Conservatives embrace populism, rage at Trudeau, talk separation at annual gathering
Two or three decades ago, Preston Manning's Reform Party was seen as embodying a right-wing populist movement in Western Canada that advocated for shrinking government by cutting social welfare and culture programming.
Lately, however, right-wing populism has been associated with the nationalist, anti-immigrant and authoritarian tendencies of leaders like U.S. President Donald Trump, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Conservative leaders Jason Kenney of the Alberta United Conservative Party and Andrew Scheer of the federal Conservative Party have also been accused lately of being too tolerant of white nationalism.
None of that, however, stopped the conservative leader of Canada's most populous province from grasping the mantle of populism during an appearance on stage Saturday at the Manning Networking Conference, an annual right-of-centre gathering in Ottawa.
“People called Preston a populist when he was in politics, and they’re calling me a populist now,” Ontario's Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford told the crowd of politicians, activists and fundraisers.