Friday, September 19, 2008

Right shift? Not hardly, Bucko!

Janet Bagnall performs an excellent bit of surgery on Harper's fantasy musings that Canadians have become more "conservative".
Prime Minister Stephen Harper believes Canada has become a more conservative country in the past 20 years. Even if we haven't achieved the pure distillation of "God, guns and gays" of American conservatism, we're moving along the political spectrum in a way that makes him proud. A Canadian conservative rallying cry, if I grasped his thinking, would be along the lines of "God, guns and living within our means."

It was in response to a question last week in Fredericton that Harper laid out his idea that conservatism has made substantive inroads into the Canadian psyche:

"I think we've seen a revival in pride in our country and not just in things like medicare and the CBC, but in our national military and our other institutions," he told the Globe and Mail.

The first thing I noted when Harper blathered this nonsense is that he equated pride in the military as a "conservative-only" value. Having served in the Canadian Forces and having achieved a significant substantive rank, I know only too well that levels of pride in the Canadian military expressed by the public have nothing whatsoever to do with their political leanings. It has everything to do with the type of job the CF does and how well the services acquit themselves when tasked, particularly on short-notice contingency operations. I also know that within the Canadian Forces the members come from a variety of backgrounds and, while almost everyone would like more bright shiney kit, more money and more world travel, the human side of the CF is a relatively even cross-section of the greater Canadian social fabric. To a person, the members of the CF hate being lied to by politicians. They take it personally.

If Canadians are prouder of the military, it is likely because fellow Canadians are in constant mortal danger, carrying out missions on our behalf and at the behest of the government.

The more pertinent question is whether the government is proud enough of the troops to fund them adequately. Why did the government take so long to order the helicopters needed in Kandahar?

I can answer that! But I think I'll wait for another day and another post.

Harper recognized in his Fredericton remarks that the Canadian public is not "necessarily as conservative as everyone in our party." He said the Conservatives would have to move toward Canadians "if they want to continue to govern the country."

This is a tacit acknowledgment that two in three voters - a large majority, in other words - do not intend to vote Conservative. The fact is that the Conservatives will likely win anyway. But that is emphatically not because Canadians have drifted rightward. The problem is that the non-Conservative vote is divided among four parties in the centre and on the left, the Liberals, the Bloc Québécois, the NDP and the Green Party.

The other half of Harper's equation is whether the Conservatives will, in fact, move toward the centre where most Canadians are comfortable. Asked another way, the question is: How determined are the Conservatives to impose a conservative agenda, with greater privatization, smaller government and socially more conservative views? (Emphasis mine)

Good question and one that Stephane Dion asked immediately on being told of Harper's statements. He wanted to know, if Canadians weren't as far right as Harper and his party, (something Harper openly stated), then just how far right are the Conservatives? If they're playing the centre but admit to being ideologically right of it then there must be a hidden agenda.

Bagnall then goes on to produce three test issues which prove the Conservatives are very much out of touch with the majority of Canadians but have pursued their own ideology anyway.

- The Harper government's culpability in the listeriosis outbreak;

- Cuts to arts funding;

- Getting tough on crime.

The latter of this trio of items is perhaps the least spoken about. As Bagnall points out, it has become a Conservative obsession despite the fact that it has no connection with reality.

This is becoming an obsession with the Conservatives, one unconnected with either reality (in the form of falling crime statistics) or the wishes of the Canadian public, which by and large, according to polls, feels perfectly safe from crime.
She concludes with a notice, although I fear it is wasted on Harper and his gang since listening to the views of others, particularly if you are opposed to anything at all on his agenda, is not a Conservative trait.

When the Conservatives form a government, they should remember that their views are not shared by the majority of their fellow citizens. And not act as though they were.
Once elected however, you will hear the Conservatives, despite the fact that this crowd has never carried a majority of the popular vote, start using the word "mandate" as though Canadians actually support them.

Best to get rid of them.

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