When Stephen Harper’s Conservatives where elected to Parliament in 2006 I was hopeful that this new breed would change the direction of conservatism in Canada. I was mistaken.
Because of their willingness to debate ideas and their wish for greater economic freedom I have always felt a kinship of sorts with conservative-minded people; so much so that I became involved with them on a personal level. I was once the President of the London-Fanshawe Progressive Conservative Riding Association and I ran as the Canadian Alliance Candidate in the 2000 Federal Election. My campaign office was opened by Preston Manning with whom I pressed the voting flesh at Masonville Mall, I went door-to-door with Diane Ablonczy and I stood shoulder to shoulder on stage with Stockwell Day on at least three occasions.
In the past I was generally more interested in economic freedom than personal freedom. Many of the constraints on personal freedom can be simply overcome by staying inside and closing your curtains. Economic freedom however is not so easy to regain. Ann Coulter may have said “you have to pick your poison” but the end result of such an action is of course that poison is still poison and the lesser of two evils is still evil. If given the choice, which I still gratefully have, I chose life and I choose freedom, both economic and personal freedom.
I must now atone for my political sins and admonish conservatives for taking me down the garden path; a path that has led to a loss of freedoms rather than towards freedom.
Ayn Rand once described the agenda of conservatives to be the implementation of freedom by stealth. In this one area Rand was wrong, at least in Canada if not the United States. I have come to realize that conservatives in general have an agenda of socialism, not Capitalism.
Stephen Harper has recently said that he believes in freedom, family and faith and that freedom must be tempered by faith. To put it unequivocally Stephen Harper believes that your personal liberty must be tempered by his personal faith. This same application of faith to freedom can be seen in Ahmadinejad’s Iran or Karzai’s Afghanistan.
Witness Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day’s recent pledge to put over $9 Billion into building new prisons to (as Paul McKeever recently surmised in his blog) to house the countless cannabis users in this country, the so-called unreported criminals. Our sons and daughters will be subject to a minimum jail term of 6 months for smoking pot. Stephen Harper’s Faith will destroy your family and your freedom.
As far back as the beginning of this nation the Conservatives’ socialist streak has been written large in the names of their party. Sir John A. Macdonald led the Liberal-Conservative Party, a name that survived with little change until 1942 when it became the Progressive Conservative Party which again became the Conservative party to finally hide the Liberal leanings of the Conservatives.
Recently Liberal John Turner wrote that we should erect a statue to Conservative Prime Minister R.B. Bennett. Why? Because Bennett, a Conservative was our version of America’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt and as such was a champion for socialism.
In 1935, Bennett introduced a Canadian version of the “New Deal,” involving unprecedented public spending and federal intervention in the economy. Progressive income taxation, a minimum wage, a maximum number of working hours per week, unemployment insurance, health insurance, an expanded pension program, and grants to farmers were all included in Bennett’s plan.1 He also proposed the formation of the CBC and he nationalized the Bank of Canada.
In one of his addresses to the nation, Bennett said:
I am for reform. And in my mind, reform means government intervention. It means government control and regulation. It means the end of laissez-faire. 2
This kind of Liberal Conservative has not changed. Even under the Harper Conservatives.
With every Liberal government comes a new socialist program. The two most expensive programs are “official bilingualism” and “official multiculturalism”. “Official Bilingualism”, although entrenched in Canadian law since before Confederation, was greatly enhanced under Progressive Conservative Brian Mulroney in 1988 with his amendments to the Official Languages Act. “Official Multiculturalism” was a Trudeau idea implemented by Brian Mulroney again in 1988 with the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.
Provincial Liberal or New Democrat governments have dreamt up new welfare programs, free education for four year olds, then three year olds, free day-care, Human Rights Commissions or Tribunals, and this list goes on. What is conspicuous is that when the conservatives finally ascend to power do they repeal these socialist pipe dreams? No. They fall all over themselves fighting to show that they can manage these programs more efficiently than the Liberals. They support the programs and revel in putting more money into them.
Socialist programs are not the only intrusion on our freedom condoned and supported by conservatives. Institutions like the Human Right Commission which are affronts to free speech and fundamental ideas of justice hundreds of years old are left untouched by the Conservatives.
The following is from MacLean’s Magazine:
In a 1999 interview with Terry O’Neill of BC Report newsmagazine Harper said, “Human rights commissions, as they are evolving, are an attack on our fundamental freedoms and the basic existence of a democratic society,” he said “It is in fact totalitarianism. I find this is very scary stuff.” He went on to complain about the “bastardization” of the entire concept of rights in modern society.
Of course, that was back when Harper was president of the National Citizens Coalition. Today he’s Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister. And he appears to have lost his fear of totalitarianism.
So we asked Harper if he intended to correct this threat to the basic existence of a democratic society.
“The government has no plans to do so,” was his casual reply. “It is a very tricky issue of public policy . . . It’s probably the case that we haven’t got the balance right, but I’m not sure the government today has any answer on what an appropriate balance would be.” 4
After four years of a Conservative government we still have the long gun registry.
After 500 hundred years of boating in Canada the Conservatives say we now have to get a government issued certificate to operate a boat. What would the Voyageurs have said to the creation of such a bureaucracy?
In the 1984 election the Progressive Conservative Party of Brian Mulroney was elected to a majority in the House of Commons with the support of Western Canada after campaigning against the National Energy Program. However, Mulroney did not eliminate the last vestiges of the program until two and a half years later. The conservative government’s delay was a contributing factor to the creation of Western Canada’s Reform Party of Canada.
And probably one of the worst instances of Conservative socialism, the first incarnation of OHIP the biggest drain on Ontario’s budget was passed under the successive Conservative governments of John Robarts and Bill Davis.
There is no practical distinction between the Liberal and Conservative parties, provincially or federally. Both parties, regardless of Conservative rhetoric, believe and support our massive welfare state. Both parties support bureaucracy and red tape. Rarely is it ever heard of that the Conservatives have repealed any legislation that a preceding Liberal government has imposed. They can’t ever repeal the long form census!
They do not attempt to roll back socialism and bureaucracy they seek only to make them more efficient. This, if such a thing could possibly work, would only make socialism more palatable to the public and longer lived. They may say they oppose the statism of the Liberals while they are in opposition, but when the gain power they maintain the very socialist endeavors of their like-minded left-wing predecessors. It is this inaction, this failure to rescind the ever encroaching power of the state into our daily personal and economic lives which makes the Conservatives worse than the Liberals. It is this inaction that gives tacit post-approval of every left wing action of the Liberals or the New Democrats.
But, ultimately it is the hope we sometimes get when they talk about repealing gun laws, lowering spending, cutting red tape that has the worst effect on people who love freedom. They continue to support the Conservatives even when their hopes are always dashed when their party gets into power. If these good people took the energy they spend getting the Conservatives elected and channeled it into real action to promote freedom in this country, like supporting the Freedom Party, we wouldn’t be in the mess we were in.
(Originally aired in an edited form on Just Right show #163 August 5th, 2010 and given as a speech to Freedom Party supporters in London, Ontario on November 20, 2010.)
2 – Ibid