By Jonathon Van Maren
Those of you who follow this blog will know that I’ve been open about why I support Leslyn Lewis for next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. In an interview back in April, Lewis told me where her personal passion for the pro-life cause comes from, and in a follow-up podcast I detailed why I believe she has the potential to shift the Overton Window for social conservatives like no candidate we’ve seen in decades. In short, I believe that she is the only shot social conservatives have to elect a leader of the Conservative Party that will actually implement policies we truly care about. I like a lot of what Derek Sloan has to say, but he isn’t going to win. (If I’m wrong about that, I’ll pen a long mea culpa on this blog.) Even if he could win, Leslyn Lewis is a far more suitable candidate for this cultural moment, and a far more potent advocate for social conservative views.
A great article this week on her candidacy from Maclean’s affirms my analysis of Lewis. An excerpt:
The best way to avoid being attacked for having a “hidden agenda” is to not hide your agenda, Lewis says. “I don’t think you need a ploy to get into the broader debate” over social conservative issues, she tells Maclean’s. “The broader debate has already been there. It’s always been a part of our society. I’m not an activist. I’m looking to effect policy, and that means I’m looking to effect policy that the majority of Canadians can agree with. I don’t hide who I am as a person who believes in the sanctity of life, and I don’t hide my views on abortion, but as a policy-maker, my goal is to find things that unite us and that we can agree on.”
In messages to supporters, Lewis has spoken openly about how her own unplanned pregnancy during law school informed her opinions. The policies she proposes include banning sex-selective abortion, measures to protect women from coerced abortions, an increase in support for pregnancy care centres and redirecting foreign aid away from groups that offer abortions.
Lewis also promises to repeal the Liberals’ Bill C-16—legislation that added “gender expression” and “gender identity” as grounds for discrimination protection in the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act—because she believes it could threaten people for using “incorrect speech,” a controversial reading of the bill popularized by University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson.
And she expresses concerns about legislation on the table to ban conversion therapy. Attempting to force someone to change their sexual orientation is “an atrocious thing,” she says. “I actually believe that children who are struggling with their sexuality should be left alone and given support to find out who they are.” But she says the bill, as drafted, doesn’t contain a clear definition and risks penalizing talk therapy or conversations with religious leaders.
Underpinning her forthrightness on all of the above is a concern about “cancel culture” and a narrowing of the range of issues considered acceptable, especially by the progressive left, to debate publicly.
This, in my view, is precisely the way to build a winning conservative coalition (something Pierre Lemieux, my first choice in the last leadership race, also did extremely well—not incidentally, he has endorsed Lewis.) There are plenty of socially conservative polices that a majority of Canadians support. I’ve spoken with several of my progressive friends (yes, I have those) and asked them what they think of Lewis’s pro-life platform. Even they couldn’t find fault with her proposed policies. This means that if Lewis wins the leadership, we could actually see meaningful pro-life policies enacted for the first time. I’ve said for a long time that the public consensus exists for many pro-life laws, but thus far we’ve had no leader with the spine to fight for them. Finally, we may have a leader with the spine that it takes.
Leslyn Lewis is the woman for the job.