Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Reform-Conservatives Have Become Morally Bankrupt

In their rise to the top, the ever emerging Reform/Alliance/Conservative Party has tapped into not only the powerful Religious Right, but the Religious Left, with a platform that was seemingly about morality and 'Christian' values.

They were supposed to be the good guys who were going to clean up government and turn Canada into the land of Stepford wives, obedient children and tree lined streets without crime.

It was all subterfuge.

The Conservative movement in Canada is like the Republican brand in the United States. Mean, clueless and on life support.

They don't care about our moral souls, only exploiting religious leaders to gain and hold onto power come hell or high water.

There was a recent article in the Ottawa Citizen that helps to prove my point.

Tory grip on moral superiority is slipping
Conservatives at all levels of government are floundering badly for lack of good ideas and good leadership
By Randall Denley,
The Ottawa Citizen
May 24, 2009

These are dismal, depressing times for Conservatives
, particularly in our part of the province. The only really successful Conservative prime minister in recent memory has disgraced himself. The current Conservative prime minister acts like a schoolboy, unable to resist calling his main opponent names. The provincial Progressive Conservative party is having a leadership contest, but Eastern Ontario's contribution is MPP Randy Hillier, who is single-handedly driving the party to the political fringes. At the municipal level, small-c conservative Mayor Larry O'Brien is in court facing influence peddling charges. His accuser is the small-c conservative candidate from the previous mayoral election, a man revealed in court to be an embarrassingly inept politician.
Liberal MP
Ruby Dhalla is having some trouble with her domestic help, but it's not much of a distraction from the conservatives' woes.

Conservatives are the self-righteous law-and-order guys and they like to portray themselves as morally superior to their opponents. That will be a difficult card to play for a while. It was excruciating to watch tarnished Tory hero Brian Mulroney's attempts to justify taking cash from an arms dealer, and only paying taxes on it years later. And at a discount, too.

Mulroney's misbehaviour has cost taxpayers millions of dollars for the inquiry into the matter and in legal fees for Mulroney, which we also pay.
Mulroney was out of office, just, when he started taking envelopes of cash, but it was still wrong. This is what people in the business world refer to as damage to the brand.

Then there is our current Conservative government, which seems to be run by aging schoolboys with a penchant for calling names. The country is facing serious economic problems, but our Conservative leadership thinks the important thing to tell the public is that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has spent much of his life outside the country. Good for Ignatieff for getting out in the big world and making a success of himself. More Canadians should do the same.

The fact that Stephen Harper and his gang think success in the world is a weakness tells us a lot about them. These are the small thinkers who don't get the arts, don't get science and have no plan for our economy beyond building roads and bailing out failed automakers. Ignatieff's advice that the Conservatives should "grow up" and do their jobs properly was the smartest thing he could have said.

The Ontario PC leadership contest looks more like a race for the dunce cap than the crown. Hillier is setting the intellectual tone, which tells you quite a bit. The former head of a rural landowners' rights group has positioned himself somewhere to the right of former premier Mike Harris.

Among Hillier's key promises, along with ending the pit bull ban, is the abolition of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Let the courts decide human rights complaints, Hillier says. Great stuff if you can afford to go to court. Likely frontrunner MPP Tim Hudak has aped Hiller's position, but he would only abolish the decision-making human rights tribunal, not the commission itself. That makes him a nuanced thinker.

One of the other contenders, MPP Christine Elliott, made the point this week that promising to abolish a human rights body would play right into the hands of the Liberals, just like the faith-based school promise did in the last election. There's no doubt she's right. The human rights commission has made some dopey, politically correct decisions, but abolishing it isn't the solution. Hillier also wants to abolish the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation on the premise that municipalities could do the job better. Not likely.

Then there is the Larry O'Brien-Terry Kilrea spectacle. In case you missed it the first time around, we were reminded in court this week that Kilrea's two campaigns for mayor were little more than a hapless grasping at the usual knee-jerk conservative ideas, like more police on the streets. O'Brien himself beat the other favourite conservative drum, calling for a four-year tax freeze. It was a wildly impractical idea, but it sounded good to conservative-minded voters.

In defence of these various conservative politicians, about all one could say is that they obviously aren't taking performance enhancing substances. The problem for conservatives is not just the lack of talent in leadership positions, it's the tired, small, negative views of what our city, our province and our country could become. What's the big conservative idea, the thing that would make the city, the province and the country better? About all conservatives had to offer was fiscal prudence, and even that has been abandoned at the federal level.

Without good leadership or good ideas, one really has to ask, why should we keep electing conservatives? Politicians of the right need to find a compelling answer or they risk the fate of the U.S. Republicans.

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