The Shotgun Blog
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Quebec and the cold
Cold, cold, cold. Stephen Harper’s big messaging event of the day took place inside a cavernous barn in of Chatham. Campaign organizers set up a hot-air machine outside one corner of the building, and snaked a pair of foot-wide flexible pipes into the building.
But the hot air they pumped into the barn didn’t do much good, for the simple reason that the barn’s huge main door was left wide open, allowing the cold air -- and more than a few flakes of wind-driven snow -- to fill the interior. So we in the media shivered and stamped our feet to stay warm while Harper unveiled the Conservatives’ agricultural policy and then waded enthusiastically into the Quebec question once again.
Standing in front of a huge red cultivator and an equally-large grain buggy, Harper told about 150 farmers (you could tell who they were because they were dressed for the cold) that the Conservatives would: replace the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization Program with a new income stabilization program, introduce a separate disaster relief program, and add $500 million a year to farm support programs. And, as revealed earlier in the week by the Globe, a Tory government would also “require five per cent renewable content such as ethanol and biodiesel in gasoline and diesel fuels by 2010.”
Nothing revolutionary or particularly small-c conservative in any of this. It’s obviously a policy designed to gain the maximum number of farmer votes. Nor could any commitment to free-market principles be found in Harper’s pledge to “ensure that agricultural industries that choose to operate under domestic supply management remain viable.” In other words, he’s supporting marketing boards. On the other hand, Harper does say western grain farmers should have “the freedom” to participate voluntarily in the Canadian Wheat Board.
But don’t expect any of this to lead the campaign news today. That’s because, for the third consecutive day, Harper once again dove headlong into the Quebec issue, and did so with considerable relish. He’s obviously enjoying dueling with Paul Martin, and must believe he is scoring political points. His strongest language came in response to Martin’s recent accusations, that Harper’s statements, in support of provincial rights and of Quebec’s having a limited role in international affairs, constituted a separatist policy. Harper labeled Martin’s words, “absurd and extreme accusations.”
Here’s some more: “I think what’s beyond the pale in this campaign is Mr. Martin’s repeated suggestion that the Conservative party is in bed with the separatists, and that the Conservative party is getting its policies from the separatists. That’s the allegation that is beyond the pale in this campaign. There is no basis for it. The policies that we’ve put forward are the policies of federalists across the country, they’re the policies of virtually every provincial government. In terms of reform of the federation, they’re the policies of Mr. Charest, the federalist premier of Quebec… But I think the things that are beyond the pale in this campaign have come from him. And frankly, I don’t go around demanding apologies. I can take a punch.”
He stressed the Conservatives have not proposed to give the provinces any federal powers. “The provinces already have a say in international treaties and international relations where they affect provincial jurisdiction. What we have said we will do is find better ways of engaging and working with the provinces on those things.” And he finished with a declaration that he would be willing to debate BQ leader Gilles Duceppe one-on-one. Stephen Harper: the new Captain Canada?
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Re Stephen Harper mano et mano with G Duceppe;
Duceppe stated during the great debate that same sex"had been voted on" lets move on this "has been dealt with" I would very much like Mr. Harper to say the same to Mr.Duceppe regarding seperation I think it has been dealt with twice already ! time to move on folks.
Posted by: bubba | 2005-12-21 9:55:35 AM
Now that Martin has put the lie to his claim that he would meet Duceppe "on every corner" in Quebec, Harper should offer to debate Duceppe one-on-one in Quebec.
Posted by: Joan Tintor | 2005-12-21 10:05:13 AM
Duh. That's just what Harper did. I think such a debate would be a turning point in the campaign that underlined Martin's irrelevance.
Posted by: Joan Tintor | 2005-12-21 10:16:16 AM
"And frankly, I don’t go around demanding apologies. I can take a punch.”
Nice line -- Paul Martin likes whine with his Merlot.
Posted by: Plato's Stepchild | 2005-12-21 10:16:35 AM
Flashahead: "Fundamentally" SSMartin: Bloc increase would not help. Help rid Canada of blockhead SSMartin. >>>
By Jim Elve
"He's going to destroy the party and break up the country" - Alfonso Gagliano.
"There's no doubt that an increase in Bloc members would not help. Fundamentally, I think that if there is a battle in Quebec for Canada, we'll win it." - Paul Martin
Liberals | Scandals
Posted: 4/26/2005 8:44:49 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)>>>
Posted by: maz2 | 2005-12-21 11:04:23 AM
"Mr. Martin’s repeated suggestion that the Conservative party is in bed with the separatists" , etc
And let's not forget Belinda Stronach's bogus reason for defecting (fed to her by Martin): "....separatism, and the possibility of a Conservative government beholden to the separatists."
Posted by: JR | 2005-12-21 1:41:37 PM
"Harper told about 150 farmers (you could tell who they were because they were dressed for the cold) that the Conservatives would: replace the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization Program with a new income stabilization program, introduce a separate disaster relief program, and add $500 million a year to farm support programs. And, as revealed earlier in the week by the Globe, a Tory government would also “require five per cent renewable content such as ethanol and biodiesel in gasoline and diesel fuels by 2010.”"
Harper to farmers: our government will be your Daddy, and money grows on trees. Y'all sit right back and we'll do everything to you. I mean for you.
Posted by: Justzumgai | 2005-12-21 7:28:21 PM
Harper on farmers:
While I undestand the electoral strategy and the need to win over rural Canada, I can't reconcile their ag policies with anything else they stand for. A stats Canada report has the average net farm in Canada worth approximately $ 1 million and yet we continue to subsidize these people to the tune of $3 - 5 billion per year. I thought CSL and ACOA companies were the only ones we subsidized?
These figures do not include the $2 billion in tarrifs that consumers have to pay to ensure dairy farmers to get a fair price (i.e. $13 for a block of cheese) for their products.
find it hard reconcile I find the conservatives agricultural policy to be
Posted by: Todd | 2005-12-22 12:37:56 AM
I don't think that any of you have ever been farmers or you would not be so critical of Stephen's policies. Farmers are going broke - esp in Sask. where taxes on land have doubbled. I am talking small INDEPENDANT farmers and ranchers - not the big collective type that Mr. Culvert has wild dreams of creating - like the nightmare in Russia.
Until ALL other countries stop subsidizing their farmers (most notably United States) our farmers and ranchers are not going to be able to make a living. This country NEEDS people who know and love the land and who are independant. If the whole country retreats to the apartment 'cells' in the city - what are we going to eat? Did you know that about 70% of our farmers and ranchers are over fifty? It is hard work and when these older fellas sell out who is going to starve themselves to keep cheap food on the plates of the city people in this nation?
Mr. Harper hates the wheat board as much as my dad did (Dad was a rancher/farmer) and he will rid the Western people of that Liberano abomination.
I like Stephen Harper's stance in Quebec - he will be the BEST P.M. Canada has ever had - imagine holding our heads up as a proud people with a STATESMAN as our P.M.? Back Stephen to the MAX - he has earned our respect - he certainly has mine.
Posted by: jema54j | 2005-12-22 1:10:46 AM
If you get a subsidy from the government, you are not independent.
It's an odd philosophy that considers family farmers to be the salt of the earth, but not family truckers, family manufacturers, family grocery store owners, or just plain family consumers and taxpayers.
Posted by: Justzumgai | 2005-12-22 6:50:59 AM
If you have a government that cannot be bothered to insist that your competition in other countries cut their subsidies then the govenment must level the playing field for their own producers. Independant grocerie stores, truckers, family manufacturers etc. are not food PRODUCERS - they all USE what farmers produce!! We all have to eat to live. The great famine in the Soviet Union was a DIRECT result of the collectivization of farms. If a farmer/rancher is NOT the owner of the land he/she works then the production on the said land goes right through the floorboards. Lowering land taxes and fuel taxes would be a un subsidized method of helping farmers - also getting rid of the wheat board and freeing up A LOT of crown property for single family ownership would be good ways to make farming feisable. DIRECT producer sales to the consumer - farmers markets - is also a way Canada could make producing profitable. I do not know much about taxes on small manufacturing but I ALWAYS buy from independant producers in that catagory if I can. I never buy anything made by slave labour if I can possibly avoid it - eg. China, Cuba, and to a great extent,India. Canadians are so over-taxed that they only think about themselves when purchasing products.
Posted by: jema54j | 2005-12-23 10:51:20 AM
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