Canadian Conservatives, in their own words
June 1, 2004 2:11 PM   Subscribe

An election will soon be taking place in Canada and the party led by Stephen Harper may form a minority government. Might as well know what these Conservatives stand for.
posted by johnnydark (43 comments total)
I so don't see that happening. We all know where these people's hands have been.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:25 PM on June 1, 2004

So, if I read the Steven Harper page and agree with some of the things he says am I a bad person? Attempting to paint him with the Stockwell Day brush seems like dirty pool to me.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:40 PM on June 1, 2004

These guys make a lot of sense, I think they could do good things for Canadia. Unfortunately, I don't live there but If I ever move there and get citizenship, I will give these dudes a chance.
posted by chaz at 2:44 PM on June 1, 2004

This merger was supposed to help with the vote splitting, but with Harper as the leader of the party I see most progressive conservatives voting Liberal. I don't see the conservatives winning seats outside of the west, yet again.
posted by chunking express at 2:48 PM on June 1, 2004

Might as well know what these Conservatives stand for.

Their positions seem to make sense to me.

Thanks for providing this important public service!
posted by jammer at 2:49 PM on June 1, 2004

Yet another election where you don't vote for the candidate you like, rather begin eliminating ones you won't vote for leaving the last man standing.

Let's see; The Conservatives haven't rooted out all the holocaust deniers/flat earth society members/dittoheads/et al. Jack Layton shows a knowledge of economic theory that would make a ten year old red with shame, hmmm, who does that leave? There any Yogic Flyers running this time around?
posted by Keith Talent at 2:55 PM on June 1, 2004

It's days like these that make me miss the Rhinoceros Party.
posted by myopicman at 3:05 PM on June 1, 2004

Because CNN has had it right all along, and 20 word sound bites really are the best basis on which to evaluate a candidate.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:14 PM on June 1, 2004

Their positions seem to make sense to me.

even the one about nelson mandela being a terrorist?
posted by mcsweetie at 3:20 PM on June 1, 2004

Is this Stephen Harper something I would need a Canadian to know about?
posted by bshort at 3:37 PM on June 1, 2004

even the one about nelson mandela being a terrorist?

There's plenty of people around here who like spinning that line, so sure, this party may be the best one for them.
posted by Jimbob at 4:13 PM on June 1, 2004

Jack Layton shows a knowledge of economic theory that would make a ten year old red with shame

I've heard three economists talk about the NDP budget plan recently; two on CBC radio and one on CPAC. All of them claimed to think it's somewhat reasonable. Plausible, at least. Having looked at the numbers myself, I'd agree with them.

The latest mention was today on the radio, and it was the Conservatives who were singled out for economic nonsense: Their plan is a big increase in military spending, improved health care, big tax cuts, and pay off more of the debt. So... big spending increases, big revenue decreases, and more money to spare. Sounds good, eh. No wonder they're so popular.
posted by sfenders at 4:52 PM on June 1, 2004

*prays that the NDP gets enough seets to swing a minority*
posted by Space Coyote at 6:31 PM on June 1, 2004

"Mr. Speaker, I was saying I was unfortunate while I was in Florida over Christmas to get kidney stones. I had to go into a hospital in Florida. The service levels were spectacular. It really put to shame what happens in my riding in North Vancouver with socialist medicine. I do not think there is any harm in having some competition."



Seriously, this is about the most boring site out there. I mean, I'm not canadian, but I hardly see anything intresting on this page.
posted by delmoi at 6:58 PM on June 1, 2004

The labels "conservative" and "liberal" really relate to the parties themselves. Canada is kind of a blend of American and European policies. The Conservatives are the closest thing we have to an American right-wing party. Which would make them almost Democrats.

Liberals, in American terms, are socialists. NDP are bigger socialists.

Ontario and BC do differ quite a bit, in that sensible Ontario saved us the shame of an almost Reform party minority government in the last election. The Conservative party used to be the Reform party, which was developed as a western party and quickly got a reputation as a party of crackpots. Mostly from Alberta. Crazy place, Alberta. Too close to Montana, I think.

I can't vote for the conservative party, myself. I'm not a fan of the Liberals, but no way would I want Stephen Harper and his caucus running things.

I say let's go for a Conservative / Bloc Quebecois coalition government!

The problem I have with the site is that most quotes pre-date the Tory & Reform merger. I suspect, however, it's main goal is to convince the east that the Conservatives managed to keep many of their, uh, colorful MPs. Which is true.
posted by Salmonberry at 7:22 PM on June 1, 2004

The "new" Conservatives have taken a noticeable swing to the right, but I think that they are more like the U.S. Republicans than the U.S. Democrats.

Stephen Harper is roughly equivalent to George W. Bush: a social conservative. The difference is that Stephen Harper actually has some brains. THAT's the part that scares me.

The idea of a Conservative minority being supported by the Bloc Qu├ębecois is going to have a lot of Liberals waking up a cold sweat over the next couple of weeks.
posted by Esco757 at 7:33 PM on June 1, 2004

"The Liberals have allowed a handful of tenured judges to create a situation where churches, synagogues, mosques and temples could be compelled to perform marriages that violate their own moral codes."

- Stephen Harper attacking the Liberals on same-sex marriage, News Hound, September 7th 2003. The proposed law specifically precludes any church, synagogue or mosque from having to conduct any marriage which violates their belief system.

Sometimes those 10-second sound bites can be very revealing. However, it could be worse. Belinda Stronach could have won the Conservative leadership.

But then I had known for awhile that this election I'll be deciding whether to vote Liberal or NDP. Why oh why don't they have a "none of the above" option on the ballot.
posted by orange swan at 8:03 PM on June 1, 2004

In Canada, people who are "conservative" tend to be either Burkean conservatives or neo-conservatives, with a small libertarian wing. We really lack a paleo-con element, partially because religious fundamentalism and millenarianism aren't as common up here (Canadians are predominantly Catholic or atheist/agnostic, whereas most Yanks are some variation of Protestant). There also isn't a really strong tendency towards nativism, which gives Canadian conservatism a very different feel. Conservatives are rarely in power federally in Canada, which means that they aren't really "conservative". It might be better to think of them as Whigs these days in terms of their goals, even though the actual historical members of the Canadian Whig party became the Liberals.

The "liberals" are classical 19th century liberals. Not social darwinists (which was never that common a viewpoint anyhow), but the whole "run the world rationally in order to improve the common lot" etc. schtick is the basis of their viewpoint. The Liberal Party is the institutional party in Canada, and so "liberalism" in Canada is usually more "conservative" (in the sense of wanting to maintain the status quo in regards to the institutions of Canada) than the Conservatives. In terms of actual policy, they're not unlike Third-Way Democrats, except corruption is a modus vivendi.

The NDP are a mixture of old-school organised labour and new-wave Greens, with a few Cold Warriors hanging around in the back. They tend to draw their support from unions, immigrants and the economically disadvantaged. Most "socially aware" upper and middle class people vote Liberal, not NDP. The American Green Party is a close analogue to the coalition that forms the NDP, except the NDP is mainstream in Canada. They've never composed the federal government, but they have, and still do, run provincial governments. They tend to be seen as the protest party in Central Canada, which means that anyone who doesn't want to vote Conservative or Liberal votes for them.

The Bloc Quebequois are a Quebec Separatist / Nationalist party. They used to be devoted to Quebec splitting off from Canada, but after losing two referenda on the matter, they strategically focus on securing greater autonomy for provinces in general. This usually allies them with the Conservatives (who tend to do very well provincially, and thus have an interest in increasing provincial power), though the Bloc itself is a mish-mash ideologically. It's Burkean in its defense of Quebequois tradition, but spends money pretty freely to buy votes when it has to.

Hope that makes things a bit clearer for our American chums.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:11 PM on June 1, 2004

it does--thanks Pseudo : >
posted by amberglow at 8:15 PM on June 1, 2004

This is a pro-Conservative site, right? I'm just wondering, what with quotes like this:
"Abrasively neutral." - Conservative leader Stephen harper on Canada's position on Iraq.

"The time has come to recognize that the U.S. will continue to exercise unprecedented power in a world where international rules are still unreliable and where security and advancing of the free democratic order still depend significantly on the possession and use of military might." - Stephen Harper, May, 2003, speech to the Institute for Research on Public Policy.
This video probably sits a lot less well with you after having read those quotes, huh? Exactly what *is* Paul Martin complaining about, anyways?
posted by shepd at 9:00 PM on June 1, 2004

That site is most definitely NOT pro-Conservative... neither is it anti-conservative, it's just trying to show Canadians what kinds of people they'd be voting for. (I mean REALLY voting for; the sound bites on the news don't count).

"With much of the progressive part of the party gone, the Conservatives are heavily dominated by former Alliance members and Reformers. Stockwell Day, the former leader of the Alliance known for his far-right socially conservative views, is foreign affairs critic. Rob Anders, the MP who called Nelson Mandela a terrorist, is Conservative critic for National Defense. Agriculture critic Ken Epp has railed against "obscenity" on CBC Radio that he claims is causing violence against women and children."

Come ON Canada!!! We saw what happened in the States. Stephen Harper = GWB!!! Conservatives = spindly old, evil men weaving webs towards some unholy purpose disguised as young, forward thinkers. tax cuts for the rich. social programs and freedoms and the environment go bye-bye. it's not hard to see this.

Don't let yourselves be blinded by the controversy over corruption. For the love of jebus, vote liberal.
posted by drgonzo at 9:22 PM on June 1, 2004

This is kind of the same conundrum that the British are in at the moment.. they want desparately to kick that collaborator Blair out of office but their alternative is the frigging Tories. Yuck.

So far the NDP seem to be the only one making the admission that money doesn't grow on trees and who have plans for raising revenue.

One of the professors I was out having a beer with on friday brought her visiting parents along, and her father, himself a university professor, randomly went into this thing about "don't vote for the NDP, they want to bring in an inheritance tax" . I mentioned that it would only be taxing any inheritance over and above a million dollars, that farms and small businesses would be exempt, etc. etc. I wasn't too strident about it, just correcting factual errors and leaving it at that, since politics is a bit of a family business around these parts it's sometimes considered rude to get in the way of people's party loyalty with facts and figures.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:31 PM on June 1, 2004

Canadians are predominantly Catholic or atheist/agnostic, whereas most Yanks are some variation of Protestant

Not a bad primer, Pseudo, but we wouldn't want a glaring inaccuracy like this to cloud the picture we present to amberglow, trharlan, and the rest of our neighbours.

Canadians are by no means predominantly Catholic. (White) Quebeckers are, and so are a good portion Maritimers and Manitobans (Metis especially), but there's a broader mix elsewhere. The old-guard, capital-E Establishment in Toronto is mostly very WASPy - Scotch Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and of course Anglican (i.e. the Church of England's Canadian offshoot).

That said, Pseudo's right that religious issues don't enter into politics that much in Ontario. The new Conservative Party, however, traces its origins to the Reform Party, a prairie populist movement born in the late 1980s and based in Alberta that draws its core support from evangelical Christians. (Outside that core is a thick layer of generally disaffected Westerners of mixed faiths. Western disaffection being the biggest religion west of Ontario, and tied to a long history of being treated as the nation's natural-resource whore by the Ontario Establishment.) In political terms, though, the "West" of the Reform/Conservative heartland kind of ends at the Rockies' eastern foothills - B.C. is a giddy mix of religious conservatives, small-town working-class conservatives, mountain-dwelling hippies, urban New Agers, etc., etc.

As well, there are left-leaning urbanite pockets in most cities who vascillate between Liberal and NDP, depending on whether their local Liberal is from the centre-left or centre-right portion of the Liberals' machine.

Further confusing all of this are Canada's huge (as measured per capita) immigrant populations, which muddle the political picture in every urban area in the country. The wealthy Chinese of Vancouver are, I think, somewhat right-leaning (for fiscal reasons), for example, while the downtown-Toronto Chinatown riding where Jack Layton's wife has been a local political star for years is decidedly leftie.

I'll stop here before this gets too convoluted. Just didn't want to leave the impression that we were a nation of 30 million Papists.
posted by gompa at 10:02 PM on June 1, 2004

Most "socially aware" upper and middle class people vote Liberal, not NDP.

I think that likely depends on your definition of "socially aware," since the unions you mentioned includes the teachers union (fairly middle class salary wise and definitely NDP). The NDP has been in shambles for years on the federal level, but recently, with Jack Layton at the helm, they seem to be gaining some momentum. Layton is the sort of left-wing politician someone like you probably dreams about, amberglow ;) He wants to not only promote "green cars" (his father was apparently designing them 25 years ago but couldn't get any support in Canada) but build plants in Canada to start manufacturing them. He wants to convert large portions of the power supply to wind power in order to meet Kyoto Protocol standards, and he's not interested in the tax-cuts-for-the-rich that Paul Martin is handing out.

His proposal, basically, is that since we've had a balanced budget for the past seven years or so (and have been in fact paying off some of the debt) that it's time to reinvest into health care, education, etc. and make sure that these programs don't suffer in the name of "fiscal responsibility." He's also very outspoken about the United States and really pushed the Arar case when it broke.

It should be an interesting election, I think. There are all sorts of possible combinations with minority governments and pacts between different parties to gain power. If you're not aware, amberglow, in Canada a minority party means that the party in question essentially has to form some pact with another party in order to survive (in this case it would be the NDP and Liberals or the Conservatives and the Bloc). If they do not, and are unable to pass legislation, another election will be held. If this happens to the liberals after falling to a minority government, Martin's career as P.M. will likely be a short one. Because of this, a minority government for the liberals will probably mean additional sway for the NDP (they could push some of their agenda, threatening to dissolve government if the Liberals don't play along).
posted by The God Complex at 11:02 PM on June 1, 2004

The Conservatives and the Bloc.. read something about this trial balloon in the Globe and Mail today and I don't buy it. The Bloc have been notably in favour of social programs and the fact that their respective caucuses would have a very hard time even communicating verbally kind of puts the giant question mark over that one. They're rather different than the Quebec Tories who broke from the Progressive Conservative party in the 80s.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:29 PM on June 1, 2004

I am woefully underinformed about the politics in my home country (not having lived there or even having paid much attention to what was going on there for over a decade (as I've mentioned many times before)), and was considering posting an AskMe thread to beg for some schoolin' about the situation when Paul Martin took over as PM recently, so thanks for all this. More!

her father, himself a university professor, randomly went into this thing about "don't vote for the NDP, they want to bring in an inheritance tax"

Does that mean there isn't an inheritance tax, then? I had always thought there was for some reason.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:41 PM on June 1, 2004

Does that mean there isn't an inheritance tax, then? I had always thought there was for some reason.

No, there isn't. The NDP wasn't to tax only inheritances over one million dollars, which I have absolutely no qualms about. They also want to reduce taxes for lower income brackets and increase it for those who make in excess of 250k a year. You can see why the NDP won't win, since big business (and thus big media) probably won't get on board and most of the general populace is too fucking lazy/stupid to look into any of this on their own.
posted by The God Complex at 12:07 AM on June 2, 2004

wants, not "wasn't". I have no idea what happened there.
posted by The God Complex at 12:08 AM on June 2, 2004

drgonzo, I won't vote liberal because they are killing my business and making it nigh impossible for people to watch TV from countries outside Canada.

If they ever pass the bill they plan on, I won't be able to import satellite equipment. That means nobody in Canada will be able to get FTA receivers. That means the end of most all ethnic programming legally (and illegally, although I don't touch that part of it) in Canada, and means that only ExpressVu and StarChoice will be able to sell satellite receivers in Canada, with their EXTREMELY limited (by canadian law) ethnic content. Basically, the liberals will ethnically cleanse Canadian TV. There's a total of 11 ethnic channels on ExpressVu. My FTA systems pick up about 10x that amount, legally, for the moment.

Now, why the hell would I vote for that? At least the Conservatives are on record with the Hansards as being against such inane legislation.

Yes, people, the Liberals could be responsible for implementing a Canadian DMCA on TV. And they talk about us not being like the US? Feh.

Face it: The liberals are pro monopoly and are simply anti small business. I'd rather vote AT&T or Bell in government than them. At least then I can expect to get bitten.

Sorry for the rant. Had to get it out of my system at some point, though. :-)
posted by shepd at 12:27 AM on June 2, 2004

Gompa> Last I checked, something ridiculous like 40%+ of the population was Catholic (Philippino and African immigrants boost this number, I'm guessing). Strangely enough, it is the largest religion in Canada. But yeah, my basic point was simply that we don't have the sort of paleo-con bible thumping that goes on down in the States.

God Complex> I'd say the teachers and health-care workers are the two exceptions in an otherwise pretty Liberal group (the middle-class). And those two groups vote NDP because they stand to directly benefit from the NDP being in power (through increased spending on health-care and education) in a way that say, dentists and lawyers and managers don't.

Space Coyote> It's an alliance of convenience, pardon the pun. Stephen Harper is on the record as wanting increased autonomy for Alberta, which under Ralph Klein has become a conservative and Conservative stronghold. The sorts of policies that would increase Quebec's autonomy would benefit Alberta as well, and vice versa. They wouldn't necessarily agree on every issue, but they've both got a mutual interest in increasing provincial autonomy and stripping political power from Ontario.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:00 AM on June 2, 2004

Pseudoephedrine, your 40% number is dead on. Atheists run a solid second place (sorta -- not exactly, though, as you can see).
posted by shepd at 1:29 AM on June 2, 2004

tax only inheritances over one million dollars, which I have absolutely no qualms about. They also want to reduce taxes for lower income brackets and increase it for those who make in excess of 250k a year.

All good ideas, I think, but as you say, likely to anger our Monetarized Masters.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:54 AM on June 2, 2004

Well, I stand corrected on the percentage of Canadians who are Catholic (I'd have guessed about 25-30 percent). Still, if you're keeping score at home in the U.S. or elsewhere, I think my point stands: the most significant religious influence in Canadian politics is the Reform-cum-Conservatives' core of prairie evangelicals. Catholics in Canada don't represent a single voting bloc.
posted by gompa at 8:52 AM on June 2, 2004

Let's keep in mind that there's religion-by-laziness, and religion-by-action. That 40% Catholics includes a shipload of people who only go to mass twice a year, if it's convienent.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:51 AM on June 2, 2004

...Which therefore supports my position that religion plays little to no role in Canadian politics.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:35 PM on June 2, 2004

. . . while I obstinately continue to insist that no one who has spent any time in Alberta would ever claim such a thing.
posted by gompa at 12:54 PM on June 2, 2004

My contention in regards to Alberta is that while they are social conservative, and this social conservatism may be partially religious in origin, the justifications that they use in political life are rarely themselves religious. I mean, how often does someone say "This contravenes the laws of God!" ? They might think that it does, but they're much more likely to make an argument focusing on tradition and custom when they're making a political argument. Nor do Stephen Harper, Ralph Klein et al. participate in the religious spectacles that our co-continentalists find obligatory in their religious life - when was the last time you heard of Harper calling for say, a National Day of Prayer, or Klein publically declaring that his social programs were due to the grace of God shining down upon the holy land of Alberta? If anything, what sunk Stockwell Day more than anything else was that he was seen to be willing to allow his religion to influence his politics. On a similar note, back during the whole gay marriage debate, Paul Martin specifically denied that he was going to be influenced by his religion when it came to public policy regarding marriages, and this won him a great deal of support.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:13 PM on June 2, 2004

we used to have a surplus that could have gone to education and healthcare... : <

so a Liberal/NDP coalition is what's going to happen? And would the Quebecois really go with Conservatives? (in Montreal last year, I learned from a bunch of people that they see their social services/benefits as the best in Canada--like rent subsidies, etc--and it seemed very liberal overall)
posted by amberglow at 1:28 PM on June 2, 2004

So what you mean, Pseudo, is that religion plays little to no overt role in Canadian politics. When Conservative politicians talk about gay marriage and immigration and such, they use disingenous phrases like "traditional roles" and "family values," even though they and their supporters know they mean faith-mandated roles and Christian values. Religion plays a role, it's just masked (especially compared to its overt centrality in that one nation under god to our immediate south).

posted by gompa at 1:42 PM on June 2, 2004

Nyet. I'm technically a Conservative, and so I get let into all the super-secret meetings where we sit around and talk about how to keep the lower classes under control and smear the Liberals, and all of the other Evil White Man stuff, and really, no one cares about religion. In fact, the one guy who does care about religion is considered a nut, and we gossip about him behind his back. There _is_ a small and vocal minority of religious conservatives, but they're small and vocal, and they're on the fringes of the Conservative party. You might as well claim that the small and vocal minority of Maoists in the NDP is somehow setting policy for the rest of the party. Social conservatism in politics in Canada is fairly strongly divorced from religion, and tends to be attached to a nostalgia for the past rather than millenarianism.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 2:35 PM on June 2, 2004

amberglow> There isn't really a strong ideological split between parties here. They all want to improve healthcare, make the education system work better, etc. The vast majority of choices they offer, while appearing different to most Canucks, are really mostly bureaucratic ones along the lines of "Do you want 270m to go to health care, or 285m?" Each party presents its policy choices as being the basis of strong, deep-seated philosophical divides, and on the level of individual members there certainly can be, but the parties themselves are all basically identical.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 2:43 PM on June 2, 2004

Well, every party says they want to improve healthcare, education, etcetera.

The question is which will actually do it, and which will blow it off once they're in power.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:07 PM on June 2, 2004

It's true the parties are not that different ideologically. We vote on the basis of who's at the helm. We want to know how intelligent and experienced a politician is, what his or her track record is, what his or her specific plans are. I would have considered voting for a Conservative party led by Joe Clark. I will not vote for a Conservative party led by Stephen Harper.
posted by orange swan at 6:41 PM on June 2, 2004

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