A long time acquaintance of mine, Ken LePage, recently posted a lengthy note to Facebook about the Liberal Party of Canada.
For anyone who knows him, this is definitely no surprise. He’s a vocal and vehement supporter of said party. Unfortunately for me, Facebook doesn’t allow anywhere near the room in comments to effectively riposte some of his more colourful points, so I’m going to do it here instead.
It’s no secret that it is not easy to be a Liberal in a Conservative stronghold. While I’ve come to accept that, one thing I cannot accept are the completely weak arguments against the Liberal Party, and specifically against 2 individuals – Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. Couple this with the completely weak arguments for supporting the Conservative Party, and the end result is a Liberal who honestly cannot fathom the way people think. So I figured, since this is my damn facebook page, I’ll present my counter-arguments, and you, the reader, can take it or leave it.
Heh, I’ll bite since I support neither the Liberals *or* the Conservatives.
For starters, I am yet to hear one single reason why Harper even deserves to be an MP, much less the leader of the political party that is so far to the right, they are simply Anti-Canadian. Whether you like it or not, this country has a long history of Liberal governments for a reason. The country itself was founded on the centrist but left-leaning values that the LPC has always advocated – those being the values of open-mindedness, tolerance, fairness, social progress, and economic responsibility.
There have certainly been a lot of Liberal governments. Yep. But to imply that the party is in some way superior or deserving based on that is just whitewashed bullshit. The simple counterpoint to ‘this country has a long history of Liberal governments for a reason’ is ‘we’ve kicked them out a bunch of times too.’ When the Liberal Party of Canada gets sloppy, lazy and/or greedy, Canadians kick them to the curb to remind them who their boss really is.
As for the leading sentence of the paragraph, I nearly boggled. Why does Harper deserve to be an MP and the leader of the Conservatives? Uh. Democracy? Last I checked, he won his seat the same way Liberals win their seats. And to baldly state that the Conservative Party is ‘Anti-Canadian’ is just self-righteous hubris at it’s finest. Anti-Canadian? Take a deep breath and try and remember it’s Canadians that put him where he is. You may not agree with him, the views of those who support him or the views of those who dislike the Liberals more than they dislike the Conservatives and voted accordingly… but they are still Canadians and are thus representative of our country by their very presence. So while it makes for some fun and interesting rhetoric, it’s also patently untrue.
As for the values of the Liberal Party and whether Canada was founded on them… all I can say is head back and read the history books. This statement is so incredibly wrong that anyone familiar with Canadian political history should be immediately aware that it’s false. Nothing but revisionist history here folks, move along, nothing to see. It’s relatively recent in our nations history that those statements have *become* true. Modern Canada is certainly a lot more about open-mindedness, tolerance, fairness, social progress and economic responsibility (to varying degrees of responsible, natch)
The current Conservative Party, by comparison, has a very shallow history, being currently operated primarily by former members of the Reform Party – a party whose values included social regressionism, intolerance (particularly towards women and gays), bigotry, fundamentalism, and extreme capitalism. How they managed to merge with the Progressive Conservative party, a formerly centrist but moderate right-leaning party, to form the Candian Alliance (and eventually the current Conservative Party) is a mystery to this Liberal. And no, I DO NOT believe that this country has suddenly decided to move to the right. I’d wager my entire life that more than 2/3 of the people who currently support the Conservative Party are doing so out of protest, not support. And the protest is based on weak arguments.
‘values included social regressionism, intolerance, bigotry, fundamentalism and extreme capitalism’
Again, some powerful rhetoric. And I won’t argue in the slightest that there was a vocal and influential chunk of Reformers who various bits of the description fit like a glove. But to make the argument that those were the parties values is just an attempt to ignore realities. Parties like Reform don’t build membership and support out of thin air. They didn’t arrive fully formed on the political scene and take over underhandedly. Obviously enough of their stated platform and party values struck a chord with enough Canadians to make them a force to be reckoned with.
As for whether current Conservative support is a protest against the Liberals (or other parties) is definitely up for debate. Whether that support is based on weak arguments or not will be demonstrated I can think of at least one reason that isn’t weak in the slightest to support the Conservative party, and that’s gun control. Liberal (and Green, and NDP) fearmongering and outright lies on that front are offensive to anyone familiar with the actual facts of gun crime and gun ownership.
The Liberals are known as “Canada’s Natural Governing Party.” But like all legacies, there comes a time where shakeup and revitalization is necessary in order to ensure its survival. It is rather unfortunate that the circumstances surrounding Paul Martin’s constructive dismissal from the LPC had to come to be – which brings me to my first piece of bullshit arguments against the Liberal Party – the so-called ‘Sponsorship Scandal’.
The Liberals are self-defined as the so called “Natural Governing Party”. The Sponsorship Scandal wasn’t ‘so-called’ – it was. Actual capital S Scandal.
Folks, using this argument against the current Liberal Party is like holding the Airbus Scandal of the Mulrooney days against Stephen Harper. It was 4 governments and 3 leaders ago that this unfortunate event happened, so it’s time to bloody well get over it.
And this is the bit where you really need to make a decision, just to be consistent. You made some historical arguments in the beginning of this, some of which weren’t true *but* you were expecting them to be taken as such and for people to base an opinion about both the Liberals and the Conservatives on. No problem, that’s your agenda. But for consistencies sake you can’t then just ask your readers to ignore inconvenient history for the remainder of your treatise. And get over it? If Jean Chretien of said Scandal’s fame and other old school Liberals were no longer involved in the internal workings of the Liberal Party, people just might. Maybe start looking into Jean’s involvement in organizing the coalition before you recommend people ‘get over it’.
For those who are not in the know, or who have just been believing the Conservative media, here’s a rundown of what happened. The Sponsorship Program was created under the Chretien government to create ads in Quebec that promoted national unity. Now, for those of you (which I suspect is the majority of Canadians) who don’t understand how financing works, either in a large corporation or government, let me put this simply – the Finance Minister (Or CFO in corporations) allocates money to a program, and that is where their responsibility ENDS. The program then has people appointed to run it. They are the ones that see the day-to-day operational costs. In this case, the TWO INDIVIDUALS (this requires emphasis) who were members of the Liberal Party, along with some people at the ad firm itself, got a little case of sticky fingers, and some money ended up in pockets instead of on advertising. When the Auditor General discovered this, Paul Martin had already taken over from Chretien as leader of the Liberal Party. Martin, as shocked as ANYONE, immediately called for a full inquiry into the Program, and a full investigation of any wrongdoing. This, to me, shows exactly how accountable and honorable he was. If he knew of a wrongdoing, he would not have called a private inquiry, he would have done exactly what Harper does when he’s caught with his pants down, and tried to sweep it under the rug as quickly as possible. But he didn’t – he gave the Gomery Commission FULL power to investigate and the RCMP FULL authority to make arrests on anyone found guilty.
The doublespeak is getting mighty deep here. You consistently attempt to minimize the responsibility and scope of the problem.
“a little case of sticky fingers”
“some money ended up in pockets”
$353 million is not a little case of sticky fingers. That’s enough money to do a LOT of good in this country, or as foreign aid, or … well, the list is long because $353 million is a lot of money and not “a little case of sticky fingers”. And it’s precisely this kind of attempt to minimize and ignore the severity of the problem and the incredible breach of trust with Canadians that causes myself and many others to distrust the Liberal party as a whole. It’s systemic and entrenched.
The fallout? Yup, turns out that money to the tune of $353 Million went missing from the program. This cost the Liberal Party their government, because Harper, ever the opportunist, used the Conservative-friendly media to paint the entire party as criminals – and it worked. Even though Martin immediately fired the TWO PEOPLE in the party that were involved, it didn’t matter – he had already been demonized.
Conservative friendly media? Ah, you must be referring to the Calgary Sun. Media in Canada is far less biased than their US cousins, and for the most part tend to be more left leaning than right leaning, unless you live in Alberta. Which we do. So I can understand your perception, but disagree. I’d also confidently argue that the media will happily target whoever the heck they please. The Liberals have been given a free pass in the past on issues, as have the Conservatives. Both sides of the political divide have also been villainized by the media.
So, to my point – using the sponsorship scandal as a reason not to vote Liberal shows complete and total ignorance of the FACTS, especially given that it has overshadowed what an incredible job the Chretien government did to get us out of Mulrooney’s deficit (a trademark of Conservative governments), save the country from a recession in 2000, and doling out the largest tax breaks in Canadian history. Calling an entire party criminals for what TWO people did is ignorant, baseless, and foolish. Likewise, to suggest that Martin or Chretien had ANY knowledge of this whatsoever also shows a complete lack of understanding on how finance works, and thus, I summarily dismiss this argument.
It must be fun to summarily dismiss stuff like that. I followed that inquiry pretty closely, and found the answers of more than just those two to be outright evasive and weasle-ish. There may not be a legal basis to take any further action, but it should certainly continue to inform voter opinion. You were also pretty generous with Paul Martin’s role in calling that inquiry – Sure he called it – he’s also the one who limited Gomery’s scope. It was an excellent ploy to try and gain the advantages of the appearance of a public inquiry while factually limiting it’s reality. And while it worked as far as legal findings go, it failed publicly.
Your point about calling the entire party criminals as a result is a good one though, although you are certainly fond of doing precisely that to the Conservatives. Careful with that broad brush.
On to argument #2 – the Liberal promise to eliminate the GST entirely. This could have and would have happened, had Mulrooney not “cooked the books” to misrepresent the actual amount of Canada’s deficit and debt. When faced with the real facts, the Liberal party realized that eliminating the GST would be utterly impossible unless it was replaced with a hidden tax. (For those less educated, the GST actually DID replace a hidden taxed called the MST, which was 14%.) So, that makes that argument futile as well.
Fair point. Unfortunately it completely ignores the fact that making such a huge campaign promise in advance of knowing the facts was stupid. It would have been a lot smarter to have promised to look into reducing the GST. While it might be fun to say Mulroney cooked the books, it’s obviously not true in any legal or civilly liable sense since nothing ever came of it. Seems to me that the Liberals failed to do their homework on a number lessons and ultimately ate it at the polls as a result. They also failed themselves politically because they were unwilling to provide even the semblance of support to Mulroney – the GST, as you rightly point out, was HALF of the previous tax. It wouldn’t have been terribly hard to sell people on ‘We’re going to leave that 50% tax cut alone for now, and work at extending it over the course of our term”.
Enter Stephane Dion – No, he wasn’t my first choice either! But he was appointed leader of the party, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Unfortunately, he had too much that Harper could tear him apart for – such as his lack of willingness to play Harper’s stupid, childish games in Parliament, and his refusal to engage in smear tactics, two qualities which allowed Harper to label him as a ‘weak leader’. For those who believe this nonsense, I’d like to point out that Dion, as Environment Minister, single-handedly assembled 177 nations to come together and not only discuss, but agree UNANIMOUSLY to climate change action. Now THAT is leadership, a sharp contrast to Mr. Harper’s “follow me OR ELSE” attitude.
I’m potentially in the minority of your readership on this one. I thought, and still think, Kyoto was a really bad idea that we should never have agreed to.
So, out goes Dion, the first Liberal leader in history to not become Prime Minister. He was NOT given a fair shake, and frankly I think anyone calling him weak have their own issues of weakness to deal with if Harper the Schoolyard Bully is what they call a “leader”.
Neither was Joe Clark, or Kim Campbell.
Now, the Liberal Party of Canada has gone with real change, and Conservatives are STILL whining and crying foul. Michael Ignatieff, as of today, is the new de facto leader of the LPC, because all of his competitors dropped out of the leadership race, showing that the Liberals have decided that now is the time for unity, not division. (Added to which, Rae didn’t have much of a chance anyway – too many people are still bitter over his stint as NDP Premier of Ontario.) What’s all the whining about? Ignatieff’s career outside of Canada. I have heard some incredibly weak arguments before, but none so weak as to argue that Ignatieff’s amazingly successful life as a professor in such noble institutions as Harvard and Oxford, and his successful filmmaking career in the UK and the USA, somehow makes him unqualified to lead Canada.
Eh, he’ll do
Having been out of the country is one thing – but if you’re going to hold that against him, maybe you should look at Harper’s entire staff and panel of advisors – ALL of whom are American Republicans. To me, havng American Republicans having direct infuence over your party’s policies and decisions FAR outweighs simply having a successful career south of the border, as Ignatieff has had.
You’ve stepped right outside rhetoric on this one. Do you mean to actually stand there with your bare face hanging out and try and sell us on the idea that there isn’t a single Canadian on Harper’s staff or
among his advisors? Really? How long with Google do you think it would take to demonstrate that as the biggest piece of bullshit you’ve asked us to swallow so far?
Is nobody looking at the extreme advantage that his leadership presents? He’s a scholar, an intellect, an accomplished and often controversial person who is willing to admit when he has made a mistake – something SORELY lacking from politics today. He’s worldly, he’s moderate, and best of all – he was not part of the Chretien/Martin era, so he hasn’t been tainted by that. In fact, he hasn’t been tainted AT ALL with the usual corruption that happens to people who have been in the game for decades. I honestly believe that the fact that he has spent most of his life outside Canada is a fantastic advantage, not a disadvantage. Arguing that he has no knowledge of what goes on inside this country is not only a weak argument, but it’s outright pig-headed and stereotypical. Just because he was in the US or UK does NOT mean that he wasn’t keenly aware of what was happening inside his own home country. He just wasn’t here to become bitter, jaded, and corrupt.
All excellent points in Igantieff’s favour. I’d not use any of those points to dismiss him as a potential leader of Canada.
Ignatieff is by far the best candidate for Prime Minister that this country has ever seen. The Liberal Party has a long history of saving this country from recessions, defending our rights, and making sure that all Canadians are equal. Are they perfect? No, but who is? But they have not broken even 1/10 of the promises in their 80+ years that Harper has broken in four, and they deserve a chance to be our governing party again. Any arguments I’ve seen to contrary…. well….. are just weak.
Their stance on firearms is an excellent argument against voting for them. Anyone who can look at their stated platform on this lone topic, and is actually informed about gun crime and gun ownership, would have to have serious doubts about a party so willing to implement bad policy based on fear and lies and misinformation. And not just form policy, but create and enforce legislation based on same.
Want a second good argument? How about the complete Liberal turnaround when it comes to Afghanistan? I find it highly troubling that they are the ones who took us in there, for reasons I wholly supported and still do, and then flip flopped on it to try and demonize the Conservative party as a bunch of war mongers.
These are just two of the biggest ones I can point at.
And I’ll end this by saying that I haven’t ever voted for Harper, and won’t. I may even consider voting Liberal depending on how Ignatieff does things. But it’s not going to be based on colourful rhetoric and lies about Canadian history, or the place the Liberals and Conservatives have held in it. It will be based on their stated policies and what behaviours and types of people they tolerate inside their party.