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Why The Conservative Party of Canada is Not a Conservative Party For Canada

Updated on October 20, 2014
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

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Has Harper Forgotten His Roots?

Stephen Harper, head of the Harper Government (forced to revert the name back to The Government of Canada after a botched attempt to rebrand Canada), is not an evil dictator, he is not the boogeyman, he is a man who has a vision of Canada and is working towards that vision. The question must be asked though, is his vision of Canada yours? Does Stephen Harper still represent the conservative views of his supporters? I believe that anyone that looks closely at the man, and the party will realize that the Conservative Party of Canada with Harper at the helm is seriously off course. He has forgotten his roots, and his original vision has become muddled. Stephen Harper is a huge fan of asking if Justin Trudeau is "in over his head", but I feel compelled to ask, is Harper in over HIS head? From promises of fiscal responsibility, to open and honest government, to Senate reform, and so many more important planks of his platform, has Stephen Harper lost his way and sailed into waters too deep for him to navigate?

Disclaimer

I make no secret of my political affiliation. I am a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, the views presented in this article, however, are not necessarily that of the Liberal Party, they are my own views. I wrote this article to illustrate to the many highly intelligent conservative Canadians I know that Stephen Harper is NOT leadership material, and that he is NOT a conservative.

Stephen Harper

A History

Stephen Harper was viewed by many early in his career as a rising star, a real hope for a united right wing. There is no doubt he is a gifted politician who seems to be able (up until recently) to dodge any scandal and escape smelling fresher. Let's examine the man's roots.

He began his political career as a vocal active member of the Young Liberal Club in his highschool, that's right he was a Liberal before he became a right wing holy grail but switching parties is not a condemnable offence, nor should it be. Harper broke with the Liberals over Pierre Trudeau's National Energy Program (NEP), as did many at the time. It was at this time that he found his right wing leanings, but he soon found that the PC party just wasn't right wing enough and he found Preston Manning and Harper quickly became a founding member of the Reform Party of Canada. Now I disagree with the Reform Party of Canada, but let me be clear I do not believe that the Reform Party was a bad thing, I admired many of their goals, and think many of them are still valid today, and I mourn that there is no party that represents their wishes other than the twisted and tattered remains that is the Conservative Party of Canada.

The Reform Party of Canada formed out of the discontentment that conservatives (note the small "c") in the west felt at the ineptitude of Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative Government. They felt strongly that democratic reform was necessary and serious changes to the Senate and Commons was needed to bring a stronger voice to the west, not at the expense of the east, but rather to equalize the provinces. In and of itself this is not an unworthy goal as an Ontario born Albertan I see there is some inequalities in the system, I don't think the Reformer strategy is the way to solve that, but it was a suggestion, which is better than what most people brought to the table, most just ignore the problem and pretend it doesn't exist. In high school I myself did considerable research into Reform policy because I was seriously considering voting Reform, in the end I just couldn't support their (from my perspective) far right leaning policies, I am and probably will always be a rather left leaning individual, I traditionally vote Liberal and have been known to vote NDP.

Stephen Harper remained a central figure throughout the transition from Reform to Alliance, which was in essence a failed attempt to unite the right, and then in the successful uniting of the right wing parties in the merging of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and the Alliance Party of Canada into the Conservative Party of Canada (at the time it was often jokingly called the Conservative Reform Alliance Party C.R.A.P. but I am not sure that was ever actually considered as a name).

The CPC stood for all things conservative, they presented a united front on the right side of the political spectrum, while the left still stood separate with the NDP and the Liberals. With the scandals of the Chretien/Martin reign a Conservative swing was inevitable, and so it was that Stephen Harper ascended to power.

On Fiscal Responsibility

And The Failure of Conservative Governments to Demonstrate It

In 1912 Robert Borden became the only Conservative Prime Minister to put forward a Balanced budge. This was thanks to a surplus left by Wilfred Laurier's Liberal Government. Within a year Borden returned to a deficit budget. Sound familiar? It should!

In 2006 Stephen Harper's Conservative Government put forward a balanced budget, in thanks to a huge surplus left by Paul Martin and Jean Chretien's Liberals. This returned to deficit budgets the next year and has quickly risen to record breaking deficits. This despite one of Stephen Harper's main election planks was a promise of a law forcing governments to run balanced budgets. Harper has promised a balanced budget for 2015 (election year how convenient), however the only way he can accomplish this is to totally kill infrastructure spending (a drop of 90% that isn't set to return to normal amounts until 2020) and using other "creative accounting" tricks.

Still believe the myth of the big spending Liberals and the fiscally conservative Conservatives?

By Makaristos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Makaristos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Senate Reform

That's Quite a Corner You've Backed Yourself Into Mr. Harper

One of the huge injustices the Reform Party was founded on was the so called "un-elected" senate. To the Reform mind this was a huge blow to democracy in Canada, to have a body of government with as much power as the Senate has to be appointed. Stephen Harper made a promise to Canadians when campaigning to be Canada's next Prime Minister back in 2005, he promised that he would not appoint a single senator who was not elected. Unfortunately he broke this promise, and staggeringly so. He appointed 59 Senators, none were elected*. Of these 59 Senators each and every one was a Conservative. Most Prime Ministers at least throw one or two Senators into the mix who are not part of their party. Harper, the saviour of the Senate, the man who would not make a single patronage appointment made 59.

Now I am sure Harper will be claiming that the Supreme Court of Canada stood in his way from making any Senate Reforms. I feel, however, that it must be pointed out that Harper made no serious attempts, nor even asked for SCC opinion on Senate reform until 2014, why did it take Harper 8 years to make a move on the Senate? Now the Supreme Court of Canada has closed the book on Senate reform, or have they?

Justin Trudeau made a bold move that proved real Senate reform was possible without reopening the constitutional debate and getting all the provinces approval on. In one announcement he absolved all the Liberal Senators of any Party commitments, making the Liberal Senators independent. Now many will point out, and rightly so, that these senators are still members of the Liberal party, and they are still liberal leaning senators, but there is a big difference between a Liberal Senator and a liberal Senator, and that difference is the Whip.

In the Canadian Government, both in Commons and Senate each party has a member known as the whip, the whip is responsible for adherence to party policies and ensuring party members vote along party lines in important matters. There is no Liberal house in Senate anymore, and no Liberal Whip, the liberal Senators can now vote as they like with no loyalty to the party enforced. This makes them independent from the Liberal Party of Canada, and it makes a huge difference. Partisan bickering is a big part of the problem with the senate, instead of a house of sober second thought it has simply become a parrot to the parties, if all Senators were freed from their political shackles the hold of parties over the governance of this country would diminish.

The Senate's main focus should always be ensuring that the laws being passed by commons are constitutional, fair, and for the good of Canadians. Their role is to throw laws that don't fit those requirements back to commons, they cannot do this if they are a house of patronage appointment jackals parroting their party lines.

Harper is now in the unfortunate position of not being able to do a damned thing about the Senate without admitting Justin Trudeau's team may have come up with a loop hole to the SCC decision before the SCC even made their announcement. If Stephen Harper was serious about Senate Reform he should have kept his promise and not appointed any Senators to the senate until he managed to push through some Senate changes, or at least until the SCC shot down his changes. Had he been attempting to make any changes to the Senate during his term he could have kept some shred of integrity in his claim of being pro democratic reformation of the Senate, instead he now looks like a spoiled child attacking the SCC for not supporting his last minute demands.

*Ok, one senator from Alberta had been "Elected" to be the senator from Alberta during Chretien's reign, but Chretien declined and appointed his own man, Harper on getting into government then "righted this wrong" and appointed the "elected senator", but since a new election was not held it can hardly be said to be a true elected senator vs. appointed.

The Duffy Trial

With Mike Duffy now charged with all sorts of lovely crimes he will testify in open court about what happened during the whole senate scandal and Canadians will finally get to hear how involved Stephen Harper was in the $90,000 bribe which Duffy accepted. Duffy is much maligned among CPC faithful, while Duffy is probably guilty of many things its hard not to see that Harper and his cronies painted him into a corner. Duffy claims to have documentation stating that the $90,000 was above board and approved by the PMO. Duffy also claims that all expenses were approved and that he did no wrong, while I might be willing to believe it was approved, I am not so sure he did no wrong. I do believe however that Harper and his cronies knew exactly what was going on in the Red Chamber and tried to use what was happening for political advantage.

As the trial progresses I will update this article accordingly.

Is the Conservative Government Open and Honest?

Is the Conservative Government Open and Honest?

See results

An Open and Honest Government

That Suppresses Opinions and Gags Employees

Stephen Harper Campaigned on the promise of an era of unprecedented transparency, he would, he promised, run an open and honest government the likes of which Canada had never seen. Where is this transparency? Right from the first day of his reign he has been at war with the press, some blame the press, some blame Harper, but the question has to be asked, can a leader who promises transparency still claim openness when they limit the press from attending events, making it difficult for the press to gain access to the cabinet ministers, and deliberately missleading the press about when and where meetings were taking place [1]?

This same Open and Honest Government also suppresses scientific knowledge that they don't agree with. If you are a scientist with any government grants there are many subjects you are legally not allowed to discuss without threat of losing your grant money. Now this doesn't seem so bad at first glance, confidentiality agreements are normal in science jobs and many other fields, but the gag orders aren't about matters of national security, or about intellectual property rights, but actively suppressing research and knowledge, specifically research on climate change[2]. How does the suppression of knowledge that you don't agree with make you open and honest?

An Abandonment of Principles

I think it is clear that the Conservative Party of Canada has abandoned their principles and their supporters. They have done what so many other parties do when they get into power, shoved their beliefs to the side and rammed power grabbing laws down the throats of Canadians, but in my mind they did so with much more force than any previous government has done. They have abused the trust of Canadians and left the conservatives of Canada in the cold with no party to represent their wishes.

So what is a conservative to do? Perhaps it is time to take a look around and vote for the candidate that best fits your values be they Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Green, Marxist Leninist, or Rhinoceros. I hope the people of Canada see what Harper has done to "conservative values", and I hope that they see that the Conservative Party of Canada is not a conservative party for Canada.

A prime example of a quote taken well out of context.
A prime example of a quote taken well out of context. | Source

The Conservative Theft of Intellectual Property

Recently the Harper Government made changes to the copyright laws in Canada allowing news materials to be used by political parties for partisan purposes in political ads. We aren't talking about small quotes used to embarrass political opponents, what we are talking about is the conservatives being able to spin the news, take quotes out of context and spun to the conservatives agenda.

The ad above shows just how silly they are willing to get. The claim that Carolyn Bennett stated that stay at home moms is patently untrue. It is a twisting of a quote from an article in which she stated that child care benefits give stay at home moms the option for increased training which would enable them to get jobs outside the home, not that that they needed to get jobs outside the home, just that it would grant them the option.

Mud slinging ads like this is common in politics, we all know it, but the Conservative party of Canada is taking it to a whole new level by legalizing propaganda and making it a perfectly legal tactic to missquote and spin. Is this the party you want to represent you?

What Can you Do?

Harper is in Government now, what can you do about it? There is a lot of things you can actually do, and it starts with becoming more politically active. Join a Party, if you are conservative join the CPC and speak out against Harper's anti-conservative policies, vote for a new leader when it gets a chance, if you are anything other than CPC join a party you agree with and take part. Join other groups that discuss politics, make your voice heard. A silent citizen is a consenting citizen.

Here are some links to get you started:

© 2014 Jeff Johnston

Your Opinions - Be Polite Please!

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    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      The Harper led Conservative government is terrifying. What he has done to Canada during his term in office is going to take a long time to unravel and repair. From his changing our current legislation and regulations to his unbelievable spending spree propaganda campaigns. The next government is going to have a rough ride cleaning up after Harper leaves office.

    • CuAllaidh profile image
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      Jeff Johnston 3 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @rosyposie: Absolutely, I have even voted PC in the past (though I admit I regretted it). Nothing wrong with Conservatives, it is Stephen Harper's vision of the CPC I have a problem with, although I hesitate to outright call him a dictator or even a wannabe dictator he certainly has some policies which are dictatorial in nature.

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      rosyposie 3 years ago

      Canada has had Conservative governments before and we've survived them very well. We have never, ever, had a Prime Minister like this one. If you don't feel like reading the big long interesting article that precedes this -- just compare Harper with Joe Clark, or any other Conservative P.M. The answer is - Harper is NOT a Conservative, Progressive or otherwise. He's a wannabe Dictator.