Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said he can vanquish “woke ideology” from Canada if he gets elected. Can he really do that? Probably not. At least not any time soon — or on his own.

Addressing a crowd at the Calgary Stampede last week, Poilievre elicited cheers and frenzied clapping when he took shots at our current government: “Justin Trudeau and the NDP took office and instituted a weird, woke ideology that not only seeks to take our money, punish our work, tax our food and undermine our entrepreneurs — but also destroys our education, dishonours our history and divides our people. But the good news is: life was not like this before Justin Trudeau and it won’t be like this after he’s gone!”

That’s a nice promise. But defeating the type of wokeness he’s talking about is no simple task.

Last year, Poilievre defined wokeness as an “ugly and weird ideology” that aims “to delete everything except the state which would control everything and everyone.” His words at the Stampede echoed this view, and perhaps also hinted at the coupling of wokeness and Marxism — the anti-capitalist sentiment (undermining entrepreneurs, as he called it), the destruction of education (with critical theory) and historical revisionism as a means of portraying the past as a tale of oppressors versus the oppressed.

What Poilievre described is aligned with political scientist Yascha Mounk’s definition of wokeness as a type of social justice with a hyper-focus on the synthesis of personal identities and group oppression.

Poilievre is talking about a beast of an idea, and it would be near impossible for the Conservative leader to slay this beast in a single, or even double, term — if at all.

Justin Trudeau was elected as prime minister in 2015. Woke, however, was working its way through our country well before then. The canonical screeds of woke scholars — Bell Hooks and Kimberlé Crenshaw, among them — were being used to proselytize to university students as far back as the 1970s and ’80s.

I recall the odd preoccupation of my university Canadian studies courses in the early 2000s with the historical wrongdoings of our forefathers. Back then, “hegemony” was the buzzword du jour; now, of course, it’s “colonialism,” which Canada’s ruling woke elite are wont to never pipe down about.

From academia, wokeness spread — quietly at first — alongside a growing disinterest among too many Canadians in defending classical liberal principles such as free speech and limited government. Now, wokeness is everywhere — and it’s not going to disappear on account of a regime change.

Unless Poilievre plans to summarily fire three-quarters of the academic, judicial, union and managerial classes in this country, woke isn’t going anywhere. Until the majority of Canadians reject this thought-terminating ideology that’s constantly shoved in our faces, Poilievre’s efforts, however valiant, will be for naught.

Even if Poilievre quashes the Online Harms Act, for example, Canadians, including myself, will continue to remain vulnerable to censorship via professional ostracism and cancellation for daring to air our political views.

Maybe Poilievre will, as he says, axe the carbon tax. But that isn’t going to change the fact that we’ve snubbed our noses at fossil fuels for years, which has scared investors away from our struggling economy.

He could also take on the political polarization that’s fuelled by identity politics. But how does one man undo the indoctrination of a generation of youth who now despise western civilization and believe in sacrificing our culture — the good and bad — to atone for historical sins?

None of this addresses the fact that at least some members of the Conservative party have historically voted alongside the Liberals on bills instituting some of the “woke” ideas that Poilievre is now railing against.

This includes Bill C-16, on gender identity, which the Conservative leader has apparently done an about face on by publicly acknowledging the importance of female-only spaces, which were undermined with the passage of that legislation.

The wild, emotional cheers Poilievre drew at the Calgary Stampede were understandable. The man is divvying up hope to the exasperated masses. It’s difficult for even the most stalwart skeptic to not get a kick out of the man’s energy, whether he’s blithely eating an apple in an orchard or awkwardly donning a cowboy hat and telling us the exact words we long to hear. But we shouldn’t get lost in Poilievre’s hopes and dreams.

If “woke” were a plant, it would be an invasive species. If it were an animal, it would be a pest. A single man, Poilievre or anyone else, and a single election will not root out, exterminate or reverse wokeness.

Ending the mess we are in will take a sustained effort and a critical mass of Canadians who are willing to stand up for our rights and freedoms — and for the very future of Canada. We don’t need to wait for Poilievre’s name on the ballot to get started.

National Post