Saturday, December 03, 2005

The problem with conservatives

Conservative commentators are never happy.

They don't like the governing party -- not what they've done, not what they plan to do -- but they seem to like the Conservative Party even less.

Greg Weston of the SUN and Don Martin of the National Post, write twin columns today, suggesting that Harper's health care plan was ripped from the pages from the Liberal policy book. Their columns drip with contempt for Harper and his un-Conservative vision. They dismiss any positive reaction to Harper's announcement, and overlook the fact that even Harper-haters like Adam Vaughn of CITY TV (Toronto) are beginning to see the Conservatives as legitimate contenders in this election race.

Also in the National Post today, Andrew Coyne takes aim at Harper's plan to reduce the GST. He chastises Harper for committing to cut a consumption tax, because income tax reductions promote investment, blah, blah, blah.

It might be news to these fellows, but Harper had no choice with health care. He didn't remove the concept of private delivery -- he simply said that either the public system puts up, or people can go elsewhere and have it paid for by the public system. This works as both a safe-guard for those who need timely care, and an incentive to the public system to work to reduce wait times. In a country like Canada, where public health care is sacrosanct -- what else can he do? If it is similar to the current Liberal plan, so what? I believe that the Conservatives will work to get things moving. Shooting him down is the typical conservative media reaction to any positive step Harper makes. It's like they put their hate for the man ahead of their hopes for the future of the country. Disagree with the policy if you like -- but right now, in this country, Harper has chosen a compromise that is bound to please voters -- and isn't that the point?

As for Coyne and the GST -- First -- Harper didn't reject income tax cuts. It isn't a case of 'either this or that'. A cut in the GST in conjunction with income tax reductions is unlikely to break the bank -- not when we have massive surplusses that end up enabling the government to behave as though public money is their personal piggy-bank.

Coyne, like many of those who come from comfortable backgrounds, forgets that many of us will never be able to 'save' let alone invest. Our 'disposable income' is not disposable at all. It goes to pay our bills and to buy our kids Christmas presents and put them to lessons, or sports.

For the vast majority of us, there is nothing left to save at the end of the month, let alone to invest. Our investments, if we are fortunate enough, come in the form of buying a home for our family -- and 2% off the price of a big-ticket item like a home, or the furnishing to put in the home, or a new(er) car that won't fail emissions tests (on which we pay GST) -- that 2% is a big difference.

When you have money, it's difficult to envision being one of the lowly masses who lives paycheque to paycheque. But people like Coyne would do well to remember that there are many of us for whom a reduction of income tax really doesn't mean anything -- but a drop in the price of gas, or in the cost of a new hockey stick, or in any of the number of things that aren't exactly 'necessities' but which make life liveable -- that 2% makes a big difference to us.

When conservative commentators start to realise that it isn't just about them and their class of people -- the investor class -- the professional class -- the governing class -- then maybe they'll see that Harper seems to realise that if he wants to be the Prime Minister -- he will be the PM to all of us -- the working class, the working poor, people on welfare -- all of these people are citizens and voters too; for us, these two announcements are good news. These conservative commentators seem to be trying to take the wind out of the sails of a positive start to this campaign for Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party and it's beyond me why they'd want to do that.



P. M. Jaworski said...

Agreed, commentators do tend to snap at Harper's heels. At the same time, we should be encouraging the Tories to put forward an agenda much like Harris' in Ontario, early Klein, Thatcher in England and Reagan in America (minus the drug war nonsense). I snipe at Harper (like in my post today) whenever he puts forward anti-liberty ideas. Especially when it makes it more difficult for me to vote Tory, which I intend to do, mostly. I may have to not vote in light of his recent drug policy announcement which I think is a total and absolute disaster.

The g-Gnome said...


Amen, Amen, Amen.

ferrethouse said...

Don't be too hard on them. Most of their articles are supportive. Their credibility would be shot if they supported everything Harper did. Besides, perhaps this is part of their strategy - if they complain that Harper is too Liberal then it makes it hard for the Liberal media to paint him as an extremist.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...


I was going to warn you that it might be too late for the "minus the drug war nonsense" point, but I see that you're way ahead of me.

And Ferrethouse, that's an interesting point, but I doubt Martin or Coyne, or any of the other conservative commentators really think about their comments in those terms.

But I'm surprised that Harper doesn't seem from his actions and rhetoric to be more concerned about alienating moderate conservatives who are considering voting for him.

Let's be honest. In Canada, in terms of parties likely to win seats in the H of C, there's the CPC, and then everyone to the left of the CPC. That's not a criticism, just a reality. So the most conservative of conservatives are already onside, and they have nowhere to go.

The Tories need to focus their efforts on the "radical centre" and I'm just not sure that talking about same-sex marriage, increasing criminal penalties for drug offences, and introducing tax cuts that conservative economists scoff at is the way to go.

What Harper needs, is for people like me who have and (probably)will vote NDP, to avoid voting for the Grits, to consider switching to the Tories. And, of course, to pull over some conservative Liberal supporters. And you know what? I would vote Tory. Heck, provincially, I HAVE voted Tory (please don't tell anyone though, my friends would disown me). :-) The Tory party of Brian Mulrony, Joe Clark, Kim Campbell and (I suspect) Peter MacKay, is a party I think I could support. But the jury's still out on Harper's team, and so far, whatever choir he's preaching to in this election, is singing a vastly different tune from mine.

Of course, one need to stay true to one's principles, so I understand why it's difficult for Harper. But as long as the Tories are the furthest right of all the parties in Parliament, it's just too easy to paint them as "extreme". Why? Because everytime the Tories make an announcement, every other leader in the House (Martin, Duceppe and Layton) come out and disagree with it. And when you stand alone, no matter how moderate your positions, you still stand alone.

ferrethouse said...

Lord Kitchener:

You have to admit that with the exception of SSM what you advocate Harper do is pretty much what he is doing. His GST cut is EXACTLY what the NDP advocated in 2000 (a 1% cut). He has committed to reduced wait times.

The only thing that Harper has done that the NDP could oppose is getting tough on crime - the NDP thinks criminals should run free.

Shane said...

Good grief. Harper's drug announcement plays nearly as universally as the GST cut. EVERYONE is sick of our pathetic no-teeth judicial system. The hard drugs need a serious crackdown, not more safe shoot-up stations and free heroin. The only thing that makes it a hard sell is the insinuation that if you run a grow op for pot, you are going to get nailed harder. Blah blah blah, marijuana should be legalized, who cares? We NEED safer streets, we NEED fewer criminals on the street, and if even a half dozen get scared out of the biz, then the 90% of Canada that isn't to high on grass to figure out if they are being robbed or mugged will applaud.

Justthinkin said...

I am hung up on the drug thing. I agree that dealers and producers should do mega hard time, up to and including death for repeat(3x) offenses. That said, the average Joe-blow on the street should not get a criminal record for smoking pot, UNLESS, something happens like an accident/death, then treat them like any other drunk or killer. As far as Harper's GST cut, I keep hearing the BS that if he cuts that, he will have to make it up somewhere else. BS. We have a pseudo-surplus. That means over-taxation. The reason this scares so many people is the Yanks did it, and proved that the economy actually improves as more money is free to circulate.Now because it works for the Y'alls, it must definitely be un-Canuck to support it. I say pseudo-surplus, because we still have an over $500 Billion national debt. How come nobody's mentioning this little fact.A debt that is sucking $45 Billion and growing out of us every year. You have a debt, you have no surplus,ergo, it is a non-issue. Only Alberta can say they are truly debt free and have any surpluses.And that was gained through years of horrible cut-backs and deprivations by the ordinary Joe on the street.

Chris said...

I think anyone being so wedded to libertarianism as jaworski suggested he is by saying that he won't vote because the CPC is against decriminalizing marijauna is living in a realm of utter fantasy. When the other parties involved in the election are lead by a) former communist b) a self-declared socialist c) someone who just declared 20 billion in new spending over a three week period
you're going to quibble that the right wing alternative to that *isn't quite libertarian enough* for you?

Its one thing to disagree with the party, I happen to on marijauna although I've never touched the stuff myself. I happen to agree with cracking down on coke and crystal meth. All the same, disagreeing with the parties libertarian bona fides strikes me as ridiculous when the alternatives are crying out "hurry hard" for rampaging big government.

Candace said...

What everyone appears to forget is the massive contributions the CPC are receiving. My mother attached a note to her cheque, I think about SSM or Gomery (or both). How many notes were attached to all those cheques?

It's not so much the "radical centre" as the new Canadians, here because they were fleeing corrupt governments, or overly-zealous religious regimes (which doesn't make them non-religious, just not zealots), etc etc etc.

The Liberals are losing the immigrant vote. Gee. I wonder why.

If you are holding out for a party that matches your requirements 100%, I strongly urge you to start your own. Either that, or grow up and learn to compromise.

Snowbunnie said...

Thanks to the link at Kate's SDA, we've found Canadianna's Place.
I like the forthright support of the Conservatives and Stephen Harper right up front for starters.
Just as in other comments on other blogs, some just don't seem to grasp the power of the Conservative platform.
I believe they have a winning combination in the GST cut, the money for families to determine their own daycare choices, the health care platform .. it all makes sense and if there is a reduction in the tax rate, all the better. In addition, I would like to see a deduction of mortgage interest for all those who hold a mortgage. That would be a powerful punch and would boost the economy in a very strong way.
I believe that the Tories have a strong platform all round and all one has to do is read what they plan and listen to them when they talk.
Everybody seems to think that one must wait for the lib talking head to frame the argument before the mush minds in this country can make a decision on what they really think. Either that or wait for the latest 'poll' to come out , even when we know that those 'polls' are skewed to favour the libs and are paid for by the liberal party to friendly polling firms who are getting a pretty penny of our tax dollars to make the libs look good.
I simply discount any poll that puts the libs 7 points ahead of the Conservatives... such stuff and nonsense..
No wonder they want marijuana legalized... the more voters stoned on something the easier it is to sell the garbage the libs are offering.

Myrddin Wyllt said...

Pity neither side has any credible media pundits, Weston is a prime example of a lazy reporter, his claim that a 1% cut in the GST would require we spend $40,000 to save $400, this only shows Weston has no idea how the GST is applied.
The producers add GST, there is GST on the transit of the product, then the wholesaler adds GST and then finaly the retailer adds GST to the eventual full cost to the consumer.
If the eventual full cost has been lowered three times before we get a look at the product we get savings far exceeding the 1% cut as Weston figures it.
Perhaps it's time we ask for credentials from pundits beyond a journalist degree.

Mark said...

Can't remember where it was, but recently I read a list of nominations of journalists/columnists who will be the next Senate appointments should Martin form another government, particularly if it is a majority.

Weston and Martin were well up on the list, as was Andrew Coyne.

What is fascinating is that I remember reading in the post the prediction that, as soon as the writ is dropped, these pseudo-conservative supporters would turn tail and begin undermining the Conservative message.

How those words have come true.

Sorry I can't find the post....

Candace said...

mark, I saw that post too. And not to question Andrew Coyne's loyalties, but let's not forget his cousin is running (in Toronto? or Ottawa? I forget) - that's gotta be tough.

Babbling Brooks said...

Coyne, like many of those who come from comfortable backgrounds, forgets that many of us will never be able to 'save' let alone invest. Our 'disposable income' is not disposable at all. It goes to pay our bills and to buy our kids Christmas presents and put them to lessons, or sports.

Exactly - well said.

In a similar vein, many of the folks decrying the Conservative child-care plan say that $100 per month is just a drop in the bucket and won't help you secure quality child care any better than you can without it.

They're missing the point. $100 per month pays for swimming lessons for a kid who couldn't otherwise get them. It pays for books their parents can read to them at bedtime. It pays for a few Baby Einstein videos. If you save it up, it might pay to send a talented kid to music camp in the summertime.

All this is education. It just isn't regulated, government-controlled education.

Hopefully there are enough Canadian voters with the common sense to see that.

MisterPundit said...

Great post! Bookmarked.

MisterPundit said...

As far as the decriminalization of pot is concerned, I'm all for it, but to be honest as an issue in the upcoming election it is pretty low on my list of priorities. If I have to pick an issue where my disagreement with the CPC is the greatest, it would be same-sex marriage, which I fully support.

Fact is, the prospects of another Liberal minority government scares the living shit out of me. It would in effect make political corruption acceptable in Canada. Not to mention that I have had it up to here with the never-ending arrogance of the Martin liberals, and their butt-sniffing lapdogs in the media. The fact that I'm paying taxes to support a Liberal Party TV company - the CBC - fills me with complete rage.

So this time, I'm going to keep my mouth shut about my many beefs with the CPC. There's bigger fish to fry.

Anonymous said...

If Harper cuts GST, can I have an allowance?