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It’s Criticism, Not Practice That Makes Perfect

Being positive doesn’t mean ignoring the negative; being positive means identifying and then fixing the negative!

They say practice makes perfect. I believe criticism accomplishes even more.

It works for my painting. What I do is look at my work with a jaundiced eye, seeking flaws, mistakes and things I could have done better. I do that because I want to be a better painter. It’s far more effective than pretending I didn’t see any mistakes.

The same is true of politics.

The Harper Government has done a lot of good since first being elected; the most recent being the EU Free Trade Deal. But it has also made some serious blunders, which too many conservatives are unwilling to acknowledge and criticize in the mistaken belief that it is better to protect the status quo than improve it.

Instead, they defend – sometimes almost to the level of fanaticism. They dredge up old mistakes of past Liberal governments as if the sponsorship scandal somehow excuses the Wright-Duffy mess.

It doesn’t, and pretending otherwise perpetuates the problem. As conservatives, we share values. They aren’t universal across the small-c landscape but the differences are not significant. Some, for example, want to reform the Senate whereas others would rather abolish it. But we all pretty much agree that the current state of the Senate is no longer acceptable.

We’ve been in power for nine years yet we’ve accomplished nothing on Senate reform, quite the opposite. Stephen Harper’s sloppy handling of recent Senate appointments and confused (at best) handling of the expense scandal is not only a disappointment to most conservatives, it’s an embarrassing disgrace.

As conservatives we should be angry that our government handled this so poorly. It has weakened support for our party and our future election prospects. We should be criticizing the government we elected rather than blindly supporting it as if it had done nothing wrong. How else can we motivate conservative politicians to get their act together and govern effectively?

Take the abortion issue as another example. Most conservatives are, if not pro-life, at least in favour of some kind of legislation that places some restriction on abortion. Canada is the only Western democracy that does not regulate abortion in any way. Yet the government we elected and support refuses to allow even a broad, non-partisan discussion on when life begins. It is quick to stop foreign-aid money to pay for abortions abroad but is opposed to any discussion or consideration of addressing abortion in this country.

If you’re a pro-life conservative, how do you reconcile that? How can you remain silent and not criticize this government? Why work so long to elect a majority conservative government that ignores one of our core values? Claiming to defend the life of the unborn but refusing to criticize the conservative government for not dealing with the issue is hypocrisy and that is all too prevalent in conservative ranks these days.

We claim to support our military but say nothing when our government spends millions advertising its Economic Action Plan instead of buying rifles for the Canadian Rangers, who currently patrol and defend Canada’s north with WWII-era Lee Enfield’s.

We proudly display our poppies but remain silent as the conservative government fails to support our veterans adequately. The Harper government has tried to get PTSD removed as a recognized medical condition so that it would not have to pay benefits to vets suffering from it. It tried to claw back disability benefits but was forced by public opinion to reverse that position. Now Afghan vets are fighting in court for the benefits that were in place when they went to war but which have been unilaterally changed by the conservative government.

Today, the Department of National Defense offers economic support to a paltry 11% of Canadian veterans. Oddly, given that no effort is made to track the remaining 89%, the department claims it is meeting the needs of all vets. By contrast, Australia provides benefits to 80% of its veterans. How do conservatives who claim to support our military feel about that? They don’t say.

It was this government that promised not to tax income trusts in the election then turned around and slapped a 34% tax on those same trusts, hurting many retired seniors in the process. That isn’t how conservatives are supposed to operate. We keep our word, don’t we? I thought it was only Liberals who lied during election campaigns.

Make no mistake about it. Conservatives have a lot to offer this country but if we are unprepared to criticize our own party when it strays from conservative values then we are no better than those we oppose.

What is causing our current slump in the polls isn’t Justin Trudeau’s hair. It’s hard-core Conservative supporters refusing to criticize our party when needed. This may please a small portion of “the base”, but it drives swing voters away faster than last week’s trash.

Constantly hammering progressives while refusing to acknowledge and address our own mistakes isn’t working. At the rate we’re bleeding support, we’ll find ourselves in the weeds for another 20 years.

That’s not what was promised; it’s not what I voted for.



© 2013 Maggie’s Bear

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  • blacquejacqueshallaque

    Excellent post. I agree 100%. I’m a lifelong conservative, and of course will continue to support the party. But we could be doing better, both as conservatives, and in the polls. Time and again my attempts to engage in a discusison on this have been met by exactly the kind of fanatical refusal to accept any criticism. This is harming us.

    • MaggiesBear

      It is harming us which is why I continue to speak out. Nothing good ever came from turning a blind eye to mistakes or enabling bad behaviour but that is precisely what too many core conservatives are doing. They think it’s about winning the current arguement – it’s not. It’s about winning the future and we, I’m afraid, are watching our future prospects being thrown away by the narrow-minded and rabid.

  • oldwhiteguy

    unfortunately we require actual conservatives in power to accomplish conservative goals. as of yet I have not seen one.

    • MaggiesBear

      Pretty much my point exactly.

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  • Cytotoxic

    Wow. I found it. Canada’s last thinking conservative.

    At the rate we’re bleeding support, we’ll find ourselves in the weeds for another 20 years.

    B-b-but Harper’s a strategic genius! Incrementalism! TOP MEN

    Stephen Harper is CPC Obama. Conservatards are too enraptured with TEAM SPIRIT to question The Leader. Just like American Conservatards with Bush, and the ending can end up the same here as there. The last several years have taught me that Conservatives are every bit as stupid as the left has made them out to be.

    Canadian conservatives aren’t going to start thinking again until the Spell of Harper is broken, and that means getting rid of Harper. Unless he does the gracefull thing and step aside (Harper doesn’t do grace), then he has to be replaced at all costs. This is Trudeau’s role-to act as a relatively benign placeholder until the CPC offers up a real leader. All people actually concerned with limiting government really need to vote Liberal; there’s no other way. Plus, legal MJ.

    • MaggiesBear

      There are more of us thinking conservatives than you or the hard core conservative base may realize. :-)

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