The battle for post-Trump conservatism is already underway - and Canada's Tories are watching closely - 2019-07-03
On a hot Toronto evening at the end of June, about two dozen conservative big-thinkers crowded into a small private room in a pub called the Bedford Academy to hear that free trade and the free market aren't all they're cracked up to be.
It's not a message that historically resonates with Tories, and it's possible that some of the attendees — which included people who ranked highly in the federal government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of Doug Ford's Ontario current government — were simply there to socialize and eat steak frites. But it may be a sign of the Trumpian times that Oren Cass, a former policy wonk for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and now a fellow at the Manhattan Institute think tank, wasn't run out of town for his free market heresies, instead capturing the attention of a polite — if skeptical — audience of Canada's Conservative power-players convened by Sean Speer, once an economic adviser to Harper and now a fellow at the University of Toronto's Munk School and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.
Cass's work — which questions the mantra that a growing economy eventually benefits everyone and which dismisses the idea that the free market is always right — is part of a broader re-think of conservative free market orthodoxy.