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Conservative Crossroads

A Conservative Government is an organized hypocrisy. Benjamin Disraeli

People ask how I can be a conservative and still want higher taxes. It makes my head spin, and I guess it shows how old I am. But I thought that conservatives were supposed to like balanced budgets. I thought it was the conservative position to not leave heavy indebtedness to our grandchildren. Ben Stein

Being a conservative has become very confusing these days. It’s becoming more and more difficult to tell the Conservatives from the Liberals.

Today, for example, The Sun newspapers reported on Conservative Cabinet Minister, Kelly Leitch and her recent letter to 500 of Canada’s largest corporations. It appears that Ms Leitch, on behalf of the Harper government, wants to see more women on corporate boards and has asked private industry to report back with their plans to accomplish this. Sounds kind of like affirmative action, doesn’t it – the kind of politically correct nonsense that we have criticized Liberals engaging in for decades and which, truth be told, hasn’t really worked out all that well.

Conservatives are supposed to be non-interventionist and free market aren’t we – or did I miss a meeting where it was decided we should be more like the Liberals?

I must have because when the 2008 recession hit, the Conservative Harper government did precisely what the Liberals would have done. They threw taxpayer money at the problem – billions of it and they kept throwing it around long after the recession had ended.

Their base call this fiscal restraint but only because it was a Conservative government that spent the money.

I don’t know why you might have voted Conservative in the last election but I know why I did.

I wanted accountability and transparency in government. I wanted a reformed senate, a rational policy on abortion that protected the life of unborn children – at least in the late stages of pregnancy if nothing else. I voted for a strong military and improved support for our veterans, less government spending and a balanced budget.

To put it mildly – I got screwed and so did you if you thought you were voting for many of the same things for which I voted when you voted for this government.

There is no transparency or accountability with this government. Every time they get caught doing something they shouldn’t, they deny, deflect, counter-attack or ignore. They never take responsibility for anything except those things they think will make them look good. The Transportation Safety Board’s report on the Lac Megantic train disaster is just one more example. It points to specific failings by the government but once again the government’s has refused to take any responsibility for what it failed to do.

Senate reform is dead – at least under this government because the Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government cannot unilaterally make constitutional changes to the senate. It must work with the provinces and that, quite frankly, is as difficult as it is distasteful to the Harper government.

Even after all the cuts to the federal public service that have been much ballyhooed by Treasury Board President Tony Clement, the simple fact is that the Harper government has grown the civil service by almost 17,000 new positions.

It’s enough to make your head explode.

As a percentage of GDP, our military spending is now 50% of what it was under Pierre Trudeau and half of what we committed we would spend to belong to NATO. Veteran’s benefits have been slashed and continued benefits to the surviving spouse of a veteran eliminated.

So much for respecting the men and women of our armed forces; or worrying about our national defense.

I’m not even going to get into all of the scandals except to mention that some of them are so outrageous that more than a few Liberals are wishing they had thought of them.

I sometimes take a lot of flack from hard-right conservatives for my opinions about the Harper government but I’m not surprised. These are people who claim to be pro-life but who support a government that refuses to advance the pro-life agenda. They claim to be fiscal conservatives but support a government that has squandered hundreds of millions in advertising its Economic Action Plan, handing out corporate welfare to the profitable oil and gas industry and has elevated ministerial pork barreling, privilege and patronage to a level that would make the folks at the old Tammany Hall envious. Along the way, they have run budget deficits for 6 of their 8 years in office and added $160 billion to the national debt.

It’s understandably become quite confusing to many conservatives and it shows right across the country.

In Alberta, the Conservative Caucus tossed their leader and former Premier Allison Redford for acting like a Liberal with a no-limit Visa card. She plunged her province back into deficit while indulging herself in luxury travel and privilege that would turn an oil sheik green with envy.

On the east coast, however, the Newfoundland Conservatives tossed their leader and former Premier Kathy Dunderdale from office for being too conservative. Her focused attempts to wrestle the provinces budget deficit under control weren’t very popular and the conservatives were more worried about getting reelected than fiscal responsibility.

In Ontario, the Conservatives tossed their leader because he was either too liberal or too conservative or something or other and after they got finished blaming the Liberals, the NDP and the electorate for their election loss – they blamed him. They aren’t really clear whether he was too far to the right or not far enough. It all depends on who you talk to at the time.

The end result is that conservatism is taking a real hit in this country thanks to poor leaders with no vision and inconsistent policies. It’s also being undermined by supporters who think a political movement is a personality cult rather than a coalition of people who share similar values.

Currently, the federal conservatives trail both the Liberals and the NDP in popular support and Stephen Harper’s personal support is just slightly more than half that of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau who really hasn’t done very much to earn that level of support other than to undo another button on his shirt. It drives the young girls and mature women wild, dontcha know – although it didn’t work all that well for me. These polling results aren’t an aberration but are rather, a 12 month trend downwards for the Conservatives.

And that puts conservatives  at a crossroads.

We can either continue to cling to the illusions and spin the failed policies and scandals as I watched two sweet young things attempt to do on Sun News Network today – or we can suck it up, admit to ourselves that we’ve got some serious problems of our own making to address and get busy fixing them by demanding better from those we elect.

As it stands, conservatism is already starting to fracture with the Tea Party in The States and Wildrose in Alberta. Even the Liberal government of Quebec is more fiscally conservative than the  federal Conservatives (and a whole lot more civil).

Pretty much 70% of this country has had it with the Harper conservatives. We can either take that as a wake-up call  and demand they start living up to their election promises or alternatively,  many among us who claim to be conservatives can just continue to be pissed with anyone who has the audacity to be concerned with and speaks about what is happening to our movement.

Three guesses as to which is the road to perdition – and the first two guesses don’t count.


© 2014 Maggie’s Bear

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Twitter: @maggsbear – Facebook: Maggie’s Bear – ivmaki@sympatico.ca


  • Gerry

    Pragmatic expediency currently trumps principles. Not sure that only applies to politics. The focus on efficiency and effectiveness has no principled or necessary moral framework which leaves pragmatic expediency as the sole criterion

    • MaggiesBear

      I don’t disagree with you but I think it is more vested self-interest rather than pragmatism although I admit we could be talking about the same thing. I do agree that principle has nothing do with things anymore. Our political leaders are like shopkeepers negotiating the price of things rather than defending anything even closely related to moral values or consistent principles.

      • Gerry

        We are on the same wavelength as the criterion is applied to obtaining and keeping power. Once that is realized then within the framework of pragmatic expediency we can assess whether their political actions are efficient and/or effective. That way we evaluate them on the basis of their criteria but to only do that is to become part of the ‘game’. So we also need to assess on the basis of our principles. What gets amusing is when their actions are so out there that even by their criteria they fail

        • MaggiesBear

          I often wonder if very many of them remember why they wanted power in the first place — beyond the ego-stroke and privilege. It doesn’t appear that the public good is a priority, they tend to treat the public as a commodity to be bought at election time and ignored between elections. I think that’s why I am so opposed to partisanship. As you stated, it makes you part of the game and you end up playing by their rules rather than by your own principles.

  • Pingback: Conservative Crossroads | Grumpy Opinions()

  • morri

    having observed the Canadian and American political scene for five decades now I will say one thing. all parties are staffed and run by incompetent socialists.

    • MaggiesBear

      I couldn’t agree more but would add the caveat that they are all ‘self-serving’ incompetent socialists. I can’t tell the difference anymore between Conservative and Liberal, Democrat and Republican. Politics has always been partisan but I long for the days when adults and the odd statesman were in charge of things. Pick your country: Canada, France, United States, Britain, Italy. — it’s a circus of political rhetoric and failed policy accomplishing nothing but squandering time and money.

      • morri

        disqus is confusing me. they changed the format for receiving replies. they have a reply attached but when I try and use it goes no where.

        • MaggiesBear

          You aren’t the only one experiencing issues with Disqus and neither is this blog. I’ve read comments online and in the comments section of various news media expressing much the same thing. I’m sorry for the challenges but I suspect that is one of consequences of a society where upgrading has replaced innovation and software companies can’t leave a good product alone.

  • Roy Elsworth

    that’s not true we will balance the budget at the end of 2015 were on target for that so I don’t see what the problem is. also paul martin and chretein didn’t have a depression like the conservative did. I’m a conservative and they did the right thing you have to go in debt a bit when your trying to keep people working that’s what he did now were paying it off.

  • Frank

    Conservative lack principles. They used to be in favour of balanced budgets, but they lack the fiscal discipline. So thanks to Harper’s management the debt is 25% higher. Fiscal conservatives must be unhappy. Social conservatives must also be unhappy. HArper refuses to revisit the gay marriage issue or abortion. They only thing that seems to unify conservatives is that they fall for the Harper schtick that liberals are the enemy. Of course, he does not mention that Chretien/Martin balanced the budget for 7 years.

    • MaggiesBear

      The Conservative Party may lack principles but I still believe that the majority of conservatives in this country embrace a strong set of principles and values based on open, small government, fiscal responsibility, a safety net for those who need a hand back to their feet, a strong national defense and the right to life. It’s our politicians who have lost sight of what it is we stand for and in what we believe.

    • V103115

      The end result is that conservatism is taking a real hit in this country thanks to poor leaders with no vision and inconsistent policies. It’s also being undermined by supporters who think a political movement is a personality cult rather than a coalition of people who share similar values.”

      That’s it in a nutshell and what a lot of people in Canada just don’t understand. But, Canada being Canada, people see conservatives through the prism of
      the state sponsored media who look on conservatives with disdain because
      they are perceived to be wanting to derail the gravy train that the
      Canadian social safety net and our entitlement culture has wrought upon this country.

      There’s a difference between being a Conservative – as in being a member of the Conservative Party and being a small “c” conservative. They automatically think that because you are a conservative, you support a particular Conservative party. If a Conservative party runs on non-conservative principles, I won’t be a part of it.

      I am a small “c” conservative, which seems to be an endangered species in Canada these days. I believe in free market principles, personal responsibility and spending within your means. I look at what passes for Conservative parties both in Canada and here in Ontario and while some of their policies have reaped benefits, on the whole, they are too much in the mushy middle for my liking. They don’t seem to stand for anything but garnering votes and filling up their war chest for the next election.

      I live in Ontario and this past election showed me just how sad the state of Conservatism is in this province and in Canada . We can blame whomever and whatever we like for Hudak’s defeat but what it boiled down to was the lack of conviction and courage to stand on a platform of what Ontario needs to get out of the economic and social mess this province is in. For me, step one would be removing “Progressive” from the Conservative brand. You can’t be progressive and conservative at the same time. Until they rebrand themselves and bring out a platform that does not cater to the mushy middle, I will have nothing to do with them.

      As for the upcoming Federal election – the thought of Trudeau as a Prime Minister scares the bejesus out of me. Keeping that in mind, what passes for a Federal Conservative Party can’t just run on their record – that will guarantee us a Liberal government. While I applaud the Harper government’s stance on Israel and Hamas, I see so many failures and disappointments.

      It seems that this latest Conservative experiment by the Harper government, one that started out with such promise has disintegrated before our eyes and yes, conservatives have to address it. they have to get past this mindset, so aptly described in a book review of “Rescuing Canada’s Right.”

      The problem for conservatives might be that Canadians, under state-centred Liberalism (and to a lesser extent under the Progressive Conservative Party), have had it so good for so long that, despite corruption, the threat of separatism, dysfunctional health care, and thechronic irritant of high taxes, they may be justified in their reluctance to tamper with a good thing. The problem in Canada is that the welfare state just might have been too successful. Ron Stang (Books in Canada)

      But, it has to be addressed in2015 because the alternative-the Obama flavoured “Hope and Change” campaign of Justin Trudeau will bear fruit and put us down the road to serfdom faster than you can say “Shiny Pony.”

  • shaky lady

    Take a hike liberal.