain. That kind of shoot from the hip approach is dangerously short-sighted.
To address the biggest challenges of our time, we need serious and thoughtful leadership to make our institutions more responsive to the needs of the public, more agile to the future and more appropriate to our modern challenges.
Soundbites are easy. Bold policy creation takes courage and serious leadership.
That is the kind of Conservative Party of Canada I believe we can be, and that Canadians will vote for.
— Jean Charest is a Conservative Party of Canada Leadership Candidate. He previously served as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1993 to 1998, Deputy Prime Minister in 1993 and the Premier of Quebec from 2003 to 2012.