Politics Of Fear

[Attack literature is] not something I would ever do to you [Don Meredith] or do to your leader [Stephen Harper] or do to you in an election campaign. You look at my literature, you will not see a note of denunciation of you or your leader and you will not see it because we are running a positive campaign on our ideas and what we stand for and I think it’s shameful.” – Bob Rae, Thursday February 28th, 2008

The Harperite farm team is an offspring of the Republican Party of the United States. These guys will do whatever it takes to win themselves, and do whatever it takes to help their friends in the United States…they will do what is necessary to help Republicans. They’re a nasty, unprincipled bunch, who are incompetent to boot.” – Bob Rae, March 4th, 2008

Those of you who have been following my writing know that I’m not a big fan of Stephen Harper or his party (particularly in its current incarnation), but the above shift in Bob’s rhetoric concerns me. Yesterday I gave him credit (and exposure) on this website for rightly advocating positive campaigning and condemning ad hominem attacks. Since Bob spoke those words last week, however, he has shifted to a discourse of fear. Just as our Conservative opponent has tried to exploit fear of crime for votes, Bob is increasingly trying to frighten people with the spectre of those “nasty” American Republicans and their “Harperite farm team.” Further, he has suggested that people should essentially settle for the Liberal party (mirroring the way the Liberals “settled” for a mediocre budget), and that if they vote NDP or Green they aren’t doing their part to stop this scary evil force.

There are two problems with this. One, using fear for votes is cynical and lowers the level of discourse, just as the Conservative attack literature does. Two, it’s completely irrelevant to this by-election. The Alliance/Conservative party is not a factor in Toronto Centre. In the last election they received only 18% of the vote, and in the election before that only 14%. One could reasonably conclude that their decision to fire their duly nominated candidate and parachute in someone who doesn’t live in the riding (or the city for that matter) will hurt them even more this time around. Even the Conservative candidate has said repeatedly that his election would be a “miracle.” So, barring divine intervention, everyone including Bob knows that in the context of this by-election his fear mongering is, well, just that.

The people I’ve talked to are tired of this kind of politics, and rightly so. They know that our political leaders should never tell Canadians to settle for less than what’s possible, or to act out of fear. And they know how to send that message with their vote.

2 thoughts on “Politics Of Fear

  1. Thank-you Chris for raising the level of the debate and acknowledging the expectations that we the people hold of those who vie to rule over us. If we deem our democratic institutions that have evolved over millenniums to be the highest means of self-governance, then why do some who seek to get hold of the levers of power, continue to drag DEMOCRACY into the gutter by exploiting the basest human instincts and weaknesses of the species?

    Chris, you must have them running scarred that they need to resort to such tactics!

    Is this deep integration of the economy and security with the US some neo-con republican plot? Average Canadians and Americans share many of the same values. Their concerns lies over the power that transnational corporations will acquire through these arrangements whereby we are denied a voice in the important decisions in how the resources and wealth of this great nation get shared so that people will continue to have access to health care, public education, old age security. Also at stake is who is to pay for the externalized costs associated with pollution and the degradation to the environment by the corporations.

    While Bob Rae seeks to paint the Federal Conservative government of Mr. Harper as stooges of Bush and the Republicans, where does Mr. Rae and the Liberal Party of Canada stand on the deep integration?

    Back in early 2005, Prime Minister Paul Martin signed the SPP pact with U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox.

    Back in 1993 Jean Chretien had promised voters that he would renegotiate NAFTA if his Liberals won the election. NAFTA came into effect Jan.1, 1994, and was proclaimed by Jean Chretien’s Liberal government.

    What was then Premier Bob Rae’s response at the time to Chrétien having broken his election promise?

    What did his government do when called on by unions across Canada and other provincial governments to oppose the 1994 NAFTA deal?

    What did Bob Rae tell voters about the Canada US Free trade agreement when electioneering back in 1990 in the Ontario Provincial election?

    What did he do once elected?

    What is Bob Rae’s stand on SPP?

    Does Bob Rae support the backroom secret process where the large multinationals set at the table where the rules are being hammered out?

    The answers to these questions will help voters decide if Bob Rae is a democrat or man of the establishment.

    Yes Stephen Harper represents a constituency whose values are right of center. But are all Canadians who vote conservative neo-cons doing the bidding of George Bush and ready to sell out Canada? Stop insulting the citizenry with this type of demagoguery!

    If we are going to charge PM Harper of selling out Canada, then let’s call a spade a spade. What is the record of the Liberal Party of Canada and Bob Rae?

    News flash: “China admitted today that it had quashed a protest by Buddhist monks in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa”.
    “After invading Tibet in 1950, the Chinese communists killed over one million Tibetans, destroyed over 6,000 monasteries, and turned Tibet’s northeastern province, Amdo, into a gulag housing, by one estimate, up to ten million people. A quarter of a million Chinese troops remain stationed in Tibet. In addition, some 7.5 million Chinese have responded to Beijing’s incentives to relocate to Tibet; they now outnumber the 6 million Tibetans. Through what has been termed Chinese apartheid, ethnic Tibetans now have a lower life expectancy, literacy rate, and per capita income than Chinese inhabitants of Tibet.”

    Last year Stephen Harper met with the Dalai Lama on Parliament Hill for 40 minutes in front of television cameras and photographers to record the event.
    China’s Foreign ministry spokesman told reporters in Beijing: “This kind of disgusting conduct from Canada has seriously hurt Chinese people’s feelings and seriously undermined Sino-Canadian relations.” China called Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s official meeting with the Dalai Lama “disgusting conduct.”

    In 2004, when former prime minister Paul Martin met the Nobel laureate, he kept things low-key in a bid not to annoy Canada’s second largest trading partner. The meeting was in a private residence in Ottawa and photographers were not invited.

    What has been Bob Rae’s response to the Stephen Harper Government foreign policy on China?


    Act locally. Think globally.

    There are global issues that transcend TO center. To others, our choices amount to matters of life and death. What you decide in Toronto Center may well impact on the lives of others oceans away. What you can give these people on March 17th is hope for a better future. VOTE FOR CHANGE.

  2. It’s funny Rae would talk like that re the CPC when his liberals invite dems to their conventions and no one gives them a hard time.

    Blacksheep re Tibet tibetans are also forbidden from marrying another Tibeten they are only allowed to marry someone who is Chinese.

    Where does Paul Martin get his ships built after closing the Collingwood shipyard in Ontario? china.

    Where did Chretien always hit with his team Canada missions? China.

    No Liberal I can recollect ever met with the Dali Lama.

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