Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Conservative Party of Canada . . . . (Really??)

Let me admit with complete honesty that the Conservative Party certainly didn't turn out quite like I thought it would. I am as far from Conservative as one can be I think but years of Conservative rule didn't play out like I imagined.

Some stuff that we all predicted obviously came true. We knew that they would be war-mongers, and they have been. We knew that they would destroy those areas of social spending that were meaningful to the vulnerable like, for example, the way they have completely eliminated all federal spending on things like adult literacy programs, and most programs for women who find themselves in a difficult legal or domestic situation. We figured that they would be terrible on the environmental front, though the scope of their destruction of environmental protections has even come as a surprise to many.

But here's the thing - even though I know that Conservative promises of "smaller" and less-intrusive government is almost always a lie (and has been since neo-liberalism began in the late seventies), I don't think many of us predicted the degree to which they would live that lie out in such momentous and obvious ways. If things play out like they seem to be going, this "Conservative" government will have never balanced a budget! I find it frankly just amazing that they can continually post deficits and add the largest amount of national debt of any government in Canadian history, and still call themselves conservative and have a significant amount of support from other Canadians who call themselves conservative. This government calling itself conservative is looking like the Chinese government calling itself 'communist.' Their strategy of gradually eliminating government revenue as a way of undermining government was entirely predictable (and a strategy that is difficult to recover from for subsequent governments) But I guess I was naive enough to think, with all their talk in the years before getting elected that the flip side of undermining government revenue would be a slash and burn strategy that would give them "balanced" budgets and at least the illusion of fiscal "responsibility." (Even though such strategy is, in the long run, deeply irresponsible for a modern society that needs active government not just to protect our social future but to protect our economic one as well) I was also naive enough to think that the Conservatives, after years of complaints concerning Liberal corruption, would create some new degree of transparency and responsibility in government. I knew that even these efforts would be somewhat illusory, but I thought they would at least make some sort of effort.

It is remarkable, but what we have now is a government that is bares little resemblance to Conservative. Yes, they have gutted every ounce of environmental protection that we had. Yes, they have shifted government from a body meant to protect and enrich society to one that protects and enriches corporations. But everything else is illusion. They are the most economically irresponsible government in our history. They not only posted eight straight deficits and put the country into a much deeper economic hole than it was before, but they did so while failing completely to invest in our social future. We are now a less diversified economy, no further ahead with alternative energies, our young people are under increasingly debilitating student debt while training for jobs that don't exist, our infrastructure is crumbling, and the future looks bleak. It is funny that the Conservatives always accuse the other parties of being "tax and spend" machines. But their strategy seems to be cut various taxes but still spend just as much, or more, than before!! Isn't that the very opposite of what most people associate with 'conservative?'  And to cap all this off they have made every effort at destroying the privacy of citizens and have created the most intrusive, police-state-like government in the Western world. All of this has been done against the backdrop of paranoiac secrecy, new levels of toxic partisanship, and consistent record of illegality in election fraud, (as well as a growing litany of other kinds of fraud).

I think that the Conservative Party realized something before they got elected. They realized that Canadians were actually becoming less conservative and that their real agenda wasn't going to sell for more than one election. They realized that the only way for Harper to govern and not get immediately turfed from office was to govern by stealth. They had to become a deeply secretive party because if people knew what they were doing they would never have gotten reelected let alone gotten a majority. They had to more or less shut down democracy because any real democracy would have exposed them as a a party that is anathema to Canadian values and dangerous to our future. This government is more than simply corrupt; they are trying to dismantle the very notion of a modern, democratic government that is responsible to our future as a nation. They have been trying to bankrupt the country and sell it to foreign corporate interests with trade deals that make the very idea of responsible government impossible. They are, in short, terrorists by their own definition.

All of this tells me that ANYONE who votes for this Conservative Party is either hopelessly misinformed or congenitally stupid, but certainly not even vaguely conservative.

18 comments:

Askingtherightquestions said...

Kirby, great post as always! One point I think should be mentioned in regards to this government and spending. They have cut and/or failed to fund a number of budgeted items. They appear to have done this by being slow to fulfill funding applications (e.g. many infrastructure programs) or by other means - as you know it has been difficult for the PBO and others to actually track Harper spending. I would predict that the books are a complete mess related to this "balanced budget" ideology they have been following, even as they watched the price of oil drop precipitously!! They HAVE cut at least 16,000 (and probably more like 19,000) public service positions, they have "cut" certain taxes yet they have spent a lot of money on Canadian military adventures abroad. They actually cut military spending and have fiddled with expensive equipment procurement deals - mostly failing to spend the money, I assume to fund these adventures. Harper is an idealogue and a trickster who cannot and will not defend his record. Just watch in the run up to this election - he is NOT WILLING to debate and defend his own record!! In addition to the long list of legal, environmental, economic and social faux pas attributable to this incompetent administration is the fact that their incumbent leader of 10 years is unwilling to defend his actions except in controlled and/or scripted environments. Surely at a minimum, we should expect a leader to be able to do this!!

Kirby Evans said...

Thanks for the comment Askingtherightquestions. I agree entirely that the books must be a godawful mess, and if they lose the election (and actually willingly leave office, which I can't help doubting) the next government will have to wade through years of messes trying to fix everything from the military acquisitions to the giant holes in the pubic service. Even more importantly perhaps is the fact that it is going to take years to reinstate some semblance of a public service that is not simply an arm of the Conservative Party. The number of carefully placed civil servants who are not only Conservative hacks but are waiting to sabotage any new government must be in the thousands. To say nothing of the more than 3000 media people (according to some sources) that Harper has employed. My prediction is that it will take several years just to get some of the basic Conservative messes cleaned up, let alone the mess Harper has made of the economy and the years that he has set back our environmental protection.

Anonymous said...

Just one factual correction. If we manage to turf Steve this Fall, then he would have incurred the second largest, not the highest, gross national debt. There is a wide range in the estimated amount but it is generally thought that Steve had already piled on $150-250B (Mulroney had incurred a gross national debt of about $330B, so he would still hold the record). Of course, if Steve wins again in Fall, he is very likely going to clinch that title from Mulroney (e.g., consider that the costs of replacing the CF-18s jets have not even been factored in yet).

Thus there appears to be this significant difference between the Libs governments of Chretien/Martin and Harper's. The Libs cut jobs and services, caused public pain, but they at least balanced the budget (6 consecutive surpluses), left Harper with a $13B rainy day fund, and still paid down the gross national debt by about $80B. Harper cut jobs and services, caused public pain like the Libs but could not even balance the budget (possibly 8 consecutive deficits if the PBO projection for a deficit this year holds), blew away the $13B rainy day fund, and still piled on $150-250B gross national debt).

There is another way to look at this. I often joke that the difference between the Libs and the Cons is that the former are crooks with a conscience while the latter are crooks without any conscience. The Libs at least will use some of our public money for public good while the Cons will use it mostly for the good of their base, friends and supporters. :)

Owen Gray said...

A superb post, Kirby. They are anything but conservative.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Harper and his minions are not a government Kirby, conservative or otherwise. They are a cabal!

The Mound of Sound said...

Not much to say, Kirby, except that you're right. Harper is deviant and there's not a trace of hyperbole in that assertion. Read this item from today's Sydney Morning Herald by a former enviromin in the David Cameron government slamming Tony Abbott (and, by implication, Steve Harper) as being antithetical to conservatism. If anything, in the context of true conservatism they're apostate.

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbotts-responses-to-climate-change-are-not-conservative-20150722-gihpxi.html

Then read Brent Rathgeber's rebuke of Harper's tactic of vote buying.

http://ipolitics.ca/2015/07/22/the-big-bribe-rathgeber-rips-into-conservative-vote-buying/

With its focus on secrecy, deception and sequestering the Canadian people from their government, there's nothing remotely democratic about Harper. He doesn't govern, he rules as he must in order to perpetuate his regime's abuses and excesses.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Kirby, I am the Anon 12.31pm: I should point out that while Harper does not hold the record, yet, for the largest gross national debt, he does already hold the record for the single largest annual deficit of any government since Confederation (just read Brent Rathgeber's article which mentioned this). Thought I should make this clarification to my previous comment, eh?

the salamander said...

.. Stephen Harper is easier to understand if viewed in the context of parasites, termites or vermin. His takeover of an existing political Brand.. Progressive Conservative was simply that. Moving on he took over & infected the Government of Canada Brand. The CPC Party is now the PMO & The Government and vice versa. The upper operatives Ray Novak, Jenni Byrne, Stephen Lecce et al swim back and forth.. as do the lawyers like Arthur Hamilton. Its a disgusting time in Canada when such creatures infest the country.. but hey, such creatures tend to also be self destructive, self infecting, even cannibalistic.. or.. a higher order predator feasts on them. For every smug high and mighty Harper evangel thug.. I can point to a glowing heart real Canadian who could trash the creep. We certainly must fumigate, bring in serious barn cats, chase down the lamprey eels of Stephen Harper parasitic 'party' .. Mainstream Media needs our help... Let's get to work !

doconnor said...

I noticed several years ago the right-wing government cut taxes, but don't really cut spending like everyone (including themselves) say they will. I like to called them "don't tax and spend" parties.

Scotian said...

There was a reason why I was shouting back in the last days of the Martin government that with Harper we would see abuse of power corruption and that this was a far worse corruption than anything we ever say from the Libs or any prior government for that matter. That it is much less corrosive to democracy to have a government stealing money than rights and laws as this government has. I also knew the Harper stealth governing was coming you could see that in the way he had rebooted his own image after the 2004 defeat. I always said that the "Conservative clean cut government" was nothing but bullshit,l and that the way Harper handled the Grewal recordings fraud committed by his CPC in 2005 showed you exactly how little respect for the rule of law, rights of Canadians and openness in government you could expect from Harper! That was after all why I refused to let the Grewal thing go for so long, because it WAS so utterly indicting of what Harper truly would be like as a PM!

Kirby Evans said...

I admit Scotian that I think you saw more perceptively than I did. As I said, I certainly didn't expect anything good from Harper, but I guess, having lived through Reagan, Mulroney, and Thatcher, I expected something like that. But Harper turned out not only worse in terms of policy but much worse in terms of his anti democratic spirit.

Scotian said...

That was in part what was the most frustrating aspect for me Kirby, for I like you had lived through those same leaders, but I could tell from my many years of watching Harper that he was qualitatively not just worse but far more destructive than any of them in terms of social constructs, contracts, and in general governing structures aka process issues. I tried so hard to get people to understand that it wasn't a hidden socon agenda that was the real threat here, but an abuse of power, scorched earth destroy everything built up over the past several decades of not just progressive but centrist institutions of government and wholesale dismantling on the process side that was the real danger from Harper.

I took a LOT of shit for saying all this back then, and for pointing out that even in their worst sins that the Liberals under Martin were so much less dangerous, corrosive and all around preferable to even a Harper minority let alone Gods forbid a majority. Part of my fury with Dipper leadership and the choices they, including and especially Layton made, was to ignore the threat or to believe they could come in afterwards and fix things back up, it infuriated me in no small part because it is ALWAYS easier to destroy than to create, and some of what Harper would target would not be so easily recreated, if at all possible because of trade agreements they had been grandfathered into that would not permit it.

I have NEVER called the Harper CPC anything other than CPCers or Harperites because I have always understood that their core is not only not Tory (a point well gone over at other times here and elsewhere) but not even conservative, especially Canadian rooted/grounded conservativism and I refuse to disrespect ad dishonour the real things by smearing them with it. It is one of the reasons why every time I see/hear Librocon/Lib Tory Same Old Story I go off so intensely, because these people are not at all the same with even the more traditional hardcore Canadian Conservativism, let alone any other party including the clearly centrist Liberals.

I wanted the Martin Libs left in because I knew beyond any doubt just how anti-democratic Harper was as a long time Straussian, and Dick Cheney had just been finishing up his time in office showing exactly how far and dangerous they were where respecting democracy and checks on their governing power. I mean really, Cheney was the one that turned the VP's office from a near powerless office into a fourth branch of government during his tenure despite the clear limits set out in the US Constitution, so why should anyone have expected any less from a Canadian Straussian like Harper?

This is why I reserve my anger for those who were in leadership positions in politics, the average voter I did not expect to know or have access to this level of understanding, but I am supposed to believe the leadership levels did not? Can't do it. I cannot accept the arrogant premise I am so much more perceptive, able, and understanding to see all this just because I have a computer, a TV and a brain with the time to think on politics thanks to being disabled (which is why I reserve for the pros in politics, because it is their JOBS to do what I was doing for my own interests), so I am forced to believe that Layton and company made choices knowing what they risked for us all, and that I cannot forgive them for. Nor can I turn around and then stomach all this talk of being a principled more ethical party who would be more responsible with power than the others, given their choices that they made over the last decade they clearly placed their own narrow electoral expediency above all else, including protecting all of us from the by far worse and most destructive right wing threat to EVER materialize on the federal scene in our lifetimes!

To be continued...

Scotian said...

Continuation:

This is so much of why I am such an angry and yes somewhat bitter person politically speaking these days. It is also why I have such a blowtorch rage towards the NDP leadership and those supposed informed progressive political activist who support it who fail to see any/all of this, or worse see it as acceptable while denouncing the Liberals for being such vile panderers and users of expediency politics and the same/no different than Harper and his CPC. Hypocrisy in itself I find hard enough to take, but sanctimonious hypocrisy, that is a special level of pain for me, and for me I find the modern NDP all too much like the Roman Catholic Church back in the 90s during the pedophile priest scandals first years, hells throughout JP2's and Ratzi the Nazi's tenure (which given he was JP2's point man on the file as a cardinal, not a shock) really, when they denounce the Libs while proclaiming their virtue.

I also have grave concerns about what this shows about their real world judgement overall, and the idea of replacing the Harper regime with all the damage it has done with another government with no institutional governing experience combined with leadership with such questionable judgement and a clear taste for expediency politics in practice while denouncing such in others makes me acutely uncomfortable. My problem with the idea of a Mulcair NDP government isn't just about my anger with what they did in the last decade, it is also about what their judgement then and their inability to accept their mistakes now while acting politically speaking holier than thou that makes me highly nervous about their being allowed to hold power.

The fact the NDP also chose to cozy up to the Quebecois nationalists they way Mulroney did a few decades ago so as to form government is also a real problem for me. People forget but when Mulroney did so people thought then Separatism was a spent force after the 1980 clear result and the musing of the great separatist leader Rene Levesque that perhaps federalism wasn't so bad and it was good to bind them into a federalist party, well we saw how that worked out and it ended up not only giving them new life but also the platform that brought us a literal hair's breadth away from a unilateral declaration of separation on a 50%+1 vote win in 1995, a standard the NDP has formally accepted with the Sherbrooke Declaration. Take all of these things together, and I believe the Mulcair NDP may well be almost as dangerous in its ways as a government as Harper's has been, albeit not from the intentional systematic course of destruction Harper was always intent on.

To be concluded...

Scotian said...

Conclusion:

I'll admit I am also anti-NDP winning these days because I do not want to see them prosper from what I see as their acts of treachery to their core values and principles just so as to finally gain hold of real governing power federally, but my main issues are much more pragmatic and related to what I have outlined here, combined with my finding Mulcair himself to be far too phony in feel than any other NDP federal leader I've seen in my lifetime. That business with the bribe was bothersome, but his explanation for why he flirted with working for Harper after Harper became PM and his claim that only once he understood the Harper Kyoto position that he decided it was a bad idea when the Harper Kyoto position was blatantly obvious to anyone with half a brain with a Jr high schoolers political knowledge form the moment Harper was sworn in as PM let alone a year later a lot more revealing and troublesome.

In the end I agree getting rid of Harper has to be the first job, yet I fear replacing him with Mulcair and the NDP and especially Gods forbid as a majority government could be nearly as bad for the nation overall. What worries me most Kirby was that given how much more clearly I saw Harper than most everyone a decade ago and how well and closely I predicted the true risks and dangers back then, this means I may be repeating that history all over again on Mulcair and company, and frankly that scares me a lot more than I would admit to most online, but you have always been someone I found actually takes me at my word whether you agreed with me or not, and that belief in my honesty has been a great treasure to me. Just as this is not truly a Conservative party in the older traditional definition I fear the same is true of the modern NDP versus what most of the supporters still like to believe or pretend. I would love to be wrong, but alas my record for such analysis tends to be fairly strong, and I am getting so tired of playing the Cassandra role in our politics!

I know I went off on my usual tangent to some extent but I did try to tie it back to your base post theme. I know I am somewhat repetitive on the choices the NDP made and what I see them as, but given that they are clearly closer to forming a government than ever before I cannot simply pretend these concerns do not exist, nor do I think the NDP leadership should get a pass on these serious questions about the choices they made back then and more recently. A lot of what the NDP is counting on is holding their traditional base yet again while gaining more centrist voters that normally avoid them.

The question is though to gain that new support has the NDP truly sold out its traditional base and their real belief in the NDP that practices its principles even when it can hurt them that as far as I can see was quietly transformed into a party of expediency by first Layton and continued with my Mulcair. IOW although through a different path has the NDP changed almost as much from its traditional definition as a party as the CPC/Conservatives have from what has been traditionally understood as Conservative in the Canadian context? That is how I tried to tie things back together along with my fears I am playing the Cassandra role yet again with different players but the eventual same results.

Thanks Kirby for having a place where I can do this sort of thinking/writing, it is greatly appreciated since I swore off blogging myself some time back because of how stressful I was finding it on my health.

Kirby Evans said...

Well Scotian, we always agree on almost everything though when it comes to the NDP I often apply the old adage "Don't put down to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity." Either way, the NDP is no longer more than a basic centrist party and hardly worth our time any more I think. My hope is that if we can get electoral reform then there will be a general realignment of the parties in general. I know what you mean about how stressful blogging can be. Have often gone long periods in which I don't do it at all. Anyway, I always enjoy and appreciate your comments.

Scotian said...

Damn it, that was a three piecer, it looks like the middle was lost, and I ended up deleting my rough copy last night once I was shown the signs it had gone to await moderation. Ah well, such is life.

Kirby Evans said...

I found the middle bit in the comments moderation page Scotian. For some reason comments sometime don't create a notification for me but still show up in the section called comments awaiting moderation. Anyway it is there now.

Scotian said...

Thanks Kirby, that middle part had most of why I am troubled by the idea of a Mulcair/NDP government aside from my usual issues of past judgment, so I am glad it was found and put in order. Thank you so much for that!