Saturday, January 14, 2006

Whose values are these, anyway?

Paul Martin has framed this election as question of vision and values, which begs the question -- what are Canadian values?

A nation displays its values most specifically and most obviously through its laws. The things we ask our governors to enshrine in legislation are the things we believe are important. Our national character doesn't grow from legislation, legislation is derived from our national character.

Paul Martin says the 'fundamental difference' between him and Stephen Harper is that Stephen Harper's values coincide more closely with the 'far right' in the US than anyone in Canada. Martin believes that there is but one vision of Canada, and he is the arbiter.

"“I don't believe that Canada was built on American conservative values,"” said the Prime Minister. "“It was built on compassion, on generosity, on sharing and understanding."
The implication is, of course, that compassion, generosity, sharing and understanding are antipathic to American values, to conservative values and to Canadians who share their values -- particularly when a Christian Republican lives in the White House.

The first negative ad in this election campaign aired on December 2nd. Bardish Chagger, Liberal, said:

"(the Liberals) allow Canadians to express their voices and they provide rights to people and to minorities that otherwise would not be granted rights."
The governing party of Canada believes and promotes the idea that they are responsible for its citizens having rights -- which implies that these rights don't exist outside the framework of their governance. The Liberals argue that they doubt the Conservatives would preserve, protect, or recognise our rights, but that is both ignorance and arrogance. Conservatives have a long history preferringing smaller, less intrusive government and of valuing individual over collective rights.

When the power structure of society believes it has endowed 'people and minorities' with rights, it seems unlikely that the actions of those in power will reflect the values of the people they supposedly represent. More accurately, they see themselves as the purveyors of Canadian values, and maybe as they have anticipated, public opinion has actually followed their lead.

The following is a sampling of Canadian values as defined by the Liberal hierarchy:

  • Marriage is a legal recognition of commitment of people who copulate and are financially inter-dependentant. Number and gender, irrelevant.
  • Human life begins when a full-term baby takes its first breath outside the womb, or when a pre-term fetus is wanted by its host.
Whose values are these, anyway?


I have changed one word. 'displays' used to be 'defines'. A commenter questioned the statement's original form, and he was right. We don't define ourself through the constraints we put on our society, but legislation is an outward indication of our priorities or values. I've changed the word to clarify the thought --canadianna

Friday, January 13, 2006

No wonder people are cynical

The Liberals have promised a $250,000 cash pay out to families of first responders who die on the job, retroactive to January 2005.

Today's press release says that they will provide a tax deduction to cover the costs of clothing and training, and spend $140 million over five years for the Canadian National Exercise Program and the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program. They also plan to provide $10 million over five years toward the establishment of a centre within Statistics Canada to collect, analyze, publish and disseminate information related to Canada’s first responders.

None of this is in their Platform (pdf).

How are they going to pay for all these things for which they have not budgeted? The Liberals have no focus and no direction. They condemn Harper for saying he won't honour many of the promises the government made when they were in their gasping days, and yet they continue to make more unscheduled, uncosted promises.

UPDATE-- Stephen Taylor posts about this same issue, but mentions an interesting fact of which I was unaware. (1:51 p.m.)


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.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Get a load of them

Back here I wondered how long before the Liberals went negative. I guessed they'd wait until after the debates were over. Drop the 's' and I pegged it.

I only mention because I seldom make predictions so I'm very happy to be correct.

What strikes me about each of the ads is their attempt to be just like us and use the common vernacular. When people who want to represent me and my interests attempt to speak my language, I resent the fact that they think I'm a dummy.
"No. We did not make that up. We're not allowed to make stuff up."

Do they think we're all eight?
"Wow. He's not even elected yet. And he's already running a deficit."

I like the 'yet' part, but gosh golly, the 'wow' is not necessary. If it's really a 'wow' situation, we'll think the 'wow'; they won't have to put it in for us.

Then there's:
"Seriously, that's what he said." And: "At least someone will be happy, eh?"

Seriously, they're just like us, eh?

I'm not shocked by the negativity of the ads; that was to be expected. What does surprise me is how pedantic they are. The attempt to give Harper a Hitleresque look in at least three of them (Diversity, Atlantic and one other) is just so juvenile. I bet they're still giggling.

The one they pulled about Stephen Harper using our military as his own toy soldiers was dazzling in its stupidity -- and contrary to what John Duffy tried to say on Countdown -- the ad was released. It was pulled back, but once they uploaded it to their website and circulated to the media, it's out there. Election campaigns use the media to gain free exposure for their ads. The fact that journalists questioned this one immediately gave the Liberals second thoughts about actually finding paid space for it, but it doesn't negate the fact that the ad was written, crafted, and distributed before anyone realised it just might be a tiny bit over the top.

Duffy tried to make the analogy of a draft of a memo. This was no draft. That ad was their magnum opus -- they'd have used it often and proudly if the media had remained impassive, but members of the press were disturbed by it's exploitation and portrayal of the military.

I've no doubt that some of this negative advertising might work, but these ads say a lot more about the Liberals than they do about Stephen Harper.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Who wants to turn us into the US?

Martin's attempt to enjoin Stephen Harper to pledge to remove the wicked 'notwithstanding clause' has got to be the most bizarre thing I've seen in politics in a long time.

My only guess here is that the Liberals know Martin is going down, and they just want it done and over with -- so they give him this wild, over the top idea -- tell him 'no, really Paul. It's a good idea. The churches have enough protection. This is a sure winner.' Then they push him out into the spotlight and wait for him to sing.

What else could it be? They can't seriously believe that anyone who is paying attention will buy that this is a well thought out plan. They can't seriously think that anyone who believes in democracy believes that unelected, unaccountable judges are the best people to have the final say on the Charter -- because the only answer to that is 'it's the American way' -- and Mr. Martin doesn't want to go down that road, does he?

There has been talk of a spy in the Liberal warroom, of angry Chretienites seeking revenge, of would-be successors, knives drawn -- that has to be what happened here. They conspired against poor Paul Martin to have him self-destruct on national television.

That, or Mr. Martin and the Liberals really don't appreciate the fundamentals of our democracy. We don't have the checks and balances that the Americans do. Not in terms of our second chamber and not when it comes to vetting our judges.

Strike another one for Mr. Democratic Deficit.

I can't help but think that someone in the Liberal camp is smiling tonight.


What the Liberals are talking about . . .

I originally thought that the Liberals started in on the Conservatives' promise costing because they wanted to create a sense of fear, but then they shifted from 'he's going to raise taxes' to 'they'll create a deficit'. Both create fear, but if that had been the main intention they likely would have waited until after the debates so Harper wouldn't have so public a forum during which to answer.

No, they did this in order to draw the rest of the Tory platform out early. They figured Harper would react to their criticism by revealing the whole Conservative programme immediately, just to prove them wrong. Had he responded as they predicted, it would have prevented the daily announcements which bring the Tories positive attention and stop Liberal negativity from gaining traction.

Tonight will be interesting. Martin's handlers have managed to give him a couple of days to breathe with their attacks on the Conservative financial plans, so rather than being stuttery and sputtering the way he usually is when he's put in a corner, Paul Martin will be aggressive and on the offensive.

The format lends itself to being another debate about policy and ideas, which is to the Conservatives benefit. Martin can huff and puff and pantomime his vision all he wants, but the lack of substance will be apparent. He will steer everything away from what he plans to do, to what Harper would do, because the Liberals thought they could win without a platform.

The contrast between the Conservatives and the Liberals is stark. A visit to their websites shows them both, talking more about the Conservatives' platform than the Liberals'. As you look around, you find the Conservatives have all their issues laid out as they've been announced, complete with backgrounders, details and rationale. On the Liberal site you find vague promises with no elaboration, no processes set out to explain their exact intentions. As usual, they've relied on platitude over substance and fail to show any planning.

The best example of this is the Liberals' 'sure thing' -- the universal child care 'plan'. Where Harper recently detailed the Conservative plan to create 125,000 spaces, and the same information can be found on the Conservative web pages, tonight Martin will boast that the Liberals will create 250,000 daycare spaces. All anyone will have to do is ask him how they'll do that, and he'll be at a loss. There is no plan. There is no vision. That's why you won't find the Liberals talking about the Liberals on their website and in their ads.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

So which is it?

Over the past 36 hours we have heard three distinctly different stories coming from the Liberals:

The Tories will increase tax burden (

Harper's Platform promises can't be delivered (

Tory spending would result in deficit. (Globe & Mail)

So, despite the fact that the Conservatives are going to 'increase (the) tax burden,' their promises are so expensive they won't be able to deliver on them, so they'll have to cut programmes and (or?) they would result in deficit. I guess Martin's crack team of strategists couldn't decide which scare tactic would be most effective, so they decided to throw 'em all out there and let us take our pick.

Those who follow these things closely know that not implementing a planned cut in the tax rate by the out-going government is not 'raising taxes'. It is simply not keeping a promise made by someone else. Bad optics, but prudent fiscal management. The Conservative plan was costed in the several months during which they put together their platform, and based on specific numbers. A sputtering Liberal government made a flurry of promises and announcements. It isn't incumbent on Harper and his team to rewrite their tax policy based on a dying government's attempt to buy the voting public. The cut in the tax rate might well be a good thing -- but the Conservative plan should unfold as it was written -- if they were to adopt this cut in the tax rate, having not budgeted for it in their policy statements, they would be accused of not costing their platform properly.

But all that's irrelevant, because we know it's just more Liberal spin. And the other two statements strike me as utter stupidity but just to back that up -- visit Candace at Planet X.

The Liberals claim to have 'costed' the Conservative platform. So, now they're psychic. Not all of the Tory platform has been released yet - but they've had their team working away all day, crunching numbers. Sounds kind of like baking the cake before you've read the whole ingredient list.

Maybe if they spent as much time working on their own platform as they do looking over the shoulders of the Conservatives, the Liberals might actually have some original policy.


The Liberals - a 'hair of the dog' solution?

The Liberals will fix health care.
Who broke it?

The Liberals will clean the environment.
Who ignored it?

The Liberals will cut your taxes.
Who over-taxed you?

The Liberals will establish ethics guidelines.
Who broke all the rules?

The Liberals will pay your tuition.
Who made the cost of attending university prohibitive?

The Liberals will help seniors with their savings.
Who cost seniors millions by threatening to tax Income Trusts?

The Liberals will defend our borders.
Who hasn't?

The Liberals will fight for farmers.
Who didn't?

The Liberals will save national unity.
Who continues to tear the country apart?

The Liberals will take care of your pre-schoolers.
Are you sure these are the people you want to trust with your children?