But what do the facts matter in politics.
Just like there are fanatical, radical, evangelical conservatives, there are also fanatical, radical, evangelical socialists. Our country has been run by the latter for the better part of 40 years, so it is not entirely unreasonable that a couple of generations of Canadian children have grown up without ever understanding that there is a middle ground -- and that in many ways, especially recently, it is the Conservative Party of Canada that holds that middle ground.
Just like 2004, Paul Martin is using this election to attack my values and tell me that I don't belong. He's aiming his vitriol at Stephen Harper, but most of what he says applies to me as well and since the shoe fits . . .
We have been challenged by NDP Nadine, a sometimes commenter on this blog, to defend or justify some of the concerns of people who still 'fear' Harper. Here is her comment:
This 'scared' thing really offends me. My political philosophy might differ from yours, but that does not make it scary. We live in a democratic country where elections are mandatory, where rights are spelled out in the Charter and when there is doubt, there are mechanisms to address wrongs and injustices. None of that will suddenly change under a Conservative government -- minority or majority. Probably less so than it did under successive Liberal governments. To suggest otherwise is to be intellectually dishonest, or to be ignorant. You'll have to choose for yourself.
I have yet to see on a Tory blog a reasonable response by Harper about things he said in his past . . . What is his agenda exactly? Gordon O'Connor admitted on Mike Duffy that the Conservatives have no problem with missile defense. What's next, troops in Iraq? So I invite Conservative bloggers to try and sway me on Harper by addressing legitimate concerns raised by the Liberal ads. Issues like BMD, Iraq, his campaign contributions during the Alliance leadership race, social safety net, minority rights, friendship with the Republican and other right wing groups etc. And please don't resort to patriotism or hyperbole, I'd like concrete answers. RIght now, I'm quite scared and I know others are too!
A Conservative government would be excruciatingly aware of the implicit mistrust held by some people, for no other reason than that they are Conservative. This would no doubt compel them to act in such a way to dispel the fears of that 'frightened' minority who react, rather than think. The party would likely end up moving even further left, causing disenchantment to traditional conservative voters, but likely still not pleasing liberal ones.
I'll answer what I know, or what I believe I can explain, but we all know that those answers will never satisfy those whose political philosophy is diametrically opposed to mine.
What is his agenda exactly?He does have a policy book. It will be released in the next day or so and you'll see the Conservative Plan spelled out -- that is, if you haven't already figured it out through the daily policy announcements. The fact is though, you'll look at the policy book and believe it's a lie because somewhere deep down you want to believe that liberals (small l) have a lock on compassion, are the only ones who care about the little guy, the only ones who understand women and minorities -- the only kind of values you can trust. For me to go any further, when there is already so much out there available to you, is to pretend that it would really make a difference to your opinion.
The Americans are going to do missile defense whether you like it, whether I like it, or whether our government likes it or not. All Paul Martin has done by opting out, is to remove our chair at the table. We no longer have a place in the planning to say 'hey, not in my air space' or 'Canadians don't want this'. Instead, we will hear about things after they are done, and bleat and complain how the Americans acted unilaterally.
Gordon O'Connor admitted on Mike Duffy that the Conservatives have no problem
with missile defense.
The US wanted no money. They didn't ask our permission. They said, 'we're doing this and it might affect you -- you're welcome to sit in on the planning'. We stomped our feet and ran away.
Stephen Harper's personal opinion, and the opinion of the Conservative Party are entirely irrelevant to missile defense -- just as Paul Martin's and Jack Layton's are. But Stephen Harper would have us aware of what was going on instead of shut out and uninformed.
Stephen Harper said many things on Iraq.
What's next, troops in Iraq?
"We should have been there shoulder to shoulder with our allies. Our concern is the instability of our government as an ally. We are playing again with national and global security matters.'' (Stephen Harper, Canadian Press, April 11, 2003)
"I don't know all the facts on Iraq, but I think we should work closely with the Americans." (Stephen Harper, Report Newsmagazine, March 25, 2002)
"What Mr. Day said was a position I agree with which is Canada should be part of the pre-deployment exercise because Canada should be working with British, Americans and other allies to ensure maximum pressure is exerted on Saddam Hussein so he understands he must disarm." (Stephen Harper, Media scrum, January 28, 2003)
"Canada remains alienated from its allies, shut out of the reconstruction process to some degree, unable to influence events. There is no upside to the position Canada took." (Stephen Harper, Maclean's, August 25, 2003)
There is only one quote where Harper implies we should have been fighting in Iraq. It could be read that he meant metaphorically. I really don't know because I've never read the context of the quote. The rest are philosophical responses. I often hear and read that 'Harper voted to send troops to Iraq'. There was never a vote on whether Canada should send troops to Iraq. The question before the House was whether we supported the United States and the other members of their coalition in their plan to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein did not comply with the UN Resolutions, and disarm.
It could be argued that if Canada had voted 'yes' to support the American position, that Saddam might have taken a serious look at complying. We consider ourselves 'peacemakers' and pride ourselves on the belief that other nations look to us for moral authority or guidance. Our refusal to acknowledge that the United States had legitimate grounds to invade Iraq and was willing to shoulder a burden that the United Nations had shirked, gave credibility to Saddam's position that he didn't have to comply. Our 'yes' vote, supporting the US position, would have brought more pressure to bear on Saddam and on the world community to take the US concerns seriously.
There was never a question of our troops going to Iraq -- but if we'd had enough of them, Paul Martin implied he would have sent them.
(H)is campaign contributions during the Alliance leadership race,I don't know, but I don't believe the Liberal implications that Harper is receiving money from some evil right-wing cabal. I tend to worry about Liberals and who's buying them, though -- so I guess we're even on this one. If anyone else knows where to get this info -- please post.
social safety net,
A social safety net should be available for the protection of Canadians, and Harper and the Conservatives have agreed to maintain and in some cases, increase this 'net'.
The Liberals pretend there is only one, universal health care system in Canada. The NDP accepts that private care exists, and wants the government to legislate it out of existence. The Conservatives accept that it exists, and have decided to find a way to make it work for the citizens.
Outlawing private care would take away a fundamental freedom under the Charter. It would deny our right of security of person. The Conservatives say that we as citizens deserve choice when it comes to private matters like health care. They know the rich already have choice, and their plan says that if the public system can't serve us in a timely manner, we have the right to receive health care at a private clinic -- paid for by the government. The NDP doesn't seem to have a problem when it's private abortion clinics being publicly funded -- why the difficulty when it comes to hip replacements?
Conservatives in general, believe that social safety nets can become self-perpetuating. You have a system that keeps existing because -- well, if you build it, they will come. Canadian conservatives understand that there are certain social programmes which are entrenched in the Canadian psyche and they, like other Canadians are okay with that. In fact, most Canadian conservatives would not want to change it because they are aware that the private sector has not been expected to play a big role in support systems and has not developed as a partner. The Conservatives are looking to expand the private sector role in some areas like child care, because it is in the interest of the private sector to have a workforce that is prepared and productive. Providing daycare for their employees, benefits both employers and workers -- and it ensures that the government doesn't simply create another bloated bureaucracy.
Conservatives also understand that Canadians have more expectations of government than say, the United States. In the US, private foundations build and fund universities, they build and fund libraries, they build and fund hospitals. Here we look to government and the Conservatives will continue to fund those things Canadians have come to expect. You might not like the sound of it, but that makes us more of a socialist state.
minority rights,I'm not getting into the SSM thing. Anyone who wants to, can dig through my archives and find all I've said on the matter.
I will say this: You think it's a human rights issue. I don't. Therefore, anything I say about it is automatically wrong as far as you're concerned.
There is no chance of a country like Canada going back to the days where homosexuality is outlawed, but I fear the day will come when expressing the opinion that gay marriage is wrong, will be outlawed. All citizens have rights, not just minorities. Too often when we think of rights in Canada we think of 'minority rights' but if, as Paul Martin says, we are a nation of minorities, then our rights should be equal -- all of us being minorities of one sort or another. Don't get me started on the 'tyranny of the majority' -- that phrase is an insult to all Canadians.
As for 'a woman's right to choose' -- much to the consternation of many conservatives, the Conservative party voted against putting forward any legislation (from the government or the backbenches). The Liberal Party has no such policy.
friendship with the Republican and other right wing groups etc.
People often believe that the Canadian equivalent of the Republican Party is the Conservative Party. Typically, ideologically, that's correct, but in reality it's plain wrong. Our Conservatives are far more left wing than American Democrats. Even the Reform Party was not the peer of the Republicans, because it was a populist party.
The speech that Stephen Harper made (you know, the ultra secret one that has been available for a few years now) was made in 1997. The non-threatening Bob Dole was the most recent Republican leader -- having lost the election to Bill Clinton in 1996. George Bush was only three years into his term of Governor -- and wasn't even a gleam in the eye of the federal Republicans.
Harper was watching the Canadian conservative movement fail. The Progressive Conservative Party had been decimated in the election of 1993, and the Reform Party was still a 'western rump'. It was in that situation that he told American conservatives that their conservative movement was an inspiration. He also said that America was a light and inspiration to the world and although some Canadians might dispute this -- it is a fact - -world wide, people want to live the 'American Dream'. They might romanticise it, the obviously idealize it, but they also aspire to it. Harper was right.
Wanting a better relationship with the United States makes sense. Not only are they our largest trading partner -- we should want it to remain so. Increasing trade with China simply because we've alienated the Americans might seem like good policy to the Liberals, but China is a communist state, still perpetrating human rights abuses. Both China and India have a lower standard of living and pay their workers far less than Canadian workers make. Their markets might be larger, but their costs are also less. Maintaining civility with our neighbour is essential.
The quote the Liberals left out of Harper's speech to the American group was this:
Let's start up with a compliment. You're here from the second greatest nation on earth. -- (Stephen Harper in his scary speech.)
That's it. Still scared?
I've said this before about Harper: Harper appeals to me. He's a thinking woman's kind of guy. You know he's safe. He'd probably never raise his voice, let alone hit someone. He doesn't cheat on his wife; I'd bet he helps tuck in the kids at night -- and makes every effort to do the right thing so he'll be a good example for them. And he's smart, and he's funny, and private. These qualities are the kind of qualities adult women look for in a man. It's teens and twenties who look for the charm and 'charisma'. Maturity looks for decency and Harper is the personification.
Disagree with Stephen Harper. Believe that his policies will not benefit our country. Believe that his platform does not benefit you -- but these 'scary' accusations just don't hold water and they are offensive to everyone who believes there is a political alternative to socialism and corruption.