The election of Erin O'Toole as the Canadian Tories' new leader demonstrates that value-based politics and value-based trading partnerships are truly possible.
Erin O'Toole, previously his party's Shadow Foreign Minister, was one of the most vocal advocates in favour of a CANZUK (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom) alliance and helped passed the motion at a party conference two years ago committing his party to CANZUK talks.
For those unaware, CANZUK is a proposed economic and trading alliance between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. This could come in various forms, at various levels. From freer movement to more market access, the terms of CANZUK can be negotiated, but the broad support for such an agreement is a matter of values. Current political support for CANZUK is less of support for specific provisions as such, but more a support of what CANZUK represents, as it puts values front and centre, distinguishing such an alliance from trade with other countries.
In a previous Bruges Group article, I set out how Canada and the UK's shared modern histories mean that Canada is ideal for a future CANZUK agreement, and how a successful CANZUK alliance could show it was possible to have a free-trade alliance while maintaining sovereignty. With O'Toole's election, we are closer to that goal than ever.
While CANZUK may not be the largest or most influential bloc, were it to become a reality, it does demonstrate the support these respective countries have for values-based trading partnerships, as shown by Erin O'Toole's election to his party leadership. Having portrayed himself as the 'true blue' leadership candidate, he's portrayed himself as the candidate best placed to take on scandal-ridden the Trudeau Liberal government.
O'Toole's leadership victory shows that there are party members who see a values-based programme for government, whether in terms of domestic policy or trade policy, as shown by CANZUK, as being the best way to win nationally.
How the Tories in Canada can win the next election sets an example for the rest of the CANZUK countries for how voters value values-based trading relationships.