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Harper’s hard right turn

Social conservatism is on the rise in Ottawa, and across Canada


 
Harper’s hard right turn

Photograph by Chris Wattie/ Reuters

It says in all the papers the well has run dry. The commentators keep writing that Canadian conservatism has died on the vine, that four years into his reign of tactical obsession and fiscal profligacy, Stephen Harper has forgotten why he ever went into politics.

“Where’s the big, strategic agenda for the next election?” John Ivison quoted a senior Conservative in the National Post. “I haven’t found one yet.” In the same paper, Terence Corcoran ran a string of columns identifying programs the feds should cut, because Harper seems unwilling to do the work himself. And Andrew Coyne delivered his annual post-budget verdict of despair and mourning. “Those Conservative faithfuls who have been hanging on all these years, in the hopes that, eventually, someday, with one of these budgets, this government would start to act like conservatives, must now understand that that is not going to happen. Conservatism is not just dead but, it appears, forgotten.”

But it’s a funny thing. If Canadian conservatism is dead, somebody forgot to tell Canadian conservatives.

Earlier this month, the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Ottawa played host to two consecutive conferences, a small one by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada followed by a big one by the Manning Centre for Building Democracy. Both were well attended by current and former ministers, employees and strategists of the Harper government. Both drew energetic crowds of activists and ordinary people. Both gave free rein to an unabashed social conservatism that is rarely mentioned, and even less frequently championed, by even prominent fiscal conservatives in the big papers and magazines. And the mood at both gatherings was overwhelmingly optimistic, because the kind of conservatism that appeals to these organizations is demonstrably on the march in Ottawa and across Canada.

Look at the victories in only the past few months. At the quasi-governmental agency Rights and Democracy, a Harper-appointed board majority comprising unequivocal supporters of Israel’s Likud government and evangelical Christian social activists began firing employees left over from an earlier, more secular regime.

Harper announced, in the vaguest terms, a new plan to make women and children overseas the focus of Canada’s development assistance. When Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff insisted that such programs include funding for contraceptives and abortion, as they have consistently done under past Liberal and Conservative governments, Conservative MP Shelly Glover said no such schemes would be funded in the future. Bev Oda, the minister for CIDA, backed her up. When Ignatieff pushed back, he wound up on the front page of the Catholic Register newspaper next to the headline, “Ignatieff Urges Abortion for World’s Poor.”

In Winnipeg, the Christian charity Youth for Christ managed to secure $3.2 million in federal infrastructure stimulus funding toward building an $11.5-million community centre in one of the city’s toughest neighbourhoods. Even without provincial support, which is usually sought for these stimulus projects, the Youth for Christ centre looks set to go ahead. NDP MP Pat Martin didn’t like the idea of government money going to an organization that seeks converts. “What if this group was called Youth for Allah?” he asked.

(The project seems an odd fit for the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, whose website says it will prefer “construction-ready” projects that can “be built during the 2009 and 2010 construction seasons.” Youth for Christ declined to answer questions from on how quickly construction can begin and when it can be completed. However, a spokesman for John Baird, who is responsible for the infrastructure program, said Youth for Christ is committed to finish by March 31 next year—just inside the fund’s final deadline.)

In Vancouver, the Insite safe-injection site for heroin addicts, which was once championed by federal Liberals like Allan Rock and Ken Dryden, learned Harper will appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in his long-running legal battle to shut the centre down.

Harper’s hard right turn

Photographs by Blair Gable

And throughout the two-month period of Parliament’s prorogation, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson played a running blame game with Liberals over the slow progress of Conservative bills that would toughen penalties for a wide range of offences. Nicholson blamed the Liberals for stalling the bills. Each time, Liberal senators and MPs hurried to the nearest microphone to insist they shared the Conservatives’ punitive philosophy and were, in fact, in a greater hurry than the Conservatives to pass the bills. It was an odd dynamic. The Liberals (and often the NDP) were at pains to give the Conservatives free rein to replace rehabilitation with punishment as a cornerstone of Canadian criminal justice.

Taken together, all this news gives heart to Canadian conservatives who vote on other matters besides budget balance. Of course, some of the biggest fights of old—over abortion, gay marriage, the death penalty—remain far outside the bounds of ordinary political debate in Canada. Social conservatives have had to content themselves with incremental victory. But it had been many years since they could expect even that. Conservatives who vote on faith, family and criminal justice felt so left out by Brian Mulroney’s governments that millions of them fled to Reform and smaller groups like the Christian Heritage party. Now they are back, rubbing elbows with power, not always running the show but never ignored. They have not had so much good news from Ottawa in half a century.

The Manning Centre’s annual networking conference, organized by Reform party founding leader Preston Manning, ran a crowded exhibition hall. Firearms activists from the new Canadian Firearms Institute stood cheek by jowl with representatives of Dr. Charles McVety’s Canada Family Action Coalition (“founded in early 1997 with a vision to see Christian principles restored in Canada”) and campaign strategy consultancies run by former Conservative campaign officials. One, Responsive Management Group, tells potential clients that it “works exclusively with right-of-centre campaigns to design and execute integrated programs that use direct mail, the telephone and online tools to build relationships that deliver results for our clients.” It boasts that it has helped elect over 400 conservative candidates and raised $75 million for their campaigns. The group’s founder, Michael Davis, won a Manning Centre Pyramid Award for Political Technology at the conference.

Earlier at the Institute of Marriage and Family gathering, a few dozen attendees listened to Miriam Grossman, a U.S. physician and author of You’re Teaching My Child What?: A Physician Exposes the Lies of Sex Ed and How They Harm Your Child. “When sexual freedom reigns, sexual health suffers,” she told the audience sternly. (Dave Quist, the institute’s executive director and a former federal Conservative candidate, says the organization is the policy branch of the fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family Canada. And while Quist’s group is notionally secular, it knows what kind of message it likes to hear.)

Then Mike Savage, the burly Liberal MP for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, N.S., debated Diane Finley, the minister of human resources and skills development, on family policy. Savage is a friendly and plain-spoken fellow whose corny jokes about Sidney Crosby’s lost hockey stick drew ready laughter, but he didn’t stand a chance debating this issue in front of this crowd. Finley was defending the Universal Child Care Benefit, which delivers taxable $100 monthly cheques to every Canadian parent to care for each child under 6. Savage was defending some approximation of Paul Martin’s 2005 national child care program, which would pay for daycare centres for a smaller number of the nation’s children.

A man in the audience asked Savage why parents should pay into such a program through their taxes if they were going to raise their own children at home. “I know a lot of people feel that way,” Savage said, helplessly. “A lot of people felt that way about universal health care in Canada. I think we’ll be a stronger society when we have a national system of early learning and child care. And there’s no question that it will benefit some families more than others. But that’s your choice.”

Finley, by contrast, was in her element. She quoted the institute’s own research on child-rearing preferences chapter and verse. It’s true that $100 a month doesn’t pay for luxury, she said, but sometimes folks just need to buckle down. “You know, parents need to make choices every single day. And we say that, well, they can’t afford not to have both work. In some cases that’s absolutely true. In other cases it’s because parents have chosen a lifestyle.” She pronounced the last word the way somebody else might pronounce “pestilence.”

“When I grew up, we had one phone in the house, no extensions. It also functioned as the business phone. We had one car, we had one black and white television, no cellphone, no dishwasher, no microwave. No computer, no Internet. A lot of families expect that they should have all of those now. But I’ve met a lot of people, particularly in my riding, who tell me, ‘No, we don’t need all of those electronic things. What we need is time with our family.’ ” The audience applauded warmly.

Harper’s hard right turn

Photograph by Blair Gable

In the crowd I spotted a fellow who sometimes does strategy work for the Harper Conservatives. I took him aside to ask about the contrast between the ink-stained fiscal conservatives of the press, who see so little to redeem this government, and the social conservative grassroots.

“The days of winning on economic conservatism are over,” the Conservative adviser told me. “No real conservative government is going to win without having a significant portion of our agenda on social issues.”

An election run on free trade, deficit reduction, tax cuts and productivity is one where any of the major national parties can appeal to voters who care about those issues—certainly the Liberals, under Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin or Michael Ignatieff, perhaps even one day the NDP. “If we have an election about deficits, it’s going to be, do we get rid of them in three years or four years? It’s not going to be, do we get rid of deficits or not?”

But social conservatism offers Harper what he has always coveted: a sharply divided electorate where he owns a sizable chunk of the voters and the other parties fight over what’s left. My interlocutor reminded me that social conservatism is not always, or even often, an explicit appeal to religious values, because Harper sees social conservatism as a set of values that can reach voters across and beyond denominational boundaries, but simply a constant appeal to “education, children’s welfare, family—the institutional foundations of our society.”

In this context, the debate between Savage and Finley wasn’t of merely anecdotal interest, the adviser said. “This is the future of conservatism. This is an absolutely fundamental question: do we take children out of homes so they can be raised by the state, or do we put money into homes so parents can raise them?”

It has been habitual in Liberal campaigns since 2000, when Jean Chrétien shut down the Canadian Alliance under Stockwell Day, to deliver dark warnings about a Conservative “hidden agenda” at odds with Canadian progressive values. This has been getting harder for two reasons. First, very little about what Harper is doing is hidden. Second, much of it is solidly in line with the values of millions of Canadians. Not the ones who used to be in power, to be sure. Just the ones who support this government.

For many years, Harris Decima pollster Allan Gregg has asked respondents whether they consider themselves conservatives, liberals or centrists, and he’s also asked them how they vote. In recent years, he told the Manning Centre conference, the number of self-identified conservatives has been growing. But what’s almost more interesting is that the political allegiance of self-identified centrists has shifted, too. In 1997, 41 per cent of centrists voted for the Chrétien Liberals. In 2008, 48 per cent voted for the Harper Conservatives. Two things have happened. As the population ages and is buffeted by polarizing events like the struggle against international terrorism, the centre has shifted rightward. And the Harper Conservatives have pushed the Liberals, sometimes with their hearty co-operation, off-centre.

Gregg found that 89 per cent of respondents, nearly everyone, agrees that “nothing is more important than family.” Sixty-seven per cent agree that “marriage is, by definition, between a man and a woman,” 60 per cent that “abortion is morally wrong.”

Harper’s hard right turn

Photograph by Blair Gable

For as long as he’s been observing politics, many of them as a pollster for Progressive Conservative leaders Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney, Gregg has watched conservatives argue about whether to satisfy an activist base or reach out to a broader, less partisan coalition. Clark and Mulroney opted for the latter and their party did not long survive the fragmentation that ensued. The former strategy has its dangers, too: Conservatives could “set a ceiling on their support,” a real concern to Harper as he consistently falls short of electoral majorities. But while the debate has been going on, “the centre has moved to become more conservative,” Gregg said. So a strategy of explicit appeal to social conservatives is “much more available than it used to be.”

You know who has provided the most elaborate analysis of that phenomenon? Stephen Harper. He delivered it in private, at a closed-door meeting of the conservative social group Civitas in April 2003, but a month later he published it in the now-defunct Citizens Centre Report magazine. Rereading it in the context of current politics is an uncanny experience.

Speaking as the new leader of a Canadian Alliance that had not yet merged with Peter Mackay’s Progressive Conservatives, Harper argued that “on a wide range of public policy questions—including foreign affairs and defence, criminal justice and corrections, family and child care, and health care and social services—social values are increasingly the really big issues.”

First, he said, “Conservatives have to give much higher place to confronting threats posed by modern liberals” to the family, a “building block of our society.” That meant Conservatives must push hard on such issues as “banning child pornography, raising the age of sexual consent, providing choice in education and strengthening the institution of marriage.”

Harper then laid out guidelines for choosing issues to fight on. First, the issues “should not be denominational, but should unite social conservatives of different denominations and even different faiths. It also helps when social conservative concerns overlap those of people with a more libertarian orientation.”

Second, gains would have to be slow and incremental. Third, “rebalancing means there will be changes to the composition of the conservative coalition.” “Old Conservatives” like Joe Clark might leave, as Clark soon did. But “many traditional Liberal voters, especially those from key ethnic and immigrant communities, will be attracted to a party with strong traditional views of values and family. This is similar to the phenomenon of the ‘Reagan Democrats’ in the United States.” It is no coincidence—it is a keystone of Harper’s strategy—that perhaps his closest cabinet ally is Jason Kenney, a devout Catholic and former federal Liberal in his student days who has been responsible for ethnic outreach since long before he became immigration minister.

Because it is incremental, Harper’s social project is not close to being done. For next steps, many conservatives are turning to Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada’s Founding Values, a new book by Brian Lee Crowley, an economist and founder of the new Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Crowley does not regard himself as a social conservative. But many who do see themselves that way like what he’s saying.

To caricature a complex argument, Crowley says the modern welfare state has overextended itself, is unsustainable, and causes more harm than good to institutions like the family. These trends will only get worse when an aging population sharply increases the cost of delivering most social programs. One size can no longer fit all. Social services will have to be narrowly aimed at those who need them most, and delivered only as long as recipients are willing to improve their behaviour by attending to their family, keeping or seeking a job, and so on. Government is no good at any of that and, in the opinion of most, shouldn’t try.

Harper’s hard right turn

Photograph by Blair Gable

“It is precisely for this reason, in my view, that we have seen in both the United States and the United Kingdom a growing use of the private sector, including the not-for-profit and so-called faith-based charities, for the delivery of social services,” Crowley writes. “Such private agencies may be more demanding of their clientele and expect more in the way of improvements in behaviour.”

Crowley’s book was published last autumn. It seems to have been barely one step ahead of the news. This month’s Throne Speech contained a single line saying the government “will look to innovative charities and forward-thinking private-sector companies to partner on new approaches to many social challenges.”

Such charities and companies were much in evidence at the Manning Centre conference. The changes Crowley anticipates are expected and embraced by social conservatives. Meanwhile, the federal Liberals are still defending policies from five years ago, policies Harper has taken pains to ensure future federal governments won’t be able to afford, with his GST cuts and his massive cash transfers to the provinces. If the Liberals cannot begin to make a case for a return to larger, more activist—and more expensive—state-run social welfare, then Stephen Harper’s social conservative revolution will only accelerate.


 

Harper’s hard right turn

  1. Why doesn't he just rename the CPC the Christian Taliban Party and be done with it?

    • drole

    • I love this!

    • Because the Liberals already have a monopoly on that sad story.

      • Really Chester? Please explain.

    • sophomoric again

      • Tailban?

        Oh you mean the guys who blow up girls schools and throw acid in the faces of unvieled women. Certainly you can make a better argument against the CPC than just making absurd comparisons.

    • Taliban – as in Fundamentalist. All Fundamentalists whether they're Christian, Jewish or Muslim – are the same.

      Talibangelists.

  2. Good article, though it does expand on your previous work. Nice to see you didn't try to paint any horns on any of the folks you wrote about, but never fear, I'm sure some of the next commentators will do so.

    • Yes, no doubt many of the commenters will choose to shoot the messenger Wells and continue to attempt to demonize conservatism.

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  3. So let's see:

    According to this piece, the main achievements of the Harper Tories thus far would be 1) encouragement of religious extremism, 2) promulgation of Bush-II policiess that didn't work, 3) the sucessful halting of their own bills in Parliament, and the ability to attract the same lunatic fringe the Republican party is currently crusading for. Oh, and "tactical obsession and fiscal profligacy."

    All that, and the ability to corral the squabbling, divisive elements who think foetuses are people, global warming isn't happening, and that more guns in public life are a good thing.

    That's nice. Wonder what the Liberals will do when the regain government after the next election?

    Apart, of course, from cleaning up the godawful mess that the Conservatives are leaving.

    • When has Harper ever encouraged religious extremism? What GWB policies are you refering to? And the Republican party is American, they "crusade" for American votes. Americans can't vote in Canada, so why would the Tories be targeting American voters? How are the Fiberals going to win an election with an American as leader, Republican voters?

      • How about Rob Anders, who used to work for the denialist Republican Inhofe? What's a wannabe American doing as a Conservative MP who only to keeps his nomination because Harper breaks the rules to protect him? And what does Anders have on Harper?

    • You are so wrong, it's sickening. Liberal under Ignatieff are unable to win any election. At the depth of recession, instead of working with Harper, Ignatieff said the he would increase government expenditures AND reduce the deficit. Then he declared "Your time is up, Mr. Harper" only to fail. Canadians are not stupid -well perhaps some are- and do not forget these things. Ignatieff, like Dion is a failure. The NDP remains a far left, radical anti-semitic party. The Conservatives are here to stay. Eat your heart out!

    • Shut up Liberal…. honestly, this whole liberal bickering is really starting to annoy everyone. Liberals suck. NDP is terrible. Remember when Ontario was governed by the NDP party, under Bob Rae? Taxes were unbelievably high, he had the worst approval ratings. Honestly, just give the Conservatives a majority. These Canadians were protesting when Stephen Hapre prorogued parliament. Cmon…. nothing gets done in parliament anyways. Who gives a rat's a**. No one has a majority, no one can do anything…. so ya… shut up liberal. NDP party? haha cmon

    • sim be happy that finally a fresh wind is blowing tom

  4. What i love about the So Cons is that the ridings most of them represent would also be won by a wheelbarrow with a blue C painted on the side. And likely more effectively represented. They have power in numbers but limited legitimacy in any sane ordering of the world. The law and order bumpkins now consider a grow-op someone with 4 pot plants. Well done!

    • I’m sure you have done lots of research to boast such claims. But you might have a point, as a wheelbarrow represents work, and the majority of conservatives think work is a good thing, they probably would elect it. They prefer action to just banter.

      • Liberals hate anything that might remind them that they have to look after themselves rather than waiting for a check from the State.

        • I'll bet you were rather pleased with yourself when you came up (or stole) with that one, and the joy you feel when you use it 100+ times hasn't diminished at all! Zing on!

    • Whatever. Brooks was one of the "conservatives" who fell for Obama, and is now watching his hopes implode. (Obama may yet be re-elected, but not as the temperamentally 'conservative' Burkean sort that Brooks thought he saw.)

      He has nothing to contribute to the American political right.

      Note that Cameron has now run into problems in Britain, too… I mean, if you're a libertarianish sort who loved Margaret Thatcher, why on earth would you vote for him? (Hatred of Labour, and a desire to see them out. That's the only reason not to vote UKIP and stay with the Tories.)

    • Doug Saunders wrote about the same thing, though less pompously and more succinctly last week in the G&M. However such an adoption is unlikely to draw and appease the militia/birther/Glenn Beck tea party crowd.

  5. It is certainly the case that social conservatives have got a lot noisier, but, as in the States, they don't seem capable of sufficient compromise to add many converts. So long as he comes over as a social conservative, then Harper is doomed to minority as a result. But I do believe that there is a lot of hay to be made by espousing a more fiscally conservative stance, and I think that explains Chretien's success in the 90's.

    Fiscally conservative and socially liberal or some reasonable mixture thereof seems to me to be the wining combination. Harper's plan may be to try and edge in that direction (don't mention abortion!) but perhaps he can't really sell it. Ignatieff certainly can't sell fiscal conservatism, that's for sure.

    • The missing Iffy can't seem to sell anything!!

  6. Paul, the Gregg poll you cited – do you have the particulars (sample size, geographic distribution etc.? Or can you clarify, the 67% who think marriage should be between a man and a woman – is that only for self identified conservatives or everyone? If everyone, I question the poll, because this is dramatically higer than any I have ever seen. Most US polls do not have a 67% anti-gay marriage stance.

    • The poll results are here

      http://www.manningcentre.ca/content/manning-centr

      On the question you refer to, note that respondents graded their response on a 0-7 scale, and then "agree" is everyone who answered 5, 6 or 7. That may give you higher Yes numbers than on a binary yes-no scale.

      • Helpful – but I still question the accuracy / approach to the poll. in the same question, only 13% of Canadians were in the 1, 2, 3 answer (meaning they disagreed that marriage could only be between a woman and a man), arguably, that should encompass the "no" camp.

        Here's a link to Angus Reid – 84% of Canadians believe that same sex marriage should continue to be allowed or civil unions should be allowed. It may be the difference in the way the questions are asked…but they are so far apart I believe one (or both) of the polls must have a major glitch.

        http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/canada_more_

      • Helpful – but I still question the accuracy / approach to the poll. in the same question, only 13% of Canadians were in the 1, 2, 3 answer (meaning they disagreed that marriage could only be between a woman and a man), arguably, that should encompass the "no" camp.

        Here's a link to Angus Reid – 84% of Canadians believe that same sex marriage should continue to be allowed or civil unions should be allowed. It may be the difference in the way the questions are asked…but they are so far apart I believe one (or both) of the polls must have a major glitch.

        http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/canada_more_

        • It needn't be a glitch since (a) asking about "marriage by definition" is different than asking whether "same sex marriage should continue to be allowed OR civil unions should be allowed – but NOT marry" (your 84% figure comes from people who answered yes to both of those) (b) people are constantly giving answers to political polls which seem to be contradictory or incoherent to people who follow politics more closely. To some extent this is a result of people being misinformed, and to some extent it's a result of the political class being more interested in results that conform to their pre-determined analytical categories and prejudices. (For instance, many people might not want to actively stop gay marriage, but they might continue to regard it as "different" and thus not "marriage by definition", or at least not the definition of the respondent.)

          • For instance, many people might not want to actively stop gay marriage, but they might continue to regard it as "different" and thus not "marriage by definition", or at least not the definition of the respondent.

            An interesting point. And it would be consistent with the views of many libertarian leaning folks. As in, "I believe in a particular set of pre-defined prejudices / ideologies, but I don't have the moral right to try to force people to agree with my personal belief system."

            These are people I can get along with. They can be bigoted all they want so long as they leave the rest of us out of it.

          • The suggestion isn't a complete hypothesis on my part: from time to time I've seen polls (in various countries) that show more people expressing support for gay marriages and/or civil unions than expressing personal support for homosexuality. I haven't followed this closely, and it may change over time as well, but it does match the reactions of at least some people I've known personally. Of course, if one objected to homosexuality very strongly, as some evangelicals do, one would probably not have that sort of split reaction.

    • It does not surprise me. While I have no problem with gays they do not have the right to pretend their relationships are the same as that between a man and a woman. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

      • What a profound, insightful point – not argued on philosophy, religion, logic or science. Just your assertion.

      • "While I have no problem with gays they do not have the right to pretend their relationships are the same as that between a man and a woman. Sorry, that's just the way it is."

        Fortunately for the rest of us, Robin, you aren't the autocratic ruler of a theocratic Canadian regime. So, no, that isn't 'the way it is.' In fact, sexual orientation is a protected Charter right, so the opposite is quite true.

        • Actually it is not in the Charter. It was "read in" by a socialist Supreme Court after Parliament had specifically left out gay rights when the Charter was created. Unfortunately in Canada we have no checks and balances and we have been left with a bunch of unelected judges who create law rather than follow it.
          Marriage is not a "sexual orientation" issue, it is a bunch of perverts trying to pretend they are "normal" by copying a heterosexual tradition.

          • It was read in because its implicit. As for checks and balances, if you recall, Parliament passed legislation on the matter.

            Or do you mean that there should be a theocratic authority to stop this kind of 'perversion'? Perhaps we can see if Ayatollah Khomeini is free?

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  7. Great article. At last some "big picture" political reporting. Well done.

    It should be noted that PM Harper has already won a majority government in ROC (136 seats versus the opposition Lib/NDP 99).

    So the next article should be about how the CPC intends to appeal to francophone "bleus" in Quebec. Is this what Maxime Bernier has been to of late? Is Bernier to Quebec social conservatives what Jason Kenney is to conservative-thinking immigrants? Some more "big picture" political reporting is sorely needed. Thank you.

  8. I was wondering which old speech of Harper's it was that Wells was looking at — that one, about the coalition between classical liberalism and classical conservatism, is a good one.

    It's an approach — the nods to non-state organizations, etc. — that both sides can appreciate, compared to the approach preferred by the Liberals when they are in power.

    And it is a path to a more durable coalition that can win electoral majorities. It isn't one that necessarily _will_, but it's one that may, over the longer run.

  9. This is excellent and explains a lot to me about the Conservative government that I didn't understand.

    “The days of winning on economic conservatism are over”

    In my not so humble opinion, this is flat out wrong. I believe that Jean Chretien, love him or hate him, trained us to be a nation of deficit hawks. I believe there is still a mass of citizens who are looking for a government that treats taxpayer dollars like its our money and not a slush fund. Again, I cite the re-election of Jean Chretien and the Re-election of Mike Harris after 'brutal' programs to balance the books.

    • I think what the source was trying to say is that the major parties align on the deficit issue. The question on the deficit issue now is not are we going do have one or not but what time frame is your plan to elimnate it.

      So if the parties to varying degrees agree with deficits are bad, the issue is moot. So where is the next pool of voters going to come from where that is not a issue?

      • Biff – you're back – still waiting for your list of Liberal media biases that you whine about. Remember? I was asking you to prove your point?

      • Yeah, that's how I took it too – but he's wrong.

        The deficit isn't going to vanish without some serious work. After a couple of years that will become obvious and somebody's going to have to deal with it. The Conservatives act like the deficit will just go away eventually — I don't think Canadians will be tolerant of "eventually."

        • That's why Harper is still trying to figure out how to get a majority, it's the only way he'll be able to deal with the deficit and stay in power at the same time.

          I predict that two things will be the ruin of Harper:

          1. The infrastructure spending money. That much money going out the door that quick, there's no way some of it wasn't scammed or grafted. Money probably changed hands under the table. It may take a couple of years, but eventually the Auditor General will start looking through the books and an Adscam type s—storm goes down.

    • Reform is the only reason the LIberals stopped spending. Like a lot of other Reform policies they used them to retain power. The Liberals did the same with a lot of NDP policies from Medicare to immigration.

      • Please – are you familiar with a MAJORITY government? The Reform Party could've been the Blue Man Group and it wouldn't mattered. The policies and perspectives did not impact Chretien's agenda in the slightest.

        • Parliamentary votes aren't the only way to influence policy, YYZ.

          The Reform party had been beating the deficit drum for at least five years before the IMF (or maybe it was the World Bank) finally started pushing Chretien on the issue. It was Reform that forced deficit reduction onto Canadians' radar screens and made them start worrying about what it would mean it we kept running deficits forever. Also, Reform's stance on the issue gave Chretien political cover when he eventually did move to start cutting, since he knew that his only real federal opposition generally supported his new goal.

  10. Christians,

    in Canada,

    espousing their views,

    we're not making this up.

    • Long term trends are not on your side, plus the large marquee battles of social conservatism have basically been lost.

  11. it was interesting to see the conservative child care proponent use the "beer and popcorn" as an argument in FAVOUR of the $100 a month plan. People can't be trusted to not spend their money on frivolous "lifestyle" items (like the internet, which wasn't around when she was a child) so we will give everyone a small amount of discretionary $?

    You can fool some of the people most of the time, I guess.

    • Uh, Mike, he was mocking the beer-and-popcorn counter-argument. Go ahead, re-read G's post with that thought in mind.

      • I was actually commenting on Finley's comments from the actual article. It would be neat to see a transcript of that particular debate.

      • Yeah, I do think Finley was making the beer and popcorn argument when she said:

        "When I grew up, we had one phone in the house, no extensions. It also functioned as the business phone. We had one car, we had one black and white television, no cellphone, no dishwasher, no microwave. No computer, no Internet. A lot of families expect that they should have all of those now. But I've met a lot of people, particularly in my riding, who tell me, ‘No, we don't need all of those electronic things. What we need is time with our family.' ”

        In other words, "Why would we build a comprehensive child care system with taxpayers' dollars just so that parents can waste their disposable income on a colour television and a microwave???". So, OK, it's a "colour t.v. and the internet" argument, not a "beer and popcorn" argument, but it's essentially the same argument.

        I'd also like to meet some of these people in Finley's riding who'd like to go back to having a single house phone (rotary dial I presume), one car, black and white t.v., no microwave, and no computers for their family.

        • OK, so we're parsing Finley, not Gaunilon. Good. Sorry about mixing that up.

          But I do see a big difference between the Reid beer-n-popcorn gaffe and Finley's argument. And if you'll bear with me…

          Reid said don't give families the $$$ because they'll waste it, and not even on their kids. Finley is saying, with a little direct help in the way of $$ to families, that may be just enough to keep one parent at home to raise the kid.

          Reid wasn't willing to trust parents. Finley is. You may certainly argue who is correct (I bet both are in different familial circumstances, but I have no guess as to where the majority of Canadian parents deserve to be), but only one of them is completely politically tone-deaf. And it isn't Finely.

          • I see how the confusion could arise and welcome the opportunity for clarification.

          • And Finley tailored her message with more finesse, I will give her that.

        • "I'd also like to meet some of these people in Finley's riding who'd like to go back to having a single house phone (rotary dial I presume), one car, black and white t.v., no microwave, and no computers for their family."

          Other than the "no computers" part, you'd be surprised at how many people do this so that they can afford to have one parent stay home and raise the children.

          Also, they generally give up the TV altogether – there's no point in having a BW TV when you have a colour computer monitor.

    • People can't be trusted to not spend their money on frivolous "lifestyle" items…
      – Mike T. [Fascist]

    • Beer and Popcorn DOES happen. I have a friend who's a family law lawyer who specializes in domestic abuse. Some of her stories/cases would make you cry.

      Not all parents are good parents and not all parents are good at making decisions.

      • I agree completely. Which is why a national daycare program is a better investment than giving every family $100 per child.

        • So, if I'm reading you correctly, the majority of good parents who can manage a family have to be saddled with the one size fits some national progam for the few bad eggs that don't manage?

          Man, get over yourself with your sancimonious overseer attitude and leave the rest of us alone. This isn't Soviet Canuckistan where the government knows best.

          • You are not. I later thought of adjusting the post read "PART of why a national daycare program…" But I figured only a disingenous cretin would call me on it.

            So hardly a majority, although the issue is of some small concern. Interestingly, the number of families who would spent the money in an objectively frivolous manner is going to be far far higher than the number of people for whom a parent can now stay at home because of their $100.

          • Hey, I don't know if you're one of those "WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN" shills who use the smallest thing to justify the biggest of entitlements (and there are enough of those running around to satisfy almost anyone).
            I won't comment on anyone else's situation, but in my case the $100 "beer and popcorn" money let's our family work it out that we only need a half day of childcare twice a week. In these parts if you want any access to the government subsidised system you have to take on a full time spot, that's not what many need. There are many families that just need part-time care to have one parent work a little to make ends meet (or afford a few extras) until the kids are in school full-time that a full blown child care system would be overkill.
            This still leaves aside the arguement that childcare should be a provincial jurisdiction, not federal (that's why CFS falls on the provinces).

          • So, you are in a position that alot of families are not – good for you. You are one of the lucky ones.

          • "This isn't Soviet Canuckistan where the government knows best. "

            This is certainly Canuckistan. We are all Canucks! Canada's team! Go Blue & Green!

        • Why is a national daycare program so wonderful if only a small number of families will have access to it? I managed to raise a child without a national daycare program and wouldn't want one.

          • For shame, Two Yen! The proper terminology is UNIVERSAL EARLY CHILD EDUCATION that just so happens to have, it being universal, a very long waiting list.

  12. Nice to see the left leaning liberal and U of Toronto socialism has not yet left Maclean's. And to the harper's vagueness comment, when have we ever heard any politician say with absoluete certainty what they would do…….oh ya, the Liberal Red Book,….and the GST is still here.

    • Who cares what the LPC did fifteen years ago? We are talking about the here and now. Wouldn't it be nice to see someone tell you what they were going to do, and then do it? Isn't that the point of democracy? I want ALL of our politicians to put their cards on the table, tell us what they want to do, and let us make the decisions.

      By making excuses for these people, you're just perpetuating a system whereby your life, liberty and property are all game pieces for politicians to shuffle and discard in their drive for more power.

  13. On the social conservative side…interesting, but IT'S ALL MARGINAL. Any serious social conservative programs will not be enacted because there will be a Canadian revolt. It is simply not in our blood. No government will overturn gay marriage, ban abortions, fund religous schools (see Tory, John), implement the death penalty.

    This means the social conservative movement will have to live on incrementalism…slightly tougher criminal sentences (who really cares), a more hawkish foreign policy (again, we are Canada, who really cares), a lot of caterwauling in election campaigns about family values (that's new?). Social conservatism in terms of government policy can only be incremental. Which may suit the social conservatives just fine, without pissing of the rest of us.

    But someday, by God, someone is going to have to make some tough choice and eliminate the bloody deficit and they will get my vote.

    • I believe incrementalism has always been Wells' point: Harper isn't steering the country to the right with a hard turn, but with slight shifts of the steering wheel.

      As for the religious school funding, I don't see what the big hulabaloo is. Here in Quebec, a large number of ethnic private (semi-private?) schools are publicly funded, and while they're technically "ethnic" schools (not religiously oriented), does anyone have any doubts that (for example) a publicly-funded private Hebrew school would teach Judaism? Or a Greek one would teach Orthodox Christianity? Isn't the line blurred between ethnicity and religion?

      • He who pays the piper calls the tune, my friend. A publicly funded religious school is either a school in a largely monoreligious society, or it's on the path to becoming a secular school….in which case it's just a duplication of resources.

        • Funding of religious schools is a product of political pandering; you can't justify it economically and it drives religious and cultural groups into private enclaves even more than we already see among immigrants which, in my opinon at least, is contrary to the greater good.

          It's especially twisted for Quebec to fund religious schools, at least some of which will be teaching young women they are required to veil their faces – and then to forbid the same behaviour elsewhere.

    • longer sentences and a larger military would be really big drains on the public treasury, though.

    • In Ontario the government does fund religious schools. It's nuts, and social conservatives have generally been against it.

      I don't think most social conservatives in Canada favour the death penalty. Does anyone have polling data on this?

      As to others, here's a prediction for you: in 100 years the government will be out of the marriage business altogether, and abortion will be prosecuted as homicide. People will look back on our era and shake their heads at how callous we were.

      • And women will have no rights over their own bodies, since their only value is as walking wombs. Go to hell.

        • Rather, they won't have the right to kill other human beings, since other human lives are of some value.

          • Interesting, the policies about "women's" issues coming from men. We all know about the clergy/abuse of children and they have the nerve to tell women what to do?

            Also, the issue of abortion contrdicts itself in the Bible.

          • – My name is gender-neutral

            – One doesn't object to killing people only if its one's own kind doing the killing, i.e., when Germans killed Jews, it was perfectly reasonable and humane for, say, a French atheist to object.

            – Clergy? The Bible? What does any of that have to do with anything? The humanity of the fetus is better established by medical science than anything in the Bible.

          • Rather, they'll be forced to support other living things with their very body.

            Glad I'm not a woman and nobody thinks that it's okay to force me to donate my kidneys..

          • How about if we force Gaunilon and Giambrone to have vasectomies? Surely they are willing to give up control over their bodies.

          • It's a false analogy, since a vasectomy obviously does not kill a small and innocent child. If such an analogy existed, however, of course I would do it: it's obviously a small price to pay next a child's life. In fact, however, the analogy still doesn't work, because a vasectomy is still less "involved" than pregnancy and childbirth. But that doesn't mean that killing innocent babies therefore stops being a problem.

          • Clearly it is an accurate analogy.

            The abortion issue isn't about harm, nervous systems aren't developed so suffering cannot occur. The abortion issue is about the 'icky' feelings people have, a complete misunderstanding of basic biology, and not understanding basic logic.

            For example, if you argue that we are 'killing innocent babies' you are missing that every egg that doesn't get fertilized is a potential life that no longer exists. By not forcing all women be inseminated from the moment they are capable of child birth to the moment they are not, you are essentially 'killing' potential human beings.

            Certainly the abortion issue allows you to personalize. However, as I mentioned earlier, you have to decide: Either you believe that 'life' begins with conscious thought, and that fetal suffering is requisite before you can even think about forcing another person to play host, or you believe that 'every sperm is sacred' and women should be strapped down and forced into childbirth.

            Anything in between is just you deciding how far you are willing to go before things are 'icky.'

          • "Either you believe that 'life' begins with conscious thought, and that fetal suffering is requisite before you can even think about forcing another person to play host, or you believe that 'every sperm is sacred' and women should be strapped down and forced into childbirth."

            This entire paragraph is confused, for instance:

            "Either you believe that 'life' begins with conscious thought…"
            Has anyone ever claimed this? And so what if they had? The relationship between consciousness and existence is completely speculative as a general proposition, let alone as applied to a child inside the womb.

            "…and that fetal suffering is requisite before you can even think about forcing another person to play host…"
            What does this have to do with anything"

            "…or you believe that 'every sperm is sacred'…"
            Who has ever claimed this?

            In general, you're trying to cast the pro-life position as incoherent because it's one about *potential* life; if it were about that, then your points would all be logical. But in fact it's about *actual* life.

          • Re: Consciousness

            Consciousness is what makes the difference between a person and an animal. If you don't believe that consciousness is the reason why we do not kill each other, then I would expect you to be a vegan. Are you?

            Re: Suffering.

            Suffering plays an important element in the argument because it is a reason for not causing harm. If you believe that something is suffering, it is important that you try to minimize suffering.

            Again, it's like with consumption of animals. We do our best to minimize the suffering animals feel when they are slaughtered. We do this because, even though the animals do not have consciousness, they still feel pain. There is no reason to cause excessive pain if it can be avoided.

            Re: Sperm sacredness.

            Monty python.

            Re: Life.

            Define life.

          • Yes, "Define life" is really the crux of this whole debate.

          • No. The crux of the debate is : Do woman have the right to control their bodies or do religious extremists who tend to be males have the right to interfere with women's personal sovereignty?

            Your own prejuidices are showing.

          • Well that isn't entirely true is it? I mean, if we were to hypothetically agree that a fetus is actually a fully conscious human being, with all the rights and privileges associated, then the argument is somewhat different, isn't it?

            The argument then becomes: When do the rights of one human being out way the rights of another? One side would say that the fetus does not have the right to impose itself on the body of the woman. The other argument would be harm based, in that killing the fetus would harm the fetus far more than asking to woman to carry the fetus to term.

            Fortunately, this is a hypothetical argument and in reality the fetus is more equivalent to an animal and animals, by necessity, are deemed of lower importance than humans.

          • animals not having consciousness? That must clearly be an opinion. Yours in this case. Animals do not have the capacity to reason, but a consciousness they may very well have.

            You mean to say that animals cannot act conscienciously, by which you might mean that they can not have "second thoughts" about things. Humans can have second thoughts, but that is because of reason,not because of being singled out as having a consciousness.

            The debate about abortion hinges on our capabilty to reason. It's in fact ironic that scientific research has made the possibility of a safe abortion possible, AND, at the same time, scientific research has made the markings of beginning of human life more complicated. A long time ago we didn't even know how or why a human life grew inside another body.

          • I don't mean to say conscientiousness.

            The ability to reason would probably be a better way of putting it.

          • There is nothing "potential" about a fetus, it stopped being a potential baby the second it was fertilized and cells started to divide. It then went from potential to inevitable. And no one Forced you to get pregnant in the first place, that was your choice to take the risk, you just don't want to deal with the consequences of your actions. And for those who are not ready to be mothers then give the child up for adoption. Is someone's life worth 9 months of inconvenience??

            Also lets take your argument the other way. You say we need to choose one or the other or we are just deciding how far we will go. Let me ask you this, how far is too late for an abortion, if the fetus is not alive, when does it gain rights in your opinion, after birth? 1 year? 2? After all, a newborn has no self-sufficiency and little awareness of its own situation, why not kill it too. IT won't understand what's happening so how can it suffer?

            You want to use science as your argument, well here is hard science. Life is life, it Respirates, Reproduces, Ingests and Excretes, Moves, and is aware of self. A fetus has ALL of these qualities even before the first cell has divided. Abortion is not just canceling a chemical reaction, it is the willful killing of a early form of human life. No different than killing a caterpillar before it becomes a butterfly.

          • In many cases women do not have a choice about becoming pregnant.

          • "There is nothing "potential" about a fetus, it stopped being a potential baby the second it was fertilized and cells started to divide."

            I don't believe that that word (inevitable) means what you think it means.

            " Is someone's life worth 9 months of inconvenience?? "

            I don't know. If the only way to save a person's life was to force you into slavery for 9 months, would you be okay with us forcing that decision on you? It doesn't matter what your answer is because a fetus isn't a person, but it's an interesting thought experiment.

            "Let me ask you this, how far is too late for an abortion, if the fetus is not alive, when does it gain rights in your opinion"

            Given what we know about the developmental process, the logical cuttoff point would be somewhere towards 35 weeks, which is the point at which the fetus is able to survive outside of the womb without significant medial intervention.

            "IT won't understand what's happening so how can it suffer?"

            There is a difference between understanding and consciousness. I think I've been clear that consciousness is the benchmark that I am using.

            "A fetus has ALL of these qualities even before the first cell has divided."

            There you go anthropomorphizing. And a single cell no less. A single cell does not have the required complexity to support self awareness. If you don't understand this, I'm not sure why I bothered to write out this whole response to you. Likely its a masochism thing.

          • But RunningGag, you use arbitrary methods for deciding when human life is. But that is exactly the topic under the abortion issue, for you feel free to use a particular arbitray cut-off, or beginning, depending how one looks at it. And yet you argue counter to that that another mind, such as other posters can not use arbitrary lines.

            That doesn't sound rock solid, not even for a Sunday perspective on things.

          • Yancy has never heard the term, "miscarriage" or he wouldn't call the fetus "inevitable." He has also not considered the cases of rape when he argues that "no one Forced you to get pregnant in the first place." He has also never heard of postnatal psychosis or he couldn't talk about "9 months of inconvenience." In some cases, pregnancy leads to a lifetime of psychiatric disorders or physical incapacitation, but all he sees are "9 months of inconvenience."

            I'd like to see his "hard science" evidence that all life is "aware of self."

          • Killing someone because they're inconvenient for you isn't generally regarded as an acceptable defense; it might be the sort of thing that you would do, but that's just the sort of person that you are. Beyond which, a child in the womb is the most innocent of all people: they didn't ask to be created, they just were.

          • The foetus is not just in a damned womb, it is inside a woman's body and it is her choice whether to allow it to stay or not. I am so sick of religious fundamentalist who treat women as things!

          • who here has said they are part of ANY religion? Personally I am an Atheist. I still have morals as an Atheist though, and they tell me that murdering someone because they are inconvenient is wrong, no matter HOW old they are. It's not just the fundamentalists against abortion, it's everyone who realizes that its a person your killing, just because you didn't want to be inconvenienced for a couple months. I agree, we are NOT to be treated as things, but neither are unborn children!

          • Women die in childbirth because they were not allowed to have abortions. Do you want women to die for lack of an abortion, even when their foetus will die also?

            What basis would you, who claims to be an atheist, have to call a foetus a person?

          • and I am sick of women (or men) who think pregnancies and the begetting of new life is the worst thing happening on earth!

            Because, and forgive me for believing this: you are creating this impression

          • Don't worry too much about Holly Stick FV….

            If the depth of her thought process was water……….you wouldn't get your sock feet wet wading in her beliefs.

          • AH, opinions, opinions, eh! :)

            But it is important for all people to think a little deeper to have a healthy democracy, no?

      • I the fund schools for a single religion and I agree, it's nuts. Latest poll I could find on death penalty, 44% support it in Canada. That's overall, you could argue social conservatives could be highe or lower (not sure if we have Texas SoCons or more peaceful ones).

        Agree with you on marriage. I am highly unqualified to even begin to comment on your point re: abortions.

        http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/death_penalt… –

      • You heard it here first, ladies.. so make sure you get your fill of cinnamon now, because once Gaunilon's holy grail comes into effect, it may send you to jail.

        • Thankfully, I'll no longer be around if that should ever come to pass. I had an abortion in my mid 30's. I was a smoker and my Dr. would no longer write out a prescription for the pill. Back then condoms were not the norm. Women's cycles are not always predictable. I did not want to continue the relationship with the father who was separated with 2 daughters and devoted to them. I thought hard and long about my decision, based on having had 2 friends who each raised a child without any financial support compensation from the fathers, though each had been in a relationship. One was a single diplomat who returned to his home country and refused to acknowledge his child. I know it was his child as my girlfriend and I were roomates and he was the only one she was involved with at the time. The other friend was in a 2/3 yr. relationship and lived with him. They could get no justice from the legal system. There were countless stories of divorced women whose husbands skipped town and left their spouses to pay for the upbringing of their children.

      • I'll take that bet on abortion being prosecuted as murder….

        I'll meet you back here in 100 years.

        • Winner pays $100 in today's dollars?

          • Sounds great!

            Just for reference, with "typical" growth rates, that would be closing in on about $1000 of 2110 money? As long as my salary keeps pace I suppose it won't be an issue….

          • Wicked. You bring the beer, I'll bring the pizza, and we'll try to keep our dentures from falling out while you concede the bet. While we're at it we can wax nostalgic about how much nicer things were back in the days when you had a real computer monitor to read the news from instead of those newfangled whatevers the young kids will all be using.

          • Heineken or Pilsner?

            And to get "serious" for just a moment…..your last thought (newfangled whatevers) actually relates to my reasoning for accepting the bet: obviously we have no way of knowing what the world will look like in 100 years, but I'm confident that medicine will have advanced by then, so that today's sequence of misuse or non-use of contraception, followed by x weeks to become aware of pregnancy etc will be ancient history, so to speak. Ie, I'm betting that the conditions that today lead to unwanted pregnancies will be essentially non-existant 100 years from now.

          • In the wealthy countries. If we are still a wealthy country then.

          • Sure, as a pre-condition for advances in the field of medicine, we would need to at least maintain a standard of living somewhat comparable to today.

            Obviously we have no way of knowing for sure how things will turn out, but in general terms I am relatively optimistic.

          • I'm betting that the conditions that today lead to division of humanity into "people" and "non-people" will still be there, but that the "non-people" will be some new group – the old and infirm, I suspect. You and I will probably have long been deemed non-persons and terminated in the interest of "civic health" or "youth rights" or whatever the euphemisms are by then. Doubtless there will be people standing up for us and being accused of imposing their morality on the young and healthy of the day.

            That's how it goes historically. The fight never ends, but it does shift ground fairly rapidly. Every 80 years or so a new target group gets either robbed blind or massacred because they are viewed as an impediment to societal "progress", then a lot of people get shamed into seeing what they've done, things quiet down for a while, and then the pattern repeats.

          • You seem to have a somewhat darker view of humanity than I do…..and Guinness it is.

          • Not all of humanity, just some. Hence the conflict.

            Anyway, I'd happily sit down for a Guinness with you if we ever meet up, bets and disagreements aside.

          • you should stop letting Sarah Palin giving you bad dreams Gaunilon.

          • Is this your idea of a meaningful or witty contribution to the discussion?

      • I'll gladly take your 100 year bet. We rarely move backwards as a society. Will blacks, for instance, return to slavery?

        • Do you consider abortions to be progress? What % of babies should be aborted before it's enough to satisify your "progressive" ideals?

          • I consider choice to be progress, and doubt I'll live to see it rescinded in our half of North America.

          • "I consider choice to be progress…"

            Does that include the choice of whether to see my tax dollars spent on foreign "aid" that includes abortions?

          • Once we have the right to earmark all of our tax dollars in our annual returns, so that I can refuse to fund my own pet-peeve issues, yes. Until then, no.

        • Funny you should bring that up. There was a time when blacks were not enslaved (in the British American colonies). Then society moved backwards and began to enslave them. Many protested this on the grounds that blacks are no less people than anyone else – those who wanted to keep the status quo suggested that if they didn't like slavery, they should just not buy slaves but not try to impose their morality on slave-owners. The US Supreme Court ruled that blacks were not legally persons, etc.

          Eventually society reverted back to the notion that skin colour does not determine human worth. So you see, it is possible for society to get out of ruts like this. Ours will eventually get out of this notion that level of development determines human worth.

          • They might even decide that women's lives deserve to be saved and theat woman have the right to control their own bodies.

      • I shake my head upon the callousness of what happened to women prior to the decriminalization of abortion. Most informed people do.

        • I do too. I knew of someone who went to a 'back alley' Dr and almost bled to death. Lots of women used horrific 'tools', 'methods' to abort. I even recall the days when I went with a friend to a Drs' office to get birth control pills and it was like a clandestine visit. She was 18, IIRC and I was still a 'virgin' at 19 or 20. I will say that I totally disagee with much of the sexual stuff that young teenage girls are engaging in. They are not emotionally equipped to engage in such activity.

          • Exactly so. Criminalizing abortion doesn't eliminate "dead babies" it just endangers women. Apparently a fully developed post-fetal life doesn't count for much if it's female, for the typical anti-abortionist.

            The numbers show that abortion is on the decline everywhere that birth control and education about same are readily available. Why do social conservatives balk at providing this, if they are indeed "pro life?

    • If you want to improve our country socially you would care about all the incremental steps towards social conservatism. Tougher criminal sentences means more people to support in prison, more confused youth turned into hardened criminals and rise in drug addictions(look at which first world nation with the highest rates of drug abuse, the States, compared to the lowest, the Netherlands). The reason Canadians are so beloved across the world, while the States are hated, is because of all the hard work Canadians have put in on the international scene, not because they think we're nice. Teaching sex ed harms our children? I don't think anyone from the States has the right to talk about what to teach children as their teen pregnancy is also the worst(highest) of the first world nations and one the most sexually open country(again the Netherlands) has the third lowest rates of teen pregnancy. If we want to improve our country we should fight for as socially liberal a country as possible and not accept any, I repeat, any social conservatism.

      • go Luc!

  14. Thanks for this excellent summary of the progress of Harper's vision for this country. It seems to me that this vision would appeal to citizens who place little value on dissent.

    • It would also appeal to citizens who value hard work, a close family unit, reaping the benifits of their labour, freedom from the long arm of the state, etc. What the heck does the "value" of "dissent" have to do with it?

      • "Dissent is a constitutive virtue of democracy. Rather than corroding social ideals, as authoritarians and conservatives believe, it strengthens partiality and cooperation between citizens. Dissent reveals a fundamental loyalty to a country, a society or a community."
        http://www.resetdoc.org/story/00000001270

        Not surprising that this concept is lost on some folks.

  15. Harper's hard right turn ???

    Whiplash lawyers available 24/7 and are now awaiting your calls.

  16. The "christian right" boogyman that has preoccupied the socialists/leftists in North America has been fascinating to watch indeed.

    Glad to see Paul ringing the cowbell for even more scrutiny to this dastardly belief system infecting our culture (which according to the leftists has always been devoid of christianity – changing "christmas" to a "winter solstace celebration" was…um…just a formality, no Christianity in our history, culture, legal development…nothing to see here, just move along).

    Tolerance, "progressive" style.

    • biff,

      I think I'd enjoy, ok, well not enjoy. I think I'd tolerate your posts a lot more if you just maybe wrote a draft first, and use the old high school "hamburger model" style of writing. You know, first sentence is your main idea (thesis). Subsequent sentences are ideas that support your main idea. And a closing sentence that reiterates your thesis and sums up the points.

      I truly have no idea what you're trying to say in the above post.

    • Paying Taxes & Separation of Church & State: Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the
      things that are God's. [Matthew 22:21] Public Prayer & Displays of Faith: And when thou pray, thou shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in
      the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
      But thou, when thou pray, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret…
      [Matthew 6:6 & 7]..

  17. So, I keep hearing all these smug little comments concerning how much the conservatives and their myriad little "think tanks" value the family, traditional "Christian values" and law-and-order social responsibility. Alright, let's start with the family: I think we can break this down into free time, housing and education. The first two are quite solidly linked. Like it or not, the wages of the average Canadian are not sufficient to purchase a home, or, in our large cities ( you know, where most of the country lives now) afford a multi-bedroom apartment. This means that both parents have to work, or 1 parent must start working two jobs, if they are to afford this traditional lifestyle that these folks seem to be touting with glistening eye and puffed out chest. Are the Conservatives going to do anything about this? Probably not.
    About the only thing I heard about education in this article is not teaching kids about sex. Any mention of our eroding school systems and exploding post-secondary fees? Any plans for the 1/3 of high school students who drop out (other than to tell then they're sinners and to straighten up). Any divinely inspired plan for dealing with a trained university graduate coming out of school with 30-50k in debt? Will that person be thinking of settling down and starting a family?
    Oh, and by the way; since most workers now have to be at least familiar with wireless technology and computers, is raising your kids without these things a good idea? All this article did was verify that the modern Conservative movement is the same old thing: rural, old or rich.

    • NO no no. We know from the debate mentioned above that women are working only to purchase frivolous liberal "lifestyle" items like the internet. Drastic decline in purchasing power is a liberal problem, hmpf!

    • Education is a provincial jurisdiction. So where Paul Wells writes "his massive cash transfers to the provinces", could just as well be read "massive cash transfers to education".

      Why do Liberals feel that everybody is entitled to an "education" that they can't afford, and assume they can move into some fancy new place that they can't afford? Why would I want to subsidize some urban dead-beat's lifestyle while I make the hard choices every day?

      It's exactly you're mentality that grass-roots conservatives find so utterly disconnected from reality, and why the Liberals and Dippers will never be able to make hay with it.

      • "Why do Liberals feel that everybody is entitled to an "education" that they can't afford". This is CON speak for only those whose sperm and egg happened to merge in the wombs of the rich and priviledged are entitled to get a better education and thus continue their cycle of priviledge.

        Sourpuss – I presume your lifestyle must really suck what with all the money you don't have because of all those damned poor people.

        • That's IDIOT speak for only those who can't formulate a coherent argument for debate.

          Secondly, I am not even remotely rich, I have student loan debt, live in an apartment by myself, have no car, and work an entry level job. My parents are divorced, neither was ever rich, Moms been a wheel chair for 5 years, and she's only 52. I'm definitely not privileged since I've been locked up by the police more times than I'm willing to admit here, and I've had to apply for every job I've ever had like everybody else. I work an entry level job in marketing, so I'm not some rich fat-cat strutting around. And I'm not talking about my personal situation, I'm talking about what's good PUBLIC policy.

          And I'm not talking about my personal taxes, because that would selfish and thoughtless. I'm talking about what would be good for the country, the economy on a whole. You're just another idiot who thinks people need handouts in perpetuity.

      • I agree – why do so many people keep pushing those wacky liberal policies like education, voting, democracy, etc? Like, as if we need an informed and cultured citizenry! Stupid liberals.

        • Conservative Education Policy:

          "If everyone gets an education, nobody will vote for us."

    • Agree. That $100 mo. only benefits those who can afford a stay at home Mom. Definitely not your average middle class Canadian family today.

      • It only benefits those with a stay-at-home mom? If both parents work, they're denied the 100$/month? I don't believe this is the case, but I really don't know. I would assume they also benefit from the subsidy.

        Debaters frame the discussion in black and white: either a parent is employed full-time (40 hours a week) or staying at home full-time. But there exist a middle ground, where parents work reduced hours (even if it's just an afternoon off per week), in which case the 100$/month helps fill the gap. I have a few co-workers in this situation, working 30-ish hours a week, allowing them to spend a few extra hours with their families, who are grateful for this small subsidy.

  18. #1
    Look, I cant believe I am still reading this crap in a grown up magazine. What do you not get about this? Harper is a political weasel, and he is about "power"-getting it and keeping it- plain and simple.

    This is not about ideals, it is about attaining a position. Harper, and the men that brought him in desire the right to make the big decisions when they arise. Harper's best attribute is feigning confidence, even when he is under the lights, because confidence is what Canadians look for in a politician. You can forgive a person for screwing up, as this guy has so many times it has ceased to be funny, but if he cant "look" like he is unshaken, he cant lead in the TV age. Harper is not a "good" leader, but he is an effective leader…Look at what he does, not what he says….simple and plain.

  19. Last comment from me: Paul, this is outstanding.

    Please thank your bosses for giving it to me for free. I would gladly pay. Perhaps that's why my Rogers Home Phone costs so much.

  20. #2
    If you want to talk specifics about what is going on in this country, and Corcoran and the Post, and Simpson and the Globe, and Coyne and Macleans dont… look at one website, it will become very clear to you whare the influence is found….

    http://www.ceocouncil.ca/en/about/members.php

  21. #4
    Take a look at the following letter, which is nothing more than a bloody great insult to the intelligence of anyone with a brain in their head, and only became public a year and a half after it was written and received: Please note that Emerson stole his seat the day it was written, and Derek Burney led the transition team for the Cons….Welcome to Canada…and journalists, do YOUR JOBS and report it:

    http://www.ceocouncil.ca/publications/pdf/ce6dfa4

    With all sincerity,
    Russ Johnson.
    Montreal

    • I know several groups which sent similar letters on his election. It's called kissing-ass.. or sometimes brown-nosing depending on how far you go with it.

      Do they have an agenda they want Harper to support. Absolutely. As do a bazillion other societies and organizations in Canada. Does that mean it's some kind of crazy conspiracy? Hardly.

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  22. The 30-something year "dynasty" of "conservative" governments in Alberta is based on a "coalition" between business (i.e. the oil industry), the rual social conservative south, and the pragmatic fiscally conservative central and north. It has the best public services in the country. In particular, the best public schools, and hardly a private school exists.

    Meanwhile, in Ontario, the white-wine (whine!) and latte-driving Canadian aristocracy let Ontario schools crumble while they send thier kinds to private schools. Younger progressives aren;t interested in politics, It is too much hard work. They form their own clubs (i.e. politically oriented NGO's) and wait for the government to fund them, and where they don't have to worry about selling their political ideas to the broader public.

    Progressives in Canada are insular and "inbred". They live inside their own echo chamber. They have gotten soft. Part of the problem was the totalitartian loyalty purges of the party by Martin's folks, who pushed the cult of Martin rather than the cult of new ideas. Which is why a bunch of NDP'ers are now on the Liberal front benches.

    Meanwhile caring sociial conservatives are getting out into troubled communities, like building that youth centre in Winnipeg.
    The aristocratic progressives don't want to be on the front lines. They want the government to hire some social worker to do the work. Aristrocratic progressives believe in "trickle-down" social justice, rather than "hands-on" social justice like social conservatives do.

    Alberta has demonstrated that being inclusive of all, where social conservatives are brought along and allowed to participate, rather than being treated as outsiders, is a far better recipe for a successful society. It would help if progressives would view them as their fellow citizens rather than as freaks.

    • Glenn Beck, how do you have time to post on this thread!?

    • Hence, my point below. This whole conflict seems much more better to be represented by Tim Hudak vs Dalton Mcguinty than the provincial leaders in other parts of the country that have sucessfully straddled this issue for years. I wonder what will happen if Hudak loses especially for people like Jason Kenney who supported him over Christine Elliott notwithstanding Elliott being supported by most of the rest of the conservative cabinet ministers in particular by one of course(Flaherty) for obvious reasons. The real problem for Hudak is that social conservatives and similar fringe group such as the Ontario Landowners Association so mistrust politicians over the years that they prefer to deal in "hard currency" such as roles in party nominations and not "fluff".

    • I notice you fail to point out that despite having "the best" public schools, we also have the highest drop-out rate across the country, the highest per-capita homeless population, and one of the highest rates of homelessness per-capita.

      As always, what conservatism offers isn't general well-being.. it offers extremes. Things are either very good or very bad.. and the switch is drastic.

      • //I notice you fail to point out that despite having "the best" public schools, we also have the highest drop-out rate across the country and one of the highest rates of homelessness per-capita.//

        It is certainly a bummer that Alberta has high-paying jobs for unskilled labour. Unfortunately, during the last natural gas boom (which is now history, because of shale gas), you could earn really good money working on the rigs. People will stay in school now that there are fewing well-paying jobs for unskilled labour.

        People stay in school in Ontario because there are no jobs.

        • Alberta has demonstrated that being inclusive of all, where social conservatives are brought along and allowed to participate, rather than being treated as outsiders, is a far better recipe for a successful society.

          No, Alberta has demonstrated that when you're a petro state, you can afford to buy off everybody and keep the ruling party in power forever. The price of oil drops, and suddenly the emperor has no clothes. Dissatisfied nurses? A "Wildrose Alliance" party threatening to split the right-wing vote? Just wait until the real recession hits, the bottom drops out of the oil market, and the U.S. bans the import of high carbon footprint oil. Wonder what will happen to the "Alberta Way" then?

        • Yes, that certainly explains the homelessness.

    • I don't know how long it has been since you went to school in Alberta, but your rosy picture is completely divorced from the current reality. That first statement on the scarcity of private schools is categorically false, at least for Calgary. In my neighbourhood alone, there were four, and that's an area a tenth the size of the city. It really makes a lot of sense for parents who are looking for a strongly religious education or who think that private schools do a better job in educating their kids to seek options outside the public system. Combine that with a city noted for its concentration of wealth, and it is only natural that a private education market will arise. If you have the money to afford it, and your morals compel you, why not send your kids to a school where there are nine prayer times scheduled in the school day? The Catholic schools certainly cannot compete with that level of piety. As to the quality of the education, while I have no complaints on the curriculum, there is a strong need for more capital investment. There has been a massive explosion in the population of Alberta, and the infrastructure necessary to keep up with it is just not there. I remember having to take Calculus in Grade 12 with forty-one other idiots in a classroom built to fit only thirty students. To say that we don't have problems to deal with here is idiotic at worst and naive at best.

    • Have you actually lived in Alberta? The echo chamber here is probably more aggressive than anywhere else. Seriously, try having a conversation with people. The Conservatives in this province just assume that everyone believes the way they do and have no problem making all kinds of noise (not to mentions intimidation) at people to are courageous enough to disagree.

      The provincial Conservatives actually used the term 'big tent' to describe their party in the last election. People are so afraid of the name Liberal that they simply vote Conservative as a default; who cares that the party members stretch from Christian Heritage Party types, all the way to NDP supporters.

      The Party is all. Its asinine that people don't see that supporting a dynastic party is a bad idea. It was one thing when it was King Ralph in charge. People at least liked him. But no one likes Mr. Stelmach and his party still manages to keep support. Its unbelievable. Its like living in the Twilight Zone.

      Not to mention, imagine living in a riding where more than 70% of the vote goes to one party. Seriously. Imagine trying to tell yourself that your vote matters in that situation.

  23. Where do you provincial parties fit into this. Gordon Campbell for example supports Insite and yet he represents the more conservative party in his province which has many social conservatives. Tim Hudak I would say he is even making greater levels of outreach to social conservatives than Harper but many don't think he can win against even a weak Dalton Mcguinty. Quebec definately has strands of social conservatism but no particular party I would say represents a social conservative. I would say in Alberta's political views on social conservatism are still playing out within the Wildrose Alliance and between the PC's and the Wildrose.
    All in all Harper's new strategy tends to parallel Tim Hudak's the most and yet Tim Hudak doesn't have that great a chance of winning.

  24. To caricature a complex argument, Crowley says the modern welfare state has overextended itself, is unsustainable, and causes more harm than good to institutions like the family. These trends will only get worse when an aging population sharply increases the cost of delivering most social programs. One size can no longer fit all. Social services will have to be narrowly aimed at those who need them most, and delivered only as long as recipients are willing to improve their behaviour by attending to their family, keeping or seeking a job, and so on. Government is no good at any of that and, in the opinion of most, shouldn't try.

    Such sweet, sweet music…

    • Sweet if we can reverse it in time, but pretty awful if we drive that bus all the way over the cliff.

      • At least there is now a real debate that is long overdue.

  25. How long has gay marriage been legal in Canada now? Has the sky fallen yet? Have all our kids turned gay? Has the divorce rate gone up? Has the heterosexual marriage rate decreased? Has YOUR marriage been affected?

    I fail to see how social conservative values actually benefit society, since they are only aimed at denying rights to people because they are different. It's all just an excuse to express fear and hate about something they don't understand.

    Interesting side note, look at some of the most anti-gay senators in the USA and who they end up caught in bed with.

    • Yes Adam…you fail to see…that's the problem

      • Chester, do you actually have anything useful to say on these posts?

  26. There is a difference between evidence leading to a conclusion or thesis; and a thesis looking for evidence to support it.

    This column is a good vehicle to continue to deliver the Rights and Democray meme, but I wonder: Was the trip to the Manning Conference intended to select more material to add new flesh to the thesis?

    Manning also made much of the Gregg poll in his recent G&M op-ed – in his continuing efforts in pushing his Blue/Green agenda. Is environmentalism part of a social conservative movement, or does it lose out to the fiscal conservative's self interest?

    The blueing and greening of the political centre
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/the-

  27. Thanks Paul for this, great read.

  28. Harper is a dictator.

    • You must be a Liberal to make a smear like that and disappear.

      • Hypocrisy, thy name is Catherine.

    • and santa claus is a miser

  29. It is hard to belive these people are building Democracy, when they want to go against the Canadian Charter of Rights and pass Police State Laws like "Random Breathalyzers"!

    While I don't hold with impaired driving, turning away from the Charter of Rights with Draconian Parasite Globalist laws somilar to those they are now passing in the USA, does not make for a Democratic country!
    What is next with this type of Nazi reforms – Random Bedroom Searches?
    No thanks "Big Brother", I don't want you in my face 24/7 – 365

    • Oh, see, and you were so close to getting through that post without taking it on the chin from the moderators. There was even a funny joke to be made about "random breathalyzers" and "Rahim Jaffer" or "Jean-Pierre Blackburn," but you had to go and ruin it all by dropping in a Nazi reference. Thankfully, this was always likely to be your last comment on a Macleans article, you just didn't know it yet.

  30. Recent polls show Canadians are turning to the right>It was helped along by lefties like Ujjal Dansanjh and Jack Layton who have gone totally overboard on this censor bit by parliament. If they go ahead and push this it will end up in another election and they will lose.Even those on the left have or have been connected with our military Counting second world war and Korean veterans there must be millions of veterans in Canada who served at least a minimum of 3 years65 years There is over 400000 members in the Royal Canadian Legion.Add in the next of kin and the geographical locations all across Canada and the left is in big trouble regardless of the present polls.Canadians are loyal to their heroes whether it be Olympic heroes and the amount who showed up just to see the torch carried across Canada or our military.These guys have picked a fight with the people of Canada on the whole when they strike at our military and pretend it is all government fault..When the voters connect during the election campaign with the information the Tories will put out there will be a lot of overpaid missing opposition MPs in the next election. Detainee tortured by his own people vs Canada's military Now who do you think will win?

    • Canadian soldier ordered to violate Geneva conventions vs. Government trying to hide behind behind the soldiers.

      Now who do you think will win?

      • Well, we know that the Nuremberg Defense is not valid when we're talking about War Crimes, so the Liberals will ultimately have to go after the individual soldiers if they want to press this. And if they do that, they're toast.

      • So you have information that no one else has in Canada.You must be a Taliban detainee .I would like to see this same text after the election you are in for a big shock I am a Korean veteran and I know what veterans think of the opposition.there is a war on you do not cause your troops to be in harms way regardless of the mission and who ordered it.It was a Liberal government that sent us there.You can be assured you are on the losing side no Canadian government would ever order our troops knowing that someone may be tortured to hand them over to anyone,and if they did the order would not be carried out.Some Canadian you are!! Do not let politics cloud your judgement ?

        • Interesting defense. "They wouldn't do it. And if they did it wouldn't be followed" all you're missing is the "And if it was, nothing would have happened. And you can't prove a thing anyway!"

          The only information I have is what's already been released, and there's pretty strong evidence that the government knew the agreement was not up to snuff when it signed it.. and yeah, that means Liberals too.

        • Is your internet provider charging you extra for using the space bar?

          I am trying to follow your thinking, but you're making it too challenging.

  31. So Harper now wants to Block any Negative Envoirnment News on the Tar Sands, I been from A First Nations Community,asking what are Harpers Excuse,s of Attacking Aboriginal Rights,Eduacation,Soon after Prorogation,he made it Easy for Mining Companies,To Receive Permits on More Mining ,what is the Reason ,why these Toxic Mining companies are Develping near Aboriginal communities or Beside their Communitys, It seems that the Canadain Tink Tank calling us Terrorist of the Parnoia of Tar sands Pipe been Blown up is a made up False statements , I don,t find Mr Harpers Attack to flatering, I think he is A Bizzaro, come on attacking Peoples Rights.he has gone over &beyond his Dream Imagination,how do you get Inspired by someone that Runs the government like A Dictator., It,s kind of worrisome or rather Frightning,when you have A Pm ,Ready to Pull the Trigger on the Innocent,It,s like someone holding a Gun to your Head ,Against the wall ,dealing with Bomb ,ready to Off, you don,t want to provoke. Best wishes for the Inocent.End "Conservat-Ism".

  32. Sure, sure…Harper's a real conservative. Last year he gave $18 million to Planned Parenthood, the world's biggest abortion organization. Some of that money went to the United Kingdom parent company which then sent funds to help pro-choice politicians in the United States get elected, including Obama. One of Harper's minions was sent to a conservative MP's office to order him to take down a "Choose Life" poster in his office. The poster was then given to Liberal MP Tom Wappel, who displayed it without sanction. I could go on but I won't. Harper is a pro-choice liberal and doesn't even resemble a genuine conservative.

    • Right on Tom….and the latest contraceptive switch hit is another example.

      • Chester and Tom…foetus fetishists to the end.

  33. The problem with those on the left is they tend to either make fun of conservative values or look at them as scary. They key is to try to understand them – Liberals and New Democrats need people who identify themselves as centrist, and many of these people have some conservative social values. All you do by calling them 'scary' is empower conservatives. You need to understand these values so you can appeal to them or more adequately fight them.

    • John…they're been using these same sad, weak arguments since the Vikings. They'll never be able to shed their sorry skins.

  34. 2. The economy takes a nosedive. With the new economic crisis in Greece (and soon Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, etc.), plus with China being forced to ramp down some of it's stimulus eventually, will plunge commodity prices back down. And with it Canada's "Fiscal Responsibility", i.e. our buckets of oil.

  35. You boys keep your hands off of our private parts.

    • Abortion is currently legal. That doesn't mean I should have to pay for it with my tax dollars.

      • Women pay taxes and have a right to our public health care, including reproductive choice. You pay for it, or you get out of public health care completely but you do not discriminate against women's right to health care.

        • Killing babies is not health care.

      • Is it inexcusably childish of me that, as I read this comment, I thought to myself — Your mother doesn't feel that way?

    • Owning up to the responsibility of unborn children is not "putting hands on private parts". It's recognizing that unborn children are equal human beings.

      • Your welcome to believe it. You are very unwelcome to force it on othres.

        • How the hell does not giving tax revenue to fund abortions in the third world "force" anything on others??

          If anything, taking my money to fund this travesty is "forcing" something on others.

          • The fact that his idiotic comment got +5 so far really says something about some of these readers.

          • The thumbs system is generally pretty messed up. I think a lot of folks view it as a way to express their dislike for someone's position (or for the commenter personally), rather than a way to filter quality comments. No big deal – if people really have nothing better to do than go around thumbing up everyone they like and down everyone they dislike, more power to them.

      • You constantly put the rights of a foetus over the rights of a woman. It's a false god you are worshipping.

        • Yeah, the God that protects human life is the false one. The one that kills babies for the convenience of the woman is the true one. You go on believing that.

          • I don't believe that God is evil enough to want women to die in childbirth; but it happens and we are able to prevent it.

            "…some two million women and babies die each year in childbirth. Researchers worldwide concluded some time ago that these deaths would have been easily preventable through the use of condoms. So, yes, Mr. Cannon, contraception does save lives on a huge scale…"

            http://glenpearson.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/life-

            Refusing to distribute condoms because a church run by pedophiles says it's wrong is stupid. Refusing to save women and girls from pregnancies that will kill them and from being forced into unsafe abortion because a church run by pedophiles says it's wrong is stupid.

            God is not stupid or evil but some of Her self-proclaimed spokespeople are.

          • "…two million women and babies die each year in childbirth"

            I assume that's full-term children that at least took one breath outside of the mother's womb, right? Otherwise it would have said "fetuses", wouldn't it?

            "being forced into unsafe abortion…"

            Forced, eh? Sounds like a choice to me.

          • No, she chose an abortion. She was forced to choose an unsafe one, because the other kind wasn't available.

            But you knew that.

    • Here, here Holly. Keep your hands off our choices over our parts.

      • Do whatever you want with your parts. Keep my taxes out of it.

        • PLEASE, let's go back to my favorite part,where Ignatieff said the word ABORTION because there is not a better word to keep a UNITED CANADA (remeber, his dream!), look at this response, it is a very passionate debate in both sides, I don't think he is being wise bringing that one up!

          • You're intrigued by that too, eh? I still haven't figured out whether he's extremely clever or extremely clumsy….but he certainly doesn't seem to be somewhere in the middle.

          • Yes, for sure, it's not the kind of issue that unites people. It looks like he may be trying to create a rift between Cons and their current or potential pro-choice voters, while the Cons themselves have shown no interest in this debate. As others have said, Harper never even utters the word abortion. Ignatieff may succeed only in creating a rift just as large with respect to his own party.

  36. “the centre has moved to become more conservative,” Gregg said. So a strategy of explicit appeal to social conservatives is “much more available than it used to be.”_

    _That's fairly evident [ and not altogether a bad thing]. But i disagree on the question of whether social conservatism is a real phonomenom. Sure they have the ear of this govt' [ and to an extent they will continue to have the ear of a future liberal one too]. But it is still just a fringe element in the Canadian mosaic – when this gov't changes their importance will diminish

  37. Great piece Wells.

    It has been habitual in Liberal campaigns since 2000, when Jean Chrétien shut down the Canadian Alliance under Stockwell Day, to deliver dark warnings about a Conservative “hidden agenda” at odds with Canadian progressive values. This has been getting harder for two reasons. First, very little about what Harper is doing is hidden. Second, much of it is solidly in line with the values of millions of Canadians. Not the ones who used to be in power, to be sure. Just the ones who support this government.

    Now, why is it that you're one of the only journalists in the major outlets that would even notice this? That there is a huge segment of the population for which the work "progressive" (at least when it comes to the political meaning, not the true meaning) is a dirty word. Real progress for many people requires the rejection of progressivism.

    Another point I wish to add, is that these millions of people have had their voices muffled for a very long time, they have not had their democratic day in the sun, at least until Harper arrived. The progressives had their perpetual 50+ 1 majority used to muffle the wishes of the other 49%.

  38. Misrepresentations like this:__"This is an absolutely fundamental question: do we take children out of homes so they can be raised by the state, or do we put money into homes so parents can raise them?” [ the state is intrinsically evil]
    And disgusting ones like this:. "When Ignatieff pushed back, he wound up on the front page of the Catholic Register newspaper next to the headline, “Ignatieff Urges Abortion for World's Poor.”
    Will help keep them there. But the libs and progressives have a dilemma – how to advocate for a fairer just society without increasing the size of the state and intruding into the lives of Canadians who object to some of that agenda.

    • Economic incentives. Not legislation.

      Use taxation and government payments as behavior modification. The problem is that we, as individuals, undertake courses of action that are perfectly rational when applied at an individual level but only because they externalize the costs and dangers of the action. When the society as a whole takes those actions, there's nowhere to externalize it to and so we all end up bearing the brunt of it.

      Does this increase the size of the state? Not if you flow-through the taxes into the corresponding incentives. Does it increase the intrusiveness? No, because it still allows people to do whatever the hell they want, they just have to be willing to pay the full cost for the action.

      • You might have to give a slowpoke like me some concrete examples, but i'm listening.

        • Okay. Let's take a much disputed cause of equality of opportunity. Affirmative action.

          Rather than legislating that a company must favor certain applicants in order to meet some sort of quota, you instead charge the company a little less in their EI payments for the disadvantaged group.. we'll say aboriginals and women.. and make up for the loss by charging a little more EI for your standard white male employee.

          Now instead of companies either ignoring the affirmative action legislation (by coming up with other excuses as to why they didn't hire the white guy) or feeling like they have to ditch top talent to meet some sort of legislatively imposed quota, they are free to choose whatever they want.. so long as they're willing to pay for it. If they want to pay less for their employees, they'll hire more of the disadvantaged people. If they really do feel that white males are the best employees and they don't want anybody else, they remain entirely free to hire as many of them as they like.

          Now, this places the obligation on government to monitor how the employment of these disadvantaged communities is working out, and as they become less disadvantaged, to reduce the incentives. But the gov't already does that kind of monitoring anyway.. that's how we know there's a problem in the first place.

          • That's really interesting, where did you come across, [or study] that in your travels?

          • Unfortunately, I can't say I've ever seen it put to this specific use, but it's the same type of thinking that underlies carbon taxation, or even discount sales in retail stores. If you want to get right into it, I suppose it's mostly an application of game theory on psychology.

            It takes a bit of creative thinking, but I tend to believe that there really aren't that many problems that the market can't solve so long as we acknowledge that a society, being unable to externalize many things, has different priorities than individuals, and then provide the incentives to individuals that make the priorities of society more desirable.

          • Sounds a bit like Gladwells way of thinking.[ i might be wrong, i've only read bits and pieces of him.]

    • //But the libs and progressives have a dilemma – how to advocate for a fairer just society without increasing the size of the state and intruding into the lives of Canadians who object to some of that agenda.//

      The progressive vision of the future:
      1) Get married or not. Doesn't matter.
      2) Start a family
      3) At age 2, send that kid off to government daycare/kindergarten.
      4) Thje parent(s) slave away at work 50 hours a week and pay ridiculously high marginal tax rates and value added taxes to pay for said daycare/kindergarten, all so the government and some government worker can have the pleasure of raising your children for you.

      What sort of vision is that, where people and children are just inputs and outputs of a big government/business machine. The parent(s) have value only insofar as they work and are paying taxpayers. The government takes your kids and trains them with the governments/businesses values for you.

      Progressives have given up fighting by the machine of government and business, and instead have been coopted by government and business.

      • "What sort of vision is that…"

        It's an absurd, cartoonish caricature that bears no resemblance to reality.

      • 'Progressives have given up fighting by the machine of government and business, and instead have been coopted by government and business"

        That statement is so wacky i don't know where to begin addressing it. In short the monster consumer model we have built has had many willing hands – not the least social conservative ones; to simply pin it on progressives is absurd. I could even contemplate an alliance of sorts between social cons and lib/progressives who think that we should be working to live and not the other way around. But of course the two camps despise one another, and probably for good reason. Speaking personally i think that's a pity. In many ways we do need to take our lives back from the colossus we have all built, and whom we all now serve.

        • I didn't blame progressives for it. I said they gave up fighting big government and the machine of business, and they have been co-opted by it.

          Why have kids if you turn them over at two years of age to the state to be trained to be a good worker for business? And where your role as a parent in all of this, is just being a good worker and paying taxes to support this government/businees machine.

          Progressives are driving people into the arms of more fundamentalist and traditionalist factions, because progressives believe they are always "right", and the "outsiders" are freaks.

          So that is why Paul "Revere" Wells is freaking out, seeing the hopeless state of disorganization of the progressives, while these "outsider" freaks are seemingly well-organized.

          • That's why the more advanced progressives love global warming so much. It allows people to make the self-sacrifice of not bothering to have and raise children, because the next generation is destroying the planet. Of course, trying to combine the resultant declining population with progressive social programs is a disaster. But meh…

          • While the Conservatives are working to destroy the planet and their own chilodren's lives. Wow, how intelligent.

          • Fair enough. I id misrepresented you a bit. And i would agree the more radical/ideological of the progressives may have paved the way for more fundamentalist social cons, and both share a distressing need to be "right."
            Actually i' of the opinion that fundamentalism of all kinds is an increasingly obvious problem – whether it be religious, secular or political. It's something that leaves close to despair myself somedays. However i still retain a little more hope than you do that the great rump of Canadians are pretty sensible people and we'll work it out someway or other – that's what i comfort myself with anyway.

    • "Pierre Trudeau is most identified with liberalism's traditional commitment to individual rights. His proudest achievement was the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. But, in his last major essay reviewing his life's work and assessing the Canada of the 1990s, Trudeau emphasized that the fight for freedom was now "yesterday's battle," and that the value with the highest priority in the future just society should be equality of opportunity.

      He wrote: "For where is the justice in a country in which an individual has the freedom to be totally fulfilled, but where inequality denies him the means? And how can we call a society just unless it is organized in such a way as to give each his due, regardless of his state of birth, his means or his health?"
      [ Quote T.Axwothy TS]
      It's not all gloom for progreeives. I think Trudeau was largely right when he said the new battle is for equality of opportunity. Devils in the details though.

  39. So, Mr. Wells, was The Walrus on the right track, those few years ago?

    • Maybe in part. I'll be addressing that in one of the blog posts I keep promising to write on all this stuff.

  40. Right, because you've got a personal opt-out card for all collective action.

    • Look, if you fund abortion, you're dealing with "private parts". That it happens to be perceived as beneficial is a moot point.

    • Yes. Just like I'm sure you would have chosen to opt out of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

      Not only that, a woman terminating her baby is not a collective action.

      • It is contradictory to suggest that, in a democracy which does not have mandatory conscription, that a person would have to perform military service prior to having an opinion on public opinion. One might even suggest that while we are in Afghanistan, fighting religious oppression, your comment might seem somewhat ironic.

        Health care is collective action.

  41. Canada is far more conservative (fiscally, but also socially), than the university/media elite complex will ever let on.

    It's not increasing, as Mr. Wells suggests with alarming undertones, it was always there.

    Look for news reports that use the term "left wing", ever. You won't find it. Why? Because from their vantage point it's not a "wing", its the meaty part of the belly. To them, the only "wing" worthy of mention (invariably in derisive or negative terms) is the right (read wrong) wing.

  42. Interesting article. I think the often-stated assumption that the political centre is moving to the right is an oversimplification that deserves more of this type of exploration.

    But even if we take it at face value, presumably people are not moving there uniformly, which opens space for more than one party on the right. Perhaps one that combines social and fiscal conservatism.

    Federal Wild Rose Alliance anyone?

    • What about a party that is fiscally conservative and social progressive? Which is closer to what the Wild Rose is about at this point, particularly since the leader is more libertarian than anything else.

      Wouldn't it be nice to have a party that advocates for freedom? I think I'd be fine with that.

  43. Despite the length, this is one lazy piece of journalism. I don't think there was one claim in it that was examined for evidential support. If Wells used the same sources as those in this post, he'd be able to argue that crime is on the rise all across Canada as well.

    I'm sure this is likely another one of Welll's "clever" call to arms to progressives and others to be making a better case for political alternatives, but given its discursive weaknesses, all it is yet another reason not to pay attention to this rag.

  44. This is a great article. The problem is the CPC seem to be afraid to run on a conservative platform. If they did they'd get a majority hands down. They just don't believe it.

  45. The religious influence in government is only going to increase because the power of religion in everyday life has declined so drastically. The segment of society willing to use government to uphold their religious and traditional values and morals is also declining.

    The difference is that this group can no longer use the power of the 'church' to influence others. They have refocused and wish to use the power of government to continue the influence the church has lost.

    It will work for a time, but religions dominance in Canadian life is gone forever.

  46. I get the distinct sense that Wells is publishing this more as a clarion call to those who would prefer to stop social conservatism in its tracks than as a disinterested analysis, but it's still an excellent piece. Very insightful. Also somewhat encouraging.

    For social conservatives of the more "libertarian orientation" like myself (not that there's anything wrong with that), items like funding the "Youth for Christ" charity are cause for uneasiness. One hopes that this charity made a strong case for its ability to do measurable good in the community rather than merely acting as government-funded evangelists – the latter would be a misuse of the public's money.

    However, I have never in my lifetime seen such a resounding social victory as the Universal Child Care Benefit in lieu of a government takeover of childcare. This was a disaster in the making, and not was it stopped, it was even turned to advantage by giving what amounts to an additional child tax credit to families. Needless to say I celebrated with a large helping of beer and popcorn.

    The more recent encouragements have been small, but excellent. This business of refusing to fund abortion in the Maternal Health Initiative: very heartening. Gone are the days (I hope) where people implicitly assume that helping mothers and children includes helping mothers kill their children. There has been at least one other not mentioned in the Wells's article.

    I've spent years wondering what to make of Harper. Not as fiscally conservative as I'd like, that was obvious, but then it's difficult to be so in modern Canada particularly with a minority government. I had serious doubts (and still do) on the even more important issues of respect for life and the independence/worth of families but this piece nicely sums up the case against them.

    • apparently the pm has dumped on Cannon, Oda and the others by reversing the policy.

      • I think he's reversed policy on contraception, not abortion. Contraception is a much harder case to make, both because it includes things that are indisputably good (natural contraception) and because those that are questionable (artifical contraception) depend on an in-depth ethical analysis. Abortion, on the other hand, is a perfectly obvious one and a far greater evil – no high-falutin' arguments required. The current situation is a good compromise.

        • Harper's nothing if not adaptable. He'll take a step back if it means he can take two steps forward later.

          Though it's interesting – the Liberals just fell in the polls after being even with the Conservatives. What's the one memorable thing Ignetieff's said in these past few weeks? He complained the conservatives won't fund abortion.

          And then the Liberals fell in the polls. Coincidence? Wells is correct, Harper is shifting the country to the right.

        • I don't think he reversed policy. I think Oda and Cannon are bad communicators and ran from the phrase "family planning" because it was deliberately ambiguous. I think the phrase was put to them as a "gotcha" question. And I think when the precision of the "will you support contraception" question was finally offered, it was offered when they were in turtle/agressive defence mode against all things that could be twisted into an abortion issue. This debate represents a huge failing on the part of the media and it concerns me. To be fair, if my theory is correct and there was no actually policy change (happy to be corrected by someone who has information beyond a Globe and Mail headline or Jane Taber quip) it also exposes the weakness of the Tory front bench.

          • you are delusional. read what cannon said at the committee. crystal clear.
            it was a policy change. the evidence that birth control does indeed save lives was overwhelming.
            the fact that the vast majority of canadians have (or do) use birth control themselves, made it a big, fat loser to somehow continue. lawrence cannon jumped willingly under the bus.

        • No one was asking for abortion services to be a part of the package. The issue was conraception, something I wish Mr. Harper's parents had practised more of.

          • What an ASSHOLE!
            Macleans must be proud!!

          • Stop checking out his tush. It makes him nervous! ;)

        • I really have to disagree with you on this one.

          Abortion and contraception are essentially the same thing; both halt the creation of a potential human being. The only real difference between the two is that while abortion halts that creation somewhere in the middle of the process, contraception halts it at the beginning. Every time that you stop the interaction between egg and sperm means that a potential human being is not created.

          If your view of the process is that abortion causes 'harm to a human being,' then you are either concluding that the 'victim' of abortion is suffering, or that the very act of halting the creation process is the 'harm.' The first argument is patently false as nervous systems are not developed at the point where abortion is performed. The second means that your view of conception is inconsistent.

          You have to choose: Either you support peoples' ability to govern their own body, or you support the state forcing collective values on it's people.

          • We disagree on what abortion is – I'd say it's the killing of a child. Everything else in my position follows from that. Contraception isn't problematic because it halts the creation of a potential human being (lots of things do that, including abstaining from sex…so what?), and it's not even in the same ballpark as abortion in terms of ethics.

          • Its the exact same thing. The 'child' does not have conscious thought, nor does it have a nervous system to suffer. In all reality, the 'child' you refer to is little more than an amoeba. At this point in the development, the only difference between abortion and contraceptives is odds.

          • Couple of points for you to ponder:

            (1) The nervous system begins to develop in the 3rd week of gestation. By week 17 the baby can hear and move….so it obviously has a nervous system.
            (1) Abortion is legal in Canada through all 9 months of pregnancy. The baby has no legal protection until completely outside the mother.

            Now, you can argue that a mother should have sovereign right over her body even if that means a child has to die, or you can argue that even if abortion is wrong we shouldn't enforce it. What you can't argue, with any basis in biological fact, is that the fetus is the equivalent of an amoeba. Capische?

          • You don't get to determine what I can and can't argue. Capische?

            Late term abortions are not what we are talking about. Late term abortions (I believe that the number is closer 0.4%, but the difference is negligible) are performed, as HS points out, in order to save a woman's life, or, in rare cases, to avoid the birth of a child that will suffer from grave impairment (which will cause unacceptable suffering for the child). Additionally, late term abortions are anything after 20 weeks which is not 'the very late stages of pregnancy.' Human gestation is 40 weeks.

            Prior to this the fetus is incapable of conscious thought. The non-existence, and later limitation, of the nervous system, means that any suffering on the part of the fetus, as a result of the abortion, will be significantly less than that felt even by an animal being slaughtered.

            What makes a human life more important than that of an animal? The answer is consciousness. Without consciousness, we are ill-equipped apes. And, unless you are a vegan, no one has a problem slaughtering animals by the truckload for food, or euthanasia.

            The same should be true for the fetus. A fetus is the equivalent of an animal.

            We cannot hold its value higher than that of another human's. When you argue for forcing women to carry a fetus you are arguing not only for the violation of her right to control her body. But you are also arguing that her carrying a fetus is more important than her life. You force suffering upon a conscious human being in order to protect a fetus that does not have consciousness, and is, frankly, incapable of any substantial suffering.

          • Gaunilon: 'A fetus is a human being'

            RunningGag: 'A fetus is a piece of meat'.

            Both defensible beliefs. The difference is that one of these two is trying to impose his beliefs on other Canadians.

            Gaunilon said earlier "For social conservatives of the more "libertarian orientation" like myself…" There's nothing remotely libertarian about using the government to force others to behave the way you think they should.

          • Aren't they both imposing their beliefs on others? If you say that it's up to each individual person to decide whether the fetus is a living human being or not, you're saying it's not. If it's a human being, it gets the protection of the law that we all have. If it doesn't get that protection, it's being treated explicitly as not a human being. A judgment cannot be avoided here.

          • Except that libertarians abhor the use of violence and think it is the legitimate function of government to prevent it. If Gaunilon thinks the fetus is a human being (with the full rights of a human being), then its forced extirpation is necessarily an act of violence; and, thus, completely congruous with libertarian philosophy — his ideas about Olympic funding on the other hand…..

          • Interesting – I do see the potential for intellectual integrity in that argument.

            Of course, that totally fails to acknowledge the intensely personal and utterly subjective nature of the underlying belief. It's simply not cut-and-dried like, say, murder, so the correct libertarian pose would seem to be that the government should stay out of the debate, in the absence of any clear moral stance.

          • Law is about defining a "clear moral stance". If the issue is "not cut-and-dried" due to the "utterly subjective nature of the underlying belief[s]", well, that is why law should not be based on beliefs.

            Law is objective and requires an objective rationale. Moral stances can and must be conclusive. As Ayn Rand would say — check your premises.

          • Ok, so all we have to do is define the correct moral stance in the abortion debate, and it will be appropriate to involve the law.

            Of course, like I said above, the opposing moral viewpoints are utterly irreconcilable, so it makes no sense to involve the law.

          • "… the opposing moral viewpoints are utterly irreconcilable, so it makes no sense to involve the law."

            Leaving aside the problems with that position, does it then also make no sense to involve the taxpayer?

          • But then, in a strictly libertarian view of things, not funding abortion would be a result of eliminating government from all health care, not a result of finding abortion immoral.

          • The opposing moral viewpoints are "utterly irreconcilable" regarding the law! The issue is whether or not the law should be "involved" (legal vs. illegal). It is to disregard all jurisprudence and moral philosophy to simply say — Stalemate! Therefore, White wins!

          • Indeed.

          • Let me put that another way: "You're advocating X. I'm advocating not-X. We're never going to agree, therefore, let's use government power to force not-X on all Canadians, regardless of their viewpoint!"

            This is why I called you on that "libertarian" moniker earlier. Bullsh*t. The government shouldn't make moral decisions on behalf of the populace. In this case, where the two positions are completely irreconcilable, it should be up to the individual to decide.

          • I'm not arguing that the government should enforce protect the unborn because we don't agree, but rather because the unborn are individuals. You, on the other hand, seem to be arguing that because people disagree, you should have your way.

            Anyway, since you're all against the government making moral decisions like this, presumably the government should also not be funding these things. I mean, that would be making a moral decision on behalf of the populace…

          • Yes, but again: what you call "protecting the unborn" some of us call "forced childbirth" or "government intrusion into womens' bodies".

            Again: regardless of how strongly both sides feel, this is (and probably always will be) an unresolved debate. Your solution is for the government to pick a side (your side) and use its power to force that moral judgement on every women.

            My stance is that every woman should make her own decision based on her own moral stance. Pro-life? Super! Have your baby. Pregnant with a fetus you don't want or can't support? Choose to terminate it.

            If there was societal consensus, it would make sense for the government to get involved. In the absence of consensus, the government should not be choosing sides in this very personal and subjective area and should stay the hell out of it.

            As for funding, you do recall that Canada has decided to make healthcare available to everyone, right? By de-funding abortion, you won't solve the "problem" but you will punish society's most vulnerable women and potentially restart the trade in dangerous backalley abortions. Look, everybody has a problem with some government spending, nobody gets a line-item veto for their personal tax contribution.

          • Late term abortion is nothing short of gruesome murder. If a mother's life is in danger at this stage there is always a procedure know as a cesareean.

          • My money is on you never having experienced a gruesome murder outside of a fictional recreation on a tube or screen. Sensational!

          • It is a thing inside a woman's body, in HER body. And late term abortions are performed in order to save a woman's life; but you don't give a damn about living women, do you? You would condemn women to die with their wombs destroyed by too many pregnancies rather than to allow them to live a healthy life and look after their already born children.

            Your morals are crap.

          • Gaunilon is a thoughtful individual.

            I think you have somehow managed to drag your knuckles over to the correct argument in favour of abortion. But at the same time that I agree with what you say, I strongly disagree with you.

          • It may be YOUR BODY, but it is partly MY DOLLARS!
            You want to abort, PAY!!

          • Well, If a woman and a man conceive a child, they should NOT have the right to kill that child, after all, it was a conscious decision in the first place to have sex and risk having a child, if they didn't want a child, they should have done some better preventative steps, such as NOT HAVING sex. Its not really that hard to understand.
            It gets fuzzy when a woman is raped and becomes pregnant. Should she have to bear the child that reminds her of a man that forced himself upon her, or should she prevent furthering the pregnancy by termiating it so SHE doesnt have to live with the consequences of somebody elses actions.

            Basically where I stand, if two people WILLINGLY have sex, than abortion should be ILLEGAL and punishable by death themselves. (if the baby isnt worth enough to keep living, why are they?)
            If a woman is raped and gets pregnant, i believe she should have the opportunity to abort, but ONLY under 10 weeks in. ANy farther and she should not have the choice anymore.

          • I really want to mock your extremism, but I just can't find the words that can encompass your position. Eye for an eye…

          • Yes, I will admit my views are a bit extreme on one side, however, no matter which side of the 'debate' you choose, the other side will label the others as extremists.
            People were once labeled extremists for supporting the troops in world war 1 and 2. Yet now, you are thrown in front of a bus if you DON'T support the troops.
            Extremism is only the perception that the current politically correct vies are followed or not by one side or the other. (depending which side your on makes it which side is the extremists)
            I am one of the few people that are somewhat in the middle, I support both sides in certain circumstances, yet I do not FULLY support either side of it. In THAT aspect of my beliefs aren't really extremist.

          • For the most part, I don't have a position, though if forced to choose, I would support allowing people to do what they think is right. They are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of their decisions – you won't.

            Your "extremism" rant is erratic, where you jump from "punishable by death" to "somewhat in the middle".

            But for shits and giggles – I'd like to hear your take on "extremists" for supporting soldiers in the War to end all wars (as well as it sequel). We are talking about Canada, correct?

          • "People were once labeled extremists for supporting the troops in world war 1 and 2. "

            [Citation needed]

            In the US it was illegal for people to have anti-war views. Considering the way in which popular culture of the time is very pro-soldier / nationalist, I have a hard time believing what you've said here.

            Suggesting that a woman who has been raped and aborts a fetus more than 10 weeks old is extremist. It isn't anywhere near the 'middle'.

          • I was going to ask for the same citation. In fact, I types a response, but it was auto deleted – likely because of a poor choice of word. I would have been happy to edit, but there was no way to retrieve what I had typed, which was annoying, so i just moved on.

            In any case – his WW1+2 thing was just silly….

          • I really have to disagree with you on this one.

            I do not see how you can say that conceived and not conceived are essentially the same thing. In the first case, there is a fetus, in the second, there is not; this seems to me to be a big difference.

            If a human being is created when the egg and the sperm happen upon each other, I can't agree that contraception is interfering at the beginning of this process. Surely, if we are to pursue this logic, life really begins at the moment I spy a callipygian courtesan sidle up to the bar, delicately nibbling the straw of her vodka-cranberry, and tightly-wrapped in a gift-ribbon miniskirt, clearly purchased at some discount boutique's estrus-day sale. Thus, I could accuse any woman who kills my copulatory cravings as stopping the interaction between egg and sperm — murderer!

            Abortion and contraception are not essentially the same thing. There is a crucial piece in between.

          • The argument is about killing a person; ending a life.

            The fetus is not a person; it is not a life. It is the potential for a person; for a life. It does not have conscious thought; it is incapable of suffering.

            At any time a woman's body could miscarry. This would end the potential for the fetus. As a potential life, the only difference between it and a random sperm / egg combination is the odds that one will become a person.

          • Whether or not a fetus is a "life", it is undoubtedly something.

            Abortion is not belated contraception. Contraception means to prevent conception, something that happens after conception is not contraception.

            I am actually on your in this debate, I am pro-abortion (in the legal sense, not in the "I've got a great idea what we can do this weekend", sense). However, I do not like to see my position defended with sophistry.

            I think the correct defence is of the "her body, her choice" type, seemingly shouted onto the screen by Holly Stick, in a rather road-rage fashion, a few floors above us.

          • I understand your point Justin. I disagree however. The so called Pro-Lifers use the suffering little person claim to garner emotional support for their cause. They know that if you asked people to support the suppression of a person's rights over that of a non-thinking entity, people would rise up. So instead they pretend that fetuses are cute little babies frolicking in some anonymous womb, just waiting for someone to let them out. They downplay the mother, and make the fetus out to be something it isn't.

            People must be swayed by these arguments otherwise they wouldn't be used. Otherwise intelligent people are moved by this garbage propaganda. I think its important to point out that Pro-Lifers are full of shit. And that all you're doing when you support their causes is suppressing the rights of women.

            It makes people uncomfortable to think of a fetus as a parasite, but its important that they start.

          • I understand you point, and to an extent I agree.

            The problem is that the pro-life movement uses the falsehood of the cute little baby as a tool to convince people to support their cause. They know that the majority of people would not stand for the suppression of women's rights over that of an unthinking fetus. Otherwise intelligent people are emotionally swayed by a completely natural reaction to human suffering.

            It gets to the point where they stop thinking about it as a fetus inhabiting a woman's body, and start thinking about it as a child in some anonymous womb. It anthropomorphizes the fetus, and dehumanizes the woman.

            I know it makes people uncomfortable to think of a fetus as a parasite, but people really need to start.

          • "think of a fetus as a parasite"

            You mean as a foreign organism exploiting a vulnerability of a host organism for its own benefit, often to the detriment of the host?

            Not a chance. Only half of the fetus is foreign. It lives independently and supported by the placenta, not directly by the mother. It doesn't make me feel uncomfortable to think of it as a parasite, just confused. Especially when someone argues that it's the mother body therefore it should be her choice. That's kind of saying that since I live in Canada then it should be Canada's choice… to decide…whatever is needed to be decided.

            If you're looking for a way to draw a line at the point in its physical development where its sentience would make it morally wrong to kill it, try the time where it is sufficiently physically developed to sustain it's own life outside of the mother's body. Usually around 4-5 months.

          • Especially when someone argues that it's the mother body therefore it should be her choice. That's kind of saying that since I live in Canada then it should be Canada's choice…

            It is in no way like that.

          • Why? Are you saying Canada is too great to be a woman? sexist.

          • I'm saying that Canada can't get pregnant.

            There is a world of difference between an individual and a geographical area under a governmental authority.

          • 'You mean as a foreign organism exploiting a vulnerability of a host organism for its own benefit, often to the detriment of the host? "

            Yes. A fetus is incapable of living outside the womb prior to 35 weeks. Until then it requires the mother's body for survival. If you want to extend that to 4-5 months, that's your business, however I don't believe that I am comfortable terminating a human that is fully capable of life.

          • "The problem is that the pro-life movement uses the falsehood of the cute little baby as a tool to convince people to support their cause."

            You're accusing the anti-abortion side of marketing falsehoods? The spread of the term "pro-choice" is one of the greatest marketing snowjob of all time.

            People who want the CHOICE to own a handgun are called pro-gun by the media.
            People who want the CHOICE to smoke a little weed are called pro-cannabis.
            And yet people who want the CHOICE to abort their baby are never called pro-abortion in the press.

          • That is because the term 'pro-choice' encompasses not just the abortion issue. From Wikipedia:

            "Pro-choice describes the political and ethical view that a woman should have control over her fertility and the choice to continue or terminate a pregnancy. This entails the guarantee of reproductive rights, which includes access to sexual education; access to safe and legal abortion, contraception, and fertility treatments; and legal protection from forced abortion. Individuals and organizations who support these positions make up the pro-choice movement."

            Not to mention that many people who are pro-choice are not in favour of abortion; they support a woman's reproductive rights, but are personally opposed to the use of abortion. They simply refuse to force their moral prejudices on other women. As such it would be incorrect to term them pro-abortion.

            I hope that helps explain the terminology for you.

          • Skin tags have rights too.

          • What next, are you going to complain that I am too shrill? After all women are not supposed to protect their rights, they are supposed to say "Yes Massa" and shuffle off to the kitchen.

            Did you criticize Gaunilon for calling a foetus a child, a highly emotional and dishonest claim? Did you criticise Dennis for his jerklike behaviour? Or SUZANNE for her dishonesty?

            You are not as objective as you wish to appear.

          • I was actually going to say hysterical.

          • Yes, underneath your facade of calm, you are hysterical.

          • "calling a foetus a child, a highly emotional and dishonest claim."

            Every pregnant women that I have ever known has referred to her fetus as a baby. Were they being "highly emotional and dishonest"?

          • Yes, they absolutely were, in regards to the highly emotional. The dishonest is a little harsh, since they honestly expect that fetus to become their baby and are simply anticipating such a happy event.

          • heh. Well said.

            Callipygian? I actually had to look that up. Good adjective to know.

          • [Editor's Note]:

            Obviously my "copulatory cravings" are not "killed" when denied. I should have typed stonewalls instead of kills.

          • Hey RG. At what point in the "process" do you suggest the fetus actually crosses the line into full humanhood, with the right to dignity and life? (and not to be killed) It is beyond ignorance to hold that life begins at childbirth. When does it begin? At conception? Genetically, at conception everything exists to self-actualize into human life. From here the growth begins.

            The State has no right to govern a women's right to choose or not to choose to become pregnant. Once pregnant, she has no right to kill her own child, no matter what stage of development the child is at.

    • Your analysis of the Youth for Christ story is absolutely correct. In fact, in order to quality for the stimulus funding, the head of the organization had to convince the Winnipeg city council that to match the funding. I'm not religious at all and when I heard the real story of YFC, it made perfect sense to me.

      • That is good to hear. I'm all for social conservatism based on common principles and their logically deduced conclusions. Supporting religious initiatives per se would fly in the face of that.

        • Gaunilon, I don't understand, why and how is it harmful to support 'some' religious initiatives?

          • If a religious org is using the money to promote their religion, that's a misuse of public money (unless, of course, the public is broadly supportive of that particular religion…highly unlikely).

            If a religious initiative is doing charitable community work and is effective at it, why not help them with public funds? (assuming we're going to spend public funds on community work, that is)

          • Agree for two reasons. First, I support the idea of furthering the public good with charity work. Second, I like the idea that a religious organization ought to be able to operate as one without it being perceived as bad, i.e., refuting the notion that the lack of secularism is a negative. To answer Pat Martin's question in Wells' piece, it would be just fine if the name was "Youth for Allah" if the organization provided substantive charity work to the community, as I assume Youth for Christ is going to do.

          • Groups have different ideas as to what is "charitable" . Ideological groups that provide charity often tie it to their political / philosophical agenda. We already have a system by which the government funds the propagandizing and proseletysing of nonsensical and dangerous dogmas — the public schools.

          • My point is I have no problem coupling the doing of good works do furthering a religious agenda. The state should not be shy about subsidizing good works. The state should be shy about subsidizing a religious agenda. If a religious organization offers to feed people because it comports with their religious beliefs then the state should not be shy about picking up part of the tab for the food – just not all of the tab. And arguably not in the case where pariticipating in the religion is a condition of getting food. That's sort of coercion. But my ultimate point in response is that the state is free to adopt an objective measure of what furthering the public good is, and need not rely on the potential recipient charity's definition.

          • The problem is that you start funding organizations like the American Boyscouts who not only have anti-homosexual and anti-atheist policies, but also prosthelytize. They happen to perform a great many 'good works' but they also discriminate against protected groups and use state funding to promote their religious beliefs.

          • If a religious initiative is doing charitable community work and is effective at it, why not help them with public funds?

            What's so charitable about using other people's resources instead of your own?

          • Hence the last bit: assuming we're going to spend public funds on community work.

            I don't think we should either, but if we're going to then it makes sense to do it on whatever is effective provided that particular use of public money is broadly supported by the public.

    • Well, Gaunilon, now you've done it. Less than an hour since you posted your comment, and the thumbs-down have already begun rolling in :)

      On a more serious note, I thought yours was one of the most thoughtful comments I've read about Harper. (It also very much mirrors my own personal thoughts, so maybe that's clouding my opinion…)

      • Thanks Mike. It does get pretty lonely around here sometimes.

        • Yes, I agree with your comments as well.

          Particularly:

          However, I have never in my lifetime seen such a resounding social victory as the Universal Child Care Benefit in lieu of a government takeover of childcare. This was a disaster in the making

          Yes, that was a disaster in the making, and it's still a looming threat with Iggy chomping at the bit to create another boondoggle government program.

          I also agree with this:
          Gone are the days (I hope) where people implicitly assume that helping mothers and children includes helping mothers kill their children

    • I agree – it's a warning to the rest of us.

  47. Our country is going to hell thanks to this incremental shift to the right.

    • That's one person's opinion, the rest of us are still allowed to form our own opinion (I hope since I think you're more than a little off base).

    • No, the journey to Hell began under Trudeau and refuelled under Chretien and Martin with little stops down the street at the Supreme Court with ermine clad appointees.

    • If the country is going to hell, and it is an if, perhaps it reflects the fact that we are in the late and dangerous stages of the post-war l(L)iberal hegemony not only in Canada, but also in just about every democracy in the western world. people in all of these countries are turning to the old conservative verities, and this will inexorably lead to political conservatism. thus, Canada is in the vanguard of the developing new world order. Say thanks to Mr Harper for leading the way, and of course for taking all the flak that goes with being out in front.

      • Christians are going to hell, eh? makes sense. what a tool.

    • to the contrary chr. tom

  48. Not quite sure as to Harper`s hard right turn.

    For Canada and to the rest of the world he indicates a "Global Governance" & "Enlightened Sovereignty".

    Just what does that mean to Canadians and why is the MEDIA not finding out?

  49. Harper's international family planning: go to Kazakhstan like Borat supposedly did in his movie. Tell the women that Canada will give each of them a pig if they stop sleeping with their own brothers. I'll feel sorry for the pigs.

  50. Isn't Dr. Charles McVety better described as "Dr." Charles McVety?

    Seems there was a bit of a stink about his degree not too long ago.

  51. The vast majority of Canadians have never heard of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, and it is for the simple reason that when you own 90% of the mass media in the country, you control what gets said and how. You could call it a conspiracy, but you would be an ignorant fool if you did. If you havent heard of the Council, admit to yourself that youve been duped like the majority of us…If you have, be fair about how much you know and dont know. Dont call this a conspiracy unless you are willing to look at the facts and specifics…People do conspire….these people did so, and so you can call it what happened. If you dont want to talk specifics, you are choosing ignorance, and your opinion is mud.

    Harper was brought in by Thomas d'Aquino of the Council, who has since been replaced by John Manley in 2010. d'Aquino's run lasted for thirty shadowy years, and along with Paul Tellier, David Emerson, Gwyn Morgan, Derek Burney, Gordon Nixon etc…they created Harper….

    • Lots of notorious Liberals on the Council Rusty.

    • Alcan thanks you for your support.

  52. I'm terrified of a Harper majority.

    • Then head south to the Hope and Change doctrine along with Beer Summits.

    • Fear is the only thing that the aristocratic progressive establshment have left to sell.

      I have problems with Harper and the social conservative movement, but it only getting stronger because of progressive movement is spiritually and intellectually bankrupt.

      The choice is currently between a flawed conservative movement with a bit of a clue, and a hopelessly
      lost progressive movement without any clue.

      Fear is not going to solve the problem of why progressives are losing ground.

      At critical points in recent Canadian history, Harper has chosen correctly.

      1) He left the Progressive Conservative party at the height of its power under Mulroney when he realized that it was well an empty vessel.
      2) He was the only major Canadian politician to stand with Trudeau and the Canadian people against Charlottetown. Harper had to drag Manning kicking and screaming to oppose Charlottetown.
      3) Chretien and Martin adopted the Reform Party's (i.e. Harper's) deficit elimination policies, or a least a Reform-lite or Harper-lite verson of them.
      3) Harper left Parliament when he realized that Manning was waiting for a miracle, i.e. waiting for the next wave of populism, rather than incrementally doing the hard work of incrementally building the conservative movement.
      4) When Manning's miracles failed to materialize, and the Canadian Alliance was in tatters, Harper picked up the pieces and went to work.
      5) Harper was wrong on Iraq, but he was a foreign policy neophyte at that point. Ignatieff was wrong on Iraq, but he was an intellectual heavyweight for making the case for the war.

      When Canada was at stake during Charlottetown and with our financial crisis in the nineties, Ignatieff was disinterested in Canada, prefering to dance for Queens and Presidnets in the Imperial Courts in London and Washington.

      With that history, why would a reasonable person fear Harper?

      • Because you can't trust what he says.

      • Because he campaigned on a platform of honesty, transparency and accountability, and has not governed with these virtues. He has lied to his constituents. Not that the Liberal Party is any better.

        The people should be afraid of their politicians; its clear that they can't be trusted.

    • eva, do stop watching the CBC and readiing the globe and Mail and indeed do stop paying much attention to anything said in the media.

      • Don't pay attention to anything said in the media?

        Right, rather we should simply believe what the politicians tell us because they've never lied to anyone…

  53. Agreed – I'm not specifically in favour of either without a real rationale – but neither are serious moves down the road of Conservatism, nor will they whip public outrage into a frenzy.

  54. The rising tide of conservativism in Canada is a natural result of those who find out that the Conservatives aren't the boogeymen that the Liberals (and others) make them out to be. I have found it fascinating how while Canadians have slowly moved towards being more accepting of conservatism, the Conservatives have moved slowly away from the 'hard right' to become more accepting of 'moderate' or 'progressive' conservatism. While one cannot deny the roots of the current Conservative party, the reality is that the party you see today is nothing like the Reform party we saw in the past.

    While the liberal media is having fits over these latest polls (showing conservatism on the rise) the fact remains that as much as columnists try and paint Conservatives as 'evil', sooner or later the public will realise that such remarks hold no weight.

    You can only 'cry wolf' so many times before the public tunes it out.

  55. I think the suggestion in the article that the Conservatives have pushed the Liberals off 'center' is flawed. Many Liberal MPs have themselves noted that the party has swung itself to the left, and this has revealed a number of divisions within the party. What's worse is that the Liberal party – which used to be the party for Catholics – has lost much of the support of those 'religious minded' individuals. As a Catholic myself, and former Liberal supporter, I can attest to this.

    The Conservatives could have hung out on the right, but they were wise to push towards the center. When you consider that the vast majority of Canadians see themselves as centrists, then it pays to position yourself in the center of the political spectrum.

    • The Liberals have been infiltrated by the NDP. Witness Bob Rae, Ujjal Dosanjh , Marlene Jennings, Hedy Fry, Carolyn Parrish, Carolyn Bennett etc. What the Liberal Party used to stand for is a weak shadow of its former years.

    • Don't you care that both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party have changed their ideology simply to gain power? What does that say about the integrity of the people running the parties that they hold ethics of current convenience?

      • Actually, what's funny is that both the Liberals and Conservatives have changed more AFTER the election than before. Neither party changed simply to get votes and then changed back. If anything, that's part of the flaw in the article. It suggests that the Tories have swung hard to the right, when in fact they have swung to the middle. A recent Ekos poll confirmed this in the eyes of the voters as well. The Liberals have swung to the left, and a poll found that many of the 'religious' voters (like Liberal Catholics) are no longer voting Liberal because of it.

        However the 'hard right' are none too happy with Harper because the Tories haven't done things like ban gay marriage or ban abortion, and they are spending cash like crazy. And people say the Tories are swinging hard right? Sorry, but nothing backs that up.

        • "Actually, what's funny is that both the Liberals and Conservatives have changed more AFTER the election than before. Neither party changed simply to get votes and then changed back."

          I'm not sure which possibility I find more disconcerting: 1. That they all share a form of moral pluralism that borders on sociopathy; or, 2. That they all lied through their teeth, and told people what they thought they wanted to hear in order to get elected.

          Personally, I don't think its funny. I think its terrifying that these are the people not just in charge of our country, but also the ones watching the pantry.

  56. Indeed, how long do we have go before we realise that every sperm is sacred and we start strapping women down and forcing them to be the broodmares that they are.

    • So unborn children are not sacred? They're nothing more than a single "lucky" sperm? At what point do you think it become a human life? At what point in a childs life should it's mother no longer be able to kill it?

      • When it gains consciousness and has a nervous system with which to suffer.

        Do you have any idea how many 'unborn children' don't make it? The numbers are astronomical. Every sperm is a potential life, just as every egg is a potential life. Millions of your sperm 'die' every day, hundreds of millions of unfertilized eggs 'die' every day. The possible combinations are breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking. And, every time one of these eggs isn't used, each of these potential lives is ended.

        Yes, all it comes down to between one human existing versus another, is a roll of the dice. If you aren't going to strap women down to be broodmares, the logical conclusion is to treat the potential lives all the same until they are capable of conscious thought, and have a nervous system with which to suffer.

        • hate to break it to ya, but your logic is a little flawed. If we are to treat all potential lives the same, the should we not be treating them the same by giving them an equal chance to exist? Also the whole nervous system bit, garbage,. Life begins at the cellular level, germs amoeba, things you can't even see are alive, scientifically speaking of course. Truth is that if we let anyone kill a baby before it is born for any reason they like, then you, me and half the other people on this forum probably wouldn't be here. How many people here were unintentional pregnancies? But our parents had the moral fortitude and respect for life to let us possibles become reality. And don't give me any garbage of abortions not being around when we were kids, it's been happening since Greek times in one form or another. It just so happens that we evolved beyond the notion that we could just kill anything we wanted.

          • "If we are to treat all potential lives the same, the should we not be treating them the same by giving them an equal chance to exist? "

            I believe that this was my point. Thus the broodmare comment.

            "Life begins at the cellular level, germs amoeba, things you can't even see are alive, scientifically speaking of course."

            Congratulations you understand what it means to have life. Self awareness, on the other hand, requires complexity beyond that majority of the development process.

            "Truth is that if we let anyone kill a baby before it is born for any reason they like, then you, me and half the other people on this forum probably wouldn't be here."

            To the extent that your statement is true, the same could be said if contraception had been more prevalent.

            "It just so happens that we evolved beyond the notion that we could just kill anything we wanted."

            So, you're saying that the animal rights movement began in the 20th century?

        • "Every sperm is a potential life"

          In the immortal words of comic legend Bill Hicks: "I've had whole civilizations crust and flake off on the hair around my navel."

          Maybe in 100 years the gov't will not only outlaw abortions, but will have cctv's in every bedroom to catch 13 year old boys in the act of murdering future babies in their grey gym socks.

          • Won't someone PLEASE think of the children!?!

  57. Suzzy ALLCAPS strikes again.

  58. My comment was too long. So to continue.

    Long story short, I never thought I would find a soul mate so after my abortion I had a tubal. I did find my soul mate (9 yrs younger than I) at 39. He knew about my abortion and tubal before we married. We're happy. I don't happen to believe that life starts at conception

  59. That's actually a really good point. Martin's strategy in '04 and '06 to paint the CPC as a scary bunch was an all-or-nothing gamble that paid off the first time and backfired the second time. Once the CPC were elected and the sky didn't fall, people began to realize what a pack of lies they'd been fed.

    • I agree, and I think a related point is that the current LPC is so concentrated in the 416 area code and so dominated by that mind set, it seriously is in danger of losing touch with what most Canadians think about and care about. I'm fully supportive of gay marriage, for instance, but it's a total non-issue in my life. Yet a lot of Liberals seem obsessed with the issue, as though gay marriage is the essence of being Canadian. I'm not saying the Liberals shouldn't support gay marriage — I think they should — but they have to realize that issues like that have nothing to do with what most Canadians care about. Most Canadians care about having a good job, feeling safe in their community, having good infrastructure and services, etc.

  60. After reading some of the writings of this Brian Lee Crowley Paul refers to his views some to be that of Turner-Martin Liberals who look fondly at pre Trudeau Liberals such as Laurier, King, St Laurent, and CD Howe and less favorably at Trudeau and Chretien. What I don't get though is from a conservative perspective the King Liberals are what gave us the things such as the National Film Board, the CBC, and the income tax as a "temporary" Post World War I measure as Coyne always likes to point out.

  61. Strange to move from reading texts in the French press on protecting Quebec values and Quebec identify to this. Same discourse as for the incremental promotion of Conservative moral values and agenda. I can well imagine what it was like living in the thirties – in Europe and here. Duplessis and leaders in Europe of that time were men with strong values too, particularly on family issues.

    I'll take Godbout any day.

  62. Middle age is when narrow waists and broad minds are reversed. And it is the older people who vote for Harper in large numbers. The only hope for this country is that the echo boomers will wake up and start voting against their parents.

  63. This seems to me to be an opus of examples that don't really mean anything due to the involvement of the federal government. Any government can take an organization like Youth For Christ and make it look like Social Conservatism is on a meteoric rise. The only statistics used in this article are shoddy at best. They admittedly come from a Conservative source who would benefit from the numbers being that high and there's no mention of methodology or questions asked.

    For me, the final proof of social conservatism's true popularity in Canada is election time. The Conservatives have at most barely broken 38% in it's last two election wins and is absolutely no threat to win a majority. Harper prorogues parliament and loses 10 points. What does that say? It says that though there will always be a Conservative base, the apparent strength of the Conservative Party and the rise in social conservatim is a sham. Indeed, the centre of the country isn't moving to the right. It's the weakness of the Liberals. If anything, the Conservatives have moved to the Liberal centre and are using a Liberal agenda to win power. Even that hasn't done enough to win them a majority. They've thrown every Conservative policy out the window except for tax cuts, and the one's they've tried to bring back they've been hammered on and have had to flip flop.

    The entire piece, though interesting, is wishful thinking at best. Nearly 70% of the country voted against these guys.

    • Nealy 70% voted against Chretien, too. Care to comment about that?

      • Chretien led majority governments. Harper never has and never will.

        • yup, Chretien led majority governments with as much as 38% of the vote. Silly Canadian rules, eh!

          • Yes, silly Canadian rules. What kind of country claims democratic representation and then gives majority rule to less than 40% of its constituents?

  64. Paul, in a previous article you claimed that the latest budget had no focus. I argue that both the Speech from the throne and the budget were crafted to confuse everyone so that Harper can focus on his ideological agenda. Although the budget promises INCREASED spending and deficits for two, or more probably three or four years and at the highest peak in history, it has cleverly been framed as a cost cutting budget. This confusion allows Harper and his ministers to continue to travel the country buying votes with taxpayer money with photo opportunities at re-announced projects. But the confusion also gives Harper and his ministers cover to comb through the civil service and emasculate every program that could possibly be described as progressive. All the while Harper will be saying "the deficit made us do it"; the deficit of course being created by Harper in the first place. That ideological focus for the cost cutting will be very clear.

  65. Everyone should also remember that this is not just a Harper government. It was created by the political tag team of Manning, Day and Harper. Any investigation into their personal and political beliefs reveals a very right wing agenda. The Manning Centre fo Building Democracy limits democracy to the conservative type right on the main page of its web site and adds some religious strings as well. It is thinly disguised as a think tank while in reality it is a propaganda machine aided and abetted by Allan Gregg to manufacture the idea that Canadians are conservative. These people have an agenda, but only a small minority of Canadians would like it if they actually experienced it.

  66. And I agree with you. It's a shame when thoughtful, respectful discussions about controversial issues are derailed by road-rage.

    • It's a shame when men talk so lightly about taking women's rights away. You have seen nothing yet.

    • So thoughtful & respectful to casually discuss taking away women's rights & using state power to control women's uteruses with a legal regime of forced pregnancies.

  67. The more this Reform/Conservative government's hidden social conservative agenda becomes more un-hidden, the scarier it gets. The thinking here is so backwards, so ignorant, so intolerant, so egomanical and so blatantly unfair – it's truly truly horrifying. The more I hear of this type of thinking, the more motivated I get to defeat them at all costs. This brand of conservatism is very dangerous to many many people. As far as I'm concerned social conservatism is social terrorism.

  68. In any next election, the issue will simply be do Canadians want another minority gov't and another election within months if not weeks, or do they want a secure and effective Harper Conservative majority gov't for 4 years, guaranteed.

    A majority gov't would unite Canada because it would neuter the influence of the BQ separatists in the HoCs and their blackmailing the RoC with their threats of separation. Another good reason for a Harper majority gov't is the unpalatable leadership of "we Americans" Ignatieff and the ever present threat of another unholy Lib-Dip coalition attempting to seize power surreptitiously … with the help of their BQ separatists.

    If Canadians elect another minority gov't in any next election, the country will break under the strain and split apart. However, if Quebec is brave enough to be a stand-alone country, why shouldn't Ontario, the West, the Maritimes?!

  69. Well, it's my dollars that pay for maternal care – perhaps all pregnant women should pay their own bills.

    • Additionally, this Gary person annoys me. Since my tax dollars contribute to his general health care, I demand that all funding be removed for him personally. He's okay taking it away from people he disagrees with so he should be in support of this proposal.

  70. Hard right turn? Bahahaha right…

  71. Being universal, does that mean everyone in the universe will have access to my tax dollars for educating their children?

  72. No. Everyone in the universe will have access to your tax dollars in order to wait in line and NOT educate their children. But rest assured, your tax dollars will be accessed. Universally. Hope that helps.

  73. The only problem with Harper is that he is not leaning right enough. It's time Canada returns to it's christian roots that is the only basis for a stable society.

    • yeah, cause our secular, liberal, constitutional democratic society is soooooo unstable.

  74. I feel much better. I'd be afraid of what they might be taught should they actually make their way off the waiting list.

    When I was in school most of my teachers seemed to be former labour union organizers from Scotland who had moved to BC and spent most of their free time trying to overthrow WAC Bennett.by helping to elect a CCF government. They eventually succeeded in electing Dave Barrett, truly one of the least competent premiers we have ever seen in Canada.

  75. Forgot to mention what else your tax dollars will be for. Let's look at Quebec. A surprising number of PRIVATE daycare businesses (you need a license for a coveted but very short-supply license) have employees and executives who just happen to ADORE the governing party, so much so that these individuals have seen fit to donate up to the maximum legal donation limit.

    So: Universality induces insane demand. Lack of provincial support to families (because it's all thrown into these 9am-5pm Mon-Fri daycares, never mind when the parent actually works) increases demand for subsidized space. Sign up on a waiting list before conception and you STILL are likely SOL. So demand is there for the private spaces, only these too are limited, and therefore insanely profitable. So much so that these private businesses see a good-corporate-citizenship keen and supportive role in democracy and put their money where their arm-twistings mouths are. Market distortion, anyone?

    • Shhh. You weren't supposed to tell everybody until the program is set up and it's too late to avert it.

  76. This article praises the Conservative Party which wants to take us back 50 years – back alley abortions, more natives in jails, diminished human rights and a tarnished repuitation on the world stage (THE INTERNET IS BAD!). It is not even factually correc t. I would like to know the level of education of the average voter for the Conservatives and Liberals although I suspect the answer is obvious. Harper has a rap sheet as long as my arm and Canadians are learning how he and his people are not the model for what we aspire to. Why has he not surpassed the liberals in support?

  77. All the above discussion concerns the old Anglo religious crowd that settled mostly in the West and perhaps the new religious immigrants who still consider women as slaves.

    Fortunately, here in Quebec we have very few of this sort of people. Most young couples in Quebec live together and have kids without being married. We have daycare centers at $7.00 per day per child. We have University education for Quebecers at tuition fees of $2000 per year and that hasn't changed in the last 40 years or so. Quebec will never go for the social conservative crap described by Paul. And it is fortunate for Canada that Quebec is still part of it, otherwise you would have Stephen Hitler (sorry Harper) as dictator.

    • And it's darn good for Quebec to be part of a Canada which includes the west, which in turn provides Quebec so much of the money to keep tuition down and cheap daycare payments up. Quebec is an enlightened society all right. As long as someone else pays, they will go nowhere else.

      The BQ, as a separatist party by their own claim, does not want to do without federal subsidies. There may be a lot of university degrees held within the province of Quebec, but I know that without such degrees, common sense might rise to the surface more often than not.

  78. This comment board needs more critical thinking and less manufactured consent.

  79. I'm not a social conservative — in fact, I'm very socially liberal on most issues (e.g., drugs, abortion). But still, looking at the comments on this board, I'm disturbed and put off by the way that most liberals and left-wingers refer to social conservatives and the subject of social conservatives participating in Canadian public life. I honestly get the impression that the basic position of liberals and left-wingers is that social conservatives should not have the right to organize and have their views legitimately represented in Canadian politics and public life. I mean, these are people. These opinions are held by a significant portion of the Canadian population. A lot of the liberals and lefties on this board seem to think that if social conservative views are being expressed and advanced in the public sphere, it's like the onset of the apocalypse. How about a bit of balance and perspective here. Yeesh. I'm a social liberal, but none of what Wells writes about particularly alarms me. This is what democracy is supposed to be all about.

    • That's because you are not a woman. The views of social conservatives are expecially harmful to women.

      • I am a woman. I think Orson Bean's post is one of the better ones.

        Supposedly women can think for themselves, right? right???

  80. I'm terrified of a coalition government run by the NDP and Bloc ideologues.

    Quite frankly, The Conservatives and Liberals are both middle of the road parties. It is ludicrous to be terrified of a middle of the road party.

    • I disagree. I think we could see the division of party lines described as follows:

      NDP – collective toward individual
      CON- individual toward collective

      The LPC however is not know at all times where to begin. I hoovers between direction of collective toward individual or individual toward collective. They hoover without understanding their position.

      The BQ is nothing but an opportunistic party and so, within the above described explanation, I won't discuss here within the mainframe of federal political directions.

  81. I really like the idea Derek Lee floated of of incarcerating those three Tory ministers. :D

    So do I. The sooner the better. Maybe they can use this time to re-calibrate

    • How sad it is to hear ordinary Canadians wanting to have their ministers incarcerated. Truly sad.

      • Why do Conservatives refuse to obey the laws of Canada? Contempt of Parliament when they refuse to obey the orders of Parliament; tantrums at airports and refusing to obey the rules for security; breaking their election law; breaking the Geneva convention in Afghanistan… We need more prisons to hold Conservative lawbrakers!

  82. THE NEXT ELECTION is going to be a doozer .. and all the plugs will be unplugged as the parties go for it. Harper must outright ask Canadians to elect a majority gov't, because if they don't they will be at the polls within months if not weeks … and if the Coalition Troika Junta attempt to form a gov't, the country will split like a coconut … bye bye Western Canada … hello separate Quebec … watch the Maritimes flounder … while Ontario cries for the Canada it has destroyed by voting Liberal only.

    If Quebec is willing to go it alone, why shouldn't Ontario and the Maritimes … because the West can form a viable independent country.

    • Observant, do you have any facts or are you just a man of many opinions? It is wonderful to read the ramblings of someone as intelligent as yourself. Do you realize that people who spend all their time talking never learn anything. You need to listen to learn.

  83. Fairly balanced piece, Mr.Wells.

    Of course the aspects of economic conservatism and social conservatism need to be united. Not because Harper suggests it but because reason suggests it. If individual freedom is the ultimate goal to be chased, then such freedom cannot be without reason. In fact, freedom is by reason. Where do we learn to reason? We learn to reason within decent family settings where guidance can be provided in coming to understand the collective versus the individual. Religion can form a strong component, not just as part of a decent family setting, but also in light of what mainstream religion ultimately teaches: do not onto others what you may not want done onto yourself (and such counts for all, including parents growing into their role successfully and the child growing into adulthood successfully).

    But reason, at times, finds it's own tipping points. Current examples of those would be the abortion issue and the Afghan detainee issue. When abortion is considered to be a form of contraceptive, or when the Geneva Convention is understood by one warring party but not the other, then reason is at a loss. Hence those issues become great points of contention.

  84. So where are all these Social Conservatives – on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land? Did all these people swing to the right (find Jesus) since the last Liberal majority? I don't know, The Conservatives have around 33-34% level of support, and the Liberals around 28-30% in recent polls. Are these people currently pretending to be Liberals and Dippers?

    The reason the Conservatives gained power was because of the Gomery Inquiry . The reason they have maintained power is because the Liberals have bad leadership. I think this "swing to the social right" is wishful thinking by some conservatives or paranoia by some liberals

    Anyways, this is an interesting well written article. It will be interesting to see where you are going with it.

  85. What the?Canadian conservatives are like Americas Hollywood Hugo Chaveze loving lefties.Our media ,both ctv & cbc are a joke.They have no clue whats going on down south.This media is worse than the media in Venezualia.There really is no true conservatives in Canada other than that wild rose party leader woman in Alberta Danielle something.Just read about her she is for small gov and dump the entitlements.Everyone has all these rights to whine bitc@ and complain untill they get their benifits.Canada has become a nation of cry babies.Whhaaa I need this,whaaa I need that.We are as socialist as a socialist society can be.Thank God America wants to be just like us over taxed and regulated to the hilt .With a million pencil tappers making double the private sector wage and benifits in gov.Now at least foreing investors might invest here more often. Now that America is becomming just like us.A special interest run socialist eutopia, with 0 difference between the NDP,LIBS,& CONS Parties.

  86. It is quite conceivable that many, many Canadians would agree with both of the following statements:

    1. Abortion is morally wrong.
    2. Abortion should be safe, legal and available.

    I suspect most Canadians, like me, do not automatically feel it is the Government's role to impose their individual moral views on everybody else.

    • There are two problems with your argument:

      (A) Believe abortion should be safe, legal, and available does not get you to the conclusion that we should fund it in the third world.
      (B) To hold the two statements you mention above, Canadians would also have to believe that abortion is not infanticide. But if it is then obviously (2) has serious problems. But if it's not, then (1) has serious problems. Why would abortion be wrong if it's not infanticide?

      Your argument works in the case of things like drug use. People might believe it's wrong and yet not want to impose that belief on others. It doesn't work, however, with something that involves killing a child. I suspect most Canadians who believe that abortion is morally wrong, believe so because a child gets ripped to shreds in the process. This is not something for which one can say "it's wrong but the government should stay out of it" any more than it would be for any other variant of child killing.

      • And the 'debate on abortion' that Harper & Co. 'do not want to raise' is raised. Clever tactic.

      • Gaunilon, there are potential views of a foetus that lie between it being a child and a part of a woman akin to an organ.

        I fully believe that, in general*, abortion is morally wrong, but not infanticide. A foetus, I don't believe to be a child, but it's not nothing either. The best way I can put it is that it is a potential child, something wonderful, but not as wonderful as a born and breathing human being, and so not afforded the same rights.

        I'm not asking you to change your stance, because I know that would be beyond foolish in this case, but I will ask you to accept that there is a grey zone, and that more people than you may think fall into it.

        That's my response to B). To A), I would remind you that we fund abortions here. Believing that abortion should be safe, legal and available can lead to the conclusion that we should fund it in the third world if you believe that the same standards should apply there as here, if it is possible to provide those same standards.

        Again, I don't expect you to accept these conclusions, because you're starting from a value position that's different from myself and others – I think it's only a slight difference, but it's quite meaningful. But please don't assume that those who reach those different conclusions are coming to them in an illogical fashion – for the most part, we're just not starting from the same set of assumptions.

        • I appreciate your point CO, and in fact I've encountered this view before. It's never made sense to me though. What distinguishes a "potential child" from a child? Both are just a human being in an early stage of development, no? The distinction strikes me as purely arbitrary. In terms of objective criteria (has two human parents, grows up into a human adult, has unique human DNA, has gender, etc.) I don't see any reason to draw the line between "children" and "potential children" at birth. One has no objective reason to set the boundary there rather than at puberty, or at the age of reason, or at any one of a number of stages of development if one takes that approach.

          • Of course it's completely arbitrary. What we call a child is a definition that is a completely arbitrary one – we can define the properties of a child and say "that's what makes it a child!", but what those properties are still are up to us. There are no "objective criteria", because those criteria depend entirely on what you think they should be – if I use different criteria, and there's no reason I can't, then I come to a different definition than you do.

            I don't support late-term abortions, because as you say, the line is substantially blurred by that point, but in the first and second trimesters, there is a difference between a born baby and a 12-week old foetus. You may believe that those differences aren't consequential, and that's quite understandable, but can you accept that others might not treat those differences in the same way? Your view of a lack of a distinction is no less arbitrary than my view that there is one.

            There are very, very few instances where I don't feel there can be objectivity or reason to decide an argument, and this is one of them, because it's all based on definitions. Definitions are entirely human thought. Just as we have different languages that define things using different sounds or symbols, and different societies that even use the same language to define things differently, this is a situation where people define a foetus differently, and the logical progression about how to treat one follows directly from those differing definitions.

            Objectively, I don't see how objectivity can be claimed by any side or person in this type of discussion.

          • "Of course it's completely arbitrary. What we call a child is a definition that is a completely arbitrary one – we can define the properties of a child and say "that's what makes it a child!", but what those properties are still are up to us."

            Um, no. If someone defines anyone prior to puberty as only a "potential human being" they're objectively wrong, I'm sure you'd agree. Objectively, a 4-year old is not a "potential human being", they're a "human being" even though they aren't fully developed.

            To say that the line is drawn between the the second and third trimester is just as arbitrary a decision, and just as objectively wrong. A fetus doesn't magically turn into a child after the 193rd day of pregnancy.

          • I suppose a logical corollary of this would be the criminalisation of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Given that you view the foetus as a child and that alcohol consumption during pregnancy results in permanent and irreparable damage to the child, would you then support alcohol consumption during pregnancy being charged as aggravated assault causing bodily harm? What are your thoughts on the subject?

  87. A great analysis, I hope it is true. Harper will get a majority government with no trouble if he goes against the left wing liberal agenda against families, religion and individual rights. A majority of Eastern Canadians, Quebecers, Ontarians and Westerners are social conservatives whose values have been ignored too long.

    • How can you possibly assume that the majority of Canadians are social conservatives? Especially considering that right now the CPC is only holding onto power by moving its policies significantly towards the center, and by attracting disaffected Liberal Party supporters. Hell, if what you say is true, the 'hidden agenda' speak should have pushed more people into voting for Mr. Harper instead of pushing them away.

      In my inexpert analysis, that shows me that there are many fiscal conservatives in this country, but a fairly small minority of social conservatives.

  88. A foetus is not a child. Abortion is not infanticide. The only way you could give rights to a foetus would be by taking them away from women.

    Stop thinking of women as nothing but walking wombs.

    • I'll have to remember to correct my pregnant female co-worker the next time she calls her bump "the baby".

    • Dear Holly.

      Why do I get the impression that celebrating the female body and it's capabiltiies weighs down so negatively on you?

      I have always celebrated my female presence. I never had to resort to abortion. When engaging in sex, I was aware of the consequences and acted accordingly, most often in full cooperation with my male counterpart.

      If one is reasonable, one can indeed find pleasure galore.

      Unless being reasonable is not easy for you, I would suggest giving it a try.

      Regards,

      • You've received a false impression. I prefer honesty, and I get angry at liars. If you want reasonableness, be honest.

  89. what evidence do you have that we are going to "massacring" the elderly? is fear mongering your meaningful contribution?

    • Gaunilon is quite ready to kill postborn women for the sake of "preborn" children.

  90. Youth for Christ is as scary as the The Young Men's Christian Association (the YMCA) or the Salvation Army. Then there's the United Way started by church leaders in Denver, the Christian Children's Fund and World Vision, whose original stated goal was "to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God."
    As for Pat Martin's “What if this group was called Youth for Allah?”; I just attended an education meeting at the Edmonton Islamic Academy which has an Islamic charter, It also receives goverment funding and is doing excellent work with children in the area.

    I enjoy reading Paul Wells, but I wish he and Pat Martin would not have smeared Youth for Christ as evidence of some sinister religious take-over in goverment. It's a cheap attack and it's demagogic.
    Successive governments have worked with religious charities for years, and will continue to do so.

    • There's a difference between supporting charities based on religion and supporting religions by way of their charity.

      The former is a fantastic way for the government to provide meaningful opportunities for people and communities. I work for one of these organisations – it's founded on Christian values, supported financially by local churches, and is run largely by Christians from those churches. But it doesn't push that religion or incorporate it into its charitable efforts.

      Youth for Christ, from what I've been able to gather (including from their own website), pushes its religion a bit, beyond the scope of what the government should be supporting. It seems to put conversion in the mix of ways it tries to help, making it not a charitable organisation that draws on religion, but a religious organisation that draws on charity. Our government should not be providing aid for conversions.

    • You forgot Habitat for Humanity.

  91. What a joke. You clowns in the mainstream media know nothing about what the word right means, as usual. How about focusing on the truth, some hard facts for a change? Liberal, Tory same old story, both have destroyed Canadas history, both have destroyed our economy and the media with its right, left spin, a pathetic joke to most.

    I wonder if people realize what's going on in this country. Quebec has spent the last 5 decades wiping out the English language and culture from the province with racist, anti-English language laws such as bill 22, 178, 101…This is a fact. Racism, intolerance, bigotry, ethnic language cleansing and human rights violations still going on in the province of Quebec.

    “First Quebec, then we take over the rest of the country, one step at a time…through bilingualism…” PT, “How to take over a country through bilingualism…” SD. That's what's really going on. Wake up, people!

  92. Three hundred and twenty-eight comments so far. One of the best Wells columns ever?

    • I wouldn't measure the quality of the piece by the comment count, but I'd have to agree this was one of Wells's best columns. I'm thinking I'm going to lose my bet.

      • Your bet seems quite prescient so far! We shall see.

  93. I agree it's a good column by Wells.

    Regarding the number of responses? I would say quality counts over quantitee, not? How do you tally that scorecount so far?

    • High tallies for both quality and quantity.

  94. Now 331! Good job. I am just back from spending 48 hours in downtown Toronto. I can report that nobody on Queen St West was talking about prorogation, detainees, hidden agendas etc. If discussion was on politics (other than Toronto mayoralty politics -ugh) it was about jobs and the economy (i.e, interest rates; parity with US dollar, unemployment rates, etc). Even on Queen Street West I saw more than a few "Canada's Economic Action Plan" signs in places where there have obviously been "shovels in the ground".

    I made the earlier point that PM Harper has already won a majority Government in ROC (136 to 99). Ignatieff's appeal to a 1968 Canada which no longer exists is not going to change the essential direction that Paul Wells is talking about. And Layton accomplishes nothing by yelling "faster, faster!" to those economic initiatives that the NDP voted against in the last Budget.

    I hate to break it to many on this thread but once PM Harper emerged unscathed from the Copenhagen Conference, as was inevitable as "climate change" and Kyoto was mostly a "we-hate-Bush" global phenomenon and now Bush is gone, (replaced by Mr Yes-We-Can), the only real weakness Harper had facing the ROC electorate is gone. The game is now in Quebec – are there enough Quebec bleus out there to ensure majority government nation-wide if/when francophone Quebeckers forsake the socialistic separatism of the Bloc for the old-fashioned good fiscal management and "emplois, emplois, emplois" focus of the Parti Conservateur du Canada?

    • Harper has the power he has because Canadians are lazy.

      • and, some of his powers are constituted by law, of course.

    • This has been another episode of "Conservative Fairy Tales." We now return you to reality, as the world is getting warmer and 2000 to 2009 was the warmest decade on record SO F