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COMMENTARY: Charles Adler on why he’s no longer a conservative

Charles Adler
Charles Adler says he has become less and less comfortable wearing the conservative label over the years. Global News Radio

People who know my mind best — those who have listened to my radio shows over three decades — all know how liberated I feel to be able to speak it publicly. They know that over the years I have been less and less comfortable wearing the conservative label.

It’s because conservatism keeps moving further and further to the right.

I stopped voting for the Conservatives in 2015 because their campaign was bogged down in issues like Muslim women wearing face coverings and the barbaric practices hotline. It was clear to me that the party had decided that there was some gold to be mined in anti-Islamic feeling that became a larger factor in politics post-9/11.

This wasn’t the conservatism I signed up for when I first voted for the Ontario provincial and federal conservatives in the ’70s after moving to Ontario from Quebec.

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I am not going to list all the issues since 1979 that have worn the Conservative label but turned into something much different from what I voted for when I cast my first ballots for the party.

What I was voting for was a government that wanted the free market to operate with the maximum of freedom from government interference, so that small businesses could flourish creating opportunities for as many as possible.

When it came to government, conservatives believed in getting the books to balance as much as was humanly possible while maintaining a social safety net for those who slipped between the cracks.

Click to play video 'The path forward for the new Conservative leader' The path forward for the new Conservative leader
The path forward for the new Conservative leader

On social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, over the years my kind of conservatives supported the right to choose and the right for LGBTQ2 people to marry. There were social conservatives who would oppose the modernization of conservatism, but for many years, their influence was minor.

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This past weekend, the newly minted Conservative Party leader was given a golden opportunity to say no to what I perceive to be an extreme element in the party.

It had to do with a ridiculous tweet from a member of the Conservative Party caucus in B.C., seeming to revive an ancient anti-Semitic conspiracy about wealthy Jewish financiers controlling government. The member apologized for the tweet, but seemed to place the blame on a hate site instead of taking full responsibility for her own remarks.

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I expected the new leader of the party, Erin O’Toole, to sanction the member. I was wrong. He chose to do nothing.

On the morning after this latest incident from a party that I no longer identified with, I woke up in the middle of the night as I always do on Aug. 30, the anniversary of my dad’s birth.

What does my memory of dad have to do with my conservative exhaustion and departure? It’s all on my Twitter roll.

On Aug. 30, in the name of my dad who was always disappointed in me calling myself conservative, I chose at long last to accede to his wishes — a posthumous gift to the most honest man I have ever known.

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Charles Adler hosts Charles Adler Tonight on Global News Radio stations.