Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Preston Manning, Newt Gingrich and a Republican in the House


A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

"Borrowed in part from the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Canadian neo-conservatism owes much of it's character to the right-wing populist tradition of the West.

"Indeed, Canadians became exporters of neo-con innovation in the 1990s. 'I would say Margaret Thatcher and Mr. [Preston] Manning are the two non-Americans we learned most from'', said U.S. Republican House Speaker, Newt Gingrich in 1995.

'I know him [Preston Manning] because I watched all of his commercials. We developed our platform from watching his campaign.' Like cowboy culture, Canadian neo-conservatism is a growth industry, spawning a whole generation of Will James outlaws in hot pursuit of political power." (1)

The political cartoon above first appeared in the Alberta Report Magazine on March 27, 1995, under the caption 'Preston Manning and Newt Gingrich dancing in newt suits'. The two men formed a lasting friendship as they worked out ways to promote combative style politics.

Republican pollster Frank Lutz had been working with Stephen Harper and the gang since 1991, and he also handled Gingrich's campaigns.

It might surprise people to know that at least some of the Republican ugliness was made in Canada.
"Newt Gingrich was no Ronald Reagan. A career politician, he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1978, at the age of thirty-five, and became the Republican Whip in 1989. Despite this measure of success, however, he was never part of the Republican inner circle, largely because of his extreme views ... (2)
Ronald Reagan had left a mess and George Bush Sr. did little to clean it up, so by the time Bill Clinton arrived on the scene, Americans were a little fed up. But just as with Obama, they expected immediate results, and just as with Obama, the Republicans constantly hammered away at their competence.

By the time the mid-term elections rolled around in 1994, a series of mini-scandals (Monica still in diapers) caused people to question the Democrat's ability, paving the way for a conservative victory. Since many of the scandals resulted in the resignation of several veterans, it was a perfect opportunity for the Republicans to replace them with hard right thinkers.
"By February 1994, many Republicans ... were upbeat about their chances of doing well in the mid-term elections scheduled for November ... An optimistic group of members of the House of Representatives met in Salsbury, Maryland, to discuss their platform ...

"Overwhelmingly male, middle-aged and white, with a large contingent from rural and southern states, they could hardly have claimed to be representative of the American people, but they were certainly indicative of the constituency that elected them." (3)
Taking tips from the Reform Party, they were ready to tap into anger and righteous indignation, by creating a platform based on five principles, they called the 'basic philosophy of American civilization'.

With racial overtones, they were not looking to generate votes from the blacks or ethnic minorities. They appealed to middle-class whites, with initiatives that sound very much like the Reform agenda. Strengthening families, tough on crime, selective immigration, the end of public welfare, weakening of public education, etc.

They then read out their manifesto in a highly publicized media event, close enough to election time that no one really had a chance to investigate them further. But it worked.

"From his viewpoint as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, a smug Newt Gingrich surveyed the battlefield and declared that the election was 'the most shattering one-sided Republican victory since 1946.'
"No one disagreed with him. Certainly not Canada's Preston Manning, the leader of the like-minded Reform Party, which a year earlier had taken the fifty odd seats in the federal election. Not only had Manning visited Gingrich for a photo opportunity, but Gingrich now attributed his electoral success to techniques he had learned from Manning and his Reformers.

"Amoung these organized religion was clearly uppermost in Gingrich's mind. The role of the evangelicals in assuring Gingrich's victory was far greater than it had been for Reagan. As Rosalind Petchesky points out in an article on anti-feminism and the New Right, this heightened emphasis of moral conservatism in the American neo-conservative movement was unprecedented. It was also producing a situation in which the party's platform was being increasingly designed to meet the requirements of these supporters.

"'What has given the New Right both ideological legitimacy and organizational coherence,' she wrote, 'has been it's focus on reproductive and sexual issues. If there is anything new about the current right wing in the United States, it is the tendency to locate sexual, reproductive and family issues at the centre of it's political program.' This was an unusual development in Canada as well ... " (3)
Newt and Preston had a lot to dance about, because while their most ardent supporters saw an end to abortion and homosexuality, they only saw dollar signs. The 'revolt of the rich' had scored a victory.

Sources:

1. Slumming it at the Rodeo: The Cultural Roots of Canada's Right-Wing Revolution, Gordon Laird, 1998, Douglas & McIntyre, ISBN: 1-55054 627-9, Pref. xiv-xv

2. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 32

3. Jeffrey, 1999, pg. 36-37

I Was Right. Stephen Harper Did Make Canadian Politics Ugly



I've known for some time now that the relationship between the Reform-Conservatives and the U.S. Republicans, goes back a long way. One of the top Republican pollsters, John McLaughlin, takes credit for both the careers of Stephen Harper and the success of the National Citizens Coalition, and whenever our current government needs help with anything, they head to Washington or Fox News.

President Obama snubbed Harper on his latest visit, and who came to his defense? David Frum, who wrote a piece for the National Post suggesting that it was not a snub.

Frum is the son-in-law of Peter Worthington (close friend of Conrad Black) and a former speech writer for George W. Bush. In fact, he was the one who coined the phrase 'Axis of Evil'. When Harper gave his "cut and run" speech during his first visit to Afghanistan, it was a condensed version of one given by Bush to the U.S. Naval Academy.

However, while I knew the ties ran long and deep, I was surprised to discover that Newt Gingrich actually consulted with Preston Manning, Stephen Harper and the Reform Party, before launching his bid in 1994. I'm going into that in another post, but not all of the ugliness came North. Some of it went south.

I am on the editorial board for the Kingston Whig Standard, and my last column was going to be about raising a grandson and how his toys are smarter than me, but then I did what I promised myself I wouldn't. I visited the 'Ignatieff Me' site set up by the Reform-Conservatives, and I was so appalled, I changed my piece to the ugliness that this new movement has brought to Canadian politics.

Well, I recently stumbled across an article written by an American journalist, who noticed the same thing. When Conrad Black owned half of the Canadian newspapers, he made a sharp right turn, and we've been going downhill ever since.

An American journalist's view of Harper
Richard Fricker
October 18, 2006

For inspiration in building a new brand of Canadian conservatism, Harper looked to Washington, where Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, was promoting a combative style designed to shatter the longtime Democratic grip on the U.S. House of Representatives.

As an American journalist visiting my wife's relatives in Canada, I've always been struck by how ardently the country's political discourse focused on substance — the budget, health care, schools, roads — with little of the cheap theatrics and angry divisiveness of U.S. politics and punditry. Reading and listening to the Canadian news media during those family trips could be a tad boring, but it also was touching, like remembering your earnest grade-school civics teacher lecturing about the wonders of the American democratic process.

But in my visit this past summer, I noticed that the tone of Canada suddenly had changed. There was a nastier edge to the commentary. There were not-so-subtle appeals to racism and xenophobia, references to Muslim neighbourhoods in Quebec as “Quebecistan” and to Lebanese-Canadians as “Hezbocrats,” a play on the Muslim group Hezbollah.

To someone who has covered U.S. politics for three decades, there was a shock of recognition. Standing out starkly against the bland traditions of Canadian governance was the pugnacious 'tude of American political combat, wedge issues pounded in with a zeal that put the goal of winning and holding power over everything else.

It was as if a virus that had long infected the people south of the border had overnight jumped containment and spread northward establishing itself in a new host population. But — as I began to study this new phenomenon — it became clear that this infection did not just accidentally break quarantine. Rather, it was willfully injected into the Canadian body politic by conservative strategists and right-wing media moguls who had studied the modern American model and were seeking to replicate it.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper even brought in Republican advisers, such as political consultant Frank Luntz, to give pointers on how the ruling Conservative Party could become as dominant in Canada as the GOP is in the United States.

Canada had its version of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News in the Asper brothers and their CanWest Global Communications Corp., which owns the National Post, the Montreal Gazette and nine other Canadian newspapers, 25 television outlets and two radio stations. It was the Montreal Gazette and the National Post that trumpeted the phrase “Quebecistan after demonstrators in Ottawa and Montreal protested Israel's bombardment of Lebanon in summer 2006.

Columnist Don MacPherson equated those protests, where some demonstrators waved Hezbollah flags, with pro-terrorism. “It's finally becoming respectable again to express support for terrorists,” MacPherson wrote on August 8, 2006, in the Montreal Gazette.

Meanwhile, CanWest's National Post offered up a Canadian version of Ann Coulter in columnist Barbara Kay (Kay was also a recipient of the National Citizens Coalition Colin Brown Award).

In one of Kay's columns, she noted that 50,000 Lebanese-Canadians lived in Montreal and added, “We can expect those numbers to swell as Hezbollah-supporting residents of southern Lebanon cash in on their Canadian citizenship and flee to safety.”

Kay denounced Quebec as “the most anti-Israel of the provinces and therefore the most vulnerable to tolerance for Islamist” causes. “The word would go out to the Islamophere that Quebec was the Londonistan,” Kay wrote. “It won't if our political class takes its cues from principled Stephen Harper rather than shameless Quebec politicians who led the pro-terrorist rally.” '

Clone de Bush' Harper, Canada's photogenic 47-year-old Prime Minister, has emerged as the face of modern Canadian conservatism much the way George W. Bush has come to personify right-wing politics in the United States.

Born in Toronto in 1959, Harper moved west to Alberta in 1978 to work in the petroleum industry. Similarly, Bush cut his teeth as a Texas oilman, albeit a failed one. Much as that oilfield experience shaped Bush's persona and Texas money fueled the American Right, so too did Alberta and its oil industry influence the political development of Harper and the emergence of modern Canadian conservatism.

Harper earned a bachelor's degree and his masters in economics from the University of Calgary. By 1985, then in his mid-20s, he had turned to politics, gaining recognition as a bright operative and landing a job as chief aide to a Tory Member of Parliament named Jim Hawkes.

But Harper grew disenchanted with the compromising style of Canada's Tories who — like Prime Minister Brian Mulroney — often worked collaboratively with other political parties in Ottawa to maintain social programs for Canadians.

Harper concluded that Mulroney's Progressive Conservative Party was too liberal, so he quit it in 1986. At age 28, Harper was recruited by Preston Manning, the founder of Canada's Reform Party, and became the party's chief political officer. Harper ran for the House of Commons against his old mentor, Hawkes, in 1988, losing badly. But the defeat did not dampen Harper's political ambitions. He continued to puzzle over how a revamped conservative movement might shake up Canadian politics and ultimately gain power.

For inspiration in building this new brand of Canadian conservatism, Harper looked to Washington, where Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, was promoting a combative style designed to shatter the longtime Democratic grip on the U.S. House of Representatives. In Gingrich's view, Republicans had to replace cooperation with confrontation.

In 1993, Harper ran for the House of Commons again, this time aided by a tactic pioneered by U.S. conservatives — having ostensibly independent organizations tear down one's opponent with large sums of money outside the legal limits on campaign spending. In this case, a group called the National Citizens Coalition went on the offensive against MP Hawkes, undermining his political support enough so that Harper was able to win the seat in Calgary West.

Harper was learning, too, from conservative spinmeister Frank Luntz, who helped Gingrich draft the “Contract With America,” which became the centrepiece of the Republican victory in the U.S. Congress in 1994. Luntz was a specialist at the take-no-prisoners-style of politics that envisioned permanent conservative control of Washington.

Harper picked up other tips from Bush's political adviser Karl Rove, such as the importance of transforming the Christian evangelical movement into an activist base for conservative politics.

Harper's brash conservatism grated on the more populist positions of Manning's Reform Party, which once rebuked Harper for not standing with the party's internal policies. For his part, Harper considered Manning too inclined to compromise.

In January 1997, Harper resigned his Reform Party seat in Parliament and went to work as vice president of the National Citizens Coalition, the outside organization that had helped Harper defeat Hawkes in 1993. Harper soon rose to be the coalition's president and served notice that the group would become a vehicle for smashing Canada's political status quo.

In a speech in the United States to a major conservative organization, the Council for National Policy, Harper declared that “Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worse sense of the term, and very proud of it.” Harper also mocked Canadians as complacent and ill-informed. “If you're like most Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country,” he told his CNP audience. “Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians.”

Back in Canada, Harper also began ratcheting up the political rhetoric, co-authoring an article referring to Canada's Liberal government as a “benign dictatorship” held together by incompetence. The article also sought conservative unity and praised the hard-edged right-wing commentary in media outlets owned by mogul Conrad Black.

Harper cobbled together a platform of issues that exploited Canada's latent social, cultural and economic resentments. He proposed raising the age of sexual consent, permitting more corporal punishment of children, initiating a program similar to school vouchers, and resisting issues that favoured French-speaking Quebec.

As this Americanized version of Canadian conservatism took shape, Harper was cribbing, too, from another rising U.S. politician, George W. Bush. Harper said his goal was to tap into a political base “similar to what George Bush tapped.”

New party Amid a surge of anti-minority sentiments, Harper merged his operations at the Canadian Conservative Alliance with those of Peter MacKay, the last leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. In 2003, they officially formed the Conservative Party of Canada.

Their timing was perfect. As with the congressional Democrats in the United States a decade earlier, the Canadian Liberal Party found itself beset with corruption allegations and suffering from growing public resentment about high taxes. In contrast to these tainted Liberals was the fresh-faced Harper at the head of a shiny new movement with powerful backing from right-wing interest groups, neoconservative media outlets and stirred-up social conservatives.

Though Conrad Black's media empire had collapsed in a financial scandal, some of his properties, such as the National Post, were snapped up by CanWest Global, which shared Black's staunchly pro-Israeli stance on Middle East affairs. Harper also brought into play evangelical Protestants, through his membership in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, which opposed gay rights, was staunchly anti-abortion and targeted North Africa's Muslims for conversion to Christianity.

In 2004, Harper engineered a political breakthrough for the Conservatives in Ontario, boosting their standing in the House of Commons by 25 seats. This new conservative coalition flexed its muscles again in January 2006, denying the Liberals control of Parliament by claiming 124 seats (out of 308) and putting Harper in position to piece together a coalition government, which he did.

Harper was sworn in as Canada's new Prime Minister on February 6, 2006, consolidating right-wing political power across the North American continent. President Bush finally had a likeminded Canadian leader who also shared Washington's neoconservative doctrine for confronting the Islamic world.

The tone of Canadian political discourse has followed this shift in the government, especially with CanWest media outlets ready to trumpet news that puts the Islamic world in the worst possible light. For instance, on May 19, 2006, the National Post published a front-page article by expatriate Iranian journalist Amir Taheri, claiming that Iran was enacting legislation that would require colour-coded “badges” for Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians.

“Jews would be marked out with a yellow strip of cloth sewn in front of their clothes while Christians will be assigned the colour red” and Zoroastrians would wear blue, Taheri reported in the article distributed by Benador Associates, a public relations firm representing neoconservative writers, such as Michael Ledeen and Richard Perle.

With its obvious Holocaust allusion, Taheri's story flashed around the world, picked up by the New York Post, Rush Limbaugh and the powerful U.S.-Israeli lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Harper and Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, who was visiting Canada, joined in denouncing Iran for the purported badge legislation. However, Taheri's article turned out to be untrue. The Iranian legislation contained nothing about making religious minorities wear coloured badges.

After the facts were challenged, the National Post retracted the story and later published an apology.

Media confrontation:

In June 2006, Harper applied another lesson from the U.S. Republican playbook: Even with a supportive right-wing news media protecting your flanks, still pick a fight with the rest of the national news media. Claiming to be victimized by hostile questions from Parliament Hill reporters, Harper announced that he would favour regional news outlets with interviews (Newt Gingrich does this), while shunning the supposedly “√©litist” national press corps.

“I have trouble believing that a Liberal Prime Minister would have this problem, but the press gallery at the leadership level has taken an anti-Conservative view,” Harper said, ignoring the role the same journalists had played in highlighting Liberal Party corruption which cleared the way for the Conservative Party victory.

Harper mandated that reporters sign up in advance to ask questions at news conferences and then weeded out journalists considered too liberal, according to Yves Malo, president of the press corps gallery. Harper's staff “made it very clear they were taking their cue from the White House,” Malo told me.

“They were always telling us how things were done in Washington. The first time we resisted we were called 'liberals. ' Now, we're called 'liberal ideologues.'” Much as Bush speaks almost exclusively before friendly, well-screened audiences, Harper tends to grant exclusive interviews to CanWest media outlets, Malo said. Despite the lingering embarrassment over the bogus “coloured badge” story, CanWest's neoconservative attitudes resurfaced in July 2006 when war broke out between Israel and Lebanon.

As Israeli bombers inflicted heavy civilian casualties in Lebanon in retaliation for Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers, Lebanese-Canadians staged protests demanding that Israel cease its attacks.

Montreal Gazette columnist MacPherson chastised Quebec politicians who attended the rally for not condemning Hezbollah and for not discouraging Hezbollah sympathizers from participating. National Post writer Kay termed the rally “virulently anti-Israel.” Launched from CanWest's newspapers, the words “Quebecistan” and “Hezbocrats” were suddenly buzzing through Canada's public debate.

While this kind of divisive rhetoric is common in the United States and is even encouraged as a way to energize the political base, it marked an escalation of political stridency for Canada.

Some of that fury seems to have subsided since a ceasefire took hold between Lebanon and Israel in late summer. But the larger question remains whether Harper will succeed in transforming Canada into a more belligerent and bellicose nation, much as Bush has done in the United States.

For generations, Canada has prided itself on its well-liked image around the world. It is a nation renowned for sending peacekeepers abroad not occupying armies. Aside from ice hockey and occasional over-indulgence in beer drinking, Canadians are known for their civility, not combativeness.

There is also the possibility that having seen the consequences of right-wing governance in the United States, Canadians will recoil at the thought of losing their pleasant country with its national health insurance and fairly comfortable lifestyle, in favour of the more cut-throat economic system south of the border.

Some analysts suspect, too, that the Bush connection could ultimately hurt Harper, who is sometimes referred to as “un clone de Bush.” With Canadian troops dying in Afghanistan and violence rising in the Middle East, Harper's coziness with Bush may become a liability as it has been for British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Over the past several months, Harper has seen his popularity decline and the backing of his coalition partners erode. It remains to be seen if Harper's American-style conservatism can survive — let alone thrive — in Canada. The Liberal Party — after selecting new leadership in December — is expected to force a new round of elections early in 2007.

That election may well turn out to be a test of whether the American brand of conservatism has a future as a political export. (Richard L. Fricker is a two-time winner of the American Business Press Editors Award for Investigative Journalism and writes regularly for the Swiss newsweekly Sonntags Blick. This article is reprinted, with permission, from Consortium News.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stephen Harper Creates 'B' Movie for Preston Manning

It's interesting researching Harper's Reform Party roots. Though it's been more than 20 years since he helped the National Citizens Coalition and a group of wealthy executives start the radical movement, much of what took place back then we still see today.

Since 1967, Ernest Manning, and his son Preston, had a vision for uniting the right, as a formidable force against what they believed was rising socialism, that threatened their path to eternal salvation.

Harper and the NCC's main goal however, was to dismantle the Canadian government, eradicate the 'welfare state', and create a complete free-market political system. Their wealthy backers said that money was no object, so they fired up the bulldozers and we've been under attack ever since.

However, what's interesting, is that the economic theories they emulated, have been complete and utter failures. Mind you, they only failed their country's citizens, while the chosen few continually achieved greater wealth.

This part of Stephen Harper's story deals with his repackaging of Preston Manning, in the image of Ronald Reagan, but with the ... hmm ... balls of Margaret Thatcher.

'The Life of Ronald Reagan' Starring Preston Manning

"What I want to see above all is that this remains a country where someone can always gets rich" - Ronald Reagan

Stephen Harper was openly critical of Brian Mulroney for not reining in the deficit, and failing to make the tough choices required to do so. As an economics student, he was influenced by Margaret Thatcher and Roger Douglas, who both adopted a slash and burn style, come hell or high water. He had his friend John Weissenberger, research Ms Thatcher's successful election platforms to determine how she was able to sell her ideological plans to the voting public.

But to really package his boss, Preston Manning; he needed more than 'get tough' rhetoric. For the next step in his strategy he turned to then U.S. President, Ronald Reagan. Though Reagan was clearly on the side of the corporate elite, his handlers had been able to package him as a 'folksy' caricature who would have mass appeal to a discouraged nation.

"As many people have remarked, Reagan was the perfect man for the times, a media star for the emerging phenomenon of the media based election ... Reagan's stint in Hollywood seemed more relevant by the minute as the Great Communicator demonstrated how to reach millions of viewers and manipulate the broadcast media to suit his purposes .. Reagan kept his message simple and his look sincere. His homey style and genuine conviction touched a chord with the viewing public, so much so that, for some, the message hardly mattered." (Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 19-20)

But Preston Manning was no Ronald Reagan. For one thing he was an intellectual, with a background in physics, who had spent a great deal of time engaged in top secret research for several agencies, including the U.S. military. Ronald Reagan was never anything more than 'B' movie actor, who had just landed his biggest role.

"This representation of Reagan as a citizen leader reluctantly performing his civic duty and not a professional politician .. has been the fundamental stock line for more than twenty years" (Jeffreys, 1999, Pg. 20)

Manning's squeaky voice and country preacher demeanour, seemed perfectly suited to attract the discontented masses in the West, who had been let down by the Tories under Mulroney. Riding the anger of the National Energy Program and a growing feeling of alienation from Ottawa; Manning arrived on the political stage at just the right time.

He was able to convince his followers that he was one of them, despite the fact that he had grown up extremely wealthy and in the limelight of Alberta politics. His father had been Premier for 25 years and the Manning name was very well known, and highly respected.

So despite the fact that this was clearly not a populist party, and Preston Manning clearly not a non-political figure, he was able to convince his flock that they were his leaders, while what became dubbed the 'Calgary Clique' (which included Stephen Harper) made all the important decisions.

However, there was something else that Harper and the Reform Party learned from the Reagan team. How to harness the energies of anger and religious fervor, and turn it into votes. At the Reform Party assembly they voted in favour of allowing extremists into the party, even Doug Christie.

But the Reagan campaign team, was able to bring it to a science and some of the following strategies they devised, are still being used by Harper's Reform-Conservatives today. From Hard Right Turn:

"As the percentage of Americans who voted in federal elections continued to decline to dangerously low levels in the 1970's, it was possible for the Republican strategists to separate voters into categories, and then target those whom they believed would not only buy their message, but go to the polling booth and support them" (pg. 22)

Despite the fact that Stephen Harper claims that he is not a social conservative, and has no problem with homosexuality, this video shows how he is able to whip a crowd into a frenzy, pretending that he will put an end to same-sex marriage if they can get him a majority. I'd be willing to bet that everyone there that day, voted, and everyone there that day, voted Reform-Conservative.

The constant attack ads that the Reformers launch today, are driving Canadians away from the polls. Last election we saw the lowest turnout in this country's history, yet they continue to poison the well.

"With Reagan's outspoken opposition to the Civil Rights Act in 1964, Republican strategists knew that they would have to write off the black vote. But although 90 per cent of black voters cast their ballots for the democrats, only 30 percent of eligible black Americans voted"

Republican strategist Paul Weyrich stated "I don't want everyone to vote ... our leverage in the election quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down. We have no moral responsibility to turn out our opposition." (pg. 22)

"According to one analysis; 'by appealing to married women, and especially those between the ages of 45 and 65, on a pro-family platform, Reagan maximized the electoral value of gender politics'. The issue for the Republicans was not the female vote, but the female voter." (pg. 23)

Reagan also exploited the Religious Right, who were "... anxious to reinsert religion and 'family values' into the public education system."

Like Margaret Thatcher, Reagan's policies were a disaster. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer and his administration created the largest number of homeless people in the nation's history.

Something to think about before we hand Stephen Harper a majority.

Conservative Candidate Dumped for Honesty Over Abuse of Stimulus Money

Last week we learned from a Conservative candidate for Markham-Unionville that the party brass had informed him that no stimulus money would be coming to his riding until a Conservative was elected. They forgot to tell him to keep that under his hat, and didn't he announce it to the public on a televised panel show.

Naturally, he was dumped immediately. Harper would never put up with honesty.

Tory candidate dumped for frank TV comments

OTTAWA–A moment of candour has cost Gordon Landon a shot at federal politics.

Landon was dumped Monday as the Conservative candidate for Markham-Unionville after publicly musing the GTA riding was being shut out of federal infrastructure funding because it is held by a Liberal.

The York regional councillor says he complied with a request from the Conservative party to step aside, adding he is not used to people telling him what to say and think ... More Postings on Canada Action Plan Fraud:

Harper's Ignorance of Canadian History is Inexcusable

Stephen Harper was at the G20 and when asked a simple question about Canada, he went into his best 'Joe Canadian' impersonation, touting the virtues of a country he once lambasted as a
European welfare state in the worst sense of the term.

After suggesting that every country wishes they were us, and implying that his government saved us from sure ruin, he dropped a bombshell. "We also have no history of colonialism. So we have all of the things that many people admire about the great powers but none of the things that threaten or bother them," he said."

What the hell? Our entire reason for being is based on colonialism, much to the detriment of the aboriginal Canadians.

Maybe there are a few Canadians who don't know that, but our prime minister damned well should.

Blogger Derrick O'Keefe from Rabble
sure got it right, when he said: "That the PM can not only harbour this delusion in his mind but also feel unembarrassed enough to verbalize it is a shocking testament to his own profound ignorance and to the pervasive racism-fuelled historical amnesia and denial in Canadian society."

Fortunately most people at the G20 are not as ignorant.

Margaret Thatcher and What a Stephen Harper Majority Would Look Like

Stephen Harper has always been a fan of slash and burn leaders and politicians, including Margaret Thatcher. She and others became the driving force behind his Reform Party's financial policies, which fit in well with their plans to tear down the 'welfare state' and foil what they deemed to be a 'socialist conspiracy'.

Like Thatcher, he was a devotee of Friedrich Hayek, the libertarian economist who believed that free-market capitalism was the best defense against socialist and collectivist thought.

However, the Reform Party also brought fundamentalist Christian dogma into their party platform, not simply because they firmly believed in theocracy, but knew that they could tap into religious fervour which would naturally gain them votes. Many policies were intentionally ambiguous to appease both the moderates and the extremists.

So when they said that issues on things like abortion and same-sex marriage would be determined in a 'free vote', the extremists heard that they would be abolished, while the moderates felt good that the people would decide. However, to Preston Manning 'free vote' only meant the free vote of his caucus, not the grassroots, on contentious issues.

However, from Ernest Manning's Socreds, to Preston Manning's Reformers, to Harper's Reform-Alliance- Conservatives - Northern Foundation - National Citizens Coalition; the ultimate goal is the abolishment of the welfare state in favour of free-market capitalism; with an evangelical twist. And they were going to do it, whether we liked it or not.

Ernest Manning stated that "The will of the people is bound to come into conflict with the will of God" and according to Murray Dobbin: "Throughout his political career, Ernest Manning was motivated by religion, and more specifically, by anti-Socialism: 'Socialism, to Manning, is a system which largely prevents the individual from attaining the state of grace and hence salvation ... Giving to the individual societal benefits such as free medical care ... breeds idleness... causing a break down in his relationship with God'."Manning argued that 'where the state imposed a monopoly on a service ... the sinful philosophy of state collectivism scored a victory'. (Preston Manning and the Reform Party. Author: Murray Dobbin Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing 1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 9)

Preston Manning stated when he was a member of the Youth wing of the Social Credit Party; "We (socreds) believe that Canada is drifting towards socialism even when the majority of Canadians are opposed to collectivism and the welfare state..." (Dobbin, 1992, Pg. 24-25)

And of course Stephen Harper weighed in: "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it."

Margaret Thatcher and the Welfare State

"There is no such thing as society" - Margaret Thatcher

"Harper asked Weissenberger to dig up the Conservative Party manifestos under which Margaret Thatcher had fought ... They admired the clarity with which she nailed her theses to the wall. 'No one who has lived in this country during the last five years can fail to be aware of how the balance of our society has been increasingly tilted in favour of the State at the expense of individual freedom.'" (Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada by William Johnson ISBN 0-7710 4350-3, 2005, Pg. 49)

Like Harper and all his various parties, lobby groups and think tanks; Ms Thatcher believed that all economic problems are a result of social programs, that created the welfare state.

This term was actually used to describe a series of programs aimed at reducing the hardships of the entire population, by providing services such as national health care, pensions and social assistance; with a redistribution of wealth. There was also a strong feeling after WWII, that if a nation was asked to sacrifice at a time of war, they should be taken care of during a time of peace.

But Margaret Thatcher was having none of it, and with traits which have often been used to describe our current PM; "... one of her (Thatcher's) own supporters described her as having 'a certain impatience with subtlety of feeling, a lack of sympathy with people unlike her..." (Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 8)

She arrived on the scene at a time when Britain was experiencing growing deficits and slow economic recovery, so her promises to turn the country's economy around were welcomed at first.

"The 'crisis' of the welfare state provided Margaret Thatcher with her opportunity to seize control of the political agenda and take the Conservative Party sharply to the right. In doing so she altered the course of British politics for decades and influenced political development in many other Western democracies .... she was crystallizing her thinking, largely through intensive reading of the works of Friedrich von Hayek .... with high unemployment and inflation fuelling the anxiety of Britain's middle class, Thatcher was ready to present her ideas for public consumption in a Conservative party policy document entitled 'Right Thinking.'

"This was not a manifesto for the faint of heart ... What Thatcher was proposing was nothing less than the dismantling of much of the infrastructure of the modern liberal democratic state. Government was the enemy (Harper feels the same way) ... The woman ... wanted to privatize, deregulate and otherwise reduce state intervention in the economy ... Most of all, she wanted to break the power of the unions, whom she loathed." (Jeffrey, 1999, Pg. 10-12)

Those in her own cabinet who opposed her revolutionary style, she referred to as 'wets' and one of her MPs, Julian Critchley once said "She cannot see an institution without hitting it with her handbag." From then on her demolition of the British system was referred to as 'handbagging.'

"In addition to the middle class, luck was on her side ... Many of her most drastic measures were implemented during the economic recovery, minimizing their impact in the short term . When she got into difficulties with the electorate and her party ... it was as much for her imperious leadership style as her draconian policies. There were many direct and violent confrontations with labour, and various groups whom the prime minister dismissed as 'special interest'. Society became visibly more polarized as the winners and losers of Thatcehrism emerged.' (Jeffrey, 1999, Pg. 14)

We have to remember that Thatcherism failed. She privatized everything, and since profit was now the trigger, it resulted in higher costs and less services. While these enterprises were raking in record profits, unemployment rose, resulting in the select few making significant gains at expense of the majority. We've seen the same thing under George Bush, resulting in one of the worst economic crises in recent history.

And of course her removable of controls left citizens vulnerable to health risks. The same thing happened under Mike Harris, when he reduced the number of water inspectors: Walkerton. Stephen Harper allowed the meat industry to inspect their own plants: Listeriosis.

We have to think long and hard before we give this man a majority. In fact we should think even longer and harder about giving him another mandate at all. With the size of Canada's debt and deficit, he will be able to implement the failed economic policies of Margaret Thatcher, fulfilling his career dream of dismantling the government of Canada.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why Stephen Harper's Economic Plans Will Fail

I've said several times before that as an economist Stephen Harper makes a great shoe salesman. He apparently has a masters in economics, but has never worked as an economist, so why would we believe that he is the best choice to lead us out of this crisis? We can't.

One of the problems in studying Harper's past, is that his heroes; the ones who slash and burn their way through social programs, and sell off everything of value, have failed. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Mike Harris.

Instead of learning from their mistakes, he is doomed to repeat them. He once told a professor that he was concerned that Canada's massive debt and deficit under Mulroney, could cause a run on the Canadian dollar. What does he think now?

If he had a majority with a 56 billion dollar and counting, we would have nothing left.

Brooke Jeffrey in her book Hard Right Turn, discusses the situation a decade ago. Mike Harris was the Ontario Premier, Ralph Klein was Alberta's, and the Reform Party were the Official Opposition on Parliament Hill.

She opens her book by saying that in Toronto there were rallies and demonstrations at Queens Park because of Mike Harris' cuts to health care, education and social services. Her cab driver volunteered the information that he had been fooled into voting for Mike Harris' "Common Sense Revolution", which he learned made no sense at all. "I didn't expect them to pick on blind people and little old ladies."

Not long after she was in Alberta and found the same demonstrations and rallies targeting Ralph Klein. "The premier and his controversial treasurer, Stockwell Day, were adamant the cuts would go forward as planned." They didn't need to, because Alberta was in the middle of an oil boom and had money to burn.

"The striking thing about Klein's comments was his choice of language. It was almost identical in tone and content to arguments Mike Harris had used to defend his actions in Ontario a few months earlier. Klein's refusal to consult in any meaningful way with the affected groups was equally firm.

"The success of Ralph Klein in Alberta in 1993 was dismissed by many as a regional fluke, but the election of Mike Harris in 1995 in Ontario raised serious concerns about the direction the country seemed to be taking. Neo-conservative politicians ... were now in power in two of Canada's richest and most important provinces.

"Concern turned to disbelief when the upstart Reform party of Preston Manning became the Official Opposition, after the 1997 federal election. Conventional wisdom said that the party was just another Western protest movement. Founded in white hot anger, it would soon fizzle and collapse ... I was less surprised than most observers ... but probably more distressed. My in-depth knowledge of Reform's extreme positions and unprecedented rejection of basic liberal values made me more inclined to take them seriously than most mainstream politicians, and I worried about the potential damage they could inflict on the fabric of Canadian society if they succeeded in becoming a force to be reckoned with."

"... Were we on a slippery slope, with even more right-wing governments in other parts of the country? Had there actually been a major shift in public opinion from the traditional centre-left majority? Were many Canadians abandoning their well-known compassion and tolerance for the politics of self-interest, anger and resentment, and if so why?

"...Both premiers (Harris and Klein) believed the protests and civil unrest were inevitable. The visceral opposition to their plans had nothing to do with the draconian measures they adopted to implement their radical agenda, or their steadfast refusal to consult with stakeholders.

"If Canada is to avoid the fate of Britain and the United States, now struggling to repair the damage caused by their decade of right-wing excesses (for the U.S. they suffered another horrible 8 years of George Bush), the very real and disturbing consequences of the neo-conservative agenda must be clearly understood by all Canadians." (Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 1-6)

What we have learned since then, is the reason why Mike Harris, Ralph Klein and now Stephen Harper, are following the same path; is because all three men were brought to power by the Fraser Institute, the National Citizens Coalition and Conrad Black. (Black also helped with the career of Margaret Thatcher). Ironically Klein, Harris and Thatcher were all forced into retirement by their own parties. Dare we dream?

Jason Kenney Finds His Calling Through Incarnation

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

"The only good thing that we owe to Plato and Aristotle is that they brought forward many arguments which we can use against the heretics. Yet they and other philosophers are now in hell." Girolamo Savonarola, Italian Dominican friar (1452 - 1498)

When Reform Party MP Rob Ringma suggested that business owners should be allowed to demand that gays and ethnics move to the back of the store, if it meant that they could lose business otherwise; Canadians were appalled.

When at about the same time, Reform MP Dave Chatters suggested that schools should be allowed to fire gay teachers, there was more public outcry. But when Reform MP Art Hangar planned a trip to Singapore to investigate 'caning' as a form of youth punishment, enough was enough.

One of the few moderates in the party, Jan Brown, publicly spoke out against the rampant racism of the 'God squad' and the fact that Preston Manning refused to put an end to it.

What was telling was that when Ringma attended the next caucus meeting, he repeated his comment and received a standing ovation, and while Manning was under pressure to temporarily suspend him, he also suspended Brown. Instead, she quit. (1)

For the 1997 election a young man was plucked from the Fraser Institute to run under the Reform Party banner for her seat in Calgary Southeast. This would be the beginning of the political career of Jason Kenney.

Kenney had already earned a reputation as a defender of ancient religious tradition, and the Edmonton Journal suggested that Kenney had "finally found his pulpit" (2), and the Alberta Report would later refer to him as the "new Savonarola." (3)

Jason Kenney and the Incarnation of Girolamo Savonarola

"It would be good for religion if many books that seem useful were destroyed. When there were not so many books and not so many arguments and disputes, religion grew more quickly than it has since." Girolama Savonarola

Comparing Jason Kenney to Savonarola was an astute observation. The fifteenth century friar was a fierce defender of ancient tradition, and staunchly opposed relativism, much like Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), who influenced the teaching at St. Ignatius in San Fransicso when Jason Kenney was a student.

Savonarola was known for his book burning, destruction of what he considered immoral art, and hostility to the Renaissance. Hostility to change. He would later be executed, but even today has many followers, who would prefer that religious teaching would stick to a perceived "truth" and not be open to interpretation or debate. The infallibility of the Bible.

This was the climate at St. Ignatius in San Francisco when Jason Kenney was studying "humanities". In fact the school was started in protest to the Second Vatican Council, which was an attempt to modernize the church's teachings, to adapt to a changing world.

When the new president, Rev. Stephen Privett, took over the Jesuit-run school in 2001, he dismissed the two directors of the institute, and began to clean up some of the radical teachings, that were creating so much controversy.

"Since its founding 25 years ago, the institute has functioned as an enclave of strict orthodoxy at the relatively liberal university [of San Francisco] ... Privett accused Fessio and other institute lobbyists of "McCarthyite" tactics." (4)

It was also referred to as a "cult". They were militantly anti-abortion and anti-homosexuality. In fact according to the Western Catholic Reporter, Jason Kenney, "... as a university student leader made headlines in California trying to ban abortion groups from the university and fighting against gay rights in San Francisco." (5)

It was probably because of incidents like this that the University of San Francisco began looking at the teachings of the separate St. Ignatius, operating on their campus. Hence the arrival of Privett. But the orthodox Catholic students, were not going down without a fight:

Conservative Catholics upset over a bitter shake-up at the University of San Francisco say they may soon have the pope on their side. The Rev. Joseph Fessio, founder of the conservative St. Ignatius Institute, said he has met in Rome with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's chief guardian of orthodoxy, and his concerns have been passed on to Pope John Paul II.

"The Holy Father is aware of what has happened and is watching closely," Fessio said. (4)

However Privett said he "... checked with his Jesuit superiors and found no indications that Rome has intervened in the bitter theological dispute" and Fessio was exiled by the church.(6)

To go to such lengths, Rome and the Jesuit hierarchy must have discovered disturbing evidence. But it does give us some insight in Kenney's narrow minded thinking. It may have been an indoctrination, because he is not a man who challenges himself, and allows no challenges to his thinking.

St. Ignatius during his time not only fought new ideas, but fought the clergy who promoted new ideas. When Kenney went against Pope Paul's denouncing of the Iraq War, he said that:

"... the determination of whether a particular war is just lies exclusively with the responsible public authority, not priests or bishops. In this case "the responsible public authority would be President Bush and me ..."

"So I take issue with those bishops who made what sounded like magisterial pronouncements about the legitimacy of that conflict," Kenney said in response to a question. "They did not have the authority to make such a declaration. They can offer an opinion which I would take very seriously but ultimately I am called upon by the Church itself as a responsible public authority to make a credential decision." (5)

Jason Kenney's Catholic beliefs even trump the Pope. Religious arrogance at it's most profound. One might argue that he was challenging religious doctrine, but he was clearly on the wrong side of the debate.

Sources:

1. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2

2. Jason Kenney Has Found His Pulpit, By Lawrence Martin, Edmonton Journal, March 11, 1999

3. Requiem for a Lightweight: Stockwell Day and Image Politics, By Trevor Harrison, Black Rose Books, 2002, ISBN: 1-55164-206-9, Pg. 47

4. Pope's Help Sought in Theology Clash at USF: School protests over orthodox institute, By Don Lattin, Elizabeth Fernandez, Chronicle Staff Writers, March 28, 2001

5. Promote human dignity - Kenney: Politician says faith and politics do mix, By Ramon Gonzalezwcr, Wetern Catholic Reporter, June 3, 2003

6. Fessio Exiled: Jesuits Shun Invitation to Support New College, By Christopher Zehnder, San Francisco Faith, May 2002

Conservatives Secretly Trying to Create More Conservative Seats Under Guise of Democratic Reform


It was interesting in my journey to discover how a party grounded in bigotry was now running our country, to learn that the concept for this Reform-Conservative party was actually created in 1967; the brainchild of wealthy Canadian business interests, the Mannings Social Credit Party and the National Citizens Coalition.

Their goal was to create an American style Conservative party, mimicking the current Republican Party, who could keep citizens whipped into a frenzy over 'faith, family and freedom'. (Fundamentalist Christian, nuclear families only; an end to abortion and homosexual rights and of course the big 'f' 'freedom' - war!!!).

Scenes like the one above are becoming more commonplace, and will continue to be if we don't wake up and get these guys out. They just need a majority, and while Harper still polls rarely above a third of Canadian voters, they have crafted a way to gain more seats without gaining more votes. Gilles Duceppe will not vote for this and hopefully the Liberals and NDP won't either.

Steven Fletcher, the head of 'Democratic Reform', has been working like hell to remove any notion of democracy from a country I used to be so damned proud of. They are not just looking for a majority, they are looking for a social conservative (with all of it's ugliness) dynasty.

New federal ridings may be coming to the suburbs
September 25 2009
CTV.ca News Staff

The federal government is reportedly working on legislation to create as many as 32 new electoral ridings across suburban areas of B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

Democratic Reform Minister Steven Fletcher is spearheading legislation on the proposed changes, according to The Globe and Mail. They could be presented to Parliament as early as this fall or early 2010, and would increase the number of MPs in the House of Commons to 340 from 308.

The rumoured changes are seen partly as a response to the Canada's changing demographic landscape. The country's population has been growing mostly due to immigration, and particularly near the larger cities in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario.

At the same time, Parliament has passed measures to protect smaller provinces and rural ridings from losing their voice on Parliament Hill. That's skewed the country's federal electoral map away from the more populous areas.

As a result, Alberta, B.C. and Ontario would be expected to share the additional ridings.

"What you've got here is the notion of democracy versus the notion of history and how this country started," Tom Clark, host of Power Play, told CTV News Channel on Friday. "It is why Prince Edward Island still has as many seats as it does. Even at four, it is grossly overrepresented in the modern world."

"At the same time, if you went strictly by representation by population, you would be denying the geographical reality of the country. So it's a very tough mix and a tough balance to strike."

The new ridings would in all probability go to suburban areas around the major cities of Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto, communities typically with younger and more ethnically diverse residents. If the electoral reforms are eventually passed, they would hand more power to that traditionally underrepresented segment of Canadian society.

Changing the electoral map in such a way may also play in the Conservatives' favour. That's because the party stands a good chance of picking up additional seats in suburban Alberta and B.C., and potentially Ontario as well.

"Some are saying this is the route not only to getting rid of minority governments, but it could be a route to a Tory majority," Clark said. "This might create a new dynasty."

Stephen Harper's Conservative minority government proposed to redistribute the federal elections ridings last year as well. But the bill was never passed into law, partly due to complaints from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. He felt the province wouldn't receive enough additional parliamentary seats under the proposed changes.

The Bloc Quebecois is expected to oppose redrawing the electoral map. The Bloc has come to hold about two-thirds of Quebec's 75 ridings in recent elections. Since Quebec's population is not growing, however, adding seats elsewhere would erode the Bloc's political clout.

If passed, any reforms could take several more years to come into effect.

If it takes several more years we need to make sure those years do not include these Rerform Conservatives. The Manning's Political Realignment, drafted for the wealthy corporate sector and brought to fruition by the National Citizens Coalition and the Northern Foundation, must never be allowed free rein. They want to completely dismantle all social programs, including support for senior citizens, women and non-Anglos.

But is little Stevie Fletcher any better than little Stevie Harper? You be the judge.

Bloc Quebecois youth wing calls for resignation of Tory minister The Canadian Press
August 15, 2009

QUEBEC CITY - The youth wing of the Bloc Quebecois is calling for the resignation of federal Democratic Reform Minister Steven Fletcher.

The Bloc is taking issue with Fletcher for re-iterating this past week the Conservatives' intention to eventually do away with per-vote subsidies.

He said Canadians are frustrated with the notion their taxes help fund a sovereigntist party. Bloc youth wing president Jean-Francois Landry says Quebec voters shouldn't be considered second-class citizens.

At the youth wing's general council meeting in Quebec City Saturday, Landry called Fletcher's comments unacceptable and undemocratic.

At the University of Manitoba, Fletcher berated left-leaning student politicians, and referred to their newspaper as a a 'socialist rag'. The students called him an embarassment.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Joe Clark's Fear of Reform Conservatives Goes Back a Long Way

For several decades, the social conservative movement that was launched by Ernest Manning and a group of wealthy Canadians, had plans to take over the Progressive Conservatives.

While the senior Manning was initially approached to start a new party, where 'money would be no object', he felt that the best way was to work through the already established PCs, and turn them into a completely ideologically driven party of the hard right.

His own attempts failed, but two decades after he began the project, his son Preston started that third party, of the the initial proposal; with every attempt to later use it to hi-jack Canada's just right of center conservative base.

Most of the long time PC members, fought long and hard to prevent that from happening, including former leader and one time Prime Minister, Joe Clark.

He knew exactly what this movement was, perhaps better than anyone; because his history with Preston Manning and social credit (later Reform) went back a long way.

Schools of Thought

Joe Clark and Preston Manning attended the University of Alberta at the same time and were members of the Youth Parliament; Joe as leader of the Progressive Conservatives and Preston, of course, Social Credit.

"At university in the early sixties he (Manning) gave the impression of a rural kid completely isolated from the ways of urban society ... He was a good speaker but you never saw him on campus. People knew who he was and the rumour was that his father didn't want him to hang around the university too much because it would be a bad influence on him ..." (Preston Manning and the Reform Party. Author: Murray Dobbin Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing 1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 5)

Preston also faced a lot of criticism from students over his father's government, which he "took back to his father. His exposure to these issues ... did not challenge Preston Manning's acceptance of conservative ideology ...

"It was not simply that Social Credit was found ... to be wanting in in areas of social policy - it was more that conservative ideas and Conservative government (as defined by Manning ideology) were being challenged by socialism. Left-wing thinking was influencing events and people ..."

"Manning fought the trend with enthusiasm - and paid for it with criticism in the campus press ... Preston Manning told the paper that free enterprise had to reform to continue it existence. The social reforms were to be .... the individual responsibility ... of every Canadian citizen ...

"We (socreds) believe that Canada is drifting towards socialism even when the majority of Canadians are opposed to collectivism and the welfare state..." (Dobbin, 1992, Pg. 24-25)

Naturally Joe Clark was fully aware of Manning's political philosophy, which was in direct contrast to his own, and indeed that of most Canadians.

On a larger stage

After the Reform Party was founded, Preston Manning decided to run against his old university nemesis Joe Clark in the riding of Yellowhead Alberta, for the 1988 election. This wasn't so much because of a personal grudge, but he felt that the publicity would be good for the party. With Mr. Clark's status, the press would be following this race closely.

There is a funny story about that campaign from author Gordon Laird.

"Like many Albertans Preston Manning knows how to dress cowboy ... Manning learned how to ride on his parent's farm near Edmonton where he once won northern Alberta's 4H livestock raising championship .... but it was not until 1988 that Reform's head cowboy formed his first posse. Campaigning against the incumbent Progressive Conservative, Joe Clark ... Reform's new leader hatched a publicity stunt before a debate in the town of Jasper. A 'Reform Posse' of riders, complete with Reform banners and saddle blankets, was organized to chase down the ex-prime minister, who was scheduled to arrive at the local train station. It was High Noon for Mulroney's token westerner. 'The posse and Sheriff Manning were in pursuit of the notorious Joe Clark' ....

"To the disappointment of the fifteen horses and riders looking for a political lynchin', Clark never showed; his train was delayed. The Reformers still had fun handing out 'Wanted' posters and posing for pictures with tourists ..." (Slumming it at the Rodeo: The Cultural Roots of Canada's Right-Wing Revolution, Gordon Laird, 1998, Douglas & McIntyre, ISBN: 1-55054 627-9, Pg. 50)

Manning lost and he lost soundly.

But when Joe Clark and others fought desperately to hold onto the party started by Sir John A. MacDonald, it had nothing to do with partisanship. He knew exactly who Preston Manning was. He knew exactly who Stephen was. And he knew exactly what the Socred/Reform/Alliance 'revolution' was.

When Stephen Harper, after winning the leadership of the Alliance , told him to 'stop pissing around or get out of my way', he stood his ground and got trampled on, along with people like Flora MacDonald, Sinclair Stevens and Jean Charest.

The unthinkable had happened, resulting in, as Flora MacDonald so aptly put it: "... the demolition of a historic 150-year-old institution that has done so much to build this country ... She also stated: "The party's future lies not in some right-wing alliance that would violate the progressive and moderate traditions of its former leaders, but with a renewed emphasis on the values that the great majority of Canadians feel represent their views." ( The Toronto Star, November 14, 2003)

But it was too late.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Faith Feud of Ernest Manning and Tommy Douglas

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

"The will of the people is bound to come into conflict with the will of God" Ernest Manning

Ernest Manning's parents belonged to the United Church and were never particularly pious. (1) But as a young man, he began listening to William Aberhart's radio Bible program, and convinced his parents to allow him to register at the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute, becoming their first graduate.

Aberhart's brand of Christianity was of the most radical fundamentalism, bordering on the occult. Manning himself, ascribed to much of this, but when he took over the radio broadcasts, he had moderated somewhat, though was still clearly a fundamentalist. He told his audiences that every aspect of their lives could be found in the scriptures and as such they should allow themselves to be directed by the "word of God".

He believed in the infallibility of the Bible at a time when the Social Gospel was becoming more popular. Tommy Douglas, then Premier of Saskatchewan, belonged to the latter group:

These competing tendencies can be personified in Tommy Douglas and Ernest Manning, two preachers who became premiers. Douglas was a Baptist pastor in Weyburn, Saskatchewan and responded to the Great Depression by becoming involved with the Farm-Labour Party and later the Cooperative Commonwealth
Federation (CCF). ...

... Throughout his years as premier, Manning continued to appear as a lay preacher on the religious radio program that he had inherited from Aberhart. On occasion Manning recruited his son Preston to stand in for him on the show. Ernest Manning ruled Alberta from the right, particularly after the discovery of oil ... He grudgingly introduced welfare measures such as building homes for the aged, but believed none of that would be necessary if people in society were shouldering their Christian duties to care for one another.

In Saskatchewan, Douglas ruled from the left and his party introduced North America’s first state medical care insurance program in 1962. When Ottawa proposed Medicare for all Canadian provinces later in the decade, Manning was opposed. (2)

Ernest Manning's greatest fear was the spread of socialism:

"Throughout his political career, Ernest Manning was motivated by religion, and more specifically, by anti-Socialism: 'Socialism, to Manning, is a system which largely prevents the individual from attaining the state of grace and hence salvation ... Giving to the individual societal benefits such as free medical care ... breeds idleness... causing a break down in his relationship with God'. "Manning argued that 'where the state imposed a monopoly on a service ... the sinful philosophy of state collectivism scored a victory'. ((3)/em>
What I found the most compelling about Ernest Manning was how serious he was. Comedian and talk show host, Percy Saltzman, interviewed him once and had this to say:
Ernest Manning, Social Credit Premier of Alberta, I remember as the coldest fish I ever did tangle with. Ice water in his veins, I swear. Probably due to the notoriously deep-rooted streak of anti-Semitism among the Mormonic Socreds (pace Aberhart and his goys) (4)

I don't think his faith was making him happy and certainly was not cheering up those around him. The following is a brief interview, and I can see what Saltzman meant.

Some of this rubbed off on his son Preston. As a member of the youth wing of the Social Credit Party; he once stated: "We (socreds) believe that Canada is drifting towards socialism even when the majority of Canadians are opposed to collectivism and the welfare state..." (5)
Sources:

1. Like Father, Like Son: Ernest Manning and Preston Manning, By Lloyd Mackey, ECW Press, 1997, ISBN: 1-55022-299-6

2. Citizenship as ministry: Religious progressives, By Dennis Gruending, Pulpit and Politics, February 8, 2009

3. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, by Murray Dobbin, Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 9

4. PREMIERS, PRIME MINISTERS, COLOSTOMIES & ME OR ... Life in that Sandbox on the Hill, Percy Saltzman, 2006

5. Dobbin, 1992, Pg. 24-25

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Bright Light Attacks Bugs, But as My Father Might Say ....


In my research to discover how a party founded in bigotry is now running our country, I have to stop now and then and remind myself that they do not represent the views of the majority of Canadians. The video I posted is wonderfully inspirational and a shot of humanity that I need right now.

This story is about an early Reform Party member, Doug Collins. It kind of represents the thinking within this party, and the views of Preston Manning and Stephen Harper. While they encouraged extreme right-wing fringe groups, they also tried to distance themselves from them, if they proved to be an embarrassment. Then and only then, did they expel them. But Mr. Collin's story is a little different and kind of epitomizes the ideology.

Preston Manning would always use the tired phrase of his father's when anti-semitism was exposed in the Social Credit party 'A bright light attracts bugs'. But as my own late father would probably say; 'so does shite!'

Doug Collins, Racism and the Reform Party of Canada

Depending on who you talk to, Doug Collins was either a crusty, tell it like it is, journalist; or a racist pig. In fact, he was somewhere in between the two, but his story is worth telling. We heard him speak in favour of the National Citizens Coalition's 'Boat People' campaign, and the ridiculous notion that it was part of an Asian invasion. However, his bigotry went much further than that, making him a perfect fit for the Reformers and Harper's Northern Foundation.

"Doug Collins is a member of Canadian Friends of South Africa ... and has written numerous sympathetic articles ... Collins is also a member of CFAR ... an extremist right-wing group founded by Paul Fromm. While Manning felt obliged to stop the candidacy of the outspoken Doug Collins (he wanted to run for the reform Party in 1988), he seems less concerned about Donovan Carter, a man whose activities - including organized spying for a foreign power - have been mostly clandestine and therefore not an embarrassment to the party." (Dobbin. 1992. Pg. 100-107)

Not an embarrassment to the party. That's definitely what it was all about.

I've said it before, that all of the parties that Stephen Harper and Preston Manning were involved in, were all about the anti's and the notion of some kind of conspiracy. For Social Credit it was a Jewish conspiracy. Later Ernest Manning made it about a socialist/communist conspiracy. Part of that was Pierre Trudeau, whom Manning firmly believed was a communist; and the notion of immigrant 'invasions' from communist countries, especially 'Red China'. It then went to any non-white 'invasion' that threatened the anglo culture.

For the current Conservative party, it is primarily a Muslim invasion though Jason Kenney is trying to keep out all the 'undesirables' (anyone not white, wealthy, Christian, heterosexual and Conservative). But what it all boils down to is the notion of 'pro-Anglo' culture and 'white nationalism'. Other groups with similar goals are called 'white supremacists' and neo-Nazis.'

When Stephen Harper was working as the legislative assistant to PC James Hawkes, Mr. Hawkes stated that Steve did a lot of work on immigration. "Harper soon found himself studying the intricate relations between immigration and the economy, demography and politics." He criticised Mulroney for not making the tough decisions.

After reading Peter Brimelow's book, Harper bought 10 copies to share with friends. William Gairdner became a party mentor and sold his book at all Reform gatherings. Paul Fromm spoke at several Northern Foundation conferences and sold memberships to C-FAR at Reform Party assemblies. The Reform Party regularly advertised in NF's publication the Northern Voice.

They definitely would not have had a problem with Doug Collins'; Immigration: the destruction of English Canada, or any of his views.

Connections and Disconnections

Besides being just a controversial journalist, Doug Collins had connections with several questionable people and organizations. Mind you most of these were also connected to the Reform Party and possibly members of our current government.

I've already mentioned Paul Fromm and C-FAR, but another person who played a role was Doug Christie. I mentioned Mr. Christie in several of my posts about Stockwell Day. He was a good friend of Stockwell's father and the Sr. Day was an active member of Christies separatist party, the Western Canada Concept.

Doug Christie was also the lawyer for many of the most notorious anti-Semites, including James Keegstra and Ernst Zundel. Doug Collins attended the latter's trial to show support "...and Doug Collins, a B.C. weekly newspaper columnist and revisionist who labelled the Canadian Jewish Congress "hatemongers." ( Web of Hate: Inside Canada's Far Right Network - Author: Warren Kinsella Toronto : Harper Collins, 1994 ISBN 0-00-255074-1 Pg. 80)

Doug Christie is also general counsel for an organization called the Canadian Free Speech League (CFSL), which has presented its "George Orwell Award" to controversial figures, including BC columnist Doug Collins, who authored an article titled Swindler's List attacking Steven Spielberg's Holocaust film Schindler's List.

"Our defence in this issue is truth and fair comment. The meeting in question was hosted by Christie's Free Speech League and attended by people who've promoted hate and published racist views in the past." "These people include Doug Collins, who suggested Holocaust deaths were exaggerated in a column he wrote in the North Shore News."

Mr. Collins' beliefs and connections would not be news to Harper or Manning, but it was also becoming apparent to the 'grassroots', that this was not a populist party, and that maybe 'grassroots' views were not the issue.

"Rumblings of Grassroots Discontent - By the fall of 1990, the provincial politics issue was turning into the most divisive issue in the party ... the issue was focusing attention on the party's central office and it's alleged desire to control the membership.

"Dissidents in the party ... openly claimed that the party was being run by a 'Calgary clique' "A lot of people are frustrated - we're seeing the inevitable erosion of grassroots politics into a smaller more domineering group at the top...'

"The clique that was being criticized in 1990 consisted of Manning and four of his staff members. One of the key members was thirty-two-year-old Stephen Harper, a founding member of the party, it's Chief Policy Officer, and the man who became known as Manning's chief political lieutenant. Though only a staff member, he often made speeches and was one of the two people, the other being Waters, whom Manning trusted to speak for the party. He spent four years working for the oil industry after arriving in Alberta from Toronto in 1978..." (Dobbins pg 121-122)

This discontent was reflected in the Reform Party candidacy of Doug Collins, who was acclaimed in Capilano—Howe Sound riding in the 1988 federal election. Initially Preston Manning was on board, but after some complaints of Collin's past racist remarks, Manning had a change of heart.

However, he didn't stop him from running, but only agreed to sign his nomination papers if Mr. Collins would refrain from making anymore public comments that could be deemed racist or anti-Semitic. Naturally the outspoken Collins refused, so was dropped from the list of candidates.

What's interesting to note here, and is a recurring theme, was that they had no problem allowing someone with his extreme views to possibly sit in Parliament, he just had to keep his views to himself. There is something very wrong with that. How can he represent a multicultural country when he believes that only one segment of that country's people are worthy of representation?

Another group with ties to the Reform Party, was the League of Rights and they had a lot to say on the subject.

"When well known Vancouver journalist, Doug Collins, offered to stand for the Reform Party, he felt that here was a party which might tackle some of Canada's basic problems, including immigration. ... A large and enthusiastic Reform Party virtually demanded that Collins stand as their candidate. No other candidate was even considered. But 12 hours after accepting the Reform Party nomination, Collins was bowing out with Reform Party leader ... Manning, refusing to sign his nomination papers .... Manning suggested he sign a document which he described as 'most remarkable ever sent to any candidate seeking political office, and that included the Soviet Union'. A man of great moral courage, Collins appeared as a witness at the Keegstra and Zundel trials; claiming that the basic issue was freedom of speech."

Not to worry though, they loved Stephen Harper:

"The most notable political developments of the past few weeks were the election of Stephen Harper as the new leader of the Alliance Party, succeeding Stockwell Day; and Mr. Harper's immediate meeting with PC leader Joe Clark, in which he challenged him to stop piddling around and wasting time, and join the Alliance in 'uniting the right,' or else get out of the way as the Alliance moves forward ... Mr. Harper, because of his early background with the Reform movement, his several years' experience in the House of Commons and as leader of the National Citizens' Coalition, should be well equipped for his new role. As this short report is written (April 10), Mr. Harper seems well on his way to bringing unity and esprit de corps to his own party. His challenge now is to prepare the Alliance for a major breakthrough in Central Canada within the next two years, in order to mount a successful challenge to the present government in the next federal election."

The Reform-Conservatives 'clique' and muzzle system hasn't changed. Many in the party have very controversial views, so I can understand why he doesn't allow them to share those views. But why elect a Member of Parliament to speak for us, when they aren't allowed to speak at all?

Obama Knows That Stephen Harper is Putting us on the Wrong Side of History

There is another great Facebook Group calling for changes to the Conservative Environmental policies. By change, I mean to actually have one.

Canadians deserve better than this.

Obama shines, Harper absent
Toronto Star
September 24, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama cut a bold figure on the world stage yesterday, delivering a forward-looking, energetic message to the United Nations General Assembly. George Bush has left the building. America is engaged again, and claims no monopoly on wisdom. The U.S. is canvassing for partners to tackle issues that bedevil the world.

But will the world rise to the challenge?

Are UN member states prepared to blunt the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, and to reduce nuclear arsenals generally? Are they ready to fight terror in Pakistan and Afghanistan, support Mideast peace, curb global warming and reform the world economy?

"Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone," Obama said. "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

It was a powerful, principled appeal. And it would have been good to have had Prime Minister Stephen Harper tell the world how Canada intends to do its share. We are, after all, lobbying for a seat on the Security Council next year, and we have a stake in the issues Obama raised.

Sadly, however, Harper was absent as Obama and others rolled out their nations' views on world issues, before they moved on to the Group of 20 economic summit today.

Yesterday, while Obama spoke to the General Assembly, Harper was in Oakville, touring a Tim Horton's "innovation centre" and touting his government's tax policies. And on Tuesday, when Obama and others addressed a conference on climate change, Harper had a grip-and-grin with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It was the third year in a row that Harper was missing in action at the UN General Assembly.

Jean Chretien also sometimes skipped the General Assembly when he was prime minister. But given the heightened attention this time, with Obama participating, Harper seems to have missed a golden opportunity to give prominence to Canadian views on global issues.

Harper explained that the speaking slot he was given by the UN was for tomorrow, when he'll be in Pittsburgh at the G20 meeting. (Harper's place at the UN will be taken by Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, but because he is not a head of government, his address is slotted for Saturday night, when no one will be listening.) Harper also noted that, while he wasn't at the climate conference on Tuesday (where he wasn't invited to speak), he did attend the subsequent dinner.

Could Canadian officials have wangled Harper a better spot on the General Assembly roster and an invite to speak to the climate conference? Was Harper telegraphing his scorn for the General Assembly? Was he embarrassed by his government's dismal record on climate change? Whatever the case, for Canadians at least Obama's bold presence made Harper's absence all the more striking. (The Reform Party wanted to get rid of the UN)

Canada's stature won't be enhanced by these missed opportunities. And it's not much of a strategy for securing a Security Council seat.