How Stephen Harper led me to do the unthinkable

Scott Gilmore explains why he abandoned his Conservative roots to vote for a Trudeau

Monday, October 19, 2015 - Calgary, Alberta -  Conservative party supporters arrive to an empty room as they wait for party leader Stephen Harper to speak from Calgary, Alberta on Monday, October 19, 2015. (Photograph by Chris Bolin)

Conservative party supporters arrive to an empty room as they wait for party leader Stephen Harper to speak on October 19, 2015. (Photograph by Chris Bolin)

There is no better illustration of the decline of the Conservative party than the fact that I voted for a Trudeau this week.

Gilmores have supported the Conservative party since they arrived in Canada. And, until Monday, believing in the rights of the individual and the importance of free markets, I maintained the family tradition.

My inclination toward conservative politics was matched by a personal dislike of the Liberal party. Growing up in Alberta, I was a first-hand witness to the devastation from Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Policy, watching family members go out of business and bankrupt as the oil patch was choked off. When I was 11 years old, he gave the finger to Western protesters, and I was naively shocked a prime minister could ever do something like that. For me, the Liberals were indelibly defined as arrogant, feckless and cynical.

Although I married a lifelong Liberal (who just ran and won under that banner), we could never agree on politics. Until these last few weeks.

Looking further back, it took a lot to kill this Tory, and he died slowly. An early blow was the unprecedented expansion of domestic spying, reaching its apotheosis with the notorious Anti-terrorism Act, C-51. This was a complete betrayal of the conservative ideal of protecting the rights of the individual against the intrusions of the state. Adding salt to the wound, the Conservatives ensured the bill excluded any genuine oversight or accountability.

Then there were the budgets. Every Tory I know, including those who have sat in the House of Commons these last nine years, describe themselves as sober-minded fiscal conservatives. Unfortunately, the party governed like a Vegas drunk with a stolen credit card. Year after year, deficit after deficit, the debt grew and grew. Not content to just run up a huge tab, they spent hundreds of millions on advertising their “Economic Action Plan,” billboards from coast to coast bragging about their unhinged spending spree.

And, my God, the things they spent that money on made Tories like me weep. The party that promised small government and to restrain Ottawa’s incorrigible instinct to bloat actually expanded the civil service to historic levels. The politicians that claimed to be fiscally prudent clamoured to spend billions on the F-35, a problem-plagued and chronically delayed fighter jet whose price tag was always 10 per cent higher than the last time anyone checked.

That was not the only military-procurement failure. Although the Conservatives shamelessly vowed to “stand on guard for thee,” and campaigned on claims it was an unfailing ally of the Canadian Forces, they left behind a Navy that is no longer capable of conducting operations beyond the sight of shore. Appropriately, during the election, HMCS Athabaskan, Canada’s last destroyer, broke down and was stranded in Europe.

All of these things cut deep into my Tory nature. Eventually, I found it difficult to promote the party’s policies. And then it became impossible to even defend their record. But still, I looked at the alternatives and instinctively recoiled.

Besides, the Liberals were also proposing deficits, and the NDP’s promised balanced budgets belied their long list of expensive promises. I continued to call myself a Conservative. Until Oct. 2.

Related: The Conservatives, the ‘party of the manly man’ no more

Stalled in the polls, the Conservatives decided to abandon the pretense of their dog-whistle politics, and openly campaign on Islamophobia and bigotry. Chris Alexander and Kellie Leitch looked us in the eye and promised to establish a snitch line to report “barbaric cultural practices.” They darkly warned this was necessary to prevent women and children from being victimized.

It had come to this. The Conservatives were telling us they were the only party that stood between barbaric Muslims hordes and our wives and daughters. It was the last knife. I was no longer a Conservative. Stephen Harper had done what I would have thought impossible. He forced me not only to vote Liberal, but to vote for the son of Pierre Trudeau.

I always considered myself part of the “Conservative base.” But, over time, it became obvious to me that the Prime Minister was only interested in one part of that base: voters who were suspicious of the world, afraid of their neighbours, and jealous of other Canadians. As he chased those votes, he chased away others, like mine, and totally neglected attracting voters from other parties. On Monday night, that meant 60 seats and the loss of power.


How Stephen Harper led me to do the unthinkable

  1. So you really were never going to vote for your life partner? Because I don’t think you vote in Papineau.

    I think James Carville would vote for his wife Mary Matalin, regardless, if she were a candidate.

  2. Stephen Harper does a lot of stupid things. He has surrounded himself with a lot of people who have often advised him poorly, and that certainly is on him. But the political games he plays are not significantly worse than the political games the other parties play. He has not done anything that the Liberals or the Progressive Conservatives have done before. The Laurentian elites hate him because he is an outsider, which is why the mainstream media go overboard in their criticism. But then Harper does give them a lot of material because of many of the stupid things he does that he really doesn’t have to do.

    His position on niqab’s at citizenship ceremonies the same as Jack Layton’s and Michael Ignatieff’s and far less broad the the legislation pass with all party support in Quebec by its Liberal government.

    Harper’s overall macroeconomic direction for Canada is the least bad amongst the alternatives. One cannot help people without a strong economy. And most of the services are delivered by the provinces and the cities. The economic policies of all the parties are all basically not good.

    But Harper walked away from the Progressive Conservative party at the height of its power (Mulroney’s government in 1986, and from the Reform Party at the height of its power (when he went to the NCC) when he disagreed with the direction Manning wanted to take the Party. He was the spine that forced Manning to oppose the Charlottetown accord and stand against it with Pierre Trudeau. The stupid that he does masks his basically sound judgement of the issues with which he has control.

    I think you are going to find that C-51 is being imposed by the Americans and Obama. Trudeau will be able to add better oversight, but the American Deep State will not tolerate opposition to their surveillance aims if you want to be inside the club. Just like TPP. Not much can be done. The US is dividing and conquering. Their rules. You are either in or out.

    Change will have to come in the United States, but that is not likely, since democracy really does not exist in the United States anymore.

    • Nothing new here. Reform Party dogma is an extreme Republican Party construct. The political Trojan Horse has been outed and Canadians are euphoric. As for American deep south influence, let the chips fall where they may. Chretien served Canadians brilliantly by standing against belligerence to join in the Iraq invasion fiasco, and Liberals will do what is right for Canada and Canadians where C51 and the TPP are concerned. Much is made of who the participating nations are. Little about those nations choosing not to go along. Opportunity is like water. It finds many paths to becoming a reality.

    • “Laurentian Elites”…my, my John Ibbitson’s Harper apologia must be The Book of The Month Club for righties. Just think, mountains that have it better than you and I do – my gawd I’m jealous and resentful.
      Tell me an occasion when a Liberal used religion as a wedge issue? Or a PC was caught on tape offering a bribe to another MP for their vote? When did either Party have a Prime Minister that was voted in contempt by the rest of the house. False equivalency is the stock and trade of the right.

      • A big chunk of these same Trudeau’s Liberals used religion as a wedge issue as part of the Islamophobia campaign of Dalton McGuinty against John Tory.

        McGuinty spent over one billion dollars of taxpayer money trying to buy an election in the gas plant scandal.

        • You sit up late nights conjuring this stuff up, doncha……

          No such thing ever happened

          • “No such thing ever happened”

            —Yes it did.
            “Premier Dalton McGuinty has clearly staked his government’s future on a single issue – opposition to public funding for religious schools.
            In a series of speeches, press conferences and ads in the past 48 hours, McGuinty stated that public education is “threatened” by Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory’s proposal to extend funding beyond just the Catholic system to all “faith-based” schools.”

  3. I was PC for 30 years. They alternated with the Libs…..and you knew you could trust them not to wreck the country while doing so

    Then when the country refused to elect a woman….I tried Reform….this new ‘fresh wind from the west’.

    Only it smelled more like racism and sexism and fundamentalism….so I left

    Manning promised to clean it up…..I tried again

    Eventually they chose Stockwell Day……and I left for good

    There may be a place for Tories in Canada again some day…..but they’ll have to be red Tories….

    No crosses, swastikas or the white flag of fear.

    • Interesting. A tory for 30 years counting on them not to wreck the country. No wreckage per se. Just the steady milking and gaming of the system under the false promise that lower and lower tax rates for public corporations and exceptionally high income earners would benefit everyone. Still waiting. All the while huge caches of cash piling up, doing nothing , based on a scam that the best con artist would have been proud to perpetrate. The most devious of financial propagandists are the schemers of Wall Street and Bay Street who could and would smoothly empty the bank account of a wealthy widow, and have her thank them for the privilege for doing so.

      • I don’t intend to try and talk to someone who is ‘overly refreshed’, so take the plots elsewhere.

  4. Still going on about the NEP and it’s responsibility for economic devastation in Alberta. Take off your truth shields and accept that most of those who ran into the economic buzz saw of a $40 per barrel price reduction to $10 refused to believe that their own financial management failures were the source of their undoing. Provincial government propaganda of the day was incredibly persuasive and these people needed a scapegoat to avoid self-reflection. The NEP was convenient and Trudeau the target, but none of that changes the state of delusion that most Albertans continue to live under to this day.

    • Well Canadians lived in a very small world back then. The global price of oil fell, but Albertans believed that PET was personally out to get them.

      Same thing happened again recently, but you notice Cons didn’t blame Harper for it

  5. “And, until Monday, believing in the rights of the individual and the importance of free markets, I maintained the family tradition.”

    Ah yes, that proud Conservative tradition of protecting the rights of the individual. Because before c-51 who else could women, homosexuals and visible minorities count on to protect their rights?
    But before I ask you to pull the other one, let me just congratulate you on voting Liberal to express your opposition to C-51!

  6. It’s rather sad that an erudite observer such as Gilmore has so thoroughly confused the Tories of yesteryear with the Cons of today. Different breeds, different brands…entirely.

  7. Gilmore- It’s easy to agree with many of your sentiments about the Tories, especially when you despise Ottawa as much as I do. But, you cannot fault the Harper government for at least rolling back the inexorable and voracious appetite of the federal government.
    Have their been ethical lapses? You bet, and if the Liberals on their best days are only as unethical as the Tories, we’ll count ourselves lucky. I’m still waiting for that $40 million plus interest that they stole last time to be returned. The bottom line here is that governments will always trend towards corruption- after all every penny they spend is a penny confiscated, not earned, from someone else- and the very best way to reduce corruption is to simply reduce the the number of opportunities for corruption to take root.
    The biggest problem, though, is that the bulk of the Canadian media has failed to give Canadians a proper picture of Trudeau. Hence, the following prediction:
    Sometime in the next couple of years, probably inside of 36 months, a man who arranged the state-sanctioned murder of (best estimate) 15,000+ political dissidents out of a populace of approximately 10 million people. Hundreds of thousands more have been imprisoned for the crime of counter-revolutionary thought. When this man dies, our man Trudeau will stand before the Canadian media and express great sorrow at the loss of a great man and a great family friend. There will be no mention of the mass of human sorrow, oppression, and injustice that is the wake of the Castro regime’s march through Cuba, as there will be no mention of the fact that Cuba remains a virtual prison, as it has been since 1960. There will be no mention of the countless Cubans who were murdered by the Cuban Coast Guard if they were caught trying to escape the nightmare that is Castro’s Cuba, let alone those who drowned or were eaten by sharks in the perilous journey across the Florida Strait. Nor will it be mentioned that a man who supposedly earns the equivalent of $20 per month, is somehow and by many accounts a multimillionaire.
    Our man Trudeau will travel to Cuba to attend the funerary orgy that will follow the (hopefully painful and lonely) death of Castro, and be treated as an honored guest. He will bring a message of condolence from the Canadian people, and again speak of the great friend that Canada has lost, and the great leader that the Cuban people have lost, and express solidarity with their grief. He will not mention the decades of poverty, hunger, and deprivation that the Castro’s have brought to what was, at mid-20th century, the richest nation in Central America. He will not begin the measure the sheer magnitude of the lost human potential that is the legacy of the Castro regime. In spite of not being able to show a single, demonstrable measure of what might be considered a positive aspect of the Castor regime, Trudeau will exhort the Cuban people not to abandon the vision of “El Jefe”.
    That will be our Justin Trudeau. Our Prime Minister. The man that Canadians elected with no shortage of exhortations by the very media that many look to for guidance on major issues such as governance.
    Will you be proud of Trudeau on that day, Gilmore? Will you be proud that you helped elect a man that bereft of conscience and intellect that he will eulogize, and he will, a tyrant such as Castro in that fashion? Tell me what Canadian values might actually exist in such a man? I’d really like to know.

    • “15,000+ political dissidents”

      Not much point in reading past that whopper.

    • Harper actually did us one great big favor — in milking this rotting carcass of an electoral model and Parliamentary system for all it was worth, he exposed both for all to see in Technicolor®. (Hint: it is not the British Westminster model.) Beginning with his immediate successor, no future Prime Minister will ever again be able to avoid the intense scrutiny that ultimately caused the wheels to come off Harper’s campaign wagon.

  8. That’s what I love about you lefties, Tresus. So erudite, so overflowing with the fact-based assertions you use to flesh out your well-stated positions.

    • Cuz whenever Bill post completely unsubstantiated fabrications, others need to “flesh out” a “well stated” position. Because.

      • What do you believe to be a fabrication? If the apologists for Castro- the apologists- admit that close to 3000 people have been killed by the Castro regime for the crime of not believing in Communism, and the harshest critics claim 33,000 based upon information smuggled out of Cuba, then a safe estimate is 18,000 killed. Discount that by a hefty margin and you still are at 15,000. I have read scores of articles, well researched, that place the number of dissidents killed by Castro at between 15,000 and 20,000. I merely picked the first couple at hand.
        In the end, even if it’s only 3000 in the course of a quarter century, that’s a highly unfavorable comparison to the Left’s favorite whipping post of history, the Spanish Inquisition. That’s a state-sanctioned murder rate 6 times that of the Inquisition. It’s also par for the course for socialists. The revolutionaries of 1930’s Spain also murdered heretics at an alarming rate. And, like in Cuba, the targets of the socialist witch hunts were largely the religious. Priests, nuns, and Catholic lay clergy figure disproportionately in the Castro and Spanish Revolution lists of dead dissidents.
        I would suggest you do at least some basic research, if you have the capability of reading anything beyond the Huffington Post. In other words, try again. At this point, you’re down two strikes, and I haven’t even put a fastball across the plate.

        • ” If the apologists for Castro- the apologists- admit that close to 3000 people have been killed by the Castro regime for the crime of not believing in Communism”

          See that’s the problem, Bill. The above is a fabrication.

          • Interesting. So I imagine that you believe that Kennedy was killed by the CIA (instead of a bitter Communist), that the pics of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon were done on a Paramount sound stage, and that 9-11 was an inside job.
            Sorry to bust yer bubble there binky, but it’s high time ya learnt the hard truth about the Commies. Death grows where the communists go. (With apologies to Edison Lighthouse.)
            Just for giggles, what might you consider an accurate number for the dissidents killed under Castro?

          • ” So I imagine that you believe that…”

            Bill makes up a bunch of things that he imagines I believe, rather than even try to substantiate the things he’d already made up.
            Well done.

  9. “There is no better illustration of the decline of the Conservative party than the fact that I voted for a Trudeau this week.”

    Arrogant much?

  10. Mr. Gilmore
    I can see you having problems with choices that Harper has made. But how you can call yourself a ‘Conservative’ and vote for a manchild like Justin Trudeau who spouts simplistic clichés and Pollyanish bromides such “we will grow the economy from the heart outwards.” Just boggles my mind. You honestly think that a person with that kind of mentality is a great representative of a G7 country? It seems that Canadians are more interested in being liked and admired than a sensible government that is prepared to deal with the challenges of an ever competitive and dangerous world. For all of Trudeau’s finger wagging at Harper I have yet to hear him mention anything about bringing in innovation so that Canada is less dependent on it’s natural resources.

    The conservatives (and NDP) need to get their act back together real quick so that we can have the choice of electing a sensible adult in the next election and not a silly child/frat boy. Because frankly I am just embarrassed by the outcome of this election.

  11. At least you finally came around. Just WAIT until all the crimes starts coming out. The Con Party that has been in for the last 11 years were NOT there for you or me. They were there for themselves. Just came out that they were in the back rooms four days before the election giving themselves hefty raises and pensions. Seniors, Vets? Oh, well,,,,they’re on their own and so are the rest of us. l

  12. Screwed the vets and the seniors over with their penions, but the CONS are in the back rooms FOUR DAYS before the eleciton giving themselves RAISES? Every MP that knew about this should resign immediately. Cabinet OKs Midnight Raises
    “Cabinet has quietly awarded election-year pay hikes and retroactive pension top-ups to senior civil servants. Raises newly-approved by the Prime Minister include 19% for a federal board chairman. The adjustments appeared to short-cut a recent Treasury Board order capping increases at 0.5%: “I have a difficult time”. ————-Every single CON that knew about this or benefits from it should resign.

  13. Your instincts are right on the money re C51; however, the Tories have never had an actual policy to protect the privacy of citizens. C51 is the statutory authority to do what the state has already been doing on a grand scale and not only suspected terrorists have been targeted.

    As a former employee of the CRA we regularly did credit checks on taxpayers without their consent. Equifax will deny the agreement exists to do so. However, in Chitrakar v. Bell TV, 2013 FC 1103, the Federal Court criticized the corporation for just such a policy. Not the same rules for the State.

    In June 2009 [Federal Court File T-997-09] I filed a proposed class action suit on behalf of unnamed taxpayers with respect to violations of subsection 241(1) of the Income Tax Act, unauthorized access to taxpayer accounts and disclosure of taxpayer’s confidential tax records. I was forced to amend the claim because I didn’t have a lawyer, although statutory law only requires a lawyer after certification.

    You may well ask why you have never heard of this action. The press has been convinced it is not in the public interest to inform taxpayers their tax files aren’t safe. Is it in the public interest to allow government employees to violate the privacy of taxpayers?
    However, research the article by Dean Beeby of the Cdn Press in the Toronto Star re Rogue Tax Workers – June 20, 2010. The feds claim these incidents are isolated.

    The CRA did fire one employee as a result of my complaint. The feds admit to hundreds and the rumour was thousands, of violations by this individual, Perry Zanettti, who is now operating a Liberty Tax franchise in Burlington. How does such an individual gain access to private taxpayer records again? It is spelled “government cover-up”.

    The online record for File T-997-09 has been stripped of information and this is not the norm for public records. Luckily I downloaded a full copy prior to and so if you wish to view the file and want to make sure you are seeing everything, I can provide on contact.

    The Statement of Claim alleges the involvement of the RCMP, the Privacy Commissioner, the Information Commissioner, and – please don’t laugh – the Integrity Commissioner all involved in covering up the extent of such acts by federal civil servants.

    If riffling through court documents is not your thing, come hear me argue before the Federal Court of Appeal on November 17, 2015, 180 Queen Street West, Toronto, 9:30 a.m. I am still trying to protect the privacy of citizens – anyone who cares – support me by attending to keep the Court honest. If you have read the article by Sean Fine in the Globe and Mail about how judges seek promotions you will understand what I mean.

    I wonder if the new Minister of Justice will expect such cooperation.

  14. You amuse me TC. Please, pray tell, illustrate to we, the great unwashed, how you come to doubt the research of Pof. Rudolph Rummel regarding the subject. Are you willing to offer us a sneak peak at your research prior to publication?
    If you’re going to accuse someone of fabrication, take the time to read the sources proffered. Provided, of course, ya kin cypher sum a’ them bigger words ‘n’ all.

  15. With all due respect: there were 3 parties who were tied. One started to promise to spend more faster and won. The voters were bought with their own money – not a new phenomenon. $30 Billion over 3 years is a big splash and it worked.

  16. Scott Gilmore, about the Trudeau/NEP myth targeting Alberta’s Big Oil and the subsequent cause of the precipitous fall in global oil prices

    Contrary to the argument of Alberta’s Conservative politicians, Lalonde & Trudeau were not the drivers of global oil prices. The Alberta politicos and their pals the Big Oil Boys needed a ‘fall guy’ for their own skins. Imagine Big Oil and the Politicians predicting increasing oil prices only to see the Arab States pump until prices fell through the floor, like we are seeing in 2015. To mutually save their jobs they had to come up with an explanation why oil fell from $114 in Aug 1980 to $57 in Dec 1984 and further to $27/bbl in March 1986.

    Answer .. “blame the other guy” it works every time even in the face of facts. The collapse of oil prices and the impact on Alberta was globally driven and wasn’t driven by Ottawa or the Liberals. Jason Kenney still propagates this deliberate lie/misinformation to keep animosity aimed at “the other guy”

    link to the history of global oil prices: http://www.macrotrends.net/1369/crude-oil-price-history-chart

    • We have never blamed the Trudeau govt. for the drop in oil prices. We blame Trudeau for the NEP which was an attempt to centralize control of the largely Western oil industry back in Central Canada. The drop in oil prices created a drop in energy industry values. That drop was compounded by federal attempts to restrict the sale of companies to American buyers, thus forcing an even greater drop in the values of publicly traded firms. Not only were sales blocked, but foreign (American) investments were blocked.
      The drop in energy prices was bad enough. When the federal govt. enacted a series of policies that drove away investment, drove up interest rates, and drove away job creating companies in a specific attempt to stall the growth of economic and political power in the West, it’s only natural for us to bear long and deep resentments against the Trudeau’s and their ilk. The NEP had very real human consequences for strictly petty political reasons.

  17. I always was somewhere towards centre on political spectrum. It is the first time I voted Conservatives, despite some shortcomings which are inevitable during such long long period, they did not pretend and hide in somebody’s Shiny Pony world. The hypocrisy of Liberals absolutely astounding. Apparently their arguments are “so strong” they needed to use media like CBC to complete twist and lie about the measures. They are the ones that promote the anti-Muslim sentiment, not the measures themselves. If they reported in a balanced way, nobody would ever call me bigot or racist, because this the vocabulary pushed by leftists media. So I suppose Mr. Gilmore has been perfectly influenced by the propaganda. Because all the memes and vocabulary he is using is from there. What do I say to people like this, it will take life experience to see past Shiny Ponies. It will take integrity and decency to acknowledge mistakes.

    “I continued to call myself a Conservative. Until Oct. 2.” So he basically confirms the propaganda style marketing by Trudeau worked.

  18. Some Canadians enjoy their Shiny Pony reality too much to face the harsh reality. Mr. Gilmore probably has very distant knowledge of how women and girls are abused here because of those “barbaric practices”. Oh no, in Shiny Pony world there is no room for that, we just sweep it under the carpet, until it explodes into our faces. Even the word “barbaric” simple bugs many, it just does not fit into their Shiny Pony happiness. I wonder one thing how much of it will be revoked by the Liberals he voted for. I say most of that legislation is to stay place, maybe it will be reworded to make less dramatic for Shiny Pony existence supporters.

  19. Harper was incapable of reading the room, since he never met Canadians who were not vetted by his staff. He was wildly out of touch and completely disconnected from the views and values of common people. To assume that all every Canadian cares about is an extra $500 / year in their pockets at tax time demonstrates that he is the least imaginative Prime Minister in history.

  20. hard to believe we have an utter fool like this in our midst unfortunate , but seems we have many. he needs to do a lot more research

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