Green Conservatism

I always read Lorne Gunter’s column, although I almost never agree with his take on environmental issues. But for some reason I just had to respond to his latest (“Green is the new red“) because it gives me a chance to describe a growing movement on the political Right called green conservatism.

I’ve always felt that “green” ideas are the ultimate in conservatism, and I’m still confused that Gunter and other right-wing writers don’t think so.

Talk to farmers about the way they manage their land, and they’ll offer you an ethic of efficiency and conservation. You’ll get the same from fishers and foresters. As for the big energy question, what’s so “radical” about seeking better ways to utilize the free and virtually limitless energy that strikes the Earth every day in the form of the sun’s rays? Isn’t that more realistic and pragmatic than using non-renewable fossil fuels, which pollute and will run out eventually anyway?

It makes me think that the only reason writers like Gunter bash environmentalists is because they’ve settled on a very specific stereotype for them. I can just imagine this pigeon-holed “greenie”: Righteous, left-wing, urbanite, snotty, non-traditional and, ok I’ll say it, “socialist.”

But I’m sorry, this is far from the truth – although, I’ll admit, I’ve met a few like this in my day.

My challenge to those on the political Right is to research what Preston Manning has to say about environmentalism. As perhaps Canada’s most outspoken proponent for “green conservatism,” he’s passionate about environmental issues, and recognizes the need to care for what sustains us.

I know some retired farmers who have started voting Green after years of voting Conservative. Why? Because they recognize that the landscape around them has changed for the worse, and like good farmers, they know that we have to practice some prudent care for what keeps us alive. These people are not Starbucks-sipping, yuppy urbanites, and they are certainly not socialists who get off on telling people what to do. They are people who live close to the land, who realize that caring for it is just old fashioned common sense.

My point is not to argue in political terms, or to be a cheerleader for Green, Orange, Red or Blue. My point is that, in time, rural Canadians will eventually see that realistic environmentalism – the kind that cares for the land that nourishes and feeds their families – is not some urbanite fad of the Left. Ultimately, they will realize that it speaks strongly to their deepest moral instincts for a sustainable and fruitful existence on Earth.

The current Conservative party better figure this out soon, or history will leave them far behind.

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