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Monday, July 26, 2010

The Summer Miracles

An amazing thing has happened in Canada this summer. An astonishing thing. The Conservative Party of Canada has, much to the shock and wonder of its dismayed supporters, begun to act conservatively. First Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry, decided to make completion of the Census long-form voluntary. This one, literally, came from way out of right-field. Had Minister Clement ordered the sidewalks privatized around Parliament Hill, it would have rated only a few notches higher on the political shock scale. There has been for many years a low grumbling about the mandatory long-form, with its intrusive list of questions and jail-time penalties, but it was not a big hot button for the grass roots, like the long-gun registry or the Canadian Wheat Board. 

A vast army of interest groups has risen, denouncing the Census move as detrimental to their interests. Minister Clement, more wonders, has refused to budge. These miracles - for 'twas a miracle - were merely overtures to the announcement made by Stockwell Day late last week that, believe it or not, affirmative action was to be ended as hiring policy for the Public Service. Well not exactly, the Minister has ordered a "review." Which may or may not mean anything, but Stock is a good chap, so we'll give him benefit of the doubt.

This disturbing pro-freedom trend in Conservative Party policy and pronouncement is baffling. There are many theories circulating today. Perhaps the real Stephen Harper was kidnapped and replaced by an android, remotely controlled by a cabal of tech-savy libertarian activists. While plausible, it fails to explain why nothing was done to improve the Prime Minister's hockey-helmet hairstyle. Another rumour goes that the ghost of Murray Rothbard appeared to Stephen Harper, telling him to repent his sinful ways, and return again to the path of freedom. Fair enough, but you'd think Murray Rothbard's ghost would prefer to spend time trying to spook Barack Obama. 

The most plausible reason for the Tory about-face is this interesting item:

The federal Conservative Party continues to stay ahead of the Liberals, suggests a new EKOS poll, which found a gap of seven percentage points between the rivals.

The poll, released exclusively to CBC, suggests 32.4 per cent of Canadians would vote Conservative in a federal election, compared with 25.5 per cent who'd chose the Liberals.

The NDP has the support of 18.4 per cent, while 10.1 per cent back the Green Party and 10 per cent support the Bloc Québécois, the poll suggests.

Respondents were asked who they would vote for if a federal election "were held tomorrow."

Nor is this a one-off, polls have been tracking a substantial CP lead for weeks now. The political gods, who are of course fickle, have given the Tories not only a lead but the second most incompetent Liberal leader in history. These are the things that snap elections are made of. Having fallen short of the long-dreamed majority in 2008, largely due to the Quebecois having lost interest in Mr Harper, the so called Quebec Bridge is now dead. La belle province will not give the Conservatives a majority, they'll be lucky to hang onto what they've got in Quebec come the next trip to the hustings. 

While blocked from expanding up the St Lawrence, the Tory High Command has also noticed that the grassroots are not completely pleased. A low grumble has passed through the blogsphere, and not just from libertarian outfits. The coffee shops of the nation are buzzing that Stephen Harper, while the wonderful and amazing saviour of Canada from the Evil Liberals, might have drifted just a wee bit too much to the centre. Practical Politics 101 says that in the lead up to an election, especially a damn close run thing, first thing is to shore up your base. You want the True Believers believing all the more as we enter the autumn canvassing, and perhaps also campaigning, season. 

Before this impressive burst of pro-freedoming, the Tories had spent much of the first half of 2010 pushing a Law and Order platform, including a Truth in Sentencing Law and mandatory minimums for pot growers. They're basically running down their check list. Suburbanites fearful of crime CHECK! Curmudgeonly libertarians CHECK! It shouldn't, and likely won't, be that easy. Pre-election conversions are always the least sincere.

Posted by Richard Anderson on July 26, 2010 | Permalink


Shouldn't that be expand "down" the Saint-Lawrence? The Conservatives are absent from PEI, Eastern New Brunswick and Newfoundland, so they would be expanding from upstream in Ontario. Also, the Conservatives are lousy with English and French speaking Quebeckers. So the use of the ethnic term "Québécois" is not appropriate.

Posted by: Altavistagoogle | 2010-07-26 6:34:52 AM

"spook Barack Obama."

A little advice. Certain words, in the wrong sequence, can stir up a real shitstorm.

Posted by: dp | 2010-07-26 9:27:07 AM

Those polls show the overwhelming and fortunately fractured leftist lean in Canada and the reason why any "reinforcement of the conservative base" is purely token. The mushy middle will continue to rule in the deranged dominion. As to the theory that Rothbard's ghost might be haunting Obama, there would be very little common language of understanding between an anarcho capitalist economist and an economic illiterate community organizer.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2010-07-26 10:11:45 AM

This is actually starting to seem like a smart move to me. It shows the core support that their hands are still tied, while highlighting just how frothing at the mouth crazy every other national party gets when they dare make a token (if not mostly inconsequential) change.

Posted by: K Stricker | 2010-07-26 10:24:38 AM

Law and order, census and affirmative action. Yep, looks like election prep. As a bonus, the census hysteria has almost rivaled Wafergate for showing how silly and out of touch the media has become.

Posted by: LC Bennett | 2010-07-26 10:45:42 AM

I think you're being a little overly-optimistic. Harper is sending bones to a very disenfranchised base. But trust me when I say that this government does not have freedom at the core of it's priorities.

Just look at the Consumer Protection Act the government tried to get passed, which would have given bureaucrats unlimited search and seizure powers and be able to demand recalls of products without any judicial oversight or right of appeal for the companies.

Remember that Mr. Harper banned lightbulbs. And is trying to push for a national security regulator that steps on the toes of constitutional provincial jurisdiction.

This is is a government that is expanding the role of the federal government greatly. And that's even before we start talking about any of the other "radical" issues like marijuana decriminalization, support for suspicionless roadside searches of drivers, deficit spending, etc.

You're being easily fooled by a few token issues that cover up the fact that this government is just as expansionist as every other Federal government than came before it -- if not more-so.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-07-26 10:52:22 AM

Right on the mark: "Harper is sending bones to a very disenfranchised base." This so-called "conservative government" intervened with the Canadian Human Rights Commission(CHRC) against FREE SPEECH. See article at link below:

Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2010-07-26 12:05:14 PM

Strange as it may seem, there's more to life than pot politics.

Much more.

Posted by: set you free | 2010-07-26 1:02:05 PM

I agree with you Mike , i couldnt vote for these guys.
Its not worth the walk across the road to vote for any of these parties.

Posted by: don b | 2010-07-26 2:25:41 PM

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