FAST: Conservatives deserve serious leadership – Toronto Sun

Tearing down institutions and implementing scorched earth policies is foreign to true conservatives. Winning the trust of Canadians and governing wisely will require principled and disciplined leadership. I believe that Jean Charest is the serious leader Conservatives need to take the party into the future.

Publishing date:

May 20, 2022  •  17 hours ago  •  3 minute read  •  27 Comments

Veteran Conservative Party figure Jean Charest launches his bid for the party leadership at an event in Calgary, March 10, 2022.
Veteran Conservative Party figure Jean Charest launches his bid for the party leadership at an event in Calgary, March 10, 2022. Photo by Todd Korol /REUTERS / FILES

One of the repercussions of our digital age is the amplification of divisive ideas and mean-spirited debate.

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Look no further than what happens to be trending on Twitter at any given time. You’ll find participants at war with each other on a host of issues, including toxic discourse over politics, pop culture, and history that can be reduced to 280 characters. Based on the over-heated rhetoric so often present, one could fairly assume that if the combatants happened to meet each other face to face, their argument would turn into an all-out brawl.

Some have treated the current Conservative leadership race as a Twitter dispute come to life. Mudslinging and division seem to be fair game. Often, little or no consideration is given to the depth or quality of an argument. Only that simple accusation should be taken as fact without any obligation to provide supporting evidence.

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The unfortunate result is a Conservative leadership race focused on everything but how to unite our country and govern wisely to shape a brighter future for Canadians. What has largely been missing is thoughtful debate and the articulation of a clear vision for our country.

Some candidates are more than happy to attack the independence of the Bank of Canada and the integrity of its governor or recommend that Canadians invest in volatile cryptocurrencies as a way of “opting out of inflation” rather than have a reasoned debate on the real issues facing our country. They prefer to make it about “them” and “us”, taking the Conservative Party in an unserious and divisive direction that will inevitably disappoint our party members and fail to inspire uncommitted voters in the next federal election.

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Since the merger of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties, there have been many points of debate and disagreement within our “big tent party.” But they have always been respectful, serious discussions that eventually led to consensus. What united us were our common values, such as our belief in smaller government and the worth of the individual, responsible fiscal stewardship, freedom, and law and order. And undergirding these values has been a commitment to respecting civil norms and institutions and firmly resisting radical change. Tearing down institutions and implementing scorched earth policies is foreign to true conservatives.

Winning the trust of Canadians and governing wisely will require principled and disciplined leadership. I believe that Jean Charest is the serious leader Conservatives need to take the party into the future.

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As Premier of Quebec, he ran the most fiscally responsible government in the country. The province is still reaping the benefits of prosperity that his economic plan delivered, leaving a legacy that will benefit generations of Quebecois. And during my time as Canada’s trade minister, I saw firsthand Jean’s tireless work in championing both Quebec’s trade interests and Canada’s rightful place in the global marketplace.

He is a fierce defender of free speech, religious freedom and our constitution. Without his courageous leadership in fighting Quebec’s separatists in the 1990s, Canada would likely look very different from what it does today.

He has always defended law and order in our country, even when it was unpopular. No one has accused or will accuse him of governing by the polls as Justin Trudeau has done. He has made tough and unpopular decisions before because they were the right ones to make for our country. He is a leader, not a follower.

Conservatives deserve a thoughtful leader who has the character, temperament, and experience to make difficult decisions and stand by his convictions and the founding principles of our party.

Jean Charest is that leader.

— Ed Fast is a former Minister of International Trade and currently serves as Member of Parliament for Abbotsford and as Co-Chair for the Jean Charest campaign.

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