Up to now I've only shared bits and pieces of Murray Dobbin's book; Preston Manning and the Reform Party, that I found on other sites; but my own copy arrived today and I look forward to reading it and sharing my findings.
Just as Mr. Dobbin went on a journey of discovery to uncover what was behind this party's success, I too am trying to determine how a group founded on bigotry, could possibly be running our country.
I'm not expecting to find that Stephen Harper was once an axe murderer, or anything of that nature, but the people who influenced his political beliefs, are a study in and of themselves.
I will also attempt to show the shared fundamentals of the Reform Party then and the Conservative Party now.
Preston Manning and the Reform Party
Author: Murray Dobbin
Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing
1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7
Notes from the preface
I've only just started chapter one, but there were a couple of interesting observations from the preface of the book:
The author begins with Brian Mulroney and how unpopular the GST and the Meech Lake Accord were to Westerners. "I had heard of the Reform Party like everyone else. But it hadn't really registered with me as an important political phenomenon. I was vaguely aware that it was a right-wing party ... But this one seemed, on the surface at least, to be different. It was gaining strength on the basis of genuine mass discontent." (Pref vi)
However, the author after reading the party's newspaper "The Reformer", and discovering some of their policies, became concerned. As with so many announcements made by the current Conservative Party, there appeared to be a lot of ambiguity. On the surface their initiatives were appealing, but it was important to read between the lines. (Jim Flaherty is always hiding things in budgets, a trick he learned from U.S. Republican Jim Sensenbrenner)
"Three policies in 'The Reformer' struck me immediately and started me on the course of writing this book. (Remember Stephen Harper wrote the policies for the Reform Party based in part on the National Citizens Coalition Handbook)
"The first was on agriculture ... The farm-policy resolution which startled me stated that the party's policy was not guided by the interests of the producers, but by the 'demand of consumers for ... secure supplies of food at the lowest competitive prices.' While this declaration might not cause alarm at the dinner tables of urban Canada, it is tantamount to a declaration of war on the family farm." (Pref vii) Both the Reform Party and the national Citizens Coalition, have been committed to corporate farms, and have repeatedly fought against prairie farmers. They've tried to scrap the wheat board and used every trick in the book to influence the elections of what is supposed to an 'arms length' agency.
"The second surprise was Medicare. Not only was the policy one of eliminating the nation-wide health care system, but it was phrased in such a way that the impact of the policy was obscured. The resolution called for the 'provincialization' of medicare, an odd way of saying that the National Health Act would be rescinded" (Pref vii) This one is self-explanatory. The NCC was formed to abolish public health care. It has been a long term goal of Stephen Harper to privatize our health care system.
His third concern was with the GST and the fact that there were conflicting views. They vowed to scrap it to their riding association but keep it to their Policy Committee.
Mr. Dobbin then moves on to another concern that I have brought forward in several posts. The media's failure to inform the general public of the dangers of this party's policies. However, from other sources we know there are two reasons for this. Conrad Black and Ted Byfield, which I will get into later. However, both of these media magnates sought to create a party in the media first, then foster their advancement with future articles.
"There seemed to be little public awareness of Reform policies, yet a great deal of interest in the party and Preston Manning. This could simply be explained by a lack of real media scrutiny of a relatively new party. But with the party's big national assembly coming in April ... and the national media paying them a lot more attention, these policies and their implications were, I thought, bound to be discussed and reported.
"It didn't turn out that way. The media, with some important exceptions (such as Jeffrey Simpson, who compared Preston Manning and Reform to the Republican Party in the U.S.) focused on the party's ... expanding eastward and it's hard-line in Quebec. ... Manning's description of his party as 'populist' went unchallenged." (Pref viii)
We see it today with Harper's obvious disdain for the media. If the message can't be controlled like it was back in the days of Conrad Black and Ted Byfield, then he doesn't want to deliver the message at all.
But what we've seen this week, in the videotape of the secret meeting with party faithfuls, he let his guard down and the old Reformer re-surfaced.
Harper's agenda: not so hidden
It's not the majority, it's the message