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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Maurice Vellacott, MP, Saskatoon-Wanuskewin
Judy Blackstock, President, Saskatoon-Wanuskewin CPC EDA

Dear Maurice, Judy, & Saskatoon-Wanuskewin EDA Board Members,

Re: Wanuskewin EDA Delegates Selection to Convention

I would like to call everyone's attention to Andrew Coyne's article "Definitions of conservatism don't match Harperism" that I have copied below.

In his assessment of the annual (Preston) Manning Networking Conference Mr. Coyne states:

"To spend the better part of a weekend reiterating your profound faith in the policies of conservatism, all the while roaring your approval for the government that has repudiated them at every turn, would seem evidence of some sort of pathology."

I agree with Mr. Coyen that a "pathology" exists within the Conservative Party of Canada.

I would say that pathology exists at the highest level, in the office and person of the Leader of the Party.

We have a Leader who has failed to "promote the Party, its principles and policies."

In closing his article, Mr. Coyne asks:

"And yet the base remains, on the whole, quiescent. One has to wonder how long this can last?"

I believe our selection of our EDA delegates to the CPC Conventions should be one of the most important items we do.

This year I trust our Wanuskewin EDA delegates will NOT remain "quiescent" is the face of the array of Mr. Harper's abuses of Conservative Policy - Conservative Party Policy that the elected EDA delegates established by voting in Convention.

It is time we call Mr. Harper on to the carpet for his abuses of his office as Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

I trust you will join me by being 'Silent Not More'.


Ed. Hudson


Definitions of conservatism don't match Harperism

Andrew Coyne, The StarPhoenix, Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Cognitive dissonance is a term from psychology describing the state of mind of a person who holds two contradictory beliefs at the same time. The conflict between the reality conveyed by the senses and prior belief commonly gives rise to feelings of immense anxiety and frustration, which the patient attempts to resolve in various ways.

Then there is the Canadian conservative movement, which seems capable of convincing itself of any number of conflicting ideas without visible discomfort of any kind.

Nowhere is this particular case of cognitive dissonance on better display than at the annual Manning Networking Conference, where the movement's core gathers every year to congratulate itself on two things: the rightness of its beliefs, and the greatness of the government of Stephen Harper.

It seems to me a healthy psyche requires one to choose between the two (or indeed neither).

But to spend the better part of a weekend reiterating your profound faith in the policies of conservatism, all the while roaring your approval for the government that has repudiated them at every turn, would seem evidence of some sort of pathology.

Oh, there was the odd sign of unease. At a question-and-answer session with Jason Kenney and Maxime Bernier, a woman went to the microphone to ask the two ministers why their government, with the national debt now in excess of $600-billion, was still spending more than any government in our history. (Which is true. Program spending had only once exceeded $6,500 per capita, in constant 2012 dollars, in all the years before the Conservatives came to power. It has averaged nearly $6,900 over the last seven years.)

The ministers gave noncommittal answers, though Bernier restated his heretical belief that spending should be frozen at current levels.

But soon she was replaced at the microphone by a young man who wondered how to "break through" to those on the left who persisted in the belief that massive deficits were the appropriate response to an economic slump. The ministers nodded sympathetically. Yes, they averred, that was a problem.

Conservatism has traditionally revelled in its contradictions. Consistency was the preserve of intellectuals, for whom conservatives maintained a healthy suspicion.

But while the movement remains as ideologically incoherent as ever - it was Harper himself who once said conservatives in Canada believed both that the Charter of Rights should be abolished and that it should be amended to include a property rights clause - its most significant rift today is not so much between this or that element of the conservative coalition as between the movement and the party, or perhaps from reality.

I was struck by a passage in Preston Manning's keynote speech to the conference that bears his name. (Harper may be the leader of the Conservative party, but it is Manning who, more than anyone, is the leader of the conservative movement.)

He was emphasizing, against the odds, the commonality between the disparate strands of modern conservatism.

He listed them off: libertarians, "for whom freedom from constraint is the most important dimension," fiscal conservatives, "for whom budget balancing and living within our means financially is most important," all the way through progressive conservatives, green conservatives, social conservatives, democratic conservatives, and constitutional conservatives, "for whom subsidiarity and decentralization of power is the most important."

Well, he forgot one: "snowmobiling conservatives," the ones who presumably frequent the snowmobile clubs the government keeps showering with public funds.

Or perhaps "ribbon-cutting conservatives," for whom pictures of Conservative MPs handing out grants to constituents is the most important.

And what about "supply management conservatives," whose core value is paying too much for food?

Well, no. But it is significant that he neglected to mention "free market conservatives."

Once upon a time these were considered central to the definition of conservatism. Perhaps this was Manning's concession to reality, for whatever else the Harper government may pretend to believe in, it does not even pretend any more to believe in the free market.

The addition of $150 billion to the national debt might have been put down to the exigencies of politics, but the announcements of recent weeks - hundreds of millions of dollars for the auto industry, hundreds of millions more for the venture-capital sector ("venture" apparently has acquired a different meaning lately), billions in loan guarantees to a Newfoundland hydro project, plus that wholesale plunge into 1970s-style industrial policy via defence procurement - all too clearly reflect this government's most sincere convictions.

But go back over that list: all those varieties of conservatism, and there isn't a single one of them that can find itself reflected in the policies of this Conservative government.

Libertarians? How exactly has this government lightened the load of bureaucratic impositions on personal liberty - and if you say the long-form census, let me remind you that this was unveiled on the same day as the government announced it was extending the universal, mandatory boat licensing regime.

Fiscal conservatives I've already discussed. Social conservatives? Pretty much their only demand - more of a request, really - is for some sort of restriction, however mild, on the availability of abortion, in the only country in the democratic world that has none.

For their troubles, they have been rewarded with a ban on even discussing it.

I've never been quite clear on what progressive conservatives believe, but whatever it is, it's not Harperism.

And while I agree that free-market environmentalism ought to be part of any modern conservative coalition, it is difficult to find it in a government that boasts of taking the most top-down, regulatory-heavy approach possible to climate change - precisely because it does not take it seriously.

Democratic conservatives? Don't make me laugh. Even decentralization, the obsession of constitutional conservatives, has been fitful at best.

And yet the base remains, on the whole, quiescent. One has to wonder how long this can last?

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2013