Thursday, March 11, 2010

Maxime Bernier and the Unimportance of Nationalism

"And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God" (Frederic Bastiat 1801-1850)

Last Month Andrew Coyne wrote on his blog under the title: Maxime Bernier unplugged

That was a remarkable speech Maxime Bernier delivered the other day in Calgary. That is, it was an entirely unremarkable speech, the kind you would hear every other day in any normal democracy: a fairly pedestrian restatement of conservative principles by a leading conservative politician.

But in the Conservative Party of Canada, in its present moribund state, it counts as Luther’s 95 Theses. It must surely rule out any return to cabinet, if it does not lead to his outright expulsion from caucus, since it contradicts every line of current Conservative —
I often find myself upset with the media (oh, really?), and the first time I read this I was just as miffed with Coyne. The reason being that most journalists and columnists have no conception of neoconservatism, so they write their assessments and predictions, based on what a conservative government would do.

And what a conservative government in the real world would do, is pretty much the exact opposite of what a neoconservative government does.

But in fairness, I think Coyne does get it, but was just surprised that Bernier was not more discreet. However, I don't think that 'discreet' is a word in Maxime Bernier's vocabulary, and I actually respect him for that.

As foreign minister he stated that the real reason for being in Afghanistan was the drug trade, and was the first to publicly sound the alarm on Asadullah Khalid. Naivete got him in trouble, but with Maxime, I believe it's just a case of what you see is what you get.

Bernier is a true Libertarian, and follows very much the philosophy of Frederic Bastiat who never believed in any kind of trade restrictions, tariffs or government controls. He felt, as most Libertarians do, that individuals should be responsible for themselves and that everyone should have an opportunity to make as much money as possible.

Ronald Reagan once stated that he wanted America to be the kind of country where someone could always get rich. Unfortunately his vision made America a country where someone could always 'get' poor, and his administration created the most homeless people of any other. But that's not on the neocon's radar.

Mr. Coyne's surprise at Bernier's speech was his commitment to reducing the size of government. From Bernier:

Last year, the federal government’s total expenses were about 250 billion dollars. You can do a lot of things with 250 billion dollars! From a historical perspective, it’s a gigantic amount of resources. What if we decided that this is more than enough? That expenses are not going to grow anymore?

And I’m not saying zero growth adjusted for inflation and population or GDP increase. Just zero growth. The overall budget is frozen at 250 billion. From now on, any government decision has to be taken within this budgetary constraint. Every new government program, or increase in an existing program, has to be balanced by a decrease somewhere else. ... We have to convince people that we’re not simply aiming to be better managers of a bigger government; we are aiming to be better managers of a smaller government.

Smaller government? Coyne asks. What party does this guy belong to? Surely not the gang that increased spending by nearly 40% in four years? I can hear the opposition parties already: Does the PM believe in Zero Budget Growth? When will he repudiate these remarks?

However, that is the other side of neoconservatism. Before you can justify spending cuts, you have to make sure that you clean out the coffers. It's why they blew a thirteen billion dollar surplus, and were in deficit long before the recession hit.

I guess the reason I wish Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty would be more open like Bernier, is because I think that Canadians have a right to know. Instead of pretending that you plan to balance the books then snicker into your hand, lay it out there.

Harper always did before. When he was helping to found the Reform Party, he made speeches suggesting that the government had no business providing unemployment insurance, or Canada Pension, health care, Old Age Security.

He detested social programs: These proposals included cries for billions of new money for social assistance in the name of “child poverty” and for more business subsidies in the name of “cultural identity. In both cases I was sought out as a rare public figure to oppose such projects.” (The Bulldog, National Citizens Coalition, February 1997)

In 2006, the Globe knew where Bernier's head was:
... since being named to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet in February, the rookie 43-year-old MP from Quebec's rural Beauce riding has demonstrated a stern resolve to get government out of the way of business. It is a perhaps an unusual stance for an industry minister.

The holder of that post is commonly seen as the champion of government programs aimed at helping Canadian companies compete with global titans and foster innovation at home. That mindset is at the heart of Technology Partnerships Canada, the $300-million-a-year Liberal loan program that helped Bombardier Inc. become a world leader in regional jets and countless biotechnology and software companies develop new products. Mr. Bernier is now considering abolishing TPC altogether ... In the same vein, the new minister is largely unmoved by calls from the Ontario government to buttress with federal money its $500-million Automotive Investment Strategy. The fund has been a key factor in attracting $7-billion in new auto investment to Ontario.
(How far will this free marketeer go? Globe & Mail, September 26, 2006)

See to a free marketeer, Libertarian; the first priority is not the country, or it's inhabitants; it's the markets. They actually push for foreign ownership and foreign control, as Stephen Harper is now.

Or as Maxime Bernier once asked: 'With economic globalization, is nationality important?'

I think nationality is very important. But since Frederic Bastiat did not believe in borders or sovereignty or 'states', only individuals; do we not get a vote?


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