Saturday, March 1, 2014

Musings on partisanship

I find it odd when readers leave comments accusing me of being partisan regarding conservative governments like Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s, and for being critical of progressive leaders like Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair.

Of course I’m partisan—I’m undeniable conservative and have never pretended otherwise. I openly hold myself out as being a conservative (see the Being Conservative page on this blog). Good grief, I even blog for a group called, “Blogging Tories.”

Criticising me for being partisan is like criticising a frog for being green. Far more to the point, is whether my criticism of the Left is reasonably informed, and, dear I say it, reasonably fair. In other words, criticize my words by providing contradictory facts or counterargument, but accept my conservatism as a given.

I try always to be open to the opinion of others—that’s how I learn, and it helps me grow as a person. Through listening to others, I believe my writing has become more nuanced, if not actually neutral, for neutral it’s never likely to be.

I believe some of my readers sometimes confuse my being a small “c” conservative with my being an automatic supporter of the Conservative party or Ontario PC party. They confuse the conservative movement with the Conservative party, by assuming they are the same thing, while clearly they are not.

I, for example, probably have more in common, when it comes to political philosophy, with a Liberal voter from, say, Paris, Ontario than does Kathleen Wynne. And Kathleen Wynne has more in common with downtown-Toronto New Democrats than she has with many Paris—or other small town—Liberals.

Not too long ago, there was not really much light between many Progressive Conservatives and many Liberals. That was part of the reason good political minds like Robert Nixon couldn’t win elections in the province—voters stuck with the status quo rather than take a chance on the Liberals who voters saw as being not much of a change from the PCs.

It is different now, of course, with Ontario trade unions sharing their support between the Grits and the NDP, and the Grits shifting ever further left to curry favour from those rich unions. There has also been a concentration of Liberal support in large urban centres where many progressive voters shift support back and forth between them and the NDP—this has reinforced a Liberal shift to the Left.

Add to this, the years of McGuinty government from which even Kathleen Wynne and her team seem determined to distance themselves. Many dyed-in-the-wool Liberal insiders are reluctant any longer to praise that government. And do most Liberals really believe Dwight Duncan was an astute manager of Ontario’s economy? And what about Charles Sousa, is he an improvement?

So why would someone like me have much in the way of positive commentary about Kathleen Wynne or her government? Of course I’m going to be critical of the Ontario government. So too are an increasing number of Liberals, I might add.

On the federal scene, I was a supporter of the Liberal party under Lester Pearson and for part of the Pierre Trudeau years. However, a string of record deficits, double-digit inflation with families losing their homes because they could no longer afford usurious mortgage rates and broken campaign promises forced me to switch support to the PCs.

As I saw it, I never left the Liberal party, it left me. My political views remained much the same, but the Liberal party changed to something I could no longer support.

Later, we were treated to some sound fiscal management on the part of then finance minister, Paul Martin. I counted myself a fan, until Martin became prime minister and I saw him as a petty little man and a crass opportunist. I never came close to voting Liberal in that era, but I might have been so persuaded under a leader as fiscally conservative as Martin seemed to be—perhaps pretended to be.

Since then, I haven’t seen much from the federal Liberals that deserved my support. And I’m not alone with that assessment. I’m pretty sure the federal Liberals have lost seats in each election since Jean Chrétien resigned, suggesting that most Canadians shared my opinion.

Justin Trudeau did show some early promise, however. His eulogy given at the funeral for his father in 2000 showed a young man with loads of political potential. But, as far as I can see, that potential remains largely untapped.

Here’s a Feb. 2013 quote from one of the “stars” of his shadow cabinet, Marc Garneau:

Federal Liberal Leadership frontrunner Justin Trudeau has a responsibility to tell Canadians where he stands and where he intends to lead now, not after the leadership race is over.”

It’s a year later and I’m still waiting.

Is it any wonder then that I, as a small “c” conservative, feel more confortable with the conservative parties of Canada and of Ontario and so often criticize Liberals? Give me an old-style, fiscal-conservative, Pearson-liberal party of the true political centre, however, and I might be persuaded otherwise, as would many other small “c” cons.


  1. What gets me is the unbridled hatred of the left. The need to denigrate all conservatives.
    I haven't voted in a provincial election since Mike Harris ran. Too many "progressive" conservatives. Most "progressive" policies tend to be regressive by nature.
    I don't hate those on the left, but I do take delight in noting their many shooting fish in a barrel.
    Hatred is so demeaning to those that embrace it

  2. It's alright to support a party or leader. What I don't like is the mindlessness of many partisans. When confronted with facts they shut down debate, or complain it is a media conspiracy against them or that some straw man, like "the left" whoever that is, is destroying democracy.

    The previous anon commentator makes my point. "The left hates"...I delight in their deficiencies. That is mindless partisanship.

  3. We need the gentleness and non-partisanship of Ezra a Levant. He is fair and balanced. Gives all sides a fair hearing.

  4. I have never been able to have a debate with ndp supporters. I find rather than debate the topic the ndp attack me.
    I think that is their strategy now forget the facts and state we must get rid of PM Harper no matter hell or high water.
    Why not give us their platform and then we have meat on the bone to debate on an adult level.

  5. I, too, supported "Peace Prize" Pearson and early Trudeau back then. I now know that those two were the stealth leftists who saddled Canada with the nanny state that PM Harper is cautiously dismantling today. Russ, please say it ain't so - that you still hold those 1960's views. Conservatism has evolved toward freedom and individual responsibility - the exact opposite of what Liberals and PC's stood for through the last half of the twentieth century.

    1. What I stand for, Dollops is no secret. Read my "Being Conservative" page on masthead of this blog.

    2. Freedom? The RCMP, under a Conservative government broke into people's houses and took their guns in a High River during the floods. Where we're Conservatives protecting freedoms then?

    3. Russ, I did read it. And yet you write above that you are in synch with the Liberals and PC's who created the mess that the Conservative govt of today has to unravel. You seem to have contradicted yourself and I questioned you on that.
      Brave Anonymous, who said I approved of everything that happens while the Conservative Party is in charge in Ottawa? The leftist institutions that grew to their present dominance all came about during Liberal and PC administrations; I share your impatience with the pace of conservative reforms, but elections must be won.