January 15, 2006

Responding to a comment from last post

In my last post I asked the question about whether or not the new Liberal attack ads were negative in the sense that they were 'crossing the line' of ethical. It was a question that the media had asked before me and something the Liberals themselves had also asked. These two groups is where I got my cue from. However, I made the mistake of not being clear enough and I implied that I also believe that all the attacks in the ads were true. That was a mistake and Aaron Lee-Wudrick (ALW) called me on it. However, ALW didn't stop there in his comment. He continued on to make two other points. Two points that, despite all my respect for ALW, makes him sound somewhat of a Conservative talking head. His first argument was that I am wrong to think that the Conservatives are outside the mainstream thinking of the general Canadian population. His evidence of this is that the NDP haven't been above the 20% mark. Fair enough. However, if he is going argue that left-leaning people are out of touch lets really put it into perspective. Out of the the five most recognizable parties running in the federal election, four of them are generally considered centre-to-left. Their combined support in the polls reach into true majority territory. According to the Globe and Mail's poll tracker, as of yesterday, the four centre-to-left parties have a combined 61% support. And just to note 61% is more than 39% (CPC's support as of yesterday). I also understand that it can be argued that the Liberals are right-of-centre fiscally, but on social issues they are generally left-of-centre, and I would argue that when most people think of values, it is the social issues that are being considered. It is easy to lump all left-leaning people into one category or party, in this case. To do so would be an error. For the sake of simple argument, or to make a quick slash at lefties, it is a simple way to try and shut us down. Unfortunately for Conservatives, it's over-simplistic. The second point ALW tried to make in his comment was that Harper is "now centrist enough". Let me make it clear, Harper wasn't ever and never will be centrist in any way. He's a conservative (though I believe more fiscally then socially). All the talk of the Conservatives returning to Progressive Conservative-like territory is just that. I would point out all the policies he supports, etc. as evidence of this but I don't have to. Conservatives did it for me. "He's presenting a friendlier face to our fellow citizens in Ontario," says University of Calgary political scientist Barry Cooper, a long-time Harper ally and sometime confidante. "I think he hasn't changed his mind exactly, but packaged things so the rhetoric seems more friendly. The packaging has changed so it's not as scary."(1) "They have to talk this way to get elected," said Link Byfield, chairman of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy. "I think a lot of conservatives honestly agree with that."(2) "We need to be able to win the hearts and minds of the majority of individuals. So I think we could go ahead and do a lot of things that would not be attractive to most people, and we would not change governments," Hermina Dykxhoorn said. "We can't have every issue. "Everyone knows that this is political and we will not be able to have every demand that we would individually have met. I'm happy to see they're doing what they are doing." (3) They aren't the only ones that have made mention of this as well. There have been academics and political commentators also pointing out that Harper and the Conservatives are essentially only running a better campaign this time. They've learned how to shut up the members that essentially played into the Liberals' hands in 2004 by making really blatant comments against abortion, gay rights, Quebec, etc. This time around, packing muzzles, the Conservatives haven't allowed the Liberals to play the 'hidden agenda' card. To argue that Harper or even the Conservatives are now 'centrist enough' is definitely not a reference to actualy policy or the beliefs of many supporters, but only to their image. And it's funny too to think that people aren't afraid of a Conservative majority since Conservatives were getting up in arms when The Star first mused about the possibility of a Conservative majority. There was even a very cautious approach by Harper to the topic of a possible majority in the latter English debate. Why are Conservatives concerned about the talk of a majority if Canadians aren't afraid? Could it be they are not prepared to fully govern and deal with the reality of their core? Or could it be that they too, much like last time, think that Canadians do not want a Conservative majority and may change their minds at the last minute to be 'safe' from such an outcome? Seeing as that the majority of Canadians do not share in the Conservative ideology, I'm putting money on the latter. No offense but I would hope that the ideologue-like rhetoric that was posted, was only posted because it is election time. It is one thing to tote the party line at a time like this, but it is definitely another to actually believe the rhetoric and pass it off as the word.

1 comment:

ALW said...

Unsurprisingly, I disagree. If Canadians were "left-wing", then at some point throughout history, the NDP would have won power, or at least come even close. They never have.

I wouldn't include Bloc numbers because the usual left-right spectrum doesn't apply in Quebec. Don't take my word for it: why else are Bloc voters defecting to the CPC? Simple: in Quebec, it's federalism v. separatism, not left versus right.

The point I was trying to make is that it's unfair to say most Canadians subscribe to this or that. I'm not saying they're all conservatives; I'm just saying it's BS to claim they are largely left-leaning. The fact is that most Canadians don't think in terms of left and right at all. I think they're pragmatic.

On your second point, you are basically saying the Tories are lying. I fully believe Stephen Harper will keep his promises and means what he says. I believe he has recognized that to govern this country, he has to compromise, and he will do so. People seem to accept that Liberals can and do change; so why not Conservatives?

The Conservatives are not just running a better campaign. They are running on a very different platform and making very different promises. Truth be told, I don't think it's very conservative at all: in fact, it could just as easily have been proposed by the Liberal Party. This is part of the reason that, unlike last time, there is almost no fear about a Tory majority. Countless pundits have always told the Tories to move to the middle. It seems they've listened, and is now paying dividends.

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)