December 10, 2005

Tories Learning to Bite Their Tongues

I was reading the Star this morning and came across this article: Tories shed historic language albatross. The article describes how the division of the Conservatives over Canada's bilingual rules is at an end. For some Tories it seems that this should have always been a non-issue because bilingualism was one of the "founding principles of the Progressive Conservatives". Yet for years, right up to the 2004 federal election, for members of all of Canada's conservative parties (Reform, PC, CPC) the bilingualism issue has not only divided them but also was a divisive issue with voters. This election, because of a recent change to the official party stance, it shouldn't be an issue. However, does this really mean that the Conservatives have changed their minds about bilingualism? Well, maybe yes and no. The CPC changing their stance on bilingualism could mean they have just conceded that bilingualism is a part of Canada. Bilingualism is obviously an issue that will not change in the foreseeable future. It is also an issue that has been used against them successfully for a number of years, including the election of 2004. So learning from their mistakes and accepting the inevitable, the CPC has decided their are better issues to focus their attention on. But herein lies the problem. Some may argue that I'm being over cynical or even paranoid. After all, I'm a left-leaning person and aren't we all predisposed to seeing conspiracies? However, after being through the Harris government in Ontario and both Chretien and Martin governments federally, wanting to see evidence beyond written statements on paper before declaring an issue true is a right all Canadians have earned. That is why I would argue that the Conservatives, as far as I can tell, are still the same party as they were in 2004 despite moving to a more moderate outlook, especially on an issue like bilingualism. I'm not making a claim that if the CPC were to get power that they would automatically overturn all the language laws in Canada. I just don't believe that their wouldn't be some CPC people, possibly enough even, to rehash the issue and make it a serious one at that. Just because the party has changed its outlook doesn't mean the members have and that this change and many others are nothing more than political moves to make the party look more moderate. '...privately, Conservatives acknowledge that the support came after the caucus was reminded by veteran Tory senators of the way the language issue had split the party in the past, to the benefit of the Liberals. "Don't do this to Stephen Harper," Senator Hugh Segal told the party caucus,"...Hugh Segal had an impact," a Conservative MP, who asked not to be identified, told the Star.' "Don't do this to Stephen Harper"... Don't do what? Follow your beliefs? Speak your mind on contentious issues during the election? Don't screw this one up? Maybe, all of the above. The point is, is that like any of the political parties, saying one thing doesn't mean you're not thinking about it and planning ways to address them in the event you gain control of the House. Political promises and platforms are no longer simple. Nothing in contemporary politics comes without a tagline and voters are now required to search for the fine print on every issue. ALW argued here that the CPC isn't that far-right of a party anymore because they no longer include issues such bilingualism, abortion, private healthcare and social spending reduction as major parts of their platform anymore. However, a major part of the CPC's support still comes from Western Canada, which means their base is still the same supporters that were there from 2004, and probably even from the Reform and Alliance days. According to Wikipedia, out of the 98 CPC members of the House only nine aren't trying for re-election. This is definitely not a major change of people and likely not a change in beliefs or opinions. To say that they have just accepted these issues and are now only focusing on winning the election is disingenuous on one hand and telling on the other. Now I could be wrong, but as I said, Canadians have earned the right to be skeptical. I think what the Tories are really doing is learning to bite their tongues, something the other parties, especially the Liberals, were better at in the past.

4 comments:

Candace said...

"To say that they have just accepted these issues and are now only focusing on winning the election is disingenuous on one hand and telling on the other. Now I could be wrong, but as I said, Canadians have earned the right to be skeptical. I think what the Tories are really doing is learning to bite their tongues, something the other parties, especially the Liberals, were better at in the past."

I think you might have it half-right. The MPs & candidates have likely moved past it, although their constituents may not have. Enforced French classes were a big deal in the 60s & 70s, because there are other languages in the prairies that are used far more than French (that & the prairie provinces had little love for Trudeau - any policy he put in place is suspect LOL). My father can still grumble about it; I am encouraging my daughter to continue with French once it becomes optional.

Kyle said...

Candace,

You could be right, but in the end if the constituents still believe they need to be issues then any concern that the CPC may still turn these into issues once again is still valid.

Though I am glad you'll encourage your daughter to continue learning French. There is a great advantage to being bilingual in Canada.

Also, I just wanted to include this link,Former candidate quits Conservatives over take-over by religious right, as a point of interest.

Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

I am much surprised after watching dozens of rants againts "multi-culturalism" by Blogging Tories during the past year, to discover that the CPC "officially" supports multi-culturalism.

So... what does it mean when your OFFICIAL platform say one particular thing (eg Multiculturalism) is good and the CPC supports it, but the loudest and most visible promoters of your party suggest that in actuality they despise Multiculturalism....

Oh wait... if I talk about this, I'll be accused of the old "Hidden Agenda" chestnut - right?

Yah, ok. "There is no hidden agenda"... right.

Sure...

and if Stephen Harper clicks his heels together 3 times really quickly and says "There's no place like 24 Sussexx" he'll be our next Prime Minister.

Mhmmmmm

Kyle said...

Meaghan,

You said it, I didn't!! ;)

In all honesty though, I don't know if I buy into the whole 'hidden agenda' thing anymore.

I think there agenda is pretty clear at this point. And I think most Canadians realize this. It's pretty sad for the Conservatives when the Liberals, who are believed to be inherently corrupt, are still able to garner more support. Canadians just don't want the Conservative agenda and in an effort to possibly change their image they are using a political manouver, but really I don't think people are as easily mislead anymore... As I've said a couple times, Canadians have earned the right to be skeptical and for the moment that skepticism is keeping things in check.

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)

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