What’s in a Tory name?


Dear youth caucus of the New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Party: I heartily endorse your proposal to drop the word, “Progressive” from your title.

Henceforth, you and your fellow travellers ought to be known properly by those principles you truly espouse. As one of your own explained to the CBC recently, the time has come for change and history is a slave driver.

“A group of young Tories are looking to remove the word ‘Progressive’ from the party’s name at the upcoming annual general meeting,” Mother Corp. reports. “Adam Pottle, a youth executive member of the Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick, says the name change is long overdue.

“Pottle said dropping ‘Progressive’ would better reflect reality. ‘The PCs are a bit more to the right end of the spectrum than every other party in New Brunswick and we just felt the word progressive no longer really matched our party,’ he said. Members of the Progressive Conservative Party will vote on the idea on May 23 at the annual general meeting that is being held in Fredericton.”

What’s more, “Pottle said the name change will connect the party to its past. ‘Honestly, we’ve been thinking about it for a while, a few of us. We wanted to bring the party more in line with history – before the early ‘30s, it was just known as the Conservative Party – and also to bring us more in line with our federal counterparts,’ Pottle said.”

As the CBC piece explained, “The federal Conservative Party was formed in 2003 when the Progressive Conservatives merged with the Canadian Alliance. The term ‘progressive’ was not added to the new party’s name.”

Heaven only knows what might have transpired had it been retained.

We might, for one thing, employ a civil service that’s not afraid of its own shadow, not looking for enemies and spooks behind every corner of its ever-shrinking cubicles.

We might, for another, enjoy a political culture that encourages open and honest debate, instead of one that shuts doors and windows as soon as the aroma of principled dissent subsumes that of microwaved popcorn at high noon.

We might also remember, if not always revere, the actions of men like Robert Stanfield, Brian Mulroney and Richard Hatfield, of women like Pat Carney, Flora MacDonald and Barbara McDougall. In their own progressive ways, these “PCs” changed the country without letting the country turn them into simulacra of Liberal presumption and entitlement.

But, sure, youngsters, go ahead. Reinvent yourselves. Recuse yourselves. Be all that you can be. Just don’t kid yourselves about the influence your re-branding efforts exert.

The Conservative Party you seek to emulate – seek to join – gives less than a nanosecond of time to anyone outside the inner circle of Canadian politics. (Frankly, they way things are going, neither do the federal Grits).

In any case, yours is not the Reform party; yours is the Establishment party. And it really doesn’t like party crashers from the youth wing stumbling into its dessert bars and piano soirees long past their bedtime.

A Wiki entry stipulates that Progressive-Conservatism in Canada had a bonafide lifespan. “The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (1942–2003) was a Canadian federal political party with a centre-right stance on economic issues and, after the 1970s, a centrist stance on social issues,” it says.

Now comes your better times in this fair province, if you can trump your elders. On this score, be as bold as youth demands.

Call yourselves the “Regressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick”.

Dudes, you can hardly go wrong.

True that.

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