James Moore: a new breed of Tory

A young urbanite who’s in favour of gay marriage and arts funding, ‘he actually gets it’

‘He actually gets it’

Photography by Simon Hayter

On a cold, dreary Good Friday, James Moore, Conservative candidate for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, is standing in the rain; the local Legion turns 80 today, and Moore is out stumping, though it doesn’t look as if he’ll pick up a lot of votes. The crowd is mostly under 18—Boy Scouts and Cadets in awkward, blue uniforms. Moore, who’s built like a linebacker and looks even taller than his six-foot-three frame, towers over them.

Then again, his seat isn’t really in doubt: he won by over 15,000 votes last time. The 34-year-old is already the region’s most powerful political minister. And with the recent retirements of B.C. heavyweights Stockwell Day and Chuck Strahl, “his time has come,” says University of Victoria political scientist Norman Ruff. Gary Lunn, his competitor for senior minister from B.C., faces a fight against Elizabeth May in Saanich-Gulf Islands, and was demoted in cabinet in 2008.

Moore, meanwhile, has deftly handled the heritage portfolio, his rookie ministerial assignment, ensuring Stephen Harper will never again be side-swiped by angry artists. Harper’s comments in the last election that “ordinary people” didn’t care about arts funding backfired spectacularly, particularly in Quebec, and Moore, who is single and unencumbered by a family, has been criss-crossing the country ever since, making nice, spreading cash and the new Harper creed—lately, the Tories have delivered the biggest arts funding budgets in Canadian history.

“If market forces were all that is important in terms of culture,” he says, “then all you’d see on TV would be women in bikinis and cage-fighting.” He’s also fond of the business argument. “It’s a huge export, a huge business in Canada,” he tells Maclean’s from his campaign office on Port Moody’s main drag, “$46 billion and over 600,000 jobs. That’s twice the size of Canada’s forest industry.”

Howard Jang, executive director of Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre, recalls the off-the-cuff remarks Moore made to a group of arts executives last year, as the B.C. government was slashing arts funding in the province. It was a turning point for an arts community “reeling” from the Liberals’ cuts, Jang says. “We thought: ‘He actually gets it.’ ”

This is part of what makes him one of the Tories’ most attractive ministers, says University of Toronto political scientist Nelson Wiseman. “I haven’t heard him talking about dinosaurs walking on Earth at the same time as man,” he adds, a reference to Day. Moore, who is a metro MP, and bilingual, so rare west of Manitoba, represents a bright hope for the party: a Conservative who can appeal to urban types, artsy folk and gays and lesbians scared off by the biblical flank.

Despite his blue pinstriped suit, Moore looks comfortably rumpled. A few dog hairs decorate his pant leg, care of Jed, the Bernese mountain dog he calls “son,” and his black dress shoes have seen a lot of miles. He knows politicians wear French cuffs at their peril: “If you’re smarmy and too slick by half,” he says, “people won’t vote for you.”

But he is, by now, an old hand. His political start was born of tragedy at age 16, when his mom, Gail, a former Canadian amateur golf champion, died from brain cancer. “Before that,” he says, “all I was interested in was scratching together enough money so I could have my first car, hoping I made the midget-A hockey team.” But his “whole centre,” he says, was rocked by her death. “I thought: how can I do something? How can I fill this void? Politics was it.” Within weeks, he’d hung up his skates, and started door-knocking for local Reformers; later he met Preston Manning, whose call for no distinct society and equality in the Senate spoke to him. “Multiculturalism is dead,” Moore’s 1994 Centennial Secondary School yearbook entry declares, his conversion to the cause complete.

Today, he’s a “huge fan” of George Will and William F. Buckley, and has called himself a libertarian. He doesn’t believe in unequal treatment—whether in unique powers for Quebec, or the way Canada treats its gay and lesbian citizens. In 2004, he sat two seats away from Harper, and voted against his party in favour of equal marriage rights. In February, he was one of the few Tories to vote for an NDP bill protecting transgender rights. “He follows his own instincts,” a Tory insider tells Maclean’s, which is “unusual for this cabinet.”

“He’s always been very clear on what he believes,” says Katie Green; she’s been a close friend since they first landed in Ottawa in 2000, he a 24-year-old rookie MP, she a parliamentary page. Despite his youth, he didn’t waste time at D’Arcy McGee’s, the Hill pub, she says; among friends, he’s known for being “born old.” He worked his way into cabinet, and today, his name comes up, along with Peter MacKay, Jim Flaherty and Jim Prentice, when discussion turns to possible successors to Harper. Whether it interests him is a subject for another day. For now, Moore is taking things one election at a time.


James Moore: a new breed of Tory

  1. Not so new. He's just a Red Tory with libertarian leanings.

    As for arts funding… I hate the bribing people for positive press almost as much as I hate the idea that a democratic government should be determining the cultural output of its citizens.

    • Red Tories ARE NOT LIBERTARIANS. The red part indicated that they had big government inclinations, although more out of a sense of noblesse oblige and perhaps a fear of revolution. They are classical conservatives, similar to the sort of One Nation Tories from the era of Disraeli in Britain.

      Please stop butchering the meaning of a distinctly Canadian ideology.

      • Yeah, hence the qualifier "with libertarian leanings".

        Essentially, it is good to have a fairly large government that does a lot, but generally it is good not to put many social restrictions or obligations on the citizenry. The former part of that sentence is the Red Tory part, the latter part is the libertarian part.

        • Sorry for jumping on you like that (nothing makes my blood boil more than suggestions that Scott Brison is a red Tory – the guy is a pitch perfect BLUE Tory). Libertarianism is tricky because it is sometimes used as a holistic label (being pro-markets and pro-personal liberty), and sometimes just used regarding social issues. Personally, I think libertarianism of either type runs against the grain of red Toryism. That doesn't mean Red Tories were always regressive, but they were believers in slow, organic change.

          • We don't really have much in the way of libertarians in this country. Our political parties are to varying extents authoritarian.

      • Weren't Red Tories just Liberals who saw they had a better chance of getting elected by running under the PC banner? Joe Clark for example would never have been elected as a Liberal in Alberta.

    • Speaking as someone in the arts, I can assure you that the government doesn't determine the cultural output of its citizens (although Harper tried). You know, I sometimes wish there was an artistic equivalent of the Olympics so that Canadians could actually witness – en mass – the kind of accomplishments our government-supported artists are attaining on the world stage, feel the pride that those in the know feel, and understand the importance of continuing to cultivate this talent as it emerges. If we're going to fund elite athletes, why not fund elite artists? They both contribute to our national idenitity and pride.

  2. What a condescending, sanctimoneous assessment.

    So James Moore is independent and fair. Urbanites don't have a monopoly on those qualities.

    The last thing we need is another decadent urban-centric party.

  3. He sounds good, so far…the other names on that ‘successors’ list don’t impress me.
    I consider myself a Social Libertarian, so a ‘Red Tory with libertarian leanings’ is probably close. Hopefully he can buck the trend and be Fiscally conservative, unlike the last couple of Conservative Leaders.

    • Sure, but "fiscally conservative" and "arts funding" don't really play nicely with each other. Neither do "fiscally conservative" and "Red Tory" generally, but ostensibly Blue Tory Harper ran a deficit too so…

      • I’m not against ‘Funding’ stuff so much, as long as it’s reasonable…I just think we should live within our means, as in Not running Deficits.

        The Country should be Run like a Household, Not a Corporation.

        • So funding by allocating the property of others without their consent is OK by you?
          In any other context it's called theft.

          • Go to Somalia if you want a no-tax state. If that's going to be your position, be prepared to be alienated by every country in the developed world.

      • Arts funding is a drop in the federal budget bucket.

  4. Not to be difficult, but in the photo he is actually wearing french cuffs. Maybe pick a different photo? Or a different metaphor?

  5. He actually doesn't get it. Anyone that has followed the copyright debacle in Canada over the past few years can plainly see that. He is very pro corporate rights at the expense of consumer rights. He refuses to listen to anyone that disagrees with him. He is really no different than any of the other Reformatories.

  6. He doesn't get it.

    All he gets is that in his particular ministry, the fastest way to deliver pork, make friends and get invited to the right buffets is to dish out more grants.

    If he was in Ag, farmers would be saying "he gets it" because he'd be pouring subsidies on them the way he pours cream on his morning cereal.

    If he was in Foreign Affairs, foreign aid would have doubled by now, and he'd be waving at us from his latest "consultation" at some restaurant in central London.

    Red Tory, Blue Tory… now there's Spicy Pork Tory.

    That's James Moore.

  7. So he doesn't detest gays and that's his selling point?

    Wow, pretty impresssive

    • It's come to that.

  8. So much for him ‘sounding good’.

  9. i live in his riding…he was a no-show this past week at an all canidates debate. talk about arrogance. typical conservative.

    • You mean he is obligated to show so he can get verbally abused by those who share your leanings?
      I'd say he has just being discriminating over the use of his time.

  10. Whats this? The right wing media now saying 'wait a minute' we didn't show you this guy.. he's one of you and he even has gay friends! Give me a break!

  11. Moore isn't alone among potential Conservative leaders with left-libertarian social views: e.g. Baird, Cannon, Prentice, and MacKay voted for gay marriage. Jean Charest is no social conservative if he gets in the race.

    IMHO the Conservatives can't run hard enough away from social conservatism. Not only are they in the bag anyway, but even social conservatives themselves must realize they're political poison. There is simply no way to advance any part of their social agenda when the population is so strongly against: the best they can do is shut up and not draw attention to the status quo.

  12. just saw an ad on CTV that is new to me. It was a stop Harper ad but not from a political party. I was pleasantly surprised and immediately thought "Wow, maybe the left is actually mobilizing and countering the rights continual propaganda machine". The ad was from these guys http://www.avaaz.org/en/index.php. They boast some 8 million members worldwide. Check them out.

    • It's an American group, getting involved in our election.

      • oh! like the republicans calling the shots for the tories.

  13. Here in the US our conservatives just seem to become more conservative, but it is nice that at least in Canada conservatives are a bit more open minded.

  14. Ugh! "has called himself a libertarian"__The sooner we can get rid of pudgy the better! Time for healthcare, education, and jobs! No more of Moore!

  15. The $75 iPod tax site http://iPodTax.ca domain is registered to "James Moore MP". This untrue ad has been floating around as TV commercials and on the Internet for a long time, and has been discredited. Conservatives have stated that they did not know how much the iPod tax would be so, that made the number up. Since the ad began playing Ignatieff says Liberals would not charge this tax, and NDP has said tax would be no more the $5. CBC has even looked into it: "Who wants to charge a $75 iPod tax? Uh, no one": http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/r… – James Moore, why is this site still up?

    • another tory scumbag!

  16. Between the Cons' attitude towards copyright (let American film studios write the bills) and usage-based billing for the internet (admittedly not Moore's portfolio, but still an issue for Canadians), I don't get they feeling that they are anywhere near understanding younger, urban Canadians.

  17. what twice? thats illegal but I guess being a tory you're Ok with that eh!

  18. To follow up on Nancy's comment, Moore was asked, on Saturday, about funding for Autism under our health care system and Mr. Arrogant said that autism is not a disability, it's a special interest that does not deserve funding.

    These are the kind of people that Canada just elected to a majority government. I am just sickened by people like this.

  19. As a member of the “arts” community, let me assure you – he sooooo does NOT get it. He most certainly knows how to speak media, but he in no way understand the economics or business of entertainment or arts – he is a complete ludite.

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