Monday, June 16, 2014

Clearly Liberalism is Not Dead Though Conservatism May be On Life Support

When Stephen Harper was with the Reformers, promoting an American style conservative movement, he mocked Canada's historic Conservative Party, because they boasted to be descended from Sir John A. MacDonald. "So what!" he said.

Recently the Harper government conducted a poll to determine the top ten Canadians who inspired us. From top to bottom:

1. Pierre Trudeau
2. Terry Fox
3. Tommy Douglas
4. Lester B. Pearson
5. Chris Hadfield
6. David Suzuki
7. Sir. John A. MacDonald
8. Wayne Gretzky
9. Jack Layton
10. Romeo Dallaire

What first struck me about the list was that no women were included.

What about Agnes McPhail, the first female MP and her work on prison reform? The Famous Five who fought and won the right for women to become "persons", not chattel? Louise Arbour who became the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights? The list goes on.

Most who made the cut are self explanatory, since they contributed a great deal to building Canada as a nation, and strengthened our international reputation.

Jack Layton was a puzzle though. He enjoyed some political success but I can't think of anything he did that would stand the test of time.

He joined Stephen Harper in fighting against the Kyoto accord and even campaigned against the carbon tax, claiming that it would hurt families, despite the fact that it was revenue neutral.

Elizabeth May recounted her experience with Layton and his political move.
I remember phoning Jack Layton to beg him not to bring down the government on the opening day of the climate conference. I had known and liked Jack since he was on Toronto City Council. He had been enormously helpful, volunteering as an auctioneer in local Sierra Club events. He told me when he ran for leader of the NDP that he was only seeking a role in federal politics to deal with the climate crisis. I had believed him. As he threatened to sabotage the most important global climate negotiations in history, I recall leaving a message on his cellphone: "How will you look at yourself in the mirror if you do this?"

... It is only with hindsight that I have come to believe that the climate negotiations were not merely collateral damage to the incidental timing of November 2 8. I now believe that Harper and Layton had a shared desire to pull the plug before the Martin government had a chance to look good on the world stage. I think it is extremely likely, given the way Layton downplayed the climate threat in 2006, that a conscious decision was made by NDP strategists. They had to make sure the key issue remained Liberal corruption for the NDP to avoid losing votes to the Liberals.
(Losing Confidence: Power, Politics, and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy, By Elizabeth May, McClelland & Stewart, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-7710-5760-1, Pg. 2-7)
A similar strategy backfired in the recent Ontario election.

I liked Jack Layton but he was not at the heart NDP, at least not in the Tommy Douglas tradition. He spent the most on travel, he exploited subsidized housing" and a study conducted by McMaster University, revealed that he was the nastiest MP.

I can think of many others more deserving, but there is a bigger issue with the list.

What does this say to Stephen Harper?

Our heroes fought for a Just Society, gave us National Healthcare, Peacekeepers, fight for the Environment and the plight of the downtrodden. Except for MacDonald, none were Conservative, though our first prime minister was nothing like our current, as Harper himself reminded us.

Clearly, Canada has not moved to the right, as some suggest. We cherish everything that Stephen Harper fights against.

It's also interesting as we watch American politics, in the days of the Tea Party, that they actually share the same values.

NBC recently conducted a poll asking who was the best President in the past 25 years. Bill Clinton was number one and Barack Obama number two.

As an interesting coincidence, the son of Canada's first choice will be running for Prime Minister in 2014, while the wife of America's first choice, may be running for President in 2016.

Harper conducted the poll in preparation for our 150th anniversary in 2017. We just have to make sure that the poll is his only involvement in the process.

How can we expect someone who wants to destroy everything our inspirations built, speak for our country?


  1. Your dishonest Liberal loving character assassination is the single most disgusting thing I've ever ever read on the Progressive Bloggers.

    First ever body knows the subsidised housing thing is bullshit, second the NDP didn't have the votes to keep the Liberals in power because the indepandants voted
    with the Tories, the Liberals only signed Kyoto as a PR stunt and thier record proves it, nd lastly Jack Booted the sorry radical right wing Liberal Party to third place, which admittedly is several places higher then the Liberals deserve, but is one of the best things to happen in Canada.

    1. Your opinions are welcome. However, names on the list have accomplishments that define them. In my opinion there are others who should be on the list. If Layton has an accomplishment outside of political success than I stand corrected.

  2. As much as it pains me to say this, Em, I think what Jack Layton did to make it onto that list is simple...he died "before his time".
    So did JFK.
    So did Terry Fox.
    Awful of me to say it, I know, but I think it explain quite a lot.
    Keep up the good work, by the way. As a leftist British Columbian living in Alberta, I have managed to alienate many people I thought were friends because I believe in climate change and don't believe in Stephen Harper. No one comes to our house any more unless they're being paid to be here.
    It used to make me sad, but now I think it might be something to brag about.

    1. I think you're right. But in twenty years what will Jack Layton be remembered for?

  3. What makes this list great is that Harper never made the list.