Tag Archives: conservative party

(Progressive) Conservative Candidate Dumped By Harper

Mark Warner, the man who was nominated by the Conservative members of Toronto Centre to be their candidate (and my opponent), has been dumped by Stephen Harper, despite the objection of “leading members” of the local riding association executive. This news follows Harper’s ouster of riding association executives who were supportive of Bill Casey in Nova Scotia. Harper clearly has absolutely no respect for the members of his party, nor the candidates and riding executives that they duly elect. According to the Toronto Star, an email sent by Mark earlier today contained the following:

It has been very difficult to mount a credible local campaign, given the lack of support from the national campaign on the one hand and their seemingly contradictory insistence on micro-managing of our local efforts…I learned that the party’s national council has taken the unprecedented step of disallowing my candidacy…I very much regret this arbitrary and capricious decision of the party’s national council, and will have more to say about that in other fora in the days to come.

In addition to showing a complete disregard for the Conservative party’s democratic processes, this is an insult to Mark himself. He’s been campaigning extremely hard so far even though the writ hasn’t even dropped yet. I’ve seen him at every community festival (plus more obscure community events and fundraisers) and handing out flyers at the College subway (near where we both live). His full-colour flyer was mailed to everyone in my building a few months ago, he’s taken out ads in local newspapers and he’s posted at least one campaign video on YouTube.

What’s interesting to me about this is that while Mark and I have largely gotten along, our biggest disagreement came when I pointed out that his party was no longer “progressive,” but was rather dominated by the Reform/Alliance party. He reacted forcefully, and wanted me to understand that he was solidly in the Progressive Conservative camp. Looks like progressives really don’t belong in Harper’s tent. Thank goodness there’s at least one other party where true progressive conservatives are welcome.

Update: My intuition was correct. Cameron lets us know about a CBC report that says Mark was shown the door because of “his penchant for speaking out about subjects that didn’t receive party authorization, such as education, affordable housing and HIV/AIDS issues.” The article continues with this bombshell: “Warner said references to his attendance at an international AIDS conference in Toronto in 2006 were removed from his bio when he sent it to Ottawa for approval.” Meanwhile, the nominated Conservative candidate in Guelph, Brent Barr, has also been ousted.

And just to drive home the hypocrisy, kudos to the CBC for digging up this quote from Harper during the 2004 campaign: “We want to clean up internal party politics, beginning with grassroots democratic control of the nomination process.” And so concludes another installment of “that was then, this is now.”

Tough On Crime

As a disclaimer, I happen to think that the oft-repeated phrases “tough on crime” and “soft on crime” are near meaningless. Too often, the stuff we’re told is “tough” is either ineffective or damaging (see mandatory minimums and the presumption of guilt), while the stuff we’re told is “soft” would actually lessen the incidence of crime (see the legalization of marijuana).

That being said, the Harper Conservatives want to get “tough,” so let’s get tough. And if we’re going to start somewhere, we might as well start with our own government.

  • Stephen Harper’s government is breaking international law. By failing to even try to meet our Kyoto targets, we have turned our back on the world and become an international embarrassment.
  • Stephen Harper’s government is breaking domestic law. Parliamentarians, working on behalf of the majority of Canadians, passed a law requiring the government to introduce a plan to meet Kyoto targets. The government flat-out ignored the law.
  • The federal Conservatives are accused of breaking election spending limits by $1.2 million during the last federal election campaign, which they only narrowly won. The scheme involved circumventing legal spending limits by funneling money through local campaigns in order to pay for national advertising. Elections Canada is of the opinion that this is not legal. But, just when it was starting to become news, Harper attacked Elections Canada over the almost-non-issue of whether or not Muslim women can be forced to show their faces before voting. The distraction worked (with the added bonus that it made Elections Canada look like the bad guys) and the Conservative AdScam disappeared from public view, just in time for the conservatives to attempt to block a house committee investigation into the potentially illegal spending (which they eventually succeeded in doing by proroguing Parliament.)
  • The federal Conservatives are accused of breaking the law with regards to how they collect and use private information about citizens, triggered by the discovery that they had created a list of Jewish Canadians. Their defence has ranged from “we didn’t do it” to “sure we did it but so did those other guys.”

I don’t know how Harper can afford the constant repairs to his glass house. He must have a great arrangement with a window contractor. Regardless, if Harper wants to get tough on crime, he needs to start with himself. Then, once he’s removed the plank from his own eye, we can talk.

The Harper Kremlin

It’s hard to believe how much I used to agree with Stephen Harper when he was in opposition. Don’t get me wrong–I almost never saw things the same way as he did on matters of policy. But on process and Parliament, Opposition Leader Stephen Harper was absolutely right to call for more transparency and accountability, and, specifically, for the Prime Minister to respect Parliamentarians and refrain from centralizing power and stifling dissent. When the Opposition Leader became PM part of me thought, “oh well, at least we’ll see some positive action with regards to governance.” If you ever want to accuse me of being naive, there’s your proof.

Since being elected, Harper has made protester-choking Jean Chrétien look like the king of listening and consensus-building. After awhile, however, all of the evidence becomes overwhelming, and we forget old scandals as new ones take their place. In today’s Globe, Lawrence Martin reminds us of this damning chronology, saying that “in just 20 months, [Harper] has become master of everything he’s touched. To search the annals for another Canadian PM who accumulated so much cold-blooded authority in such a short time is to come up empty.”

  • One of the first things Harper did was to eliminate the position of Deputy Prime Minister, kicking off the “storyline…of imperious control.”
  • The Conservatives created a 200 page manual instructing committee chairs on how to disrupt and sabotage the mechanics of our democracy, including storming out of meetings if necessary (which, in time, they did).
  • Last August, the government ordered the RCMP to remove journalists from the Charlottetown hotel lobby where caucus was meeting so that they couldn’t ask nettlesome questions.
  • Unlike past governments, the Harper government does not reveal the dates of cabinet meetings in advance, making it next to impossible for the media to know to show up and ask questions afterwards and further ensuring that MPs will not be allowed to speak. Martin adds that “our diplomats are in the same boat. The extent of their gagging is also said to be unprecedented.”
  • If journalists want to ask the government a question, they must do so from a pre-approved list. “Journalists got an early sense of what was coming when Mr. Harper tried to ban them from covering ceremonies for soldiers killed in Afghanistan.”

Looking over my past posts, I’m also reminded of when Harper said that questioning the government’s foreign policy amounts to having a “passion for the Taliban,” when he tried to hide a pay raise for senior officials, when he hypocritically appointed committee chairs instead of allowing them to be elected by parliament, when his government bought positive news headlines, etc.

Then, Martin explains, last week saw a rush of evidence to further substantiate our concerns about Harper’s leadership:

  • Last week, only two cabinet ministers were allowed to speak to the media about the throne speech. All 123 of his remaining MPs were silenced, unable to represent those who elected them.
  • Last week, we found out about plans to spend two million of our dollars on “robust physical and information security measures.” That’s code for a government-controlled media briefing centre where Harper would be able to more easily curtail the press’ pesky freedom. (These plans were abandoned and denied as soon as they were discovered.)
  • Last week, accusations and evidence emerged that the Conservative party has been using a partisan party database to track government constituency work. There are a number of problems with that, the primary one being that it’s illegal.
  • Last week, the duly elected executive in Bill Casey’s riding was told that even if Conservative members want him to be their candidate again, Harper will not allow it.

Then, today we learn that the elected riding president has been removed in accordance with Harper’s wishes. There’s also a report in today’s paper that under this government compliance with the Access to Information Act has “both slowed down and decreased,” a fact which “goes against the Harper government’s promise to bring additional openness and transparency to Ottawa in the 2006 election campaign.” This extreme centralization of power and interference with the media’s ability to do its job is perhaps more reminiscent of Putin’s Russia than any other “democracy.” Martin concludes with these words:

The march of democracy in this country is intriguing. Mr. Chrétien took a protester by the throat. This PM, who came out of the populist Reform Party movement, has practically the entire government by the throat.

It is fascinating, if not chilling to see his shrewd acts unfold. There are many who think his strategy, a sort of reverse glasnost, is succeeding. There are others who think that building his version of the Kremlin in Ottawa is not what the people had mind.

Conservatives Attack Vision Green

The Conservative party actually bothered to pay people to go through Vision Green (our 160 page policy document released on Monday) to find stuff they could pick out in an attempt to make us look as crazy as possible. (I’m going to file this under “you know you’ve made it when.”) Today, they’ve posted a large image on their homepage (wait, that means they had to pay a designer too…that’s not cheap) that links to what they consider to be the “highlights” (their word) of our document. Of the hundreds of ideas and solutions contained within, there are four specific points they’ve decided are worthy of more attention, seemingly because they all start with the letter “P:”

PEACE – In addition to their policy of changing the “Department of Defense” [sic], to the “Department of Peace”, the Green Party is calling a “notice of withdrawal” from the NATO mission in Southern Afghanistan, and a review of our participation in NATO and other military alliances (Vision Green, p. 133, 141).

Uh…wait, sorry, was there a non-spelling-related criticism coming there? No, that’s it? You’re just mocking us for our commitment to work towards peace? Ok then. Moving on.

POT – The Green Party will “legalize marijuana” by removing it from the schedule of regulated drugs (Vision Green, p. 107).

Correct. You know what other group of hippies recommends legalizing (and regulating, taxing) marijuana? The Canadian senate. Anyone who’s studied this issue knows that prohibition on pot has failed, and only serves to criminalize a huge number of Canadians while simultaneously financing organized crime and contributing to gang violence.

PROTECTIONISM – The Green Party wants to “immediately provide the required six months’ notice of withdrawal from NAFTA”, and to scrap the Security and Prosperity Partnership with the United States (Vision Green, p. 146, 148).

The six months notice is to trigger much needed re-negotiations of NAFTA, particularly the parts that say it’s ok for American companies to poison our drinking water, so long as they’re making money while doing so. That’s not trade protectionism, that’s protecting Canadians. Besides, it’s not like the US is respecting NAFTA anyway.

AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT…PARKING TICKETS – Attention shoppers, the Green Party wants to force malls and “megastore retail outlets” to charge customers for parking (Vision Green, p. 67).

Believe it or not folks, the Green party wants to discourage out-of-control sprawl and a debilitating dependence on cars. Shocking news indeed. (Attention shoppers, we cannot shop our way out of this problem.)

Look Stephen, last week we found out that concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have already reached critically high levels that we previously believed would take ten years to accumulate. Meanwhile, the arctic is melting more rapidly than even the most pessimistic climatologists predicted. In other words, we should now be in crisis mode, and must take emergency measures. Given our situation, taking action to discourage the most “mega” aspects of our car culture is the least we should do.

Of course, I don’t expect the Conservative party to understand that. It’s clear they still don’t have any understanding of the extremely serious situation we’re in. That makes Harper and the rest of this government Dangerous with a capital D and that rhymes with E and that stands for Election. Canadians, I know you don’t want one right now (at least, that’s what my TV tells me), but you may need one. Soon, at least.