When the Gloves Come Off

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

  • Conservative Leader Stephen Harper

    Conservative Leader Stephen Harper

Written by Kyle Lambert

When the members of the Conservative Party decided to elect Stephen Harper on the first ballot at their recent leadership conference, the party immediately attempted to display itself as a renewed group. Efforts were made right away to show that Harper’s election wasn’t the final sign of a Reform takeover of the so-called Progressive Conservative Party. Unfortunately for the Reformers, many are starting to see the Conservative Party for what it really is and should be called – Republican Lite.

The classic PC candidate, Frank Stronach’s daughter, failed to demonstrate the political savvy or necessary language skills to defeat the reigning Martinites in a federal election. Not even the megabucks and rhetoric of the Fraser Institute clan could save Stronach from the Reform juggernaut. Despite having the open support of Mulroney, Harris, Manning, and Klein, Frank’s daughter was unable to smile her way into the oil-soaked hearts of the Alberta Reformers.

As an aside, am I the only one who is sick and bloody tired of hearing sympathy for Stronach’s daughter because of the way she’s been portrayed by the media? Fact is, Stronach is a lightly-educated and spoon-fed modern aristocrat who seems to suddenly have decided that she can play the political games with the big boys in Ottawa. Give me a freaking break! If this were the United States she would be called George W. Bush.

Now, back to Harper. He certainly isn’t cut from the same cloth as the aforementioned list of Canadian popular neo-conservatives. Harper gains his support more from grass-roots conservatives than from corporate hand-out seekers. That doesn’t mean he’s not more than willing to be bought off by the Alberta oil-lobby, he just seems a little more subtle about it. What worries me, and should worry many others too, is the way Harper drums up his support. He does it by playing to classic stereotypical fears of those who don’t have the time nor the energy to investigate matters of public interest for themselves.

Harper has previously demonstrated as leader of the Canadian Alliance that portraying immigrants as terrorists is a strategy for election. While most don’t like to admit it, there is a deeply-rooted racism which exists in Canada. The politics of fear practiced by Harper’s conservatives will not end this racism, they will only add to it. The Conservative Party will also talk much about hugely increasing military spending so that our soldiers can be equipped with bigger and more advanced weapons. Is this what our military really needs? Personally, I find weapons such as tanks and jets fascinating, but I don’t want to see my money paying for them, not when they will be used in conflicts such as the Iraq war. If Canada was facing a real conventional military threat, then I could understand the proposed spending increases for the military. However, the threats to Canada and other Western countries exist because our armies are too big and wide-spread around the world, not because they aren’t big enough. While purchasing sexy (yes, that’s exactly what it is) new military equipment will satisfy much of the masses, only a complete overhaul of our armed forces will truly fix their numerous problems.

The Conservative Party’s election campaign will contain many ploys to bring Canadians down to the level of the foolish masses that have previously supported that party. Harper will portray himself as a straight-shooter who will end the years of Liberal corruption. All of this will be done through a politics of fear that works so well for another well-known right-wing party…maybe George Dubya himself will even make a Canadian cameo.

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