The Shotgun Blog
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Did Lou Dobbs just chime in on a Shotgun thread?
I wrote about a "feisty" exchange between Lou Dobbs and Judge Andrew Napolitano here. Earlier today, someone claiming to be Lou Dobbs weighed in. A quick IP address check confirmed that it's at least plausible that it was the Lou Dobbs. What makes it more likely is the tone and style of the comment.
Since Dobbs wasn't happy with the post, and with some of the early commenters, I thought I'd bring up his comment to the main thread:
The author of this post tortured reason and reality to avoid the acknowlegment that American and Canadian rights have been won with blood over more than two centuries, and that there is no nation in the world that assures greater individual freedom than the United States.
Your commentariat didn't listen to my statements, or didn't understand them. They obviously find the Canadian trade surplus with America to be greatly supportive of their politics and fascination with irrelevant, and grossly misplaced, labels. I am an American independent traditional conservative, and immensely taken with the idea that the American democratic constitutional republic is worth preserving.
Posted by: lou dobbs | 2010-07-14 4:01:21 AM
Morning links from last night
So does Ilya Somin over at the Volokh Conspiracy.
Jay Currie posts a video of dangerous bubbles at the G20.
Are tea partiers avoiding social issues?
Tea Party tells the NAACP to grow up.
In other news:
Top British cop calls for a return to the "British model" of policing -- softer, less aggressive, and more gentle.
Singapore expects stunning 13 - 15% growth in 2010.
Crazy censorship-minded Massachusetts law expands to cover emails and IMs and so on.
Speaking of censorship, U.S. second circuit court of appeals tosses out FCC regs on indecency for being "unconstitutionally vague."
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Maxime Bernier back in politics?
All I can say is, welcome back Mr. Bernier!
"Maxime is a great friend and great member of my team," the prime minister told a news conference. "We all know that Max made a mistake a couple of years ago, which he owned up to, and stepped down. He is extremely valued by myself and all of his colleagues in Ottawa. So it's great to have him on the team."
The Iceman agrees:
Despite "cleavage-gate" and "file folder-gate", Mr. Bernier still crushed his Bloc opponent in The Beauce by nearly 25,000 votes in 2008. The Beauce is one of the coolest riding names in Canada from a phonetic perspective. The people that he represents in parliament love the man. ... I forgive Maxime for his error, and I would like to see him in a quality cabinet office. His ex-girlfriend had a screw loose. As a writer I am pissed off that she got a book deal over being good looking and showing cleavage in public. That lowers the standard for book deals. I hope Scott Reid doesn't get a book deal.
[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
With Conservatives Like These.....
Joseph Ben-Ami asks some hard questions of Prime Minister Harper:
The plain fact of the matter is that although the government has had to make difficult compromises due to its vulnerable position, it has also adopted some practices and policies that cannot be explained away in this manner.
The mammoth increases in program spending in its first two years are a case in point. Nobody at the time was clamouring for these increases and there was no possibility that the Liberals would have forced an election if Mr. Flaherty had failed to provide them.
Another, more recent example that I have written about is the decision to resurrect the former Court Challenges Program under a new name – the Language Rights Support Program. Government apologists continue to insist that this new initiative is fundamentally different from the Court Challenges Program that was cancelled in 2006.
Do these apologists not know that their talking points were written by bureaucrats who opposed the government’s decision to shut down the CCP in the first place?
And then there's the wheat board and the gun registry. At least the Tories went to court to smash the CWB monopoly, albeit unsuccessfully. That the long gun registry still exists nearly four years into "conservative" rule is a mark of shame. This isn't to say that Iggy would have done a better job. Certainly not.
That assessment probably has less to do with ideology, and more to do with the growing sense that he's Stephane Dion with better English skills. In practice the proposition to the electorate, next time the writ drops, from the Tories will be this: You could do worse. Perfectly true. Yet shouldn't we be holding a Conservative party to something like conservative standards? Otherwise truth in labelling demands Stephen Harper run for the Status Quo Party next time around.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
SMU Professor calls to repeal section 13
In the latest issue of the Saint Mary's University student newspaper The Journal, professor Mark Mercer writes about the current censorship issue in Canada; in particular, section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The article outlines recent happenings surrounding the unpopular section, and the problems that come with reforming or revising section 13. Mr. Mercer instead suggests repealing it, as many are advocating:
Improved censorship is still censorship; improved censorship will no more serve the interests of society's marginal or vulnerable than the old censorship did; improved censorship will still be the enemy of discussion, candour, and autonomy; improved censorship will still be the friend of identity politics and the cult of victimization.
Similar to the call by Blazing Cat Fur, Mr. Mercer prescribes the most effective way to win the battle of free speech in Canada:
Canadians must present to their elected representatives the case for making Canada a free and open society, The justice committee of the House of Commons began meetings on [October 5] to consider section 13. The wicked are eager to embrace revisions and reforms. In response, we must press our members of parliament to delete the section entirely and put the censors out of business for good.
It's also worth mentioning the amazing speeches by Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, located here. Watch or listen to a very well crafted argument and be prepared to be either reassured or converted into a soldier of free speech!
[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
High church vs. low church conservatism
In one of the best essays of the year, Daniel McCarthy of The American Conservative magazine discusses the differences between high church conservatism, a la Edmund Burke, and the low church conservatism of modern United States. McCarthy states:
...[T]he philosophy [Burke] espoused, most famously in Reflections, was a high church conservatism to match his High Church Anglicanism. His understanding of the proper relationship between faith, culture, and politics was very different from that of the radical Protestants, whose anti-establishment views held revolutionary implications for the social order.
High church conservatism is the opposite of low church. It privileges works over faith, being more concerned with prudent policy than with the inner moral character of politicians or what they profess. It is deferential (sometimes to a fault) to hierarchy and suspicious (also sometimes to a fault) of popular movements and enthusiasm. It is leery of eschatological passions. And above all it works to avoid schism—the high church conservative’s objective is to preserve the fabric of society and, so far as possible, elevate its culture. This, he believes, can only be done within the mainstream of national life. For Coleridge and the 19th- century poet and literary critic Matthew Arnold, the function of an established church is less religious than cultural. As Coleridge writes, “Christianity, and a fortiori any particular scheme of Theology derived and supposed (by its partizans) to be deduced from Christianity, [is] no essential part of the Being of the National Church, however conducive or even indispensable it may be to its well-being…” Its being, or essence, is in the preservation of culture.
On the other hand,
Low church conservatism, more familiar, is readily described. It has five common characteristics. First, it values faith over works—what counts is the character of a politician and the intentions behind his actions, not the outcome of his policies. No man, of course, can read another’s soul, thus in practice the low church conservative places great value on professions of ideological purity. Sinning politicians like Newt Gingrich and David Vitter may be forgiven, so long as they say the right things. Disastrous policies—wars gone awry, for example—may be pardoned on account of righteous aims. Conversely, good works count for naught without profession of the right political faith.
Second, low church conservatism retains the anti-clericalism of its religious counterpart. This entails a pervasive anti-elitism. For the low church conservative, a popular broadcaster such as Rush Limbaugh possesses greater authority than a scholar such as Russell Kirk. The former derives his position from (or has it affirmed by) the congregation—his listeners. A Kirk, on the other hand, appears all too priestly. To be right requires no special learning, only acceptance of a basic creed.
A third trait is a tendency toward cultural separatism. The low church conservative prefers building parallel institutions to compromising with existing centers of authority. Sometimes this is commendable. More often, it is not. The proliferation of “conservative” movies, “conservative” dating services, “conservative” universities, and a “conservative” counter-counterculture—complete with “conservative” Che T-shirts—is emblematic. The low church conservative abhors the mainstream; the word itself is a pejorative.
Fourth is a belief that the eschaton is imminent (if not immanent). Every political battle is a clash of titanic principle, a skirmish in the final conflict between light and darkness. Every bellicose dwarf in command of a developing nation is a potential Antichrist, or the geostrategic equivalent, a Hitler. No Saddam or Chavez is merely a tin-pot dictator.
Fifth, and most important, right makes might. Moral truth is easily known, and nothing should stand in the way of its application in policy. The goal of politics is to enact what is right and true. When a Bush administration official told Ron Suskind, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality,” he was not being cynical. He was naïve: for how could righteous men possessed of great power fail to achieve whatever they set out to do? From this logic, it follows that abortion can be ended and the sexual revolution repealed, if only we elect enough Republicans.
Interestingly enough, I've been espousing high church conservative principles along with several others in the right-of-centre blogosphere. Are we the ones that will rediscover this type of conservatism?
High church conservatism remains to be rediscovered. It will not offer the Right an easy road to power, but then that is not what it is meant to do. More important than reclaiming Congress or the White House, or even “winning” on specific issues, is the task of restoring the constitution—not only the written Constitution but also the cultural framework that must undergird it. Without an institutional, national clerisy, high church conservatives are in the awkward position of having to anoint themselves for the task. But after 30 years of low church conservatism, some alternative must be found.
Well, someone has to do it!
As well, McCarthy links Michael Oakeshott with Burke, though through a different context as I did in The Common Ideas of Burke and Oakshott:
For the low church conservative, politics is teleocratic—a purpose-driven activity. In the language of British philosopher Michael Oakeshott (very much a high church type), the low church conservative views the state—and perhaps his church, too—as an “enterprise association.” The high church conservative, on the other hand, considers the state to be a “civil association,” whose enjoyment is its own reward.
And again, similar to my article on social innovation, McCarthy makes sure to state that high church conservatives like Burke, Oakeshott, and myself believe in an organic society by saying that "[t]here is a strong inclination among high church conservatives against interfering in the social order except to preserve its constitutional architectonics."
Will high church conservatism make a comeback in the right-of-centre world, or is it destined to sink with the other failed philosophies? Like always, I'm curious to know what you think!
[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The existential drama of Canadian communists
This post could also have been called, "How Canadian communists must come to terms with history", or even, "Why I have to re-post more pursuant to Gerry Nicholls' post". According to an article in Epoch Times, plans to construct a monument in Ottawa to honor the victims of communism are being obstructed by due regard to the feelings of Canadian communists.
The ever-industrious National Capital Commission (NCC) wants to change the name of the monument from “Memorial to the Victims of Totalitarian Communism” to something that does not demean or tarnish the self-esteem of card-carrying communists in Canada. Initially, the monument was going to be called the "Memorial to the Victims of Communism", but NCC board members found it to be polarizing, hence the addition of the term "totalitarian". Now it seems no one is completely certain about the monument, the emotional states of Canadian communists, the value of historical memory, or whether communism really deserves the bad rap it seems to have earned over the past few decades.
There are exceptions to this Canadian confusion over communism. Tribute to Liberty, one of the groups trying to get this monument built, probably never anticipated so much controversy and stalling in the naming phase. After all, one would be hard-pressed to find honest individuals arguing against naming a monument to the victims of Nazism or fascism qualifying this description with the obvious, namely, "totalitarian".
Of course governments ruled under the ideologies of Nazism, fascism, or communism are totalitarian-- in fact, "totalitarianism" (as opposed to freedom, rule of law, or human rights) might just be their original contribution to political history. Name one communist country in the history of the world which has not been totalitarian. In fact, adding the word "totalitarian" to qualify communism is not just ignorant--it is blatantly false and dangerous. The refusal of communists and their defenders to admit the nature of communism should not prevent the public square from being the place where a spade is called a spade and the victims of communism are duly honored.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Re: The thought monopoly of Academia
Dane's right on the money. Seriously, this is what passes for subversive material on a Canadian university campus:
(h/t Andrew Potter)
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The fallacy of leveling
With the rise of modern liberalism as displayed through the victory of Obama last year come policies devoted to leveling. Though this doctrine is the norm here in the Great White North, the U.S. has a tradition of swimming against the current if the course will lead to disaster. Others in America wish to assimilate into the global world and adopt foreign policies for sake of national equality. Just as Edmund Burke warned the French of the fallacy of leveling, here lies a warning to those Americans who wish to listen. The contexts are different, but the points are timeless.
“Believe me, Sir, those who attempt to level, never equalize. In all societies, consisting of various descriptions of citizens, some description must be uppermost. The levelers therefore only change and pervert the natural order of things; they lead the edifice of society, by setting it up in the air what the solidity of the structure requires to be on the ground.”
In other words, those who attempt to level society are essentially turning the social structure upside down, with the foundation in the air and the roof on the ground. Such an idea is absurd in the physical world; it’s equally as absurd in the social world. The attempt to create equality through programs such as affirmative action, the welfare state, and over-taxing “the rich” are actually ensuring a shaky, deteriorating social future, if not an eventual social collapse.
That being said, there’s the counter-argument that purely relying on a hierarchy often leaves only those of inheritance to govern, and they might not be that bright or wise despite their “good blood”. As always, Burke has ready a strong response:
“You do not imagine, that I wish to confine power, authority, and distinction to blood, and names, and titles. No sir, there is no qualification for government, but virtue and wisdom, actual or presumptive.”
In simpler terms, he goes on by saying “[e]very thing ought to be open; but not indifferently to every man.” Although everyone should have the opportunity, not everyone has the right set of skills and talents, not to mention the vast wisdom needed to successfully govern a nation. And so it would make sense to have those not competent enough for power to be in power. Unfortunately this is often ignored in the name of equality. The process of gaining power should be hard enough to weed out those without true merit, but not be so hard as to exclude the great minds and hearts that deserve the opportunity, according to Burke. “If it be open through virtue, let it be remembered too, that virtue is never tried but by some difficulty, and some struggle.” Even when it comes to the left-wing’s emphasis on equality, historic imagery spring to mind: Would the ideas of equality be as hard-hitting has Rosa Parks not struggled to sit on the bus like everyone else; if MLK never wrestled with racism; if Hitler was never stopped?
Those from the left side of the political spectrum will denounce this idea of classical conservatism with the notion that those at the “bottom”, who make up the foundation of society, are subject to oppression from the state. However,
“Such descriptions [as a ‘hair dresser or a working tallow-chandler’ for example] ought not to suffer oppression from the state; but the state suffers oppression, if such as they, either individually or collectively, are permitted to rule… [I]n asserting that any thing is honourable, we imply some distinction.”
Many argue that classical conservatives advocate prejudice and discrimination, but as Burke argues, “…you think you are combating prejudice, but you are at war with nature.” He believes there is a natural order or hierarchy in society, and up until recently this idea wasn’t simply ideological musings, but observational fact. Left alone, the human species is much like the animal Kingdom in the sense of natural orders. Do you think the animal world would last very long if suddenly sharks had legs, dolphins had wings, and tigers lost their claws and teeth? Certainly not; that mental image is both comical and ridiculous. Today, this exact idea, applied to humans, is the norm in many, if not most countries. Interestingly enough the idea of leveling (in its pure form) was proven to be devastating, à la communism. Are we that short-sighted? If we considered history and the wisdom passed down by our ancestors, we would know that leveling is a failed experiment that’s ongoing simply because it’s such a feel-good issue. Oh, how the mighty have fallen…
[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
'Mosaic' theory has its flaws
I find it interesting that the overall opinion of multiculturalism changes so sharply once one crosses the border from Canada to the United States. In Canada, it is publicly taught that as a country we are a mosaic: a society that encourages the continuation of immigrants' cultures and values instead of accepting and adopting ours. It's taught in a rather objective tone that this is a "good" thing, and that the melting pot of the U.S. is out-dated and "bad". There, immigrants are free to chose any lifestyle they wish thanks to the first amendment, but are encouraged to adopt the American culture in order to work and live in the new country more smoothly.
Oppositely, Canada accommodates immigrants both socially and with taxpayer money. It appears to me that a good chunk of the American population recognizes they have a unique culture that's enjoyable and able to be proud of explicitly.
This idea is normal throughout most of the world, except for countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. where there's been a culture vacuum going on for a while. Now, I hate to bash my own country, but Canada's 'Mosaic' policy seems to me like a blank canvas of culture free to be drawn upon by those who aren't even Canadian. In my experience Canadians don't have a strong sense of national culture and tend to be apathetic to the whole 'culture war' debate. Ìt happens to be that those drawing upon the canvas (the immigrants) have higher fertility rates than Canadian raised citizens.
With such an admittance to not having a coherent national culture, it's not a long shot to consider the idea of American culture outlasting Canadian culture. Some may think that's obvious due to the fact that Americans vastly outnumber Canadians, but let's assume for this discussion that both countries have the same population and the same fertility rate (Canada has a much lower rate). Now it's easier to see that even with these things being equal, a lazy immigrant is more likely to move to a country that embraces diversity for the sake of diversity than one that embraces it's a culture of hard work ethic. A productive immigrant would most likely do the opposite and adopt the culture that has made America such a place of opportunity and wealth.
The same culture more or less exists north of the border as well, but the problem is that Canada as a whole has a mindset of cultural "self-defeat" as quoted by Stephen Harper. I believe he was only talking about the Maritimes (which I am a citizen of), but then again it is the only world I'm accustomed to. I used to dislike Harper for that quote, but as I've grown up and see things more clearly, I have to admit he's right.
The only place I can really call exception to that is Alberta, and I've never even been there. Interestingly enough, Alberta is the conservative centre of the country. In the States, they have the South. Coincidentally, the South is pretty much the only part of the U.S. that still has retained some of it's culture and traditions. The blue states, particularly around the East and West coast are about as secular as Canada. Secular nations are known to have the lowest of the low fertility rates, and as the U.K. has shown us, an aging population being propped up by immigrants isn't going to be great anymore; mass immigration problems and the decline in the economy are proof of this.
The fact that Canada loves multiculturalism and tolerance also means that any clash of culture cannot be publicly denounced - that would contradict the whole idea of Canada being such a loving country! As icing on the cake, Section 13 of our Human Rights Commission allows anyone that's offended by practically anything to file a complaint. To "denounce" other cultures by wanting to conserve one's culture in such a country as ours is a perfect way to receive that HRC complaint.
This spiraling problem prevents any national culture to grow and flourish, and to be proud of the Canadian/American way of life is now considered racist by the ultra-progressives. Looking long term, for one that enjoys the traditional way of Canadian life, it saddens me to know that one day it will cease to exist while other cultures continue and evolve. I'm all for healthy immigration (immigrants as assets rather than liabilities), but the crises in the U.K. with Muslims and the one in the U.S. with Mexicans cripple aspects of society and gouges taxpayers trying to fix the mess. All the money in the world can be thrown at fixing, but only through serious reform can we stem the problem in the long-term. Thankfully Canada doesn't have a particular immigration problem like the U.K. and the States, although it's probably out of luck. America borders Mexico and Europe is borders most of the muslim mjaority nations, not to mention the lavish benefits of the Euro-welfare state. Let's not take for granted that we don't have those deep problems.
Writer Mark Steyn goes into deep detail surrounding demographics, fertility rates, and other interesting facts in his book "America Alone". I highly recommend the book to those interested in these subjects; it's hard not to sound like the man himself, as Steyn's book outlines many of the core concerns of social conservatives and relates those concerns to current issues. What makes these issues controversal is the fact that not many people are speaking out against them - in Canada it's practically literary suicide. Nevertheless, the right-of-centre blogosphere is not afraid. Many writers including Ezra Levant and Blazing Cat Fur are speaking out and discussing the same issues with equal fury.
[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]
Monday, May 04, 2009
Rob Anders will not face nomination challenge in Calgary West
Western Standard General Manager Kalim Kassam reported recently on the attempt by lawyer Donna Kennedy-Glans to force a nomination race in the riding of Calgary West against incumbent Conservative MP Rob Anders.
Kassam reported that Kennedy-Glans was successful in electing a full slate of directors to the riding's constituency association who were loyal to her agenda. Today, however, the Calgary Herald is reporting that she failed to convince enough rank-and-file party members to vote in favour of a nomination contest.
According to the Herald:
An official with the Conservative Party of Canada told the Herald Saturday that none of its incumbent MPs faced enough votes to trigger a nomination contest in any riding, including Calgary West.
Anders is an outspoken fiscal conservative and an asset to the Conservative caucus.
Posted by Matthew Johnston
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Frank Klees would not end monopoly on beer and wine distribution
Yesterday I wondered about the positions of the Ontario PC leadership hopefuls (other than Hillier, who has announced his policy) on the ending of the economically outrageous policy of granting a distribution monopoly to The Beer Store.
Frank Klees, in this video interview with Stephen Taylor, clears up his position: he opposes ending the monopoly.
Elliott talks some sense on the HST?
I've heard from a few people this weekend that at an event in Windsor Christine Elliott, in conversations with members, revealed that were she premier she would not stop harmonization of the provincial sales tax, but would instead simply cut the rate.This is, of course, the right thing to do. It's what should be done when the harmonization is brought in.
It is also not what her announced position on the policy is, and her campaign should formally announce this positive development if it's true. If Elliott believes that harmonization itself is good, but the Liberals are bringing it in at the wrong time (believable from her quote in this story), it wouldn't be inconsistent of her to want to only cut a few points off, rather than moving away from the reform.
Should Elliott make this announcement there's going to be a lot more head scratching than there already has been over people wondering whether Elliott is the "red" Tory candidate. This would be good, common sense fiscal conservative policy.
William Joseph also reported that Tim Hudak was back peddling on his position on the HST:
He said he would be willing to propose eliminating it, but he did not say that this would be in his platform and that it will depend on how it is working. I followed up with saying I wished he would be attacking the spending in the budget more than the HST since pretty much every economist thinks it's a good idea. He claimed he does also talk about this, but his website seems to only focus on the "DST," or "Dalton Sales Tax".
Since Hudak has been unbelievably vocal about "stopping the DST" (see his website for an idea of how strongly it's emphasized) it's going to be so terribly typically political of him if he later decides that he's for it, now that he's been against it.
It would be nice to see the candidates clear up their positions on this important issue. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
BC Conservatives pledge to reform Human Rights Tribunals
The BC Election campaign and referendum campaign are under way.
Over the last couple weeks, I have been reaching out to parties and to interest groups to get their views on issues of concern to pro-liberty voters and their supporters across Canada. You'll see those interviews here on the Standard over the course of the campaign.
Among those I've spoken to is Wilf Hanni, leader of the upstart BC Conservative Party (no relation to the federal party). The BC Tories have been in the press lately. After some internal troubles last year, Hanni has revitalized the party and is aiming to take a seat, and possibly hold the balance of power in the next session. The likelihood of that happening is open to debate - but what isn't, is the unprecedented public presence of the Conservative Party in this election and their potential to act as a spoiler for the BC Liberals.
We'll be publishing a full interview with the BC Tory leader here next week, but for now, here is an excerpt.
I asked Mr. Hanni (fyi: former subscriber to the Western Standard) about the Steyn and Levant free speech cases:
Yes, we are aware of that case. That has helped us to formulate a position to reform the human rights commission when we form government. Our position is as follows:
A BC Conservative Government will reform the BC Human Rights Tribunal:
- So that any complainant will be responsible for the legal fees associated with his or her human rights complaint.
- To make complainants responsible for paying the defendant’s legal fees should the complainant lose their Human Rights Tribunal case.
- To disallow individuals and organizations from making Human Rights Tribunal complaints when Human Rights Tribunals in other Canadian jurisdictions are already investigating the same issue.
- To disallow cases dealing with freedom of speech under Section 2 of the Charter.
- To allow appeals, to a court of law, for any decision made by the Tribunal.
- So that the Tribunal cannot render penalties outside the boundaries of Canadian Laws.
We realize that it is neither fair nor equitable that complainants currently receive free legal representation no matter how frivolous the complaint, while defendants must pay their own legal fees.
I know that some people will be quick to dismiss the BC Conservatives as a fringe party, but don't forget that you could have said the same thing about the Liberals 10 years before they held 95% of the seats in the legislature. BC changes quickly, and to see any party with these views is important.
More to come.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Is Canada a safe-haven for Communist apparatchiks?
The chairman of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Union published an opinion piece yesterday in the Kiev Post expressing concern about Canada becoming a safe-haven for the criminal minds of Communism. He notes that in April 2005, a journalist broke a story in a national Canadian newspaper about Communist NKDV members in Canada. Since then, the issue seems to have dropped off the Canadian media's radar. In the author's words:
Even more intriguing is how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s War Crimes Unit, asked to investigate allegations about Communist collaborators in Canada, responded with the rather limp finding that they had insufficient evidence upon which to act.
Apparently, when a man admits he was in the NKVD and brags about the people he killed and provides his memoirs in English in a book available in public libraries, the police don’t see that as proof of any wrongdoing. Maybe they’re waiting for Hollywood to turn the manuscript into a movie.
After World War II, screening procedures were supposed to exclude Nazis and Communists from Canada. So if a man declares he was in the NKVD and broadcasts that fact from Toronto, either he is a liar or he lied to get into Canada. In any case, we know that Communist killers are here. They shouldn’t be.
All of Stalin’s surviving minions are elderly. Yet it’s not too late to see justice done. They deserve no more mercy than they meted out. And now they should be expelled. They can finish out their lives as burdens upon those whom they served. I’d bet they won’t find Moscow or Minsk as comfortable as Montreal.
Canadians are compassionate. Not only do we strive to do what’s right, we also honor the righteous. We did in 1985 when Canada conferred honorary citizenship on Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. Yet it was not the Nazis who did him in. SMERSH agents abducted Wallenberg in Budapest in January 1945, then carted him off to the notorious Lubyanka prison in Moscow. Probably no one now here was directly involved, yet all who served Stalin in those days are complicit. No one wants such scoundrels here. You’d think a Conservative government would get that. Apparently they don’t. They will.
I don't think the author is being unfair here. This is not a free speech issue; he is not calling for outlawing the Communist Party of Canada, for example. He is merely pointing out that Canada should not be a safe-haven for Communist oppressors. The fact that many of these Communist oppressors have not been officially designated war criminals is a result of failings in the international community to apply human rights law to the crimes of the Soviet Union and former Eastern bloc states. It is not because this criminal class of Communists does not exist.
The conservative Canadian government should exercise more discretion in offering the privilege of citizenship. Perhaps Stephen Harper's political courtship of the radical center is distracting him from maintaining a conservative position on who is deserving of Canadian citizenship. After all, citizenship is not available to wild animals or convicted Nazis-- why should former Communist criminals receive this privilege? I can't imagine how men like Joe Schlesinger might feel knowing that these communist criminals could end up living across the street from him.
Monday, March 30, 2009
What does Randy Hillier stand for?
Unless Frank Klees has also unexpectedly dropped his policy planks on everyone's lap and I just didn't notice, Randy Hillier is the first to release the principles on which his campaign will be founded. They've been posted on his official leadership campaign website, which I assume was launched when he announced this morning. (The Shotgun covered Hillier's announcement here.)
HIllier's picked three "Common Sense" (calling all Harrisites!) planks to hang his suspenders on - freedom of association, freedom of speech and senate elections in Ontario. The policy pages are fairly content-rich, answering questions that potential supporters might have about each proposal for the "Randy Revolution." (I laughed, but in a good way.)
Hillier proposes provincial legislation to protect medical professionals and marriage commissioners from having to perform acts that they are morally opposed to. It's hard to argue against this policy from a libertarian perspective. It's a smart way to reach out to the so-cons in the PCPO.
Shotgun readers will be happy to hear that Hillier is proposing abolishing the Ontario Human Rights Commission and moving human rights cases to civil courts to help preserve due process and, one can only assume, reduce the number of frivolous human rights complaints. I predict that Hillier will need to skirt any attempts to paint him as opposed to protecting human rights in Ontario by both forces outside the party and probably also his opponents in the leadership race.
Finally, Hillier would enact legislation to start elections for Ontario's senators, something he has proposed before in a Western Standard article--following Alberta's lead by using a single transferable vote ballot to choose Ontario's candidates for the Senate.
It's not quite what I was expecting, but there you have it. Hopefully the other candidates will offer some substantive policy planks for PCPOers to dig their teeth into.
Two candidates officially in--let the games begin.
Randy Hillier announces bid for leadership of Ontario Progressive Conservative Party
Randy Hillier, the suspender-wearing, private property supporting, eccentric Member of Provincial Parliament in Ontario has announced that he is running to become the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. The slogan for his campaign? "A Conservative leader for a Conservative Party."
In his speech, published here at the Western Standard under the title "Freedom, Justice & Democracy," Hillier announced his intentions to produce policies that will strengthen individual liberty. Concrete proposals include "abolishing" the Ontario Human Rights Commission by introducing legislation to place human rights complaints under the jurisdiction of "real" courts (rather than the kangaroo courts we've so often written about); introducing legislation to provide for an elected Senate in Ontario; and introduction of the "Freedom of Conscience and Association Act" which will be "an act to protect the rights of the individual to not be compelled or coerced into actions or associations they find objectionable."
Here are a few excerpts from Hillier's speech:
We have passed countless laws that diminish the individual’s responsibility, removes their good judgment and places it into the hands of a regulatory body.
We have become a “nanny-state” of dependence.
We are no longer responsible for our actions when we allow ourselves to blame others for our actions.
We now have over half a million provincial regulations.
Many of them diminish individual responsibility.
Many others blur the line between private and public property, and allow government to intrude where it has no business.
These regulations must be repealed.
The proper and honest role of government is not every role.
It has a role to insure that freedom and justice is found throughout the land.
We were a province that used to boast the strongest and most diverse economy in our country.
Now it shuts down small businesses and farms under the weight of over-regulation.
The cost of doing business in this province drives business out.
It’s not that our businesses can’t compete.
Rather, our government prevents them from being competitive with costly red tape...
We have built a regime of countless review boards and commissions through which faceless bureaucrats dressed in quasi-legal robes hand down “kangaroo” verdicts that suffocate our natural rights as individuals, and extend false privileges to collective bodies.
Our legal system must prevent injustice not create injustice...
The PC Party cannot simply disguise itself as a Liberal Party lookalike, holding a different coloured shovel while digging the same hole and expect Ontarians to choose us and not the Liberals...
My campaign will be driven by ideas and ideals, while being anchored by the three central principles of Freedom, Justice, and Democracy.
Freedom strengthens commerce, creativity, industry, education, and the most important element of our society -– the family.
When the rights of government overtake the rights of the farmer, the worker, the doctor, or the parent, all of society suffers.
As Premier I will immediately introduce the Freedom of Association & Conscience Act, an act to protect the rights of the individual to not be compelled or coerced into actions or associations that that they find objectionable.
We’ve created private monopolized and special interest governments such as the Ontario Medical Association and Law Society of Upper Canada.
We compel people to join business and industry associations that collect dues but do not represent them, and we provide no protection for freedom of conscience.
Justice is only just when it is truly blind.
When the law is applied unequally -– and absent of due process -– the law can become an instrument of harm rather than justice.
One of the worst examples of this has been the Ontario Human Rights Commission and other quasi-tribunals.
As Premier, I’ll make sure those violating human rights appear before real judges in real courts, where civil rights and due process are not distorted by the balance of probabilities.
The Human Rights Commission and other quasi-tribunals will be rendered redundant under my government...
Monday, March 23, 2009
Conservative unity post-Harper?
Shotgun blogger and political pundit Gerry Nicholls is openly musing about a potential rift in the Conservative Party after current prime minister Stephen Harper steps down as leader.
Says Gerry: "I think as long as Harper is the leader, there's going to be a unity there, but I think there is definitely a schism in the party between the old Progressive Conservative wing and the Canadian Alliance/Reform wing. The day Stephen Harper steps down as leader, you're going to see that become a real issue because I don't see anybody as a possible successor to Stephen, who could appeal to both wings."
My friend, and co-author of Rescuing Canada's Right, Adam Daifallah thinks something similar. He is quoted in the same piece as saying, "When you're in power most people are content and that tends to cover up any sort of splits that might be there laying underneath the surface. But once things start to look more grim, and obviously the economic situation is dire, those fissures start appearing a bit more, and a bit more in public... I don't see a lot of it right now, but if things get worse I think we'll definitely see it in the weeks and months to come."
The reason for the possible divide? At the moment, there is no Conservative politician that can bridge both the former Reform/Alliance wing, as well as the former Progressive Conservative wing of the Conservative Party.
We can split these hairs even further. Whatever their number, and I think the number is much higher than most people tend to concede, libertarians in the Conservative Party are as upset as fiscal conservatives are with the current Conservative government. Whether or not they will stick around before Harper steps down, it will be difficult for any new leader to have the same kind of fiscal conservative credibility that Harper had. And he had it in spades.
Fiscal conservatism was a rallying cry for both the PCs and the Reformers. You might argue that it was the sole unifying bond between the two parties. Reformers were, generally, socially conservative, while the PCs were more likely to be socially liberal. Reformers were more hawkish when it comes to foreign policy, while PCs were more likely to be non-interventionists.
With what is beginning to look like an outright abandonment of fiscal conservatism, it's hard to see what the reason for unity might be. What issue might rally people to want to stay together? Partisanship is a stupid reason, and one that only appeals to the politics-as-a-sports-game types, and while there are plenty of those (witness the comment section here on the Shotgun, where no matter what Harper does he's still the bestest and most gloriestest prime minister since the dawn of mankind!), there's just not enough of them. The desire to defeat Liberals because they are more awful is surely not enough either. And, with Ignatieff rather than Dion at the helm, it's hard to credibly make the case that they would really be that much more awful.
So what, if anything, will keep the party together, unified, and on an upward trajectory? It's hard to know, but it isn't as if Harper is done unveiling policy. There is still the possibility of a return to fiscal conservatism. It's slim, but it is possible.
Pushing for small government really might be the only thing that can give enough Tories reason to remain united, and Tory. Here's hoping Harper has a change of heart. Soon.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Reformers, managers and divorce on the right
Over the past weeks, many more grassroots conservatives have become disenchanted with the Conservative Party. After Stephen Harper introduced a budget packed with political stimulus in which adherence to any sort of conservative principle was near-impossible to detect, the excuses that "the minority made me do it" or "the Coalition made me do it" are getting tiresome.
In sharing my thoughts about what those of us who favour less spending, lower taxes, and a more limited role for the federal government might do in the present circumstances (it would hardly be good advice to start voting Liberal or NDP), I recommended that we turn away from electoral politics, instead directing our efforts towards engagement in our communities and "spread[ing] to our neighbours the belief that individuals should not be subservient to their government." Because most Canadians still operate under an assumption that the proper role of government is to care for them and shelter them from the consequences of their actions, leading any presumptive conservative party to drift to the left in pursuit of political power, "any efforts at electoral change," I suggested "are only likely to be successful if accompanied by a corresponding change in the attitudes of the electorate."
Despite my pessimistic outlook on the attainability of positive changes through elections or politicians in Ottawa, I noted that I would nevertheless welcome "a fracture of the Conservative Party along Blue Tory/Red Tory lines."
Arthur Weinreb, writing in the Canada Free Press, proposes just that as a fruitful course of action for Canadian conservatives:
But what should the small “c” Canadian conservatives do?
Well, they could break away from the CPC and form their own party. As a philosopher, if not the greatest that ever lived then certainly the only one to catch a perfect game in the World Series once said, it seems like déjà vu all over again. The reality is that Canada pretty well lost all hope of ever getting a real conservative government when the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance merged to form the party that is now in government. Much like the current economic crisis, it might not have been foreseeable that it would happen under Harper’s leadership but the Conservative Party was bound to morph into the old Progressive Conservative Party; a party slightly to the right of the Liberals and one that easily tends to be more “progressive” than “conservative”. We are now pretty well where we were before the merger, minus of course the Reform/Canadian Alliance.
Conservatism is not the norm for Canada. It is not enough to simply campaign on the grounds that Conservatives can run the country better than the Liberals can.
Conservatism has to be sold in much the way that Mike Harris did in Ontario in the mid 90s. A conservative party must be content, at least in the foreseeable future of affecting power instead of obtaining it. Small “c” conservatives could learn a lot from the NDP. Love them or hate them, they generally adhere to what they believe in.
Whenever someone in that party suggests that they move towards the centre in order to increase their vote, they are gently (ok, usually not that gently) told that these centrist policies are not what they believe in. Despite the fact that the NDP has never held power federally, they have affected much of this country’s social policies. A party on the right could also influence the two centrist parties, one of which is always in power.
The move to unite the right did not, nor likely never will, result in a “conservative” government. Small “c” conservatives who are happy with the Harper government are merely settling; forgoing conservative principles in favour of a liberal-light party whose main claim to fame is that it is more palatable than the Liberal Party.
If the principles of conservatism are ever going to make inroads in Canada, we need a political party to advance them. It’s time to disunite the right.
Read the rest.
While there's much to agree with in Weinreb's piece, as I see it, the right in Canada was always disunited.
There are two groups: the managers and the reformers. The managers are those (Red Tories, entrenched partisans etc.) who have no opposition to a Conservative Party which subsidizes industry, supports expansive welfare programs, retains the Trudeau legacies of bilingualism and multiculturalism, in short, provides a right-ish flavour to the policies of the Liberal Party. The reformers, on the hand, are many, and they desire nothing more from their government but that it leave them alone to live their lives, manage their money, and raise their families as they see fit.
Perhaps because of a misplaced faith in democratic politics, unwarranted goodwill, a superficial analysis of the system of state power, or, most tragically, an impatient ardour for change, too many from among the latter group placed their hopes and their confidence in the former, believing that a single united political party was the best and quickest avenue to the sort of government they desired. Aside from the oft-remarked upon leftward drifts, we have observed that when combined in a single party, the reformers, disposed to want as little as possible to do with politics, either cede control or simply lose out to the managers, who make the better politicians. For this reason also, pragmatism always trumps principle, concessions win out over advances, and deferral takes precedence over action.
Faced with the evident failures of this "united" approach, it is long overdue for those who still believe in limited government and decentralized power to make the disunion formal, to divorce themselves completely from the managers, to no longer defend them nor lend them support -- whether some among the reformers choose to form a new political party is by comparison immaterial.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Budget anticipation: permanent tax cut for those earning under 80,000?
While the federal budget, due to be released later today, will be a showcase of big government largess and NDP-like spending, there is hope today that at least one element of the budget isn't awful: A new leak suggests the Tories plan to introduce a permanent tax cut for those earning less than $80,000 per year.
Via the CBC:
"We've had a lot of information trickle out of the last couple of days," the CBC's Margo McDiarmid reported from Ottawa Tuesday as the capital awaited the official budget text. "We know there'll be about $13 billion of programs, including infrastructure programs.
"But new information has come out overnight on what also will be in the budget. We're going to hear that there will be permanent tax cuts for people who make under $80,000 — so, permanent broad-based tax cuts for the middle class we've heard the government talking about in the past — and also it plans to speed up corporate tax cuts."
Such moves could lead to a showdown with the opposition Liberals, whose leader, Michael Ignatieff, argues that broad-based, permanent cuts are a bad idea at this time.
Stephen Harper spoke with CTV, but wouldn't release any detailed specifics about the size of the tax cuts, or other, similar measures that might be less-than-awful in the forthcoming, deficit-fueling, big government, non-conservative budget:
"Some of those tax initiat[iv]es will involve getting money in consumer's pockets, so that ordinary people, working class people, middle class people, can spend money," Harper said, adding that the cuts will be "affordable" in the long-term.
[CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert] Fife said Tuesday that the budget will include "modest but permanent tax cuts" for anyone earning under $77,000 annually.
Meanwhile, the Liberals have said that cutting taxes for middle-class Canadians would throw the country into long-term deficits, and they've threatened to vote against the budget on that issue.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Petition: Conservatives against deficit spending
Some partisan Conservatives have put together a petition to urge the Harper government not to run deficits. From the text of the petition:
It is reported that Prime Minister Harper's Conservative Government will table a budget on January 27th 2009 that includes $40 billion dollars worth of deficit spending. During the last federal election the Prime Minister explicitly promised voters that his party would not engage in such deficit spending. A few short months later the Prime Minister seems to believe that, unlike 'the Coalition', his party has received a mandate from voters to put this country in to a debt that will take subsequent generations of Canadians to repay. As conservatives and responsible stakeholders in the Conservative Party, we must make it clear that we will no longer support a party that tables a budget that clearly goes against what we were promised when we supported our party in the last federal election.
Therefore, we the undersigned, pledge to no longer give any money to support the Conservative Party of Canada nor to help the party in the next federal election should the Conservative Government deliver a budget on January 27th that prescribes massive deficit spending.
You can read and sign the petition here. If you're so inclined.
Update: Of course, the obligatory "Conservatives Against Deficit Spending" facebook group.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Flaherty cleared of conflict of interest allegations: Report
The complaint was filed in February by Thomas Mulcair, the NDP Member of Parliament for the riding of Outremont, and alleged that Flaherty violated the Conflict of Interest Act with an untendered contract awarded to the firm MacPhie & Company Inc. Hugh MacPhie, the president of the company, was described as a “Flaherty loyalist” and “senior campaign official” in a March 27, 2002 article from the National Post.
After completing the investigation, Dawson concluded that “There was no evidence that Mr. Flaherty or his staff extended the contract to Mr. MacPhie to accord him a benefit. To the contrary, I am satisfied that the primary concern of Mr. Flaherty and his staff was the effective advancement of the 2007 budget.”
Posted by Matthew Johnston
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney concerned B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision will hurt Temporary Foreign Worker program
“I am very concerned by the recent decision of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal regarding wages for temporary foreign workers, particularly in light of the fact that these workers were being compensated at the same level as Canadian workers, and had voted to decertify the union that filed the complaint.
While this is a matter between the employer and its employees, we are monitoring the situation closely. Especially during a period of economic uncertainty, Canada’s economy and the success of many Canadian businesses depends, in part, on the contribution of foreign workers. We are committed to ensuring the Temporary Foreign Worker program continues to benefit workers while helping employers meet short-term labour needs when no suitable Canadian workers are available.”
Kenney is responding to a December 3, 2008 ruling by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that workers from Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica were discriminated against by two companies involved in building a new Skytrain project between downtown Vancouver and the airport.
The Tribunal alleges that SELI Canada and SNC Lavalin discriminated against Latin American workers in terms of salaries and benefits in comparison to European workers who were also brought in to build the Skytrain expansion project.
Charles Gordon, a lawyer representing the Construction and Specialized Workers' Union, thinks he’ll have to go to court to collect what he estimates to be $2.4 million in wages and benefits affecting 38 workers involved in the complaint.
The Tribunal has also ordered the companies to pay $10,000 to each worker for “injury to their dignity.”
If there has been any injury to dignity the victims are SELI Canada and SNC Lavalin management, who have been punished and demonized for providing opportunity to foreign workers – and the foreign workers who have been forced into a union they have since voted to decertify.
Posted by Matthew Johnston
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Coalition games fuel the fires of western separatism: Doug Firby
With the House of Commons prorogued and the anti-Harper coalition showing signs of weakness, the Conservative government looks like it may survive. But while some stability has been returned to Parliament, the crisis has rekindled the fires of western separatism.
In “Coalition games fuel the fires of western separatism,” Doug Firby writes:
It’s hard to believe it was just a few days ago that Canada was faced with a potential constitutional crisis and coalition coup.
Yet, while Canadians who crave security and stability may be breathing a sigh of relief that Stephen Harper’s minority Conservative government has found a lifeline, it would be a mistake to conclude that there is no fallout from recent parliamentary shenanigans. Instead, the overheated rhetoric and regional back-biting has rekindled old animosities simmering just beneath the surface of civility.
And opportunists are seizing the moment to cast old grievances in a new mould. In Alberta, for example, the turmoil has given new life to the moribund separatism movement.
Western Standard general manager Kalim Kassam reported on the empirical evidence of this renewed interest in western separatism with his report on website traffic statistics for the Western Block Party lead by the irrepressible Doug Christie. Traffic is up...way up.
The Western Standard also reported on evidence of western alienation expressed through placards at the Calgary rally on Saturday against the anti-Harper coalition. The official message at the rally was that a coalition government lead by Dion or any Liberal leader has no democratic mandate from the people, and is being held together by a dangerous deal with the separatist Bloc. Frustrated grassroots Conservative voters, however, had another message: Federalism isn’t working for the West and we want out.
You can read Firby’s column “Coalition games fuel the fires of western separatism,” here.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Jason Kenney to speak at Tribute to Liberty event; should a monument to liberty be built with tax dollars?
Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, is speaking tonight at an event hosted by Tribute to Liberty at the University of Toronto. Tribute to Liberty is a non-profit organization whose mission is to establish a memorial in Ottawa to the victims of the crimes of communism and to educate the public about these crimes.
At first glance it seems like a great idea, and I'm sure Kenney is supportive.
Kenney recently returned from a trip to Kiev to mark the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor, the 1932–33 famine-genocide in Ukraine that occurred as a result of Joseph Stalin’s collectivist agriculture scheme.
As for the Tribute to Liberty memorial, let's hope this group follows the lead of Calgary entrepreneur Bob Lamond. Lamond spearheaded the erection of a monument to free market economist Adam Smith in Edinburgh, Scotland with only private money. After all, why turn a tribute to liberty into tribute to big government?
Ah, but, sadly, that's exactly what's happening here.
As it stands, the organization has taken the profoundly misguided course of appealing to the federal government to finance and build this memorial:
“Ambassadors and their delegates from 14 countries have written to the Prime Minister calling for the creation of a memorial,” says Philip Leong, Chair of Tribute to Liberty. “We hope to build on that broad international endorsement with comparable support from Canadians coast to coast to coast.”
Take your commie scheme somewhere else, Leong.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Deborah Grey: The First Lady of Reform on her Order of Canada, Morgentaler, her contribution to the country and the crisis in Parliament
Deborah Grey is a special person to those who were part of the Reform Party in the late 1980s. She energized the movement by becoming the party’s first elected Member of Parliament. A teacher at the time, she won the Beaver River by-election in March 1989 and was promptly appointed Deputy Leader of the party by mentor and party founder Preston Manning.
Grey was affectionately known as the First Lady of Reform and became a celebrity among grassroots conservatives across the country for her unapologetic and unpolished approach to politics. She was the kind of folksy political star only the West could produce.
While she went to Ottawa alone, without colleagues in the House of Commons until 1993, she did have the support of a smart legislative assistant – Stephen Harper, who is, of course, Canada’s embattled Conservative prime minister.
Grey is known for her honesty, integrity, toughness and straight talk. In fact, she got on the straight talk express in 1989 and has never gotten off, even after leaving public office in 2004.
On Friday, along with her friend and mentor Preston Manning, Grey will be inducted into the Order of Canada, our country’s highest civilian honour. It’s been a long journey for Grey, from that of a noisy, unwelcomed outsider in Ottawa with a “reform or bust” style and agenda, to being recognized as a person who has helped shaped our country and improve the lives of Canadians.
The Western Standard caught up with Grey this morning for this interview:
Western Standard: Do you have any thoughts on Morgentaler's induction into the Order of Canada? Does it taint the honour for you?
Deborah Grey: The Order of Canada is a great honour, since its inception in 1967. It has traditionally been an honour that has united the country by celebrating the achievements of people in all regions, under many categories. Unfortunately, Morgentaler has been more of a divider than a unifier in Canada.
He was appointed on my birthday -- July 1. I am very grateful my mother did not meet up with him. She gave me life -- the most precious gift of all. I will accept and celebrate my appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada, even though I disagree with his appointment. I suspect he may disagree with mine!
WS: What do you see as your greatest contribution to Canada?
DG: My greatest contribution to Canada was to give a voice to Western Canadians when they were frustrated with their representation in Parliament. Reform brought a common sense approach to Ottawa and forced the Liberals to balance budgets.
WS: And what do you think of the current instability in Parliament?
DG: The mess in Ottawa right now looks bad on all parties. The country doesn't give a sweet fig about the inside baseball of Parliament. This is no time for goading from either side. Bring in a budget that can be workable and get on with it. Economically, Rome is burning -- quit your fiddling and run the country, folks!
With Preston Manning and Deborah Grey soon to be in the Order of Canada, can it finally be said that the Reform Party's populist brand of Western conservativism has arrived?
Monday, December 08, 2008
John Williamson: Stephen Harper must not yield
Manning Centre for Building Democracy fellow John Williamson thinks it is time to support Stephen Harper. Canada is at a crossroads: One path takes us toward lower taxes, a less intrusive federal government and an aversion to deficit spending; the other path takes us to higher taxes, massive government spending and structural deficits.
According to Williamson, the first path is the one the Harper Conservatives are on. The second path, is the one the NDP-Bloc-Liberal coalition is on.
Williamson is the former National Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and has not been reluctant to criticize the Harper Conservatives. In fact, in a column published in the Western Standard here in July, Williamson makes the case that the Conservatives were showing less fiscal discipline than the Liberals.
And in his column published today here, he writes that “It can be infuriating watching the Conservatives govern.”
But he still thinks the Harper Conservatives are worth supporting. Williamson writes:
Canada needs a prime minister willing to push the envelope from time to time. Mr. Harper has successfully done so, despite the political odds being stacked against him. A Throne Speech last year declaring the Kyoto Protocol targets as unattainable won the support of Parliament, as did tougher crime legislation, an immigration reform bill, extension of the Afghanistan mission and -- the crown jewel -- a dramatic cut to business taxes. When these proposals were first announced, the opposition declared each one unacceptable.
No, Mr. Harper should only consider stepping aside when he stops taking calculated risks. That will be the time for him to go. Not before that and certainly not now.
Like many Western Standard contributors, including Williamson, I’ve been critical of the Harper Conservatives. But the recent Fiscal Update – the Big F.U. – contained promising proposals and signalled a commitment by the Conservatives to lead on a limited government agenda.
...in addition to the long overdue plan to sell off $2.3 billion in crown assets (Stornoway?) and cut $2 billion in government spending (including subsidies to political parties), the Harper government is pushing for a “temporary removal of the right to strike in the public sector, perhaps indicating its intentions to get serious about reducing the size of government, and neutralizing the union opposition in advance."
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty...has so far not been drawn into stimulus mania and has instead been talking about spending restraint. "Without a doubt, here in Canada and around the world, these are difficult times that will require difficult choices," said Minister Flaherty. "We cannot ask Canadians to tighten their belts during tougher times without looking in the mirror. We have a responsibility to show restraint and respect for tax dollars." (I'll ignore the $75 billion in mortgage loans the CMHC bought from the banks. What could go wrong with the government buying mortgages nobody else wants during a global housing crisis? And to think, these people are in charge of managing the Canada Pension Plan. You may want to get used to the taste of cat food now.)
It was the strength of this fiscal update and the shared belief with Williamson that the Harper Conservatives are the best hope in parliament today for a limited government agenda, that prompted the Western Standard editorial team, led by Robert Jago, to expose the arrogance of the increasingly unstable Layton-Duceppe-Dion coalition with 74percentmajority.ca. (Visit our new website and let us know what you think.)
Saturday, December 06, 2008
2500 rally in Calgary against the Layton-Duceppe-Dion coalition; Western alienation is in the air
It had the feeling of a Reform Party rally.
2500 angry partisans gathered near City Hall in Calgary today to protest the Layton-Duceppe-Dion coalition.
Led by city councillor Ric McIver, protesters sang the national anthem – twice – and observed not one but two one-minute moments of silence – once for the victims of the École Polytechnique Massacre on the anniversary of this tragedy, and once again to honour the 100-plus Canadian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney spoke about the need for Liberal leader Stephane Dion and other coalition partners to get a democratic mandate from Canadian voters for their increasingly unstable coalition. The Western Standard launched a website today in support of the argument that since Dion has been rejected by 74 percent of Canadian voters and the 77 Liberal MPs in his own caucus, who forced Dion's resignation announcement, he has a mandate to leave, but not to lead.
PC MLA Jonathan Dennis spoke at the rally about need for political stability in this time of economic crisis and promised that his government would abandon their devastating and destabilizing new oil and gas royalty tax grab. I'm just kidding about the last part. Dennis ignored the elephant in the Alberta economy.
Former Conservative MP Monte Solberg stole the show with good humour and insight. He mocked the arrogance of the coalition of “the runners-up, the rejected and the rabble.”
The winds of Western alienation are once again blowing. While the party faithful who organized the event were largely "on message," the assembled crowd was clear about their feelings of frustration with Canadian federalism: the West is getting the shaft again and they’re not going to take it this time.
Conservative MP Rob Anders, however, thinks this crisis in parliament has had at least one positive impact on the country. In an interview with the Western Standard, Anders said Canadians have a renewed sense of importance about democracy and the work of parliament.
Here are some photos from the rally:
Friday, December 05, 2008
Poll: Canadians oppose party subsidies
This is really interesting. According to the Ipsos Reid poll:
Sixty-one per cent of voters said they oppose federal political parties securing $1.95 annually for each vote, which is a major source of party funding.
On the other hand, only 36% of those polled said that the subsidy should continue to exist.
It sounds like Prime Minister Harper was on the right track when he proposed eliminating the subsidies.
Stephen Harper honoured with Leadership Award while House rebellion continues
In a bit of irony yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was honoured with a leadership award, but was unable to attend the presentation ceremony because of the rebellion in the House of Commons that continues to threaten his government.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Peter Kent, accepted the first-ever International Leadership Award on behalf of the Prime Minister in New York. The award was given to Harper by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations for his work in promoting strong Western relations with the State of Israel.
“I am deeply honoured to be recognized for helping improve Western relations with Israel,” said the Prime Minister. “Canada stands with Israel, and will stand with any nation willing to put its trust in its people and follow the principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations was founded in 1954 to promote the State of Israel in the United States. An umbrella group representing 50 national religious, philanthropic and civic American Jewish organizations, it serves as a central coordinating body and primary forum for deliberations and discussions among its members on national and international issues of concern to the Jewish people.
As part of Canada's commitment under Harper to addressing the concerns of the Jewish people, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney has spearheaded Canada's recent and ongoing efforts to move toward full membership in the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. Kenney recently returned from the Babyn Yar massacre site in Kiev, Ukraine where over 100,000 Jews and non-Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Live Blogging: Has Stephen Harper failed to prorogue the House? Nope
What was expected to be a 20 minute meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General Michaëlle Jean has just concluded after two long hours.
Harper has apparently decided to exit through the back door to avoid the media.
Does this mean Harper has failed to prorogue the House?
Nope. Governor General Michaëlle Jean has agreed to prorogue the House.
CTV reporter Craig Oliver is predicting that the proposed coalition government will not hold together, should they be given an opportunity to govern.
Harper will be taking questions from the media. I guess reports that he left out the back door were incorrect.
The House will be prorogued until January 26 at which time the Harper Government will present a federal budget.
As a matter of custom and protocol, Harper won't discuss the details of his conversation with Michaëlle Jean or explain why the meeting took longer than expected.
Media Q&A is pretty lame so far. (Am I allowed to say lame?)
Harper doesn't apologize for the proposal to cut the $1.75-inflation adjusted-per-vote public subsidy to political parties. He has, however, shelved the idea.
Q: Is Harper delaying the inevitable?
Harper implies his focus will be the budget, and not political campaigning against the proposed coalition government.
New Democrat Leader Jack Layton will now respond to the Governor General’s decision to allow prorogation.
A final thought: If Harper gets through this, he will face a weaker Liberal party in the next election. The Liberals have tarnished their brand with their association with the NDP and the Bloc, and they have likely weakened their ability to fund-raise.
The opposite can be said about the Conservatives.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Jack Layton is requesting equal time today; will he be demanding it tomorrow? And is the anti-Harper coalition showing early signs of weakness?
In a letter sent today on behalf of New Democrat leader Jack Layton to Troy Reeb, Senior Vice-President with Global News, senior NDP staffer Anne McGrath made the request that “each of the three leaders of the opposition in Parliament receive equal time and treatment to address the people of Canada on [the Global News] broadcast network this evening, following the 7:00 PM statement by the Prime Minister.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be addressing the nation tonight, with time allotted by the networks only to Liberal leader Stephane Dion to respond.
The NDP letter is interesting for two reasons.
First, while Layton is requesting equal access today, left-of-centre corporate media critics believe media access should be a legal entitlement. Consider the deeply flawed Moon report to the Canadian Human Rights Commission recommending that the media be compelled to provide a balance of viewpoints, or the demand of the Muslim complainants in the human rights case against Maclean’s Magazine to access to editorial pages, or the renewed interest on the left in the so-called Fairness Doctrine south of the border.
Second, this letter is evidence of the inherent weakness of the NDP-Bloc-Liberal coalition. Layton has no interest in letting Dion lead, and will be loath to watch the Liberals position themselves as the government-in-waiting, a status regrettably in reach of the NDP.
Consider this statement in the letter to Reeb:
“I understand the Conservative Party and the current Prime Minister have taken a position that only one member of the proposed coalition government should respond. We respectfully remind broadcasters that the proposed coalition is just that: a proposal to the Canadian people by two of Canada's political parties with the backing of a third.
The proposed coalition for a cooperative government will, and could, only take effect if the House of Commons demonstrates its lack of confidence in the current Prime Minister and his administration of our country. Until such time, the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party are distinct and functionally separate caucuses in the House of Commons.”
Layton would have us believe that once Harper is out of the way, his party will happily work with the Liberals in a power sharing coalition. The opposite is more likely the case. Once the Harper Conservatives have been pushed aside, this coalition will come apart as neither party wants to give the other the national stage or the credit that they expect to come from saving the economy from the dangerous market liberals in Harper's cabinet.
Governor General Michaëlle Jean should take this letter as evidence that this coalition will last only long enough to oust the Harper Conservatives, and will then descend into chaos and partisan infighting.
It looks like Liberal MP and leadership prospect Michael Ignatieff is already getting cold feet.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
The coalition government is probably bad for Canada
I’ll be the first to admit, and you can read my previous post, that I was ready to send Harper on his merry way and surrender to the inevitability of a coalition that I blamed on the Conservatives.
I have been trying to watch this whole ordeal as neutrally as I possibly can. I am a libertarian, and I don’t hide that bias. Part of being a libertarian means pointing out that the Conservatives have hardly served my interests albeit for a few pittances of agreeable reform.
The problem, of course, is that I’m a civil libertarian and I have a streak of nationalism in me. By that I mean, I view the state as somewhat necessary, and I view Canada as my sandbox to make a better world. Of course, you can extrapolate what that better world (or better Canada) looks like to me; more liberty, more economic freedom, less government intrusion into business and personal affairs.
Activism is a complicated thing for me. By that I mean I’m conflicted in just how I achieve those goals. Do I work within the system, or do I work outside the system? Do I support incrementalism, or do I hold an absolute line on libertarian ethics?
This political crisis in Ottawa presents a serious challenge for me.
On one hand, I don’t feel that the Conservatives have earned my support; I feel patently let down on issues like free speech, fiscal restraint, and regulatory reform/abolition. But on the other hand, I see a group of mouth-frothing leftists at the gates, desperately waiting for their chance to exploit this “economic crisis” as their chance to backend-load leftist initiatives.
Most worryingly, there are 18 unfilled senate vacancies. Vacancies that would appear this “Coalition for Canada” intends to fill expeditiously with patronage appointments.
Elizabeth May sent signals that Dion intends to appoint her to the senate, and bring her into the cabinet.
If this is true, then we are truly witnessing one of the most crass and undemocratic swipes at power that we have ever seen. And a necessary component to that swipe at power is the support of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, whose leader said that this deal is good for separatism.
Tomorrow Jacques Parizeau is widely expected to applaud this coalition. Which is fine in and of itself, but it’s hard to fathom given how Stephane “Captain Canada” Dion and the Liberal Party campaigned in 2004 against the Conservatives on the basis that Stephen Harper was “prepared to work with the Bloc Quebecois”.
In fact, Stephen Harper made clear he would be willing to work with the Bloc on a vote-by-vote basis. The Bloc had the same reciprocal policy. But let’s be clear: the Conservatives can honestly stick to a line that they never entered into agreement with the Bloc, giving them any formal process or power.
Yes, they teamed up with the Bloc and NDP to defeat the Liberals with the intention to go to an election. But that’s hardly the same as coalition agreement. There in fact, was no coalition agreement that included the Bloc having any right to consultation. There was no agreement (as there is now) that referred to “Canadians and Quebecers” as this Liberal-NDP coalition agreement does.
In a few words: this Liberal-NDP coalition has sell-out and power-grab written all over it.
A Quebec poll recently showed overwhelming support for a Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition. But a national poll conducted today, should give the Liberals and NDP pause.
I am hearing from a lot of Liberal and NDP voters who are not happy with what is happening. They do not accept this deal with the Bloc. And both parties risk substantial backlash.
The allure of separatism is once again on the rise in the West. The separatists in Quebec seem ecstatic.
I would hope the Governor General takes this all into consideration when she makes whatever decision she makes. I am not a constitutional expert, but my hope would be that she would invite Mr. Harper to meet the House again with a new throne speech and send a message to the coalition that she expects the House to work. If that fails, my preference would now be a general election.
Governor General returns to Canada from Europe on Wednesday to address political crisis
Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, will return to Ottawa tomorrow to deal with the political crisis in Canada summarised well by Western Standard blogger Craig Yirush in his post “Harper should resign and let Dion take power.”
Harper should resign and let Dion take power
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has lost the confidence of the House (through his own stupidity) and will be defeated next week.
He could prorogue Parliament, but this would clearly be an abuse of his prerogative. It would also require the assent of the Governor-General.
He could ask the Governor-General to dissolve the House and call an election. But this would put the Crown in a difficult spot as there is precedent (in both King-Byng and in Ontario in 1985) for it to allow the opposition parties to try and form a government.
Or he could offer the Governor-General his resignation and let Dion take power.
I recommend that Harper resign. It would save the country a messy constitutional conflict, with the Crown having to choose between a rock and a hard place. And it would make him look statesmanlike (for once).
It would also have one additional benefit: Dion's shaky coalition of separatists, socialists and opportunists is unlikely to be stable. If they lose a confidence vote, there will be an election in which the Tories can skewer the Liberals for getting into bed with the Bloc and the Dippers.
I realize Harper is unlikely to take the high road. But as he weighs his options he should remember that King, having lost power to Meighen, took his seat on the opposition benches, and then won the ensuing election when Meighen's coalition with the Progressives collapsed.
One more thing - those Tories warning of a coup need to take a valium. It's perfectly constitutional under our parliamentary system for the government to fall without an election.
Monday, December 01, 2008
New NDP-Liberal governing coalition may be a win for separatists, and not just in Quebec; Western separatism surfaces again
The success of the NDP-Liberal governing coalition will depend on the cooperation of the Bloc. This has some federalists nervous, and it has some Western Canadians rethinking separatism.
In a Western Standard interview with Doug Christie, the Western Canada Concept separatist leader had this to say about the power struggle in Ottawa:
"This demonstrates Ottawa is a comic opera orchestrated by self-interested Eastern politicians and a waste of time and money for Western Canadians. If Western Canadians cannot see now the futility of remaining in Canada, stay tuned, things will only get worse. The truth, which we have tried to communicate about Western independence since 1974, is rapidly becoming the prime focus of Western Canadian awareness. This is causing a flood of support emails to me from people all over the West who used to be Conservative and many who were not. People who are interested in doing something rather than just complaining should get in touch and help us organize."
The Harper Conservatives embody the faint hope of decentralist-minded Westerners looking for a national government that is both conservative and also respectful of the separation of powers that give the provinces authority over things like natural resources, health care and education.
If the Harper government is overthrown by a coalition of Eastern socialists hostile to Western interests, and supported by the Bloc, the rise of separatism in the West is likely inevitable.
In 2005, the Western Standard commissioned a poll showing that 35.6% of Westerners agreed with the statement "Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea of forming their own country," indicating a strong sense of Western alienation under Paul Martin's Liberal government.
Bloc-blessed junta is undemocratic and most unfair to NDP and Liberal voters
It's not surprising that Jean Chretien of Adscam and "Culture of Entitlement" fame is now trying to pull the backroom marionette strings and replace our democratically elected federal government. What sparked this railroading? Not the economy and not "economic stimulus" – well unless you count the stimulus/subsidy for politicos paid for by Canadian taxpayers.
The Liberals, Bloc and the NDP got upset at the mere suggestion that before politicians ask Canadians to tighten belts in face of economic challenges, politicos might have to do the same. They were terrified. After all, they're “entitled to their entitlements” – our tax dollars to fund their political ads, staffers, and pollsters. Eighty-six per (86%) cent of the Bloc Quebecois’ political budget is funded by your tax dollars. That’s thanks to a system started by Chretien and jealously guarded by Dion and Layton.
Thought we stopped this graft years ago? Think again. They're reaching out from the grave, desperately trying to end one of the first governments in years that actually showed at least some stability, reason and focus in its economic approach with real and even pre-emptive tax cut and infrastructure stimulus.
Even in recent days, the government has shown that it’s willing to work with the other parties – they’ll even introduce an early budget and shelve the political subsidy cut. The government is clearly responsive. Got a problem with the ways things are going? They're obviously willing to talk. Why not, in this time when we need stability, give the government a chance to do its work? Why not show the world we are a mature, civil and fair society and respect the results of our own election?
We now know that while Prime Minister Harper was standing for this country’s economic interests at the G20 and elsewhere, the NDP was already plotting this power grab with the Bloc Quebecois. While they want to bring down the just re-elected government, they don’t want to face the voters or any democratic approval for their plot.
This is actually most unfair to those Canadians who voted Liberal or New Democrat. These parties just finished an election where they explicitly campaigned against any “coalition.” There’s no mandate for this. Had NDP and Liberal voters known those parties wanted to write a blank cheque to the Bloc Quebecois, many might have voted differently. You don’t need to like the current Prime Minister in order to see how profoundly undemocratic and unfair a Bloc/Liberal/NDP backroom coalition would be.
The people have spoken. They didn’t want a leaderless or poorly-led Bloc-blessed junta united only by partisan hatred of the Prime Minister. They didn’t want cabinet decisions made with care to Gilles Duceppe’s whims and approval as top concern and this country’s economic future as an afterthought. Many said the economy was threatened enough when Quebec sovereigntists took power in Quebec last time. The result of having this happen in any way in Ottawa would not only be political lunacy, it could be catastrophic.
Most analysts believe that at best this hate-based coalition could only last a matter of months -- time enough to just cause damage and set back work already started by the previous government. Where’s the stability or sense in this? How is this anything except an unwarranted power grab? This allergy to democracy is unhealthy. It sends the wrong message to the world.
Like him or hate him, the Prime Minister was quite correct when he said Canada's government should be decided by Canadians - not backroom deals. It should be our choice. Well, we've chosen. Let the opposition know they need to come out of the backroom and let the current democratically elected government continue to do its work.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Even you, Prentice? Campaign launches to draft Jim Prentice for Conservative party leader
Earlier this evening, I reported that an anonymous group claiming to be comprised of Conservative Party of Canada members from across the country has launched a new website to mobilize national support for a campaign to draft Ontario Conservative MP John Baird to lead the Conservative party.
Treachery doesn't rest, not even on a Sunday. Grassroots Conservative Party members have apparently also launched a campaign to draft Jim Prentice for the same job. The website for Conservatives for Prentice went live tonight as well.
Prentice is a Calgary MP and Minister of the Environment.
Stephen Harper: The party never really started
I’m going to be totally honest here. Stephen Harper has dried up pretty much all credibility he had with me.
I still grant Harper his political accolades; bringing ‘the right’ together, defeating the Martin Machine, and shifting the rudder of political direction in this country, albeit it slowly.
On the other hand, Harper has pretty much given up fiscal conservatism.
There is no more talk of shrinking government, increasing provincial autonomy, reforming the Senate. No. The new game boils down to Harper and the Conservatives trying to prove to Canada just how much like the Liberal’s he is—minus the corruption.
That being said, we are now faced with a bunch of frothing mouths on the other side of the aisle that see their chance to take power.
Now they’re all claiming that this is about a “lack of stimulus for the economy” (whatever the hell that means), and politically attuned folks know this really isn’t about the economy: this is about the opposition feeling like cornered rats, armed with the knowledge that Harper wants to take away their parties taxpayer subsidies.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people on this issue—people who vote NDP, Liberal and Conservative. And I’ve got to tell you, when you lay the taxpayer subsidy scheme down in front of them, most people objectively reject this. In fact, most people are flabbergasted to learn that the Conservative Party is the only party that doesn’t receive a majority of it’s funding through taxpayer subsidies. Yes, they actually fundraise. Who would have thought?
So when Harper’s staff told him that he could win an election on this issue, I think they were probably right. The only problem was, they were a little too quick to assume that they would be granted a writ of election by the Governor General—a tactical error to say the least.
Philosophically, I am completely on board with the idea of cutting subsidies to the parties. But that being said, the Conservatives were not taking an ideological stand on fundraising. They were simply trying to bankrupt the opposition.
Had this been an ideological stand, they might have—at the very least—proposed this change as a phased in measure. Or better yet: removed donation limits and once again allow union and corporate donations to parties.
My property is my right. My money is mine to do with as I choose. If I want to fire-sell all my assets and donate it all to the NDP in a giant $700,000 cheque, that should be my bloody right. As it is yours.
Unfortunately, that’s all neither here nor there. If the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition coalesces, it’s about to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. We can look forward to “economic stimulus” in the form of corporate tax increases (a primary demand of the NDP for this coalition), a carbon tax (the Liberals and NDP have both made clear that the economic crisis is no reason to delay ‘greenshifting’ the economy), increases on social spending (universal child care), etc. Oh and they’ll throw billions of dollars at industry to “stimulate” them. After all, according to Liberal and NDP pundits, we’re the only developed country without a “stimulus package”—as if that some kind of bad thing. You mean, we’re the only country not barrel-rolling into statism, economic interventionism, bank nationalization, and corporate handouts?
Well, soon we’ll have the “Coalition for Canada” to set that straight.
Time to revisit an old article: "Stephen Harper: A former libertarian who's become just another statist politician"
At what may prove to be the dusk of the Harper era, it's time to revisit an article written at its dawn.
On the eve of Stephen Harper's first minority government in January 2006, Martin Masse, the publisher of the bilingual libertarian newsletter Quebecois Libre, wrote an article in which he predicted that despite the wishful projections of Harper's libertarian and conservative supporters, Harper would in fact govern much like a Liberal.
In the mid-1990s Masse was an organizer for the Quebec wing of the Reform Party of Canada and he was the official contact for Stephen Harper's campaign for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance in 2001-2002. It's worth quoting substantial parts of the conclusion of his piece:
The Stephen Harper that I knew would certainly not be at ease defending the program rolled out by the Conservative Party during this campaign. Between the moment he left as Reform Party MP in 1997 and his return to politics, we got together a few times in Montreal. He was then head of the National Citizens Coalition, a lobby group whose motto was “More freedom through less government.” It would be hard to describe the libertarian ideal more succinctly.
We discussed politics and philosophy. At that time, Harper was a big fan of QL. I nearly fell out of my chair one day when he told me how he found very interesting my article in issue no 53 of the magazine, the one discussing the “five essential libertarian attitudes”. Not only had I forgotten the issue number, but I could not remember one or two of the five attitudes in question!
Stephen Harper preferred to describe himself as a classical liberal rather than as a libertarian, a term which he found too ideological. He has no interest in anarcho-capitalism, but he seemed to be at ease with the idea that the state should be restricted to a few essential functions (security, defense, justice, foreign affairs, etc.) and that government interventionism should be reduced to a minimum. The NCC had no literature in French and no presence in Quebec, and he proposed to hire me to set up a Quebec wing, using the QL network of readers and sympathizers as a foundation. The project never went through because of strategic differences and his return to politics.
During the leadership campaign of the Canadian Alliance in the fall of 2001 and winter of 2002, I was the official “contact” of the Stephen Harper campaign in Quebec. When I realized the lack of interest of the leader and his entourage in investing in Quebec and developing an organization here, I decided to stop wasting my time and did not stay involved after his election.
Harper is guilty of the same sin as Ronald Reagan and most other conservative politicians; he claims to believe in shrinking the size of government but has always acted to increase the size of government. As Sheldon Richman explained:
Ronald Reagan's faithful followers claim he has used his skills as the Great Communicator to reverse the growth of Leviathan and inaugurate a new era of liberty and free markets. Reagan himself said, "It is time to check and reverse the growth of government."
Yet after nearly eight years of Reaganism, the clamor for more government intervention in the economy was so formidable that Reagan abandoned the free-market position and acquiesced in further crippling of the economy and our liberties. In fact, the number of free-market achievements by the administration are so few that they can be counted on one hand—with fingers left over.
Those who defend Stephen Harper on libertarian or small-government conservative grounds are likewise deceiving themselves. His policy of "incrementalism" has never achieved any of its stated conservative or libertarian goals. For those who see Big Government and the social welfare state as overgrown, Harper will never by anything more than a "lesser of evils."
In the final section, Masse explains why any minor cuts that Stephen Harper has made to government are outweighed by his many increases in spending and state power–he had abandoned his belief in limiting the size of the state by the time he became Prime Minister. Already by 2006, Harper no longer spoke like the free-market economist he once was:
All the same, the Stephen Harper of 2002 still had libertarian instincts. His first priority was to reduce the fiscal burden – to a rate lower than the Americans! (See “How to get Canada back on track.”) Today, he promises to reduce the GST by two percent, which will only have a marginal effect on Canadians’ disposable income.
The Stephen Harper that I knew would never defend the bankrupt health care system that we have in Canada. Today he defends the government monopoly and promises to oppose any move towards a two-tier system, which makes him essentially a socialist politician like the other federal party leaders. When the complete Conservative platform was announced – full of promises to spend and support all sorts of groups and special interests – their finance critic Monte Solberg assured everybody that “Spending continues to go up. There will be no cuts… We will protect the social safety net.” The Conservative plan is, essentially, a continuation of the status quo. The federal state will not be put on a diet.
Here is what we got today, a party leader and prime minister who was the most libertarian politician one could imagine getting in this position, taking into account the fact that our movement still has a rather marginal influence. This Conservative government will likely govern just like the old Progressive-Conservatives (that Harper and his Reform friends quit at the end of the 1980s because it was too centrist and beholden to special interests) would have. It might even do worse than the government of Jean Chrétien between 1993 and 2002, when Paul Martin put some order into public finance, eliminated the deficit, contained spending and lowered income taxes. Other than his promise to withdraw from the Kyoto accord and abolish the gun registry, Stephen Harper’s program has practically nothing to distinguish it from a libertarian perspective than the one the Liberals proposed.
Masse takes Harper's conversion as yet another piece of evidence against democracy itself:
As I have written many times in QL, partisan politics is a waste of time for people who really want to reduce the size of the state. Democracy is a collectivist system whose fundamental logic rests on buying the support of political clients with the big pot of other people’s money that constitutes the government’s treasury. Either we refuse to play the game and stay on the margins; or we absolutely want power, and have to abandon our libertarian principles and adopt an opportunistic attitude. The solution is to work to delegitimize the state from the outside, not to try to reduce it from the inside, which is bound to fail.
Harper badly wanted to become prime minister and did an excellent campaign to get there. The downside is that he has now become just another irrelevant statist politician, who at best will keep the federal government more or less as it is, and at worst will increase it as did the right-wing statist George W. Bush. The Liberal vermin certainly deserved to be defeated. But if Stephen Harper, a former reader of this magazine, can’t do better, what more can we hope to achieve through political means?
Read the whole article here.
Martin Masse wrote for the Western Standard about who he would vote for in the 2008 US Election and we mentioned his piece about the US's $700 billion bank bailout package as implementation of the fifth plank of Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto.
The knives are out for Harper as Conservative partisans launch Draft John Baird campaign. Even you, Prentice?
An anonymous group claiming to be comprised of Conservative Party of Canada members from across the country has launched a new website today to mobilize national support for a campaign to draft Ontario Conservative MP John Baird to lead the Conservative party.
The group, allegedly comprised of over 100 party members from across the country -- including two MPs and one Senator (who have requested anonymity) -- launched the site Sunday evening.
The group says that the Draft John Baird campaign has not been endorsed by John Baird or any of his staff.
Over the course of the next months, the Draft John Baird group plans to mobilize party members and average Canadians in support of John Baird's leadership.
This apparently grassroots move to replace Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper comes on the heels of what some party members are calling Harper's mishandling of the $195-per-vote subsidy issue, which would see $30 million in public funding to political parties eliminated.
Harper has been forced to back away from this plan, a plan that has inadvertently mobilized and unified the opposition parties and threatened his minority government.
UPDATE: draftjohnbaird.com and .ca are both available. I would think a serious John Baird leadership draft campaign would have purchased these domain names. This is likely not serious, or it's the work of Liberal, NDP or Bloc partisans to manufacture dissent. Stay tuned.
UPDATE #2: An anonymous spokesperson with Draft John Baird responded to my question about who is leading this campaign with the following:
“For the time being the identity of the founders is not being made public because of political retaliation concerns within caucus.” It is for the reason of “political retaliation” that the group claims it has not registered draftjohnbaird.com or .ca as this can not be done anonymously.
The organization also says they felt a sense of urgency to launched the website because the “Jim Prentice folks are already doing prep work behind the scenes, so we thought it was prudent to layout some initial groundwork, in hopes Mr. Baird runs.”
UPDATE #3: More from the group's website:
237 New Supporters since 12:00PM EST
Ottawa – Since launching the Draft John Baird campaign site on Sunday afternoon, the campaign says they have had nearly 3,000 visitors and 237 new supporters in less than ten hours.
This is a clear indication there is a strong appetite for change within the Party and across the country. The additional supporters registered today, brings the total number of registered Baird supporters to 345 as of 10:00 PM EST.
In the coming days, the Draft John Baird campaign will be working to ensure the new supporters are members of the Conservative Party of Canada, ensuring their voting eligibility in a leadership race.
Picture: John Baird waits in the background for Harper, but for how long?
Friday, November 28, 2008
AUPE president stands in solidarity with federal public employees in opposition to Conservative plan to ban strikes
I reported yesterday that in addition to the long overdue plan to sell off $2.3 billion in crown assets (Stornoway?) and cut $2 billion in government spending (including subsidies to political parties), the Harper government is pushing for a “temporary removal of the right to strike in the public sector, perhaps indicating its intentions to get serious about reducing the size of government, and neutralizing the union opposition in advance."
As exciting as all of this news is, banning the “right to strike” is a bit of a misnomer. In actual fact, every employee at all times in a free society has the right to strike -- just don’t come to work if you’re unhappy with the conditions, or show up outside with a placard that reads “my boss is an asshole.” So a so-called ban on the right to strike is really just the government’s way of saying it will fire you if you walk off the job, a reasonable response from any employer.
And let’s be honest, a mass public sector strike followed by mass public sector firings is probably the best stimulus strategy available to the government. The best way to get out of a recession is to relieve wealth creators of the heavy burden of government -- cut spending and cut taxes.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty seems to understand this as he has so far not been drawn into stimulus mania and has instead been talking about spending restraint. "Without a doubt, here in Canada and around the world, these are difficult times that will require difficult choices," said Minister Flaherty. "We cannot ask Canadians to tighten their belts during tougher times without looking in the mirror. We have a responsibility to show restraint and respect for tax dollars." (I'll ignore the $75 billion in mortgage loans the CMHC bought from the banks. What could go wrong with the government buying mortgages nobody else wants during a global housing crisis? And to think, these people are in charge of managing the Canada Pension Plan. You may want to get used to the taste of cat food now.)
Harper and Flaherty have it right, for the most part, while President-elect Obama has it wrong, despite his wildly dishonest claim that his reckless spending plan enjoys the approval of both liberal and conservative economists. Did anyone ask the economists at the Mises Institute, for instance? I did.
Austrian School economist Walter Block told me yesterday that he thinks this kind of wild stimulus spending is “like throwing gasoline on a fire and expecting it to go out.” Tragically, we can expect the American economy to smoulder and stink like an inextinguishable tire fire for years to come. America is heading into a Wiemar-style hyper-inflationary period from which she may never fully recover.
But back to the “right to strike” issue.
AUPE president Doug Knight thinks the federal government’s planned one-year ban on strikes by federal public employees is not only counterproductive but could be found to be in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. According to Knight, a ban on the right to strike doesn't prevent strikes, it increases labour hostilities and makes strikes more likely to be bitter, violent and protracted.
Alberta provincial government and most Alberta health care workers labour under a no strike policy. “We have always argued that these Alberta policies are arbitrary and unfair and do not make good labour relations sense,” Knight said. “They don’t make sense here, and they won’t make sense when they are extended to our fellow public employees who work for the federal government.”
Knight is right. They don't make sense, not unless public sector workers know the Harper Conservatives are serious about constraining spending and are willing to fire employees who attempt to sabotage the government's economic recovery efforts.
As for public sentiment, if Canadians are not yet hostile to the incessant and unreasonable demands of public sector employees, they will be after a deep and prolonged recession during which the only people to get raises, severances and pensions are life-time government workers.
Here’s hoping these difficult times set the political classes back a few steps in social standing and esteem, and working class people in the private sector, including entrepreneurs, are once again respected for the wealth and opportunity they create.
Posted by Matthew Johnston
Thursday, November 27, 2008
$2.3 billion in crown assets for sale. Will Flaherty spend the cash or pay down the debt?
The Canadian Press is reporting that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty hopes to keep the government out of deficit in part by selling $2.3 billion in crown assets, including real estate, and making $2 billion in cuts by eliminating department waste and reining in perks for ministers and top bureaucrats.
The government is also proposing a temporary removal of the right to strike in the public service, perhaps indicating its intentions to get serious about reducing the size of government, and neutralizing the union opposition in advance.
As for the sale of government assets, it’s not entirely clear if the Harper Government intends to add this money directly to general revenue, or if the party will follow the advice of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) and apply these windfall revenues against the national debt, and use the interest savings for tax relief stimulus.
Kevin Gaudet with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation thinks the government should “turn assets into tax relief” by selling crown assets, paying down the debt and applying interest savings toward tax relief, which is exactly what the government’s own “tax back guarantee” policy does.
You can read the complete Western Standard interview with Kevin Gaudet here.
(Picture: Kevin Gaudet, national spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation)
Posted by Matthew Johnston
$290 million in subsidies to political parties since 2004: Frontier Centre for Public Policy
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy has produced research that exposes the full scope of public subsidies to political parties as the Harper Conservative propose scrapping the per vote subsidy scheme.
Mark Milke, Director of Research for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, has produced a research report analysing public financing for Canada’s federal political parties between 2000 and 2008.
Here’s a review of the findings:
• Public subsidies to political parties have increased dramatically since 2004 when existing subsidies were increased and a new annual “allowance” (paid in quarterly instalments) was enacted.
• Since 2000 and to the end of 2008, taxpayer subsidies to political parties are estimated at $313 million with $290 million of that paid out since 2004.
Milke’s research also reveals that “the Bloc Quebecois was in a weakened financial position in recent years but was rescued by public financing.”
The parties least dependent on public financing are the Conservatives and New Democrats.
You can get the complete Frontier Centre report here.
CTF enters political party subsidy fray: “Cut the per vote subsidy”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is applauding the federal government for committing to end the $28.6-million annual “political welfare subsidy scheme.”
The subsidy scheme, passed in 2003 by the Chretien government, provides political parties with $1.95 for each vote it received in the previous election. (The National Post is reporting that the per vote subsidy amount is $1.75, a number I've seen before.)
“We’re in tough economic times, so this is exactly the place to start tightening the belt,” said Kevin Gaudet, acting CTF Federal Director. “We’ve opposed the subsidy scheme since 2003 because political parties should have to seek voluntary donations from Canadians, not steal tax dollars from the public treasury.”
According to research provided by the CTF, for 2008, each party received:
Conservative Party of Canada - $10.5 Million
Liberal Party of Canada - $8.7 Million
NDP - $5.1 Million
Bloc Quebecois - $3.0 Million
Green Party - $1.3 Million
“Many politicians will claim that parties need the financing to stay afloat,” added Gaudet “But how can they justify forcing taxpayers to pay for political attack ads, especially when we’re about to run a deficit?”
“It’s absurd that Canadian taxpayers are forced to subsidize through their taxes, political parties that they do not support, especially in the case of the Bloc Quebecois – a party that seeks to break up our country” added Colin Craig, CTF Manitoba director.
UPDATE: Scott Hennig, Alberta director of the CTF, explains the $1.75 versus $1.95 per vote subsidy amount:
The difference between the $1.75 and $1.95 is the inflationary increase that is built in each year. The Act still says $1.75, but it allows for an inflationary increase each year. So, you actually have to work backwards and look at the dollar amount they receive, and then divide by the votes to find out how much it went up by each year.
Plus, this doesn't address the reimbursement candidates get for their campaign expenses. Those still remain as a burden taxpayers have to pay, even if the government eliminates the per vote subsidy.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Harper to propose cutting public funding to political parties. He should also consider scrapping campaign finance laws
The National Post is reporting that the Harper Conservatives are going to move to scrap the public funding to political parties:
The federal Conservatives will propose Thursday that all public funding of political parties cease, a move that is sure to spark a war with the three opposition parties.
All political parties receive a public subsidy of $1.75 per year for each vote they receive in a general election. That subsidy costs taxpayers about $30-million.
The Conservatives believe they can withstand the loss of that subsidy because they, alone among the major federal parties, have a sophisticated national fundraising machine that brings in as much as $20-million to party coffers. They were the only party to finish the recent general election with money in the bank.
This is a great initiative, but Harper should now also move to scrap the campaign finance rules that make it difficult for parties to raise money from individuals and corporations. Otherwise, this move will be seen as self-serving and undemocratic.
Either way, it's bound to cause a raucous in the House tomorrow.
Is the Harper Government serious about selling crown assets? And what should be done with the cash?
Authority should be returned to private hands – let parents raise their children, farmers sell their wheat, and business owners run their affairs – and so to should the wealth of the nation be returned to private hands. The political allocation of resources is always less efficient than the market allocation of resources – and this efficiency advantage is what makes free market economies prosperous.
But not everyone shares this enthusiasm for limited government, of course.
Today, Winnipeg New Democrat MP Pat Martin sent a letter to Auditor General Sheila Fraser requesting a formal investigation into the October 31st, 2007 sale-leaseback agreement between the federal government and Larco Investments Limited. Seven federally-owned buildings were sold to Larco with agreements to lease them back directly to the federal government. It’s a very typical arrangement that allows the seller to get a hold of some cash, while incentivising the new buyer with a long term lease agreement in a soft rental market.
“Canadians deserve to know if this was a good deal or not,” said Martin. “It certainly was a good deal for Larco. Guaranteed tenants for 25 years – it’s like a real estate dream scenario.”
On the subject of dream scenarios, in the Throne Speech, the Harper Government hints at the possibility of the strategic selling of more crown assets:
The Harper Government will conduct a thorough strategic review of all program spending to streamline operations and save taxpayers money and this review will also include all Crown corporations and assets. As part of this review, all Departments and agencies will be required to produce detailed quarterly financial statements accessible to the public.
Kevin Gaudet with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation thinks the government should “turn assets into tax relief” by selling assets, paying down the debt and applying interest savings toward tax relief, which is exactly what the government’s “tax back guarantee” policy does. In an interview with the Western Standard, Gaudet said:
“Crown assets are on the asset side of the balance sheet and, if you are going to sell them, the best way to transfer them in a manner that gets the most long term value for taxpayers is to provide debt relief. And that works especially well with the government’s ‘tax back guarantee’...debt relief provides interest relief, which provides tax relief.”
The “tax back guarantee” policy of the Harper Conservatives binds the government to apply interest savings from debt retirement toward tax relief.
Gaudet thinks the first step to divesting crown assets is to “create an inventory to determine which assets are worth selling.” And while he thinks the government should move cautiously given current market conditions, he would still like to see crown corporations like Purolator put up for sale.
So would I.
(Picture: Remember the heady days in the conservative movement when Reform Party leader Preston Manning promised to sell Stornoway? Perhaps now is the time to sell the official residence of the Leader of the Opposition and move Dion and his family into a modest, two-bedroom bungalow in Gatineau. We can call it Manning House.)
Conservative mismanagement to blame for deficit: Liberals
Here's a new video from the federal Liberals released today:
The production value is pretty good, and the message has an element of fairness to it: the Tories are responsible for "wild and reckless" spending, the kind of spending the Liberals are now demanding.
The Tories should have cut spending and lowered taxes (they did, in fact, lower taxes) in their first government, and they should cut spending and lower taxes now.
Posted by Matthew Johnston
I guess it’s news: Helena Guergis and Brad Wall
In recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, Helena Guergis, Minister of State (Status of Women), boldly called for an end to violence against women.
“This international day is an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the countless women and girls worldwide for whom violence and the threat of violence are a daily reality,” said Minister of State Guergis.
Violence against women is, of course, a serious social problem, and I appreciate this official “opportunity to reflect” day the government has provided. But government calls for an end to this violence are as meaningless as government calls for an end to poverty.
If Guergis wants to do something meaningful to end violence against women, she should push for concealed carry permits, for instance. That would go a lot further than empty words.
More in “I guess it’s news,” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced today a $129 million infrastructure plan to provide 100 per cent high speed Internet coverage in Saskatchewan within three years.
The money will come from the Government of Saskatchewan, SaskTel, the federal government's Building Canada plan and grants from Industry and Northern Affairs.
Rural dial-up is apparently unfitting of Saskatchewan’s new status as a commodities powerhouse.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Harper names Scott Reid as Deputy Government House Leader. Why is the government underutilizing this talented MP?
On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Scott Reid, the libertarian–leaning Member of Parliament for Lanark – Frontenac – Lennox and Addington, will serve as Deputy Government House Leader.
"Scott is a veteran of the House of Commons with a clear command of both House procedure and the important issues facing our country," said the Prime Minister. "In a time of global economic instability it is crucial that we can move our governing agenda efficiently through the House of Commons and Scott has the right skills for the job."
First elected in 2000, Reid has served as Deputy Government House Leader since 2006 and was also chair of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Before entering politics he was a researcher, author and academic.
"I am delighted that the Prime Minister has asked me to continue to serve as Deputy House Leader," said Reid. "I look forward to working with my caucus colleagues to deliver better government for all Canadians."
While Reid might honestly be “delighted” with his reappointment, one has to wonder why a man as fluent with House procedure as he is with constitutional matters and a range of policy issues has not been asked to take on a more serious role in Harper’s cabinet.
It’s likely nothing personal. Reid was an early supporter of Harper’s Canadian Alliance leadership campaign in December 2001 and his primary Ontario organizer.
Could it be that Reid’s libertarian paper trail is keeping him from advancing in the Harper government? It would be hard indeed for the party to reconcile its disastrous new fascination with the drug war, for instance, with Reid’s views below:
Many currently banned substances have physical and psychological effects that are no more harmful than those associated with legal recreational drugs such as caffeine and alcohol. Like the prohibition of alcohol in the United States in the 1920s, their prohibition skews the allocation of law enforcement resources, artificially raises prices to extremely high levels, encourages crime by addicts, and prevents the emergence of private institutions and products to deal with the very real social problems posed by addiction.
When Reid is named to a senior position in Harper’s cabinet, it will be time for libertarians to take the Conservative Party seriously again.
Posted by Matthew Johnston