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Are You conservative or Merely A Conservative?

Well – it appears that yesterday’s post rankled The Base a bit. It’s acceptable to them to criticize Trudeau or anyone else they identify as being a worthy target but for God’s sake don’t dare criticize Stephen Harper. It’s heresy and they will respond with all of the enthusiasm of the Inquisition at a heretic barbeque.

To be honest, I actually thought the post would generate more criticism than it did and the ones it did generate were pretty tepid at best. When you’ve been criticized by pros like my old grade 10 math teacher, Mrs. Jamieson, you pretty much become immune to less accomplished critics.

That woman could bounce a piece of chalk off your forehead from behind her desk thirty feet away.

That was back in the days when educators were called teachers and education was less about political correctness and ‘co-parenting’ and more about teaching what you needed to know to survive in the big world – including values. In those days education sometimes got physical.

We used to call her Dead Eye although never to her face of course.

The conservative movement in Canada is in trouble and Conservatives can bury their heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t if they like but they’re only lying to themselves. They can attack those of us who are concerned that we are heading back to another twenty years in the electoral wilderness but it isn’t going to change the obvious and the obvious is that Harper government has strayed too far from basic conservative values.

Consider this for example.

On Tuesday, the remainder of our troops returned from Afghanistan. Like most conservatives, I am immensely proud of the service provided by our men and women in uniform. They are Canadians for whom the words duty, honour and courage have real meaning.

When their nation called on them – they stood tall and answered that call.

They served with great distinction and no matter what happens in Afghanistan from this point forward; it in no way reduces their contribution to that nation’s attempt to forge a democracy.

It was right that the Prime Minister and the Governor General were on hand to greet them as they landed in Ottawa and also right that the Prime Minister announced a National Day of Honour on May 9th in recognition of their service. I have no patience with those who whine about the fact that Canadian Armed Forces Day will happen a few weeks later and that the Day of Honour is unnecessary.

Of course it’s necessary. These men and women served their nation at risk to their lives with too many paying that pricee. At the very least, they deserve a day that commemorates that service.

They actually deserve more but they aren’t going to get it.

On the same day that Stephen Harper was welcoming home the troops and announcing the Day of Honour, his government was in court arguing that Canada does not have a social contract with its vets and, therefore, they cannot bring forward a class action suit in defense of the benefits this government stripped from them.

I’m a conservative. I support our men and women in uniform and our vets. I find it patently offensive that the government we elected – and I did vote for this government – reduces its support of our military vets to little more than sloganeering and symbolic gestures. Of course we have a social contract with our serving military. It is despicable to send them into a war zone and then argue with them about benefits when they come home.

This government has treated our serving military and our vets with an unbelievable level of disrespect and supporters of this government have, for the most part, remained silent.

The Harper government’s new benefits program now pays out, on average. a one-time payment of a mere $40,000 replacing the annual ‘for life’ support that has been in place since WWI. It tried to have post-traumatic stress disorder delisted as a medical condition to reduce the medical benefits it had to pay out. It has slashed military spending to the point where fully 50% of the military’s trucks are now mothballed and there are no new ships, ice-breakers, light armoured vehicles or fighter aircraft on the horizon.

Perhaps most disturbing is the lack of an initiative to respond to the alarming rate of military suicides in the past few months. There was another just this week but the Harper government is too busy with trade deals and Ukraine to worry about it.

We’re heading into an election with a budget surplus next year. It’s no secret; people have been talking about it for months and some Conservatives are drooling at the prospect of some of that surplus being spent on entitlements rather than on debt and tax reduction or – ensuring that our military vets are properly and adequately provided for.

The simple reality is that no matter how many times some in The Base call people like me a Libard, the simple reality is that it is them, not conservatives like me who are elevating Justin Trudeau to potentially becoming Prime Minister and you don’t have to take my word for it.

A fairly significant poll was conducted a few months ago and presented at the Manning Conference last month. I doubt there are many that would question Preston Manning’s conservative credentials and he, along with other conservatives that included Jim Prentice and Brad Wall voiced their concern about what is happening to our movement these days. Stephen Harper didn’t attend. He and Mr. Manning are on the outs and Harper doesn’t handle criticism very well; no matter how constructive it might be.

And there was criticism – somewhat gently and politely stated – but criticism about the direction the Harper government has taken.

The survey confirmed what poll after poll has been revealing over the past few months. The Harper government is not only unpopular with progressives but is increasingly driving conservatives away and all the election goodies in the world isn’t going to reverse that.

What was particularly disturbing about the survey was that it went out of its way to weight the number of respondents with those who self-identify as conservatives.

The result? We’re losing ground and we’re losing it rapidly. Stephen Harper currently ranks below both Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau and that isn’t much of a recommendation about the job Canadians think he’s doing.

Blame whoever you like but at the end of the day, it comes down to what the polls are showing. More than 70% of Canadians do not like or respect Stephen Harper. They do not believe he is doing a good job as Prime Minister and for the first time, as many think the Liberals could do as good a job managing the economy as he has done.

It’s not surprising that an increasing number of people believe that when you consider that over the past 30 years, it was only the Liberals who ran budget surpluses. Both the Mulroney and Harper governments ran record deficits. The Harper Conservatives have added $160 billion in new debt since 2008. Many point to the recession as the reason but they’re wrong. The recovery was already underway in 2009 and the Harper government continued to run deficits until this year.

Even more telling, the Harper government went into the recession in better shape than governments of most countries around the world. It had its inherited  budget surplus from the previous government and it benefited from the most stable banking system in the world with the possible exception of Switzerland.

Despite that, it ran up record deficits and increased Canada’s debt by $160 billion.

Supporters of the Harper government can rationalize that all day long but at some point every one of us has to ask ourselves a fundamental question.

Are you a conservative or are you Conservative?

Are we a political movement based on conservative values and principles or merely just another political party grappling for power no matter the cost; a mere personality cult unwilling to question or challenge a party leader when he violates those values? Are we free and independent thinkers who can discuss issues and even disagree with mutual respect and civility or are we little more than belligerent sheep bleating angrily in the pasture at anyone who doesn’t think like us even as the shepherd sheers us all?

Do we stand for something or are we simply opposed to progressives and anyone else who doesn’t think like us?

They just asked that question in Alberta where Conservative Premier Allison Redford was forced to resign because she strayed too far from conservative values. I commend conservatives in Alberta for standing up for conservative values rather than blindly supporting the leader no matter how often she violated those values.

We need to do the same thing nationally and that is what my post yesterday was about. I used to defend Stephen Harper from his critics but I can’t anymore. He, like Allison Redford, does not represent conservative values.

I found it offensive, for example, that he had a spare $250 million to give to Ukraine but closed 9 Vets Affairs offices to save $34 million. Why not give Ukraine $200 million and keep those offices open? We would have still saved $16 million dollars and everyone would have benefited.

Most conservatives, if not completely pro-life, support some kind of legislation on abortion but the Harper government has steadfastly refused to allow that discussion. Most conservatives believe in less government and yet the Harper government has increased the size of the civil service by 26, 000 employees – and that is after it cut the civil service by 10%.

Most conservatives believe in the right to the legal ownership of firearms for hunting, competitive shooting, protection and as a necessary tool on farms and ranches. This government has never held the RCMP accountable for it egregious violation of private property rights in High River where it kicked in doors and confiscated legally owned firearms without cause or warrant. That is the same attitude taken by the Liberal government in Ontario when Mohawks violated private property rights in Caledonia.

Just this past week, the RCMP unilaterally declared certain Swiss rifles prohibited weapons. While it is true that the Harper government reacted with its usual faux surprise and outrage; rather than order the RCMP to stand down, the government granted ‘amnesty’ to current owners of those guns as if they had done something wrong and were being forgiven. The government then let the prohibition stand on new purchases without demanding evidence of the need for the decision.

Pick your issue. In virtually every case, this government acts more like a Liberal government with a bad attitude than a conservative government aligned with our principles and values and it is alienating Canadians.

The Base can rally around the Harper government all they like. They can throw hissy fits at folks like me, repeat endlessly the Liberal records of the past as if it was a religious litany but in the end all that is accomplishing is advancing the Liberal cause.

We’re conservatives and if we can’t offer Canadians a better alternative beyond calling everyone who doesn’t think like us stupid, libtards or worse; we’ll be on the outside looking in again after the next election and for a very long time.

The bottom line for me is that if Justin Trudeau is going to be the next Prime Minister of this country, he should have to earn it – not have it handed to him on a platter by a conservative cult that refuses to hold its leader accountable for honouring and respecting our values and principles both in theory – and when governing.

If we’re going to be held accountable by the electorate – let it be for adhering to what we believe in. If we don’t have enough faith in that to defend it from our own who violate our values, why on God’s earth would expect others to have faith in it?

 

———————————-MAKING NEWS RIGHT NOW——————————–

‘Absolutely no due or fair process’: Trinity-Spadina riding exec condemns Justin Trudeau’s blocking of candidate

Russia races to complete Crimea annexation

Conservative government’s parole law violates rights, Supreme Court rules

Malaysia Airlines: FBI helping to restore files deleted from pilot’s flight simulator

Obama extends sanctions against Russia to include wealthy Putin allies

Fred Phelps, Founder of Westboro Baptist Church, Dies at 84

 

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© 2014 Maggie’s Bear

all rights reserved The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

Twitter: @maggsbear  / Facebook to: Maggie’s Bear / contact: ivmaki@sympatico.ca

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  • Cytotoxic

    I agree with everything except the military cuts. Lifetime support is too long and too much. Also, adding another Day of Military Service Jingoism makes my eyes roll.

    • MaggiesBear

      It isn’t jingoism and I get tired of people who have no idea of the risk or the level of service provided demeaning that service. If we send people to war zones and they come back wounded, you’re damn right it should be life-time support. Their disability doesn’t disappear after a few years and they wouldn’t have been disabled if they hadn’t served this country.

      • Cytotoxic

        This is maudlin. These people are not being conscripted they should know the risks and the compensation they’ll get.

        • MaggiesBear

          You’re absolutely right and that is the point. When they signed up and volunteered to go to Afghanistan it was under a specific agreement. The Harper government unilaterally changed that deal without warning. In other words, it broke the contract. you can defend it all you like but it won’t make it any less true.

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  • damorris

    This is the best column you’ve ever written, bear, I agree with all your points. I am embarking on another campaign to wake the CPC up and recognize the anger in the conservative community. I E-mail both the PM and my MP,and receive the usual “thank you for your input, your comment has been ….etc”, but it never seems to make much difference.

    Apparently the reason for the Ukraine trip is to pander to the Prairie Ukrainians,most of whom came here over a hundred years ago, so I question the sense in going overseas to “show the flag”. I wonder if Putin cares anything about what Canada thinks.Probably not, now we can’t threaten to cut off wheat shipments.

    On the Veterans, this government has been a BIG disappointment in not providing for the returning Veterans,and the appointment of Fantino to VA was just plain idiotic. Fantino was well known for his aggressive, go-to-hell attitude from his days as Chief of the OPP,where he ruled like a dictator. What in Hell was Harper thinking when he appointed this insensitive clod to that Ministry?

    Name a Conservative MP, and he or she would have done better than Fantino.

    To sum up, they’re pissed off at the Conservative government at the Legion and at all the Gun clubs throughout Canada, and the Party seems oblivious to it all.

    I think Harper has been thoroughly “Ottawashed” and is no longer the person we elected in 2011.

    May I send a link to your post to my MP? He might read it, but his staff definitely will,and maybe will pass on some of the gist of it. The CPC and especially Harper need to read it.

    • MaggiesBear

      Thank you for your kind words. Always feel free to share my posts with anyone you like.

    • Cytotoxic

      AppApparently the reason for the Ukraine trip is to pander to the Prairie

      No the reason is because Harper wants to play Big Man on the world stage. It’s an ego trip.

      • MaggiesBear

        Whatever the reason or the motivation, it isn’t helping the situation – merely inflaming it. He is very careful about what he gets involved in. If it was simply to support those whose democratic rights are being usurped, he’d be off to the Congo, Venezuela and a few other countries he’s never visited or mentioned. He might even travel across this country to talk to Canadians about his Fair Elections Act.

  • peggyt

    I am not well versed in the benefits of vets. I only know one. He was in Afghanistan briefly working as a mechanic. He broke his leg while on duty. He now collects a pension of $3000. a month (his words). If that is true, the old benefits program was way too generous.

    • MaggiesBear

      That would be less than half what a retired MP would make and most of them couldn’t even point out Afghanistan on a map. Quite honestly, Peggy, I’m weary of the parsimonious attitude of too many Conservatives these days.

      • peggyt

        Did I say I support MP pensions? I believe MP pensions should be minimal; how about double the max CPP that the public gets. As to the young man with the 3K “pension”, he is only 31 years old and collecting. That is a lot of money for a broken leg.

        • MaggiesBear

          I suspect that there is more to his situation than merely a broken leg or we’d have pensioned veterans hobbling all over the place. The fact remains that Conservatives are more focused on money than anything else. We are over-taxed and too much of our tax money is squandered but that is no justification for cutting disability payments to those who have earned them. I agree with you about MPs. We could also eliminate that 1/3 of their salary that’s tax free.

          • peggyt

            I did qualify my original post with “(his words). If this is true” so I leave room that there may be more to the story. $36,000. a year starting at age 30 is one hell of a lot of money. He also works so he can bank the 3K.s true, the old benefits program was way too generous.e

          • Cytotoxic

            This is a hypocritical attitude. “Government should cut spending except for the over-generous pensions I approve of.”

            • MaggiesBear

              We’re not talking about over-generous pensions – that would be MPs who contribute $1 for every $5 we contribute to their pensions and who are eligible for full pension after serving 6 years. We’re talking disability benefits and support payments that have been in place since the first world war and which were in place when our men and women in uniform went to Afghanistan. It is hypocritical to think that it is quite acceptable to wave the flag for those men and women but then treat them the way this government has treated them.

              The bottom line is that they went to war under one set of rules but came home to something completely different and that may not be hypocrisy but it is definitely wrong.

  • chaos111_99

    This is why I keep referring to the Harper party as liberals in blue. I still remember when Rae and Dosanjhi were calling the military war criminals, Harper and his M of D sat with their fingers up bums and brains in neutral and said nothing to protect them. Until it started to get close to home then Harper prorogued parlaiment and scuttled away faster than McGuinty.

    • MaggiesBear

      I don’t have an issue with the fact that he prorogued Parliament. All parties have done that and seldom for anything beyond self interest. What I have an issue with is the fact that he is undermining the values and purpose of conservatism in this country. He is autocratic, refuses to consult with the electorate except at election time and hands out cash on the international stage while he nickle and dimes in Canada those things and people we hold important – like our vets. He talks out of both sides of his mouth, nothing is ever his fault but I don’t remember a government that has had so many charges of wrong-doing or being found to have violated our constitution as often as this one. We’re conservatives! We’re supposed to provide better, more honest government than the Liberals – not worse.

      • V103115

        Thank you, Maggie for speaking out the way you have been. I am fed up with their arrogance and their complete disdain for their core supporters. I am finding it harder to give the Prime Minister my vote of support for his policies.

        I am a small c social and fiscal conservative who feels betrayed by our so-called Conservative party. They talked wonderfully, they said all of the right things at a time when Canadians were weary of Liberal policies and scandals. We elected them first as a minority, then, as a majority and were expecting some wonderful things from them.

        In the beginning when they were saddled with being a minority government, I cut them some slack. When they gained their majority, they also gained arrogance, ignoring the true conservatives that elected them. Their government soon turned into governing by fiat, our version of Obama’s executive orders. They became the Liberal governing machine, something they always decried.

        The CBC got a slap on the wrist but it still got money and was never reorganized or dealt with in spite of the all out hatred they have for anything conservative. It took exposure by SUN News to rescind Section 13 to allow us free speech, to show Canadians the overreach of the RCMP when it came to firearms and overstepping of their authority.Our veterans have been treated abominably, and nothing is done. There are many other things that they have or have not done but I think my point has been made.

        The question arises-who do you vote for in the next election? The choices are limited. People may complain loud and long about Harper but they live with the mindset that he is the lesser of three evils. I don’t. Not anymore. I am not afraid to criticize him or anyone else in his government who has lost touch with all of us here in Canada.

        What’s it going to take to shake up the Conservative party? Rabble rousers who will go to local riding associations and demand change at that level. That, and Conservative MP’s who will speak up and possibly do like the PC’s in Alberta did when they couldn’t support Alison Redford-they threatened to form their own party and that was enough for Redford to resign.

        Lastly, bloggers like you, Maggie who have no fear about speaking out. It’s going to take a herculean effort to rally true conservatives (which can be akin to herding cats) like us to enact positive change for conservatism in Canada.

        • MaggiesBear

          Thank you for your comment. I think you have stated what many of us are feeling very well.

          Oh – and you can call me Bear. Maggie is my wife. :-)

          • V103115

            My bad, Bear! Sorry…..

            • MaggiesBear

              No need to apologize; I wasn’t in the least offended. Believe me; I’ve been called a lot worse My avatar sometimes misleads people into thinking my name is Maggie, .I. was merely clarifying. It’s all good.

              • V103115

                Right now, my FaceBook avatar is a cardinal dressed in a parka and toque. That really leaves ’em guessing.

                • MaggiesBear

                  I may have to put a parka and a tougue. Its now officially spring and we’re going to get another 12 cms of snow over the next 24 hours. I swear if I hear Al Gore or David Suzuki whine about global warming again this year — I’ll go postal.

        • Cytotoxic

          Sorry it isn’t going to happen. Conservatism is a disaster everywhere. The Conservative Movement in Canada is nothing but an exercise in excuse making for Statists in Blue. It’s not just Harper-Comrade Wall of Alberta, who governs left of Redford, gets their support because TEAM. Honestly, waiting for Trudeau to blow it (it’s totally possible) and then taking over the Liberals with Findlay as our lead might be our best bet at the federal level.

  • Wayne Mathison

    You nailed it. One million thumbs up.

    • MaggiesBear

      Thank you. I appreciate that you took the time to read it and leave a comment.