Thursday, October 14, 2010

Conservative movement vs. Conservative Party: perhaps Maxime Bernier can reconcile the differences

The past several months have left me somewhat disillusioned with many of the moves by the Conservative Party in governing Canada. I use the term “moves” as a replacement for “policies” because the government’s actions are not always in line with what I understand Conservative Party policies to be.

There certainly does seem to be an increasing gap between how we as Conservatives govern and how we talk at party conferences. Ah, the pragmatism of power and the retaining of it.

Whatever happened to prudent economic management, small government, primacy of individual rights and freedoms? In what way have those ends been furthered after about four years in power?

We have not had bad government from the Stephen Harper Tories, but neither have we had right government. Our government has grown enormously since the Tories came to power in 2006, and we are running a record budgetary deficit and, apparently, will be doing so for some years to come. The fast approaching 300,000-employee level of the civil service does not a small government make.

PM Harper did give us a reduction in the GST, but much of that has been sucked away when he participated in harmonization between the federal GST and Ontario’s PST. His government made a deal to dance with the ever duplicitous Dalton McGuinty and we’re paying the piper. No use saying it’s a different level of government socking it to us, for when all is said and done, we’re the same taxpayers being sucked dry by greedy spendthrift governments at all levels.

When will fiscal sanity return to Ottawa; when will we see civil servants treated on the same basis as employees of the average corporation? When will we see subsidies to well-to-do corporations end?

After over a decade of Liberal rule, we elected a conservative government and spending went up and up and up—it’s still going up as we write this, even though we went through a major financial crisis. The civil service has grown beyond the rate of inflation since we got rid of the big-government, big-spending Liberals.

Program spending is projected by Finance Minister Flaherty to rise an alarming $21-billion in the next five years, bloating this year’s deficit to $55-billion and adding to a federal portion of our national debt that is projected to reach a staggering $626-billion by 2015. And don’t let the politicians fool you, this is not the full level of debt we are on the hook for—there’s plenty more to come from provincial governments and agencies making Canada’s “real” debt to GDP ratio one of the highest in the world.

How could this have happened?

There’s the recent recession, of course, but that’s only a part of the story.

It now quite clear that there’s a gaping gap between the values and objectives of the conservative movement in Canada and those of the Conservative government. Hard core values have been sacrificed at the alter of almighty power.

So now, who speaks for us? Who stands for us?

I see only one elected politician at the federal level speaking like a conservative. Principles over compromise; values over pragmatism. He is former Foreign Affairs Minister and Conservative MP for Beauce in Quebec, Maxime Bernier. He alone among Quebec City MPs did not endorse the crazy notion of federal dollars being used to support a Quebec City hockey arena even though any future Quebec City team to occupy that arena will be, presumably, privately owned.

Earlier this year, Mr. Bernier got himself into hot water for a speech to party members in Mont-St-Grégoire, Quebec. He said:

“Let’s be frank: Many people in the rest of the country perceive Quebecers as a bunch of spoiled children who are never satisfied and always ask for more. This perception has some basis in reality.”

Now Mr. Bernier is making more political waves by advocating Ottawa end transfer payments to provinces transferring to provincial legislatures some $40-billion, perhaps more, of tax room to finance the health, social welfare and education services they are constitutionally obliged to deliver.

Mr. Preston Manning brought a lot of fresh ideas along with the Reform Party, but most of them have been watered down so as to be unrecognizable or abandoned by the Tory caucus and given lip service by the Conservative Party of Canada.

And with all this compromising and pragmatism, we’re still barely 30 per cent in most polls this year. I’m tired of compromise and power-at-all-cost initiatives, I want a right of centre government, dammit! And perhaps Mr. Bernier is the fellow that can give it to us.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.


  1. You have articulated my own feelings far better than I could myself. My concern is the tendency to 'accommodate' leftist policies in order to be perceived as centrist only to alienate those of us who actually really do want a conservative government in fact as well as name. What I see happening here is that I now have a choice limited to the US democrat party. Amongst a far left democrat group, a leftist democrat group, and regular old squishy democrats. All are, in Beck's term, "progressives" and there is small hope to see a conservative. I want to believe that Bernier is a real conservative but just have been burnt too often.

  2. Couldn't agree more, I thought Harper was liberal lite in 2006 by 2008 I knew for sure and didn't vote. This is just a bunch of liberals in blue. Now waiting for the Harperbots to start their spinning about minority governments and other excuses.

    What they don't seem to understand is that if we are going to get liberal policy from Harper why should conservatives vote for him.