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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mr. Manning sees the problem, but the problem's solution is more elusive

In yesterday's Globe and Mail, Preston Manning writes about Reform's failures and...observes that the Conservatives have valid-seeming reasons to, well, not always be conservative:


The primary job of modern political parties (regrettably, in my view) is simply to run and win election campaigns. To do so, they generally seek to accommodate public opinion as it exists, rather than attempt to change it. And they have little or no resources left over from campaigning to devote to the development of their intellectual capital or human resources. My insistence that Reform attempt to be both a movement and a political party at the same time no doubt constrained our progress on the partisan political front. Reform, the movement, tended to be more successful than Reform, the party.

So what's all this mean for the new Conservative Party?

A few weeks ago, I sat in on a fascinating conversation between two friends who were discussing the future of the Conservatives.

One expressed the view that the Harper government is not pursuing a genuine conservative agenda rigorously enough. The second defended the Harper government by arguing that a minority conservative government must, if it's to win a majority, target the "median voter." And targeting the median voter in Canada, under present circumstances, will tend to pull the party away from its conservative roots and values.

The conclusion that best reconciles these two positions is this: It is the job of a conservative party - in a minority situation, with a leader who (contrary to the common perception) tends to be more cautious and pragmatic than ideological - to target and win the support of the median voter. And it is the job of the conservative movement - the think tanks, public intellectuals, interest groups, and communications vehicles - to move that median voter onto more conservative ground.

I would add that this is not a Canadian problem alone, as many "conservative" governments have historically "run to the right" and then faded to the left when governing.

The rest of Mr. Manning's column may be seen here.

Posted by Rick Hiebert on June 2, 2007 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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Did anyone, even the most imaginative person, think that a government lead by Stephen Harper would try to ban common light bulbs? Being pragmatic shouldn't mean being silly.

Posted by: CoryDS77 | 2007-06-02 1:32:26 PM

The light bulb ban will not be taken seriously. It'll fade away. Baird had to deflect attention, a lot of people bit.

Bending to the Lefties risks looking like your playing the silly beggar, Baird played it well.

On to the more serious stuff like cleaning up pollution where it is most concentrated in large urban areas, Conservatives have a plan.

The biggest scam is now unfolding, carbon credit trading, we better keep alert on that one.
Know anyone silly enough to give Air Canada an extra 40 bucks for carbon credit tacked onto ticket prices? It's optional for now, let's keep it that way.

Posted by: LizJ | 2007-06-02 1:58:44 PM

PMSH, in an address to a Municipal Delegates convention on Fri in Calgary, apparently said quite directly - AB oil resources belong to Canada and as such must be shared. Unlike Eastern Canada's resources of bye gone years that were the property of the East with very little been done in the way of helping. How helpful is/has the Wheat Board been for example. Sharing to further Official Bilingualism and Official Multiculturalism is less than helpful but that is where bundles are going to go.

I didn't hear his comments directly but am looking forward to seeing what if anything, comes of this. No doubt it caught a whole lot of people in the audience by surprise. How many of the Easterner's must have like to hear this.

Sharing is one thing - giving away wholesale to pander for votes with the intent of pretty much keeping the provinces of ON an QC in control both politically and financially (their bilingual divine right to power) is not likely to work.

The treatises of Manning are rather academic these days. What matters is what is actually done now and in the future. Harper is setting a path that seems bound to alienate the West sooner than later. He has been doing what Manning did not do and that is to allow himself to be dominated by the Eastern conservatives - many of whom are derivatives of the Mulroney era - all for the sake of power. Different spins for different folks.

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2007-06-02 2:29:20 PM

I'll cut Harper some slack until he gets a Majority.
Majority power is much different than Minority. He has to bend to get that power.

Look at all the vitriol he's getting from windbag Williams who wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Posted by: LizJ | 2007-06-02 2:37:41 PM

"Harper is setting a path that seems bound to alienate the West sooner than later."

Harper may well be paving the way to secession for Alberta. Touch the oil and we're outta here!

Posted by: obc | 2007-06-02 2:37:44 PM

Since no post has been done on the Creation Museum in Cincinnati, I shall point out the dishonest article in the National Post today on Creation.

Posted by: Rémi Houle | 2007-06-02 4:31:10 PM

I'm with LizJ, cut the guy some slack until he gets a majority. And keep in mind Tom Flanagan's prescription for setting policy: Be far enough to the right of the Liberals so as to be clearly distinguishable from them, but not TOO far to the right so as not to be seen as scary.

With Dion moving so far to the left, then Harper is strategically correct to follow. Not too close, but no need to stay back too far to his right.

Lets look at each of the CPC coalition groups: democratic reformers, social consevatives, fiscal conservatives, Red Tories and Quebec Bleus. Each group is getting SOME of their agenda passed. Certainly not ALL of their agenda, maybe not as much as each would like. But definitely getting more than they would EVER get from Dion.

Any social conservatives who are complaining need only look at how long its taking to get the age of consent raised to 16. If such a no-brainer of a policy (not just to socons, but any right thinking person) is being fought, then the political environment that Harper is operating in must be a lot more difficult than one might think.

The Quebec Bleus got their fiscal imbalance addressed, which kept a campaign promise, got the BLOC's support, and allowed Harper to survive another budget. More time to try and pass democratic and justice reforms, and hopefully give us some more tax cuts and spending cuts next budget.

So be patient, keep the faith, and let Harper's long term strategy play out.

Posted by: Calgary Junkie | 2007-06-02 5:06:16 PM


Patience is the key word.

The more the opposition parties fight against the middle-class taxpayer, the more they will be exposed.

The more the opposition bites the hand that feeds them by whining about the Alberta economy, the more I'm tempted to go buy my next car in the US.

They don't want our oil ... I don't want their cars. Buzz off, now.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-06-02 7:39:19 PM

Just buy a Toyota. Many are made in Japan - and you'll never need to go to the dealer except for an oil change.

Posted by: obc | 2007-06-02 7:59:39 PM



Got a Honda Civic and an Acura Integra that work just fine.

Still, if they don't want our oil industry, I don't want their cars.

We'll see who wins that one.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-06-02 8:23:06 PM

The winner will be clear. The US will take as much oil as we can supply them. Ontario cars cannot be sold outside Canada. Boycott them and only they will suffer. There's no other market for their shoddy products.

Posted by: obc | 2007-06-02 8:27:21 PM

Just to set the record straight.
Hondas are manufactured in Alliston Ontario
Toyotas are manufactured in Cambridge Ontario.

Posted by: Gerry Atric | 2007-06-03 3:21:34 AM

Not my Toyota. My model is exclusively manufactured in Japan.

Posted by: obc | 2007-06-03 6:24:49 AM

OBC- That may be the case with yours, however the point is that many of these so-called imports are no longer imported. They are manufactured both in Ontario and the USA. Furthermore, the parts for them are outsourced to such enterprises as Magna Corp and other Canadian and US parts suppliers.
BMW is a prime example of world-wide content. Although assembled in Germany, they have components that are sourced worldwide.
I believe that in the future we are going to see more automobiles and trucks manufactured/assembled in Canada. The main reason for that is labor costs. The UAW has a gold-plated health plan that is costing the Big Three gazillions. Canadians have socialized health-care with employees mainly paying the costs through their taxes. Ultimately this leads to lower labor costs. Whether or not Ontario will see this or other Provinces will benefit, I don't know.

Posted by: Gerry Atric | 2007-06-03 6:40:03 AM

I get your point, but mine is that Ontario will not see my money sift through their union economy.

Posted by: obc | 2007-06-03 7:35:02 AM

Your choice however I don't think you'll be able to control that aspect of it. Parts are manufactured and distributed world-wide, including some manufactured in Ontario. Personally I'd much rather contribute to the economy of Ontario rather than China or some other repressive state, but that's just my opinion.If you are concerned with sifting your money through unions, then be aware neither Toyota nor Honda are unionized in Ontario.
And no, I have no interest, financially or otherwise, in the Canadian auto industry.

Posted by: Gerry Atric | 2007-06-03 8:07:02 AM

I don't think made in Japan Toyotas contribute to the Chinese economy. If they did, I'd switch my loyalty elsewhere. And I have serious doubts about made in Ontario parts being shipped to Japan to construct their automobiles.

Posted by: obc | 2007-06-03 8:10:29 AM

One of my fellow co-workers is from Ontario and his mother worked her entire life in the auto parts industry.

She's now retired and recently told her son the problem in Ontario (as she saw it, I presume) is the stranglehold the unions have there.

So, I would agree with previous comments.

I like Hondas and Acuras, built by non-unionized Canadian labour.

Hey, didn't Paul Martin exempt the Ontario auto industry from Kyoto and isn't all the noise from Ontario fighting to keep that non-exempt status?

P**s on those hypocritical a**holes.

There is no future for Alberta in this loser country controlled by Quebec and Ontario. They're holding us back too much.

Just think of all the wailing about losing national icons ... like departments stores such as Eatons which charges way too much for inferior goods.

That's the model for the Ontario auto industry, too. Charging too much for inferior products.

Don't even get me started on freight rates.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-06-03 8:29:27 AM


Get me started on freight rates!

Posted by: obc | 2007-06-03 8:34:18 AM


Before I do, if you'd really like a truly non-North American vehicle, look at Mazdas. They're entirely assembled in Japan and shipped here.

Freight rates. They send their inferior, over-priced products here and we pay the freight.

We send out products there, such as our high-qualify beef, and WE pat the freight.

If I ever hear an Ontario premier whining about how hard-done by Ontario is in the equalization formula ... let's just say the Intergovernmental Affairs minister (Rona Ambrose) should just say: ‘Let's equalize freight rates first. Either shipper pays or consumer pays. Since the consumer pays in the end, that seems fair.'

Seems fair to me.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-06-03 8:59:00 AM

Your informant is correct in stating that the unions have a stranglehold on the auto makers and I believe eventually that will do them in, firstly in the US and then Canada. Not only did PMPM exempt Ontario from Kyoto but a succession of Provincial gummints have given all kinds of tax breaks, forgivable loans etc etc. to keep the Big Three auto industry thriving in Ontario.Compare that to Honda and Toyota who are expanding in the Province without government assistance at all.
As far as your statement about "P**ng on those A**holes", do you mean the auto sector specifically or Ontarians in general?

Posted by: Gerry Atric | 2007-06-03 9:53:04 AM

There is no such animal as a "new Conservative Party." It's back to the future as the saying goes. The "think tanks," and "public intellectuals," are the usual assortment of "eminent persons" who are happy that it's back to "business as usual" where Ontario and Quebec decide what's "good" for the country. I would not be surprised to see Good Old Joe Clark comeback and join these RED TORIES oops I mean the "new Conservative government."

Posted by: Stephen Gray | 2007-06-03 10:58:09 AM

It's High River - oops, I mean high time for Alberta to disassociate itself from this marriage. Any union where one partner lords it over the other for financial gain alone is not one made in Heaven.

Divorce is so prevalent in this society that one more will not be a very big deal.

Posted by: obc | 2007-06-03 11:05:04 AM

I kind of agree with Lorne Gunter in this column today: http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/comment/story.html?id=476a84bd-c44a-45e9-9079-a1f21e987bc7

At this rate there'll be no need for a Joe Clark comeback. Canada's "new" government party is becoming the old Red Tory party. It'll soon be time for a comeback of a 'new' Reform party. Maybe Preston can stage a return act.

Personally, I'm getting tired of cutting slack for the Tories. There's none left to cut anyway.

Posted by: JR | 2007-06-03 11:31:56 AM

Gerry A said ...

"Personally I'd much rather contribute to the economy of Ontario rather than China or some other repressive state,"


What the hell to do you think Canada is? We are as repressed as we can be and still be able to fulfill our role as tax slaves and pretend we are a capitalist democracy.

The difference is that in places like China, rather the workers receiving a decent wage then having it all taxed back through various government agencies, they simply toss you the after rip-off amount right up front. Much simpler and cheaper.

The repression here has been so gradual that and most other apparently haven been noticing it.

I am old enough to remember when we were a free country. It is a fond memory. Much simpler.

Posted by: Yanni | 2007-06-03 11:53:21 AM

I drive a Subaru Forrester .. made in Japan. No maintenance required.

Posted by: Yanni | 2007-06-03 11:56:21 AM

It seems to me that the major problem here as in all other western democracies is having allowed the development of professional politicians. This creates individuals of all stripes and colours whose main priority is to gain and remain in power. Limiting terms that anyone can run for and hold office for all political offices, whatever the level of government, would help. However this idea would not sell with existing politicians due to it conflicting with their own interests.

I remain very disappointed in the present direction of the Conservative party other than foreign policy. Unfortunately the alternative options at present are more than disappointing, they are scary.

Posted by: Alain | 2007-06-03 12:24:18 PM

I believe we need a, "Conditions of Employment" for ALL politicians. After all, if you screw up or deviate in the workplace from your employment conditions you can get fired. This business of waiting until the next election is not good enough. Politicians are supposed to be "our employees" paid to look after OUR MONEY.(tax dollars)We have no control over them once they get into power. They can lie, cheat give themselves huge raises, hand out patronage appointments to their friends,cross the floor etc.The system is a shambles and we are being taken for fools.

Posted by: Stephen Gray | 2007-06-03 12:35:51 PM

Yanni- Yes, and I too remember when we were a freer country but that doesn't obviate the fact that I'd rather know the devil I do than the one I don't.
If you want to compare the regimes of Canada to China for instance, go ahead. Despite the socialism that we currently contend with, to compare Canada to China is ludicrous. As a card-carrying member of the Reform Party and an Ontarian, perhaps I was an anomaly, however if you don't try to change things, you get what you deserve.
I for one am committed to seeing this country reach it's potential, despite the roadblocks presently in the way. Pipe dream? Maybe, but I'm not giving up, unlike many others who post here.

Posted by: Gerry Atric | 2007-06-03 12:56:11 PM

Stephen G,

No thinking person could disagree with you, but reality always prevails. The reality is that we have largely sold out any control of our leaders long ago. We sold cheaply too ... the price was the illusion that they would "take care of us".

We are tax-slaves and little more. The worst of the worst are those who seek and cling to power at all costs. Those costs are sell out to the enfeebled left who believe the Bull S**t politicians are so full of.

Condolences to us all.

Posted by: Yanni | 2007-06-03 1:00:34 PM

. . . but . . . but it's for the children!

Posted by: obc | 2007-06-03 1:01:53 PM

Gerry, I don't suggest that we are worse off than those living under the Chinese regime, but we are headed that way. We are living off of past capital.
Kyoto is the current vehicle to speed up our descent in the vortex of greater slavery.

If you insist on carrying on the fight, then get armed and start organizing. You won't do it at the ballot box.

Posted by: Yanni | 2007-06-03 1:03:56 PM

We might be able to avoid bloodshed if Alberta separates. It would be a more manageable state population wise, so that elections would actually mean something. We might even be able to pass laws at the start to limit politicians to 8 years in office, and institute the recall for those who need to be ousted earlier.

Posted by: obc | 2007-06-03 1:12:33 PM

Already armed.

Posted by: Gerry Atric | 2007-06-03 1:34:34 PM


Please take BC with you. I know there are a lot of whacks here, but there are also a lot of good freedom fighters.

Posted by: Yanni | 2007-06-03 2:15:13 PM

I'd say we should separate without them. Then a year or two down the road we should see what happens. If they ask to join, we should accept them on the condition the NDP is outlawed.

Posted by: obc | 2007-06-03 2:51:56 PM

Its all very well to talk about separation but the problem is more complex than spitting on Canada. Elected members must have the power and the incentive to take power from the unelected bureaucrats and from the party elites. Those elites will always hold sway because they control who gets the financial aid to run for election. One small way to control those who are elected is to use the tool of recall and to pay attention to how your MP votes on each issue.

Posted by: D.M.Leigh | 2007-06-03 8:55:47 PM

To D.M Leigh: Referendum and Recall was ditched by the RED TORIES oops I mean "the new Conservatives."

Posted by: Stephen Gray | 2007-06-03 9:31:36 PM

If moving a bit to the left achieves the desired goal of winning a majority, then it's worth it - so long as it is temporary.

When we have the majority, then we can implement the Secret Agenda (TM).

You know:
-Destroying the CBC
-Allowing gay marriage, on condition of sending one partner to Iraq for a 6 month tour.
-burning every copy of Kyoto to create as much global warming as possible, then rejoicing in the 'damaged international reputation'.
-renaming Trudeau Airport to anything other than that despicable tyrant (it's like naming an airport in Spain after Franco!)
-Any other suggestions?

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2007-06-03 9:42:33 PM


Buy only cars that have leather seats.

Then, when an enviro-wacko, animal rights activist tsk, tsks you just scowl and say: “Think of how much less methane is being put out in the air because of these leather seats.'

Gerry Attric:

In response as to who I'm venting against, it's the stance of the opposition politicians, who are against the economic engine of Canada, Alberta and its Petrobuck.

If they don't want our oil, we don't want their cars.

Win-win situation for Albertans.

Just tonight, a buddy of mine was mulling buying a top-of-the-line Toyota Tundra Cab Crew 5.7-litre truck.

Costs $37,800 US. In Canada, it'll set you back $56,000.

18 grand in my buddy's pocket or the pocket of some overpaid Canadian autoworker who's whining about how the oil sands is ruining his life?

Hmm. Real tough choice.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-06-04 12:15:55 AM


Everybody should earn the best living they can.

But, when they vote for politicians who rail on negatively about the oil industry, it's time to spend my hard-earned money somewhere else.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-06-04 12:19:48 AM

Did someone mention Joe Clark? We haven't seen or heard of the clown in a very long time, PLEASE, let's hope it stays that way.

Cutting slack for the Conservatives is a much better and safer option than allowing the Lieberals back into power when the stench of corruption and division within the ranks is there for those who are not in denial and have a clue about what the hell's going on in Canadian politics.

Posted by: LizJ | 2007-06-04 5:21:34 AM

...Joe who?

Oh, the devil you know guy.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2007-06-04 9:03:47 AM

set you free - Just tonight, a buddy of mine was mulling buying a top-of-the-line Toyota Tundra Cab Crew 5.7-litre truck.
Costs $37,800 US. In Canada, it'll set you back $56,000.
18 grand in my buddy's pocket or the pocket of some overpaid Canadian autoworker who's whining about how the oil sands is ruining his life?

As all Tundra’s are built in Texas and Indiana how is it going into the pocket of a Canadian autoworker?

Posted by: Hawker Hurricane | 2007-06-04 9:40:56 AM


So much the better!

Posted by: set you free | 2007-06-04 9:47:30 AM

One keeps hearing wait until "RED TORIES" oops I mean the "new conservatives" get a majority. Listen, if it acts like a LIBERAL,talks like a Liberal; it's a Red Tory, oops, I mean a "new conservative." This is a Mulroney regime all over again. Political history is repeating itself.The "new conservatives" could not win a majority despite ALL the AdScam corruption. Now they are neck and neck, sometimes slightly ahead of the Liberals in the polls. Only the "true believers" cannot see what is going on. No wonder around 40% of the people don't vote anymore.

Posted by: Stephen Gray | 2007-06-04 12:06:22 PM

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