Thursday, January 12, 2006

Defending Stephen Harper

Conservatives are scary. Everyone knows it. They're fanatical, radical, evangelical . . . or not.
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:

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!

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.

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.

Gordon O'Connor admitted on Mike Duffy that the Conservatives have no problem
with missile defense.

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.

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.

What's next, troops in Iraq?

Stephen Harper said many things on 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.



Jason Monteith said...

Well said in every respect. Thank you for your passion in defending those of us who believe in conservative ideals, and for doing your best to remove the ridiculous "Harper is scary" meme.

Anonymous said...


I couldn't have said it better myself. You've articulated everything I feel and you've absolutely nailed how personally offended conservatives are to be called scary.

Kate from Calgary

Raging Ranter said...

Martin was equivocal about Iraq. He was also equivocal about the Notwithstanding clause. He stated during the last election that he would use the Notwithstanding Clause if the courts ruled that religious institutions had to perform gay marriages. He has absolutely NO credibility on any of that stuff. Yet Harper is 'scary' for actuall having a backbone. What has happened to this country that having a spine makes on 'scary'. My sad conclusion is that left wingers are cowards. They scare easily. And I don't say that as a gratuitous insult. I don't go around calling Jack Layton 'scary', because he doesn't scare me. Yet his opinions are much more extreme to the left than Harper's are to the right.

RippleRock said...

So very well said. I have nothing really to add, except that I believe your reader will find the list of contribution donors on the Conservative's homepage at where it lists Harpers, Stronach's and Clements donors and summaries of expenses.

Have to say that I especially like your comments about Stephen the man and not just Stephen the politician. I so very much agree with you that is the epitomy of a "thinking woman's man".

Keep up the good blogging.

ripplerock said...

You know, I hope you don't mind, but I want to say one thing to NDPNadine. I'd post directly to her blog but the link only leads to her profile and not the blog itself.

But I just want to say thanks Nadine, for at least having an open mind enough to come and read and post comments and ask sincere questions of conservatives. I've read some NDP-friendly sites and usually, any dissenting view is most unwelcome. So it's very refreshing really to see some honest dialogue from two sides and your willingness to engage in the best that democracy has to offer.

TrustOnlyMulder said...

I think your arguments were great. But I have an issue with NDP Nadine's statement about Gordon O' Connor's statement on Duffy.

So much in fact, I am pulling out my recording from last night and cropping his statement on missile defence and will put it on my site today.

Gordon actually said that if elected and if approached by the Americans to join that they would enter into negotiations. If, after negotiations, they felt it was in our best interest to join, it would be brought to the house. That a vote is needed in the house to enter into an agreement like this. If it was not found to be in our best interest, that we would walk away.

In addition, when asked about the weaponization of space, Gordon said that we stand by the Outer Space Treaty, signed in 1967. And who was Prime Minister in 1967? Lester B. Pearson, a Liberal.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Nadine. Saying the Conservatives have no problem with it is a blatant misrepresentation of Gordon O'Connor's statements. But you must have had your Orange tinted glasses on.

To boot, Mike Duffy told Alexa McDonough on the same segment that the NDP used to be against NATO and NORAD, but now support both. If and when it is brought up before Parliament, as O'Connor said, will the NDP flip flop on this stance like they did on NORAD and NATO?

Mark said...

dispel the fears of that 'frightened' minority who react, rather than think

You could have stopped there, CA. Thanks nonetheless for tackling umpteen issues in this one post.

What is truly scary IMO is that Paul Martin would remove the only and last remaining safeguard of the Constitutional against a Charter-wielding Court.

That Nadine seemingly hasn't grappled with the implications of such a move on democracy in Canada, or has disregarded it as insignificant, solidifies the statement quoted above.

Tara said...

That is the most rational and well-written defense of Scary Stevie I have ever read. I, too, am offended when I hear people say that my values are scary. I know someone who says she could never vote for him because he looks like a child molester. Ya, that's logical.
Martin continues to say that it is a choice between his values and Harper's. Great. I pick Harper's.
And as for how he comes across to ME....I'll say it. Stephen Harper is sexy.

Linda said...

He's a thinking woman's kind of guy.

Exactly. "Thinking" is the operative word here - the action that is required to deconstruct the Newspeak that passes for political debate in Canada.

Anonymous said...

I find that this "scary" label is being used by people who are really afraid that the Conservatives will win the election. They really have no interest in finding out exactly what the policies of the Conservatives actually are. Instead they are like sheep being led to the slaughter & will not even ask "why" or "where" they are really going. Most of these people "hate" Americans & Bush, but they watch TV shows, go to movies that are produced & written in the states, & often vacation there as well. So they brand someone who brings a different message, as "scary".

It makes me wonder if they really respect themselves & their own beliefs.


valiantmauz said...

My opinion of Stephen Harper changed dramatically when I saw Daniel Cook interview him on the campaign bus some weeks ago. Despite being asked some difficult questions - by a nine(?) year old - Mr. Harper was so at ease, and so respectful of the young reporter, that I simply lost all fear of Stephen Harper the man. Somehow, you could just see how he'd approach the difficult questions asked by his own children - reasonably, honestly, and not dodging the truth.

This comment would get me pilloried in my own "community", which is busy rending their hair and wetting themselves in terror at the prospect of even a Conservative minority.

No amount of discussion - reasonable, lucid, factual points made - has helped. The fact that the Charter says the same things it did only last May, that Mr. Harper is unlikely to get the opportunity to change the makeup of the SCC by very much very quickly, that the Liberals are demonstrably unfit to govern, that if given a minority Mr. Harper will have to work with the other parties to get things done - even the sure and certain knowledge that if Mr. Harper makes too many drastic changes that discomfit Canadians, he'll be defeated in the next election.

Nope - the barbarians are at the gate. It's Mike Harris all over again (and no matter how many times I tried to point out that transfer payment cuts by the Liberals were as much or more to blame for Ontario's woes than Harris ever was - the response is invariably louder squalling).

I pointed out that we need more military, and a greater northern presence to protect our Arctic sovereignty and got called a war-monger. Never mind that the North is melting rapidly and the Northwest passage may soon be navigable by any old rusting oil tanker.

I am just so fed up with the sheer irrationality, the pathetically undignified stink of fear, the infant-like attachment to the Liberals. At least have the guts to vote your consciences and throw a vote the NDP's way.

And the same-sex marriage thing? try telling the community the truth: the courts gave it to us, not the damn Liberals. Or to be more specific, the NDP and the Bloq gave it to us, along with a few dissenting Conservatives, and the bare majority of the Liberal MPs that actually supported the legislation.

It's enough to make you want to beat your head against the wall.

I will never be comfortable with the social conservative flavour of the Conservative Party, or the Liberal party for that matter.

But I am not "scared" of them.

valiantmauz said...

Oh, by the way - AWESOME post.

Nastyboy said...

Great post. While I'm not really CPC'er myself, I've always found the "scary" argument silly and fueled by knee-jerk reactionim and anti-western/Albertan bigotry.

I had to link the post to my blog.

INP said...

Prime Minister Harper. Prime Minister Harper. Prime Minister Harper. Prime Minis...... Oh. Sorry. Just practicing.

chicknamedmarzi said...

Excellent post! I really hope every conservative blogger in Canada links to it, because you say eloquently what many have not.

Great job!

Mike said...

An incredible post Canadianna. Well spoken, an enjoyable read.

Candace said...

What a great post! And I agree, Harper is a "thinking woman's kind of guy." As for sexy, well, I hope Laureen puts him on a diet on the 24th!

Canadian Sentinel said...

Immensely well-done post, Canadianna. Among the all-time greatest I've ever seen in the blogosphere.

You are a true Canadian patriot.

ken in bc said...

Wow. Just wow. Let's get this post printed up and make it a manifesto. I'll buy 10 copies.
I'd never had a chance to see your blog before today, but you're a bookmark now.

Ken Breadner said...

I work at a grocery store. I've been talking politics with all sorts of people lately. And I am finding that quite a few of them have snapped their minds closed by now. "Harper has these beady little eyes", one woman--who I thought I respected--said. "K", I riposted, "I had no idea you were so shallow, judging people by what you think they look like." "Well, that's all you've got to go on", she practically yelled at me, "everything else is a bunch of promises and it's all lies to get elected!"
This is the state of political discourse in this country. People don't trust ANY politicians. And what they don't seem to get is that their mistrust derives almost entirely from the actions of Liberals: Paul Martin, dithering and waffling, and (in Ontario) Dalton McGuinty, who suckered large numbers of people into voting for him with a whopper about not raising taxes, only to whack us with the largest tax increase in decades.
Some people--who have clearly been ignoring this campaign--tell me Harper's got no platform, or they make up stuff they think is probably in it--"he wants to outlaw abortion" is a prime example. As soon as you respond that Harper has explicitly promised not to do anything with our current abortion laws, you get "well of course he SAYS that." You can't argue with these people, let alone hope to win the argument.
I would call myself a progressive conservative on most issues--just the sort of person who is supposed to be scared of where Harper aims to take the country. And I think he's run a damn-near-perfect campaign. He hasn't spelled out whence the money to enact his plans will come, but then again, nobody ever does that.
Harper's not scary. MARTIN'S scary.

Em said...

Wonderfully said, it states everything plainly and dispells the aria of "scary" Harper quite well. Bravo.

bob said...

Damn, girl, you're on a roll! Keep it up!

qwerty said...

That post might make you Blogging Tory of the week. Nicely done.

Mark in Bowmanville said...

I love your breakdown of the Conservatives and Harper, I have to say it is excellent.

You basically said why Harper appeals to you as a woman who has her S**T together so to speak. Your point about Charimsa is dead on. We have always in the past fallen for leaders who have charisma or some charm about them that hides their warts and faults. Harper is Joe ordinary (not Joe WHO)in that he has a good looking intelligent wife, he has normal kids, he drives them to hockey in a minivan. He is the only leader of the big three who has NOT visited a private clinic. In short, other than his day job, he is like the rest of us. He grew up in Middle class Leaside in Toronto, not in the house of a political family. This guy has more roots in what we do then the other two twits will ever know.

Paul Martin is a rich man trying to understand why he is losing this election when he has done everything he can to lie, cheat and swindle it. Jack Layton is so naive about how the world works, he feels going to the Private Shouldice Clinic is something he should be ashamed of, and Jack is the same guy who was living in subsidized housing as a city council member in Toronto with his city council wife, and only moved when he was caught.

Stephen Harper, like Robert Stanfield and Preston Manning was in the eyes of some to be the best PM this country never had, but then, maybe people woke up and realized that it was time to wake up and realize you cannot reward stupidity and corruption. 39% of us have it figured out, for the life of me I cannot understand why there isn't more of us.

Anonymous said...

As an American I owould like to make one small comment on this issue. NDP Nadine says that one of the reasons she is scared of the Canadian Conservatives is that they are "...friendly with...Republicans".
I hate to tell her but Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, the majority of the state governors are Republicans, and a Republican is President and will be until 2008. Wouldn't it be smarter to have a Prime Minister who, if he doesn't agree with the beliefs of the most influential party in your most important business partner and largest and most powerful ally, at least does not make a doctrinal point of gratuitously insulting them every chance that he gets?
Whoever becomes PM next will have a massive job of fence-mending with America ahead of them. Vote your consciences and elect the man and the party that you think will be the best for Canada... but remember that on the morning after election day, that job will still need to be done.

David P.

Anonymous said...

CA...I can't possibly add any more positive compliments about you excellent blog.One request tho:please get printed...bloggers must learn to share all this with MSM.And one trivial comment: Wasn't Mel Lastman(former mayor of TO) resposible for that silly "scary" description?Why does anything so shallow stick. Only in Canada, eh?Cheers to Jan. 24!!VF