When Kevin O’Leary, the businessman-turned-reality-TV-star, announced that he is aiming to become Canada’s next Prime Minister, it was clear that due to the election of Donald Trump (DT) many accidental, wealthy and brash people in the West will be entering politics in the next few years.
However, it’s not the personality aspect one needs to focus on, but the trend of thought pushing DT type of people into political arena.
DT and O’Leary represent what the mainstream media often labels as right-wing populism. What is the cause behind the rise of right-wing populism among NATO member countries and what are its political prospects in Canada?
One of the reasons this populism is rising within NATO member countries today is because of economic and political decline of Western powers and its governing paradigm marketed as democracy.
Western political thought which is rooted in almost divine sovereignty of a nation state has a historical tradition to turn towards the radical right in times of economic hardship. Right-wing populism has a high probability of rising to power in Europe. In Austria, the birthplace of Adolf Hitler, the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) almost won the presidency in 2016 by gaining 46.7% of the vote. There are other worrying trends in Germany, the UK and France.
However, in North America, the far-right narrative has far less chances of becoming the dominant political trend or force. The US and Canada acquired their global reach and prestige by preaching and partly implementing a cosmopolitan political narrative. Canada in particular.
The author of this blog, who grew up in Europe and seen the first hand receptiveness of the right wing populist message of the European society, has not observed the same in Canada. Nevertheless, the emergence of another Stephen Harper with DT type personal traits in Canada is very realistic.
The success of the Canadian political brand is due to its cosmopolitan/multicultural inclusivity. Even the right-wing in Canada cannot ignore this factor and subconsciously acknowledges it in its political rhetoric.
The North American right-wing cannot afford to be as blatantly xenophobic and racist as their European counterparts. It would almost be a political suicide.
The possibility of Conservatives rising to power will significantly increase if the current Liberal Party in power fails to perform on the economic front or the Conservative party successfully combines its traditional message with the established cosmopolitan side of Canada.
On a philosophical level the Conservative party in Canada has a great advantage, it vocalizes and believes in many traditional values and morals. It accepts the existence of absolute truths.
Canada being an immigrant country, where many people move to form traditional societies with strong moral values and bonds, has a great potential pool of Conservative voters.
If the Conservative party in Canada disassociates itself from xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia, many immigrants will be able to relate to the universal and traditional values the Conservatives Party of Canada vocalizes.
It is highly unlikely that the Conservatives in Canada will be able to produce this type of political ingenuity, as it requires a great deal of foresight, which the Conservatives have not shown. Therefore, the rise of DT type character in Canada is mostly possible if the Liberal Party under-performs. Like Barak Obama, the current Liberal Party set unrealistic expectations among its constituents and has backtracked on some key issues.