Is what both the Canadian Liberal Party and I need to do. My excuse is that I've been down with a cold for the last three or four days that would have sidelined a musk-ox. I'm not sure what the hell Paul Martin's excuse is. After all in the last 12 years he has, finance minister and PM, take Canada's economy from teetering on South American status to the most stable in the G8, he's managed to chart an independent foreign policy, mostly maintain social spending without hiking taxes and generally walked the centerist line. And most importantly he's not Stephen "Canada is a broken Northern European Welfare State" Harper.
My own father noted in a telephone conversation this weekend that there are a lot of people in Canada that are angry with the Liberals, I presume over the sponsorship scandal. Given that there are alway a certain percentage of people who are angry at "the government" and angry at "liberals" this justified anger over Liberals spending public money in Quebec on pro-unity advertising that got funnelled back to the party's coffer is unfortunately timed. Dad also said that "Harper has run a really smooth campaign" --- well, good for him, he's managed not to trip over his own extremism for a change. I think you'll recall that Brian Mulroney also ran a smooth campaign and we all remember how that worked out for us. He famously said "give us ten years and you won't recognize this country" -- like that was a good thing. Well, we gave him nearly nine years and we are still cleaning up after that corrupt corporate whore. People are angry about corruption during the Chretien and Martin years - think back to Brian Mulroney's day. He lost an average of a cabinet minister a year to corruption or stupidity, but that another posting.
In Harper's case, a smooth campaign means "muzzling the lunatic fringe that make up a significant portion of the party"
Have a look at the quotes from prospective Conservative cabinet ministers listed on Rick Mercer's site (linked to below) and tell me they would stick to the center. Canadians like to think we live in a more rational, sensible, group-oriented, tolerant society than our neighbours to the South. Well, if the Tories get in for any length of time you can forget that. A party endorsing this kind of nutcase as a candidate is not going to be moderate in any way, shape or form. And then there are clowns like Myron Thompson Jason Kenney and Monte Solberg who think we should be in Iraq.
Speaking for myself, if you think Jesus has a direct role to play in Canadian politics, you should not be voting, nevermind holding office -- you should be down at the church praying for the Rapture to come.
Despite their best efforts to conceal it, the Conservative Party of Canada is trying to do what the US Republicans have successfully done - harness the lock-step unity of the Religious Right as a voting block with the clout, connections and weath of the country club conservatives, and back up the two with the media-birthed pro-ignorance faction of the small-government self-proclaimed libertarians (ie: FOX viewers, Sun readers, people who rant in coffee shops about how the commies in the public school system are turning their kids queer and how brown people smell funny and don't talk English good) also known by their scientific designation as "boneheads".
Now is not the time to teach the Liberal a lesson. Not unless you want to see fights over teaching "Intelligent Design" in school. Not unless you want to see mandatory jail time for simple possession of marijuana. Not unless you want to see gays and immigrants discriminated against. Not unless you favour Christian-only prayer in school.
What's that I hear you say? Lower taxes? Oh yeah, Stephen Harper will lower your taxes. So what if we start to run a deficit again, or have to pay for our own health care expenses out of pocket - he's going to give us all $25 a week for child care! Why, that will almost buy the little tykes' lunch with enough left over to pay the busfare to Grandma's place across town. And wait until you hear what he's going to have to cut, like support for research and development, university tuition and social services.
When I was a kid, I don't remember seeing canned food drives at holidays and food banks. I don't think I ever saw any homeless people until partway through the 80's. Admittedly I grew up in nice neighbourhoods, but I used to take the bus downtown in Sault and in Hamilton and I never saw anyone living in cardboard boxes. By the mid-90's I was seeing these people in small towns, not just in the less fashionable bits of Toronto. The neo-conservative agenda of the 80's produced the problem and the Liberals in the 90's didn't do much to solve it (Hell, the Harris Tories in Ontario did their level best to punish the poor). Social services are not a luxury. And anyone who thinks that they are too generous should try living on them for a few monthes, one step ahead of the landlord and bill collectors. Thanks to Paul Martin, the economy is booming. Under Stephen Harper, will it continue to do so over the long haul without money for R&D? With more people falling between the cracks? With educational standards slipping thanks to the rise of U.S. style religious fanaticism?
Give Stephen Harper ten years and not only won't you recognize Canada, you won't even be able to find it on a map. North America will consist of Mexico and the United Christian States of Amerika.
"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"
Tuesday, January 17, 2006