Thursday, May 19, 2011

The More Things Stay the Same, the More They Stay the Same

The blueprint for Canada's neoconservatism movement was created several decades ago, and while much of it was inspired by the Religious Right south of the border, a good deal was homegrown.

In fact in some areas, we inspired them.

However, the move to legislate Canadian morality began, or was renewed, in 1963, when the Anglican Congress sought out Pierre Berton, to write a book on Christianity in Canada. Under Pope John XXIII, Vatican II, sought to modernize the Catholic faith, to meet the challenges of a changing society*, and the Congress was hoping to do the same for protestants.

I have Berton's little book: The Comfortable Pew, and have read it. They couldn't have chosen anyone better. But not everyone saw it that way, and one man raised, pardon the pun, 'Holy Hell'. Ted Byfield, one of the founding fathers of the Reform Party, would call it blasphemy and suggest that the government should start to legislate morality.

We now have that government.

Byfield would go on to help create the Civitas Society, thought to be the policy arm of the Harper regime.

They list as their Founding Directors: Janet Ajzenstat, Ted Byfield, Michael Coren, Jacques Dufresne, Tom Flanagan, David Frum, William Gairdner, Jason Kenney, Gwen Landolt [REAL Women of Canada, an anti-women group], Ezra Levant, Tom Long, Mark Magner, William Robson, David E.Smerville [National Citizens Coalition], Michael Walker [Fraser Institute]. A few names I'm sure you'll recognize.

David Frum, in outlining the new conservatism, suggests that one determination in establishing policy, is that "it must eliminate incentives to personal misconduct..." and that government should never offer protection "against the miseries caused by idleness and addiction." (1)

Brian Lilley, one of the characters on Fox News North, applies this theory to the decision by Stephen Harper to fight against the continued life of Insite in Vancouver.

He writes that Deciding on InSite is a moral judgment
There has been snickering among my critics on the left who think giving junkies a good place to shoot up is an honourable thing. It turns out that I committed the sin of questioning heroin injection sites, labeling them clearly (they are not safe) and pointing out that just because it is backed up by peer-reviewed literature doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do.
But Dan Gardner reminds us that it is indeed the right thing do, even on moral grounds.
A long list of scientific research papers published in prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals showed that Insite had done exactly what it was designed to do. Overdose deaths down. Rates of HIV and hepatitis C infection down.
And yet:
From the moment the Conservatives came to power in 2006, they insisted that the decision on Insite's future would not be guided by politics or ideology. The evidence would settle it. But as the evidence of Insite's effectiveness steadily mounted, the Conservatives' hostility to the facility never wavered. They wanted to close it then. They want to close it now.
That's because as usual, they care nothing for the evidence, but base all decisions on the need to legislate morality.

Their version of morality, where killing human beings in war is fine but saving lives through a program they disapprove of, is deemed immoral.

Expect more of this. Much more, as Harper will implement an agenda drafted at least a half century ago. Or perhaps as one of Jason Kenney's teachers once said, "not the 1950s, but the 1550s."


*Jason Kenney attended St Ignatius Jesuit school in San Francisco, which was created to refute Vatican II. An old video surfaced recently of Jason Kenney from his time at St. Ignatius, along with an article he had written then, comparing Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan. He had started a petition demanding that all Catholic universities in the U.S. remove the word 'Catholic' from their name if they promoted this. A former teacher claimed that Kenney was trying to take the Church back to the 50's "I do not mean the 1950s, I mean the 1550s: Obedience, obedience, obedience."


1. What's Right: The New Conservatism and What it Means for Canada, By David Frum, Vintage Canada, 1996, ISBN: 0-679-30858-X, Pg. 12-13

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