Crawl Across the Ocean

Monday, November 07, 2005

Canadian Politics in a Nutshell

Note: Post updated to add a couple of links and some commentary on 'Caring for Canadians'

Rough translation of a conversation I had with my girlfriend earlier today:

Girlfriend: So what do you think of that whole Gomery thing?

Me: You should read my blog

Girlfriend: [rolls eyes] I mean, it's not like anything is going to change, anyway. The Liberals have been in power since I came to Canada

Me [calculating in my head]: hmm, I know she came to Canada when she was a years old. And I know my age is b, no wait, b+1 and the difference between our ages is c, so she must be b+1 + c = d years old now. So she's been here d - a = e years. It's 2005 now, so she first came to Canada in 2005 - e = f. And the Liberals took power in year g. Is g < f? Yes.

Me [out loud]: Yeah, that's true.

Girlfriend: And it's not like the NDP is going to take power any time soon.

Me: That's also true.

[a pause]

Me: There's still the Conservatives

Girlfriend [makes face]: That's scary.

Me: Exactly.

I imagine that any Conservative party supporters who read my blog (if there are any) just went into 'yeah but' mode, but before you tell me about how it's just that darn Liberal media making the Conservatives look scary and how the Conservatives' officially stated policies aren't that bad, have a read through 'Caring for Canadians' by Mike Harris (former Progressive Conservative premier of Ontario) and Preston Manning (former leader of what is now known as the Conservative party) (link via Tilting at Windmills).

The disconnect between what prominent Conservatives are saying and what's in the party policy document might also offer a little insight into why accusations of 'a hidden agenda' resonate with the public. As Ian Urquhart says in the Star, "Harper may actually agree with much of what Harris and Manning have proposed but, with his eyes on winning seats in Ontario, he hasn't said so out loud."

And Harper and Manning are not just one isolated example. Try reading the blog of Monte Solberg (Conservative MP, Finance Critic, and thus presumably a good candidate to be Finance Minister in a Conservative government) for a while. His opinion on people appearing before a Finance Committee on social justice,
"I see now that their war on poverty is actually a war on the poor. Their pursuit of social justice is really a pursuit of socialism. Their help, though well meaning and without guile, is as dangerous as dynamite."

His thoughts on productivity,
"Then the Finance Minister says that enhancing Canada's productivity must become the chief objective of our economic policy. A couple of days later he announces that he will not bring in the tax relief for large employers at all, the one thing that obviously would improve productivity."

Yeah, except there is no real empirical or theoretical evidence to suggest a strong link between lower corporate taxes and higher productivity. The U.S. combines the world's highest productivity and some of the world's highest corporate taxes. Canada's productivity has gone in the tank in the last few years, ever since the Liberals started cutting corporate tax rates in 2000. But Monte doesn't need evidence, tax cuts are always the best solution to any problem. It's this kind of willful ideological blindness to reality which leads people to do stupid things like selling off the right to drive across Toronto for 99 years for next to nothing - and the thought of people afflicted with this kind of blindness running the country is scary. (and I haven't even addressed any social issues).


  • What's potentially more disturbing is that among the attendees at the unveiling of Manning and Harris' policies were the "407 people", no doubt hoping to benefit further from the firesale of public assets that, I'm sure, Manning and Harris would love.

    By Blogger JG, at 11:52 AM  

  • Good point Josh. I modified the post to add a link to the Urquhart column in the Star which mentions 'the 407 people'.

    I'm sure if word ever got out that Harris was going to be involved in another privatization deal, consortia would come running from all over the world to try and share in the bounty.

    By Blogger Declan, at 12:42 PM  

  • I don't know. A Conservative minority government would bring with it different problems than a Liberal minority government has, but I remain unconvinced that they'd be worse problems. A Conservative minority government wouldn't have the numbers to push anything through, and would face three powerful opponents with no real allies. There's no way it would last more than a year. It would provide our comedians with some great material. And most of all, it would break the Liberal stranglehold on power. Not ideal, not by a long shot, but not all bad, either.

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at 1:27 PM  

  • To be sure, a Conservative government that couldn't do anything would be less scary than one that could. I can't argue with that.

    I imagine that a lot of people who voted for Bob Rae were thinking along the same lines. :)

    Other than punishing the Liberals I'm not sure what electing a minority Conservative government would accomplish. Maybe punishing Liberals is enough.

    By Blogger Declan, at 1:58 PM  

  • Maybe electoral reform. The Conservatives have a reason to reform our electoral system -- it's the only way we'll start to see some similarities between the percentage of votes a party receives and the percentage of seats they hold in the House. It may also be the only way the Green Party can get some seats and start to become a viable alternative. The Liberals won't do a darn thing on this as long as they hold power.

    By Blogger talk talk talk / Shireen, at 4:23 PM  

  • If I thought the Conservatives would bring in proportional representation as part of a minority government I might actually vote for them.

    But that's a big if and I'm pretty skeptical.

    By Blogger Declan, at 5:17 PM  

  • Satan would be iceskating in hell on the day I vote Conservative. But I'm still not entirely convinced that another Liberal government would actually be better. There are pros and cons to each, from where I sit.

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at 7:02 PM  

  • So most of you believe the Conservatives are not an option. Of course not. That would mean a better Judicial System, changes for a depleting Police Force. Better Healthcare. Accountability from every member of Parliament. No more wasting our tax dollars. Right! Go ahead and vote Liberal but please "keep your mouth shut the next time they mess with you".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:45 PM  

  • I don't know, I think that when a party screws up it is important for the people who voted for them to express their displeasure, rather than just shutting up.

    For example, I think anyone who voted for George Bush in the last election was nuts, but I'd still prefer that people who did and regret it speak up, rather than remaining silent.

    True, I might be tempted to let loose a little 'I told you so' on them in that situation, but if they are truly regretful they can absorb a little of that with good grace and move on to working to undo the damage done by the earlier mistake.

    By Blogger Declan, at 10:44 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home