Red Tory

Red Tory

Red Tory is a term given to a political philosophy, tradition, and disposition in Canada. "Red Tories" also exist in England, but in England the term carries a different meaningFact|date=October 2008. In Canada, the phenomenon of "red toryism" has fundamentally, if not exclusively, been found in provincial and federal Conservative political parties. It is a definable historical legacy that marks differences in the creation, development, and evolution of the political cultures of Canada and the . Canadian conservatism and American conservatism are significantly different in each nation.

The term 'red conservatism' has also been used by individuals such as the British theologian and historian Phillip Blond to promote a variety of capitalism which respects traditional values, local communities and allows the 'little man' to participate in the economy, as opposed to neoliberalism, socialism and communism.


Historically, Canadian conservatism has been related to the British Tory tradition, with a distinctive concern for individual rights versus collectivism, as mediated through a traditional pre-industrial standard of morality, which has never been as evident in American conservatism. Today, however, Red Tories are often simply characterized as the left wing faction of the contemporary Conservative party, or a Conservative committed to the welfare state and/or liberal social policy.

Red Toryism derives largely from a British Tory and imperialist tradition that maintained the unequal division of wealth and political privilege among social classes can be justified, if members of the privileged class contribute to the common good. Red Tories supported traditional institutions like religion and the monarchy, and maintenance of the social order. Later, this would manifest itself as support for the welfare state. This belief in a common good, as expanded on in Colin Campbell and William Christian's "Political Parties and Ideologies in Canada", is at the root of Red Toryism.


The Canadian Progressive Conservative Party has suffered a profound schism in recent years. The term `Red Tory` has evolved to refer to a Conservative Party member whose political orientation has a sharply left-wing shape.

In distinction to the American experience where class divisions were seen as undemocratic (although still existing), Canadian Tories adopted a more patriarchal view of government. Monarchy, public order and good government - understood as dedication to the common good - preceded, moderated, and balanced an unequivocal belief in individual rights and liberty.

This type of Canadian conservatism is derived largely from the Tory tradition evoked by English conservative thinkers and statesmen such as Richard Hooker, the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, and Benjamin Disraeli, later the First Earl of Beaconsfield. The primary influences on Canadian Toryism in the Victorian age were Disraeli's One Nation Conservatism and the radical Toryism advocated by Lord Randolph Churchill. Inherent in these Tory traditions was the ideal of "noblesse oblige" and a conservative communitarianism.

In Victorian times, these were the pre-eminent strains of conservative thought in the British Empire, and were advanced by many in the Tory faction of Sir John A. Macdonald's conservative coalition in the Canadas. None of this lineage denies that Tory traditions of communitarianism and collectivism had existed in the British North American colonies since the Loyalist exodus from the American colonies between 1776 and 1796. It is this aspect that is one of the primary points of difference between the conservative political cultures of Canada and the United States. [Christian, William Edward and C. Campbell , "Political Parties and Ideologies in Canada" (Note: several editions of this textbook have appeared since 1974, reflecting the changes in Canada's politics.]

The explicit notion of a "Red" Toryism was developed by Gad Horowitz in the 1960s, who argued that there was a significant Tory ideology in Canada. [Horowitz, Gad. "Conservatism, Liberalism and Socialism in Canada: An Interpretation." Canadian Journal of Political Science (1966)] This vision contrasted Canada with the United States, which was seen as lacking this collectivist tradition, as it was expunged from the American political culture after the American Revolution and the exodus of the United Empire Loyalists. Horowitz argued that Canada's stronger socialist movement grew from Toryism, and that this explains why socialism has never had much electoral success in the United States. This also meant that Canadian conceptions of liberty were more collective and communitarian, and could be seen as more directly derivative of the English tradition, than that of American practices and theories.

Horowitz identified George Grant and Eugene Forsey as exemplars of this strain of thought, which saw a central role for Christianity in public affairs and was profoundly critical of capitalism and the dominant business élites. Forsey became a Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) member, while Grant remained a Conservative - although he became disdainful of an overall shift in policy toward liberal economics and continentalism, something Forsey saw happening decades earlier. When the Conservative government of John Diefenbaker fell in 1963, largely due to the BOMARC controversy, Grant wrote "", a book about the nature of traditional Canadian nationhood and independence that would become a lodestar of Red Toryism. Grant defined an essential difference between the founding of the Canadian and American nations as "Canada was predicated on the rights of nations as well as on the rights of individuals." [Grant, George. "Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism". 40th Anniversary Edition. Carleton Library Series. p.22] This definition recognized Canada's dual founding nature as an English-speaking and Francophone nation.

The adjective "red" refers to the left-leaning nature of Red Toryism, since socialist parties have traditionally used the colour red. In Canada, however, red is commonly associated with the centrist Liberal Party. The term reflects the broad ideological range traditionally found within conservatism in Canada.


Many of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada's leaders have been labeled Red Tories, including Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Robert Borden, John Diefenbaker, Robert Stanfield, and Joe Clark. Many others have been influential as cabinet ministers and thinkers, such as E. Davie Fulton, Dalton Camp, and John Farthing. [Christian, William Edward and C. Campbell "Parties, Leaders and Ideologies in Canada"]

The main bastions of Red Toryism were Ontario, the Maritime provinces, and urban Manitoba, areas where the Red Tories dominated provincial politics. The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, which has held power in that province for most of the time since Confederation, was often labelled as Red Tory, especially under the leadership of William Davis from 1971 to 1985. Under Davis, the Tories often ran to the left of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Throughout the Atlantic provinces, traditional Red Tories are the dominant force in the provincial Progressive Conservative parties because of their support of the welfare state.


The dominance of Red Toryism can be seen as a part of the international post-war consensus that saw the welfare state embraced by the major parties of most of the western world. In the late 1970s and 1980s, the Progressive Conservative Party suffered a string of electoral defeats under Red Tory leaders Robert Stanfield and Joe Clark. Pressure began to grow within the party for a new approach. Joe Clark's leadership was successfully challenged, and in the 1983 PC leadership convention, members endorsed Brian Mulroney who rejected free trade with the United States as proposed by another right-wing candidate, John Crosbie. Despite this early perception, the eagerness in which Mulroney's ministry embraced the MacDonald Commission's advocacy of bilateral free trade would come to indicate a sharp drift toward neo-liberal economic policies, comparable to such contemporaries as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. As result of this schism within the party, Red Toryism began to decline in relevance as a political force within the Conservative party, as it fell out-of-sync with a current political and economic orthodoxy that seemed to favour a more individualist orientation.

Red Toryism never held much sway in Western Canada where smaller government and support for continentalist policies were greater. Eventually the explicitly anti-Red Tory Reform Party developed in the west.

As right-wing support for the federal Progressive Conservatives bled away to the Reform Party and then the Canadian Alliance, Red Tories increasingly gained control of the federal party. After the victory of Peter MacKay at the 2003 PC convention, and in violation of a contract signed with the Red Tory David Orchard, MacKay merged the Tories with Stephen Harper's Alliance.

Merger of federal parties

When first created, one of the most important issues facing the Conservative Party was what Red Tories would do. The union resulted in a number of Red Tories leaving the new party, either to retire or to defect to the Liberals. The latter group included current and former Members of Parliament (MPs) André Bachand, John Herron, and Rick Borotsik. Former Prime Minister Joe Clark served the balance of his parliamentary term as a Progressive Conservative, outside of the new Conservative party caucus, before retiring from politics — and he nearly endorsed the Liberal Party in the 2004 election.

Additionally, three of the twenty-six Progressive Conservative Senators, Lowell Murray, Norman Atkins and William Doody, decided to continue serving as Progressive Conservatives, rejecting membership in the new federal Conservative Party. Elaine McCoy and Nancy Ruth were later appointed to the Senate by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, and chose to designate themselves as Progressive Conservatives. Doody has since died, and Ruth joined the Conservative Party caucus in 2006. Atkins is closely allied with the still existent Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, and Murray, from Atlantic Canada, along with the Prime Minister who appointed him to the Senate, Joe Clark, opposed the merger of the federal PC party.

Other high-profile Red Tories such as Sinclair Stevens and Flora MacDonald applied to re-register the old Progressive Conservative Party name; however, this was refused by Elections Canada. On March 26, 2004, the Progressive Canadian Party was registered with Elections Canada. It aims to be perceived as a revival of the "PC Party", but has only achieved very minor results.

In the end, some Red Tories have decided to join the new Conservative Party, while others such as Orchard have joined the federal Liberal Party.

Definition drift

With the conservative movement's drift to the economic and political right, the term Red Tory is often used today in the media not to refer to those in the traditional Red Tory tradition of George Grant, Dalton Camp or Robert Stanfield, but simply to moderates in the conservative movement, particularly those who reject or do not sufficiently embrace social conservatism.

For example, in the 2004 Conservative Party leadership election, Tony Clement was sometimes referred to as a Red Tory even though he advocated privatization, tax cuts, curtailment of social and economic development spending and free trade with the United States. Traditional Red Tories would reject most of these stances.


Further reading

*Farthing, J. "Freedom Wears a Crown"
*Grant, George Parkin. "Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism" (1965)
*Horowitz, Gad. "Conservatism, Liberalism and Socialism in Canada: An Interpretation." "Canadian Journal of Political Science" (1966).
*Taylor, Charles. "Radical Tories."
*Campbell, Colin [John] . "". ["Gad Horowitz Interviewed by Colin Campbell".] [audio file] , available online at

ee also

*Canadian Conservatism
*Blue Tory
*Neoconservatism in Canada
*Pink Tory
*Rockefeller Republican
*Tory Socialism
*One Nation Conservatism

External links

* [ George Parkin Grant: Complex Canadian Critic of Technology and America]
* ['s%20Creed.htm The Red Tory's Creed] (opinion)
* [ Anatomy of a Red Tory] , a critical opinion by Andrew Coyne, May 15, 2000

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