Friday, April 12, 2013

Canada's Tory Democracy

Following my post about the death of Margaret Thatcher, Roderick Russell remarked about Canadian politics, that:
We do seem to lack politicians of principle. Take their commitment to democracy for example. The old "Reform Party" types still seem to be blethering on about democracy, while the political movement they fathered (Canada's Conservatives) are the least democratic government in Canadian peacetime history.
A statement that seems to me to be almost the exact opposite of the truth for reasons set forth here.

Lord Randolph Churchill. Image source.
In the 1880's, Winston Churchill's father, Lord Randolph Churchill, who held a leading place in British Tory ranks, campaigned for the party on the slogan "Tory democracy." Asked by a friend what he meant by "Tory democracy," Lord Randolph replied, "a democracy that votes Tory."

On that definition, Canada undoubtedly has a democracy, if only of the Tory variety. True, less than 50% of those who voted supported the Tories at the last election, but anything much better than one third of the votes is about as good as it gets in Canada for the winning party in a three-way race (plus miscellaneous others).

And it cannot be said that the Tories have been anything but true to the expectations Canadians had of them at the time of the last election.

The Tories promised to beef up the Canadian armed forces and their gear. That is precisely what they have done. We're committed to the F-35, a totally useless device for patrolling the Arctic, but required equipment for a vassal of the United States.

We're to get a multi-billion-dollar fleet of patrol boats and ice-breakers of questionable value in the task of guarding our Northern shores, but which will serve well in the distribution of pork — not ungratefully received here in Victoria, mindful as we are that the Tories haven't the slightest hope of winning the seat at the next election.

Better, of course, would have been to create a Northern Regiment, recruited from the Northern population. Wth some high tech equipment, a scattering of igloos, and a bunch of sealskin canoes, who better to watch and to protect the Northern frontier than the indigenous people?

But the Tories already hold the seat for Nunavut, so why invest where nothing is to be gained?

And there is no NeoCon war for US hegemony that the Tories will not feebly aid, as Stephen Harper staunchly asserted long before the Tories gained power.

The Tories cut the corporate taxe rate, at which  no one can claim to be surprised. Moreover, tax cuts are a sound contribution to national ecomic policy. Where, after all, would you rather start a business and create some jobs: in Canada with a top Federal tax rate of 15%, or the US with a top rate of 31%?

While cutting taxes, the Tories have at least talked of balancing the budget and from time time they have even let go a few of the more annoying public servants — food inspectors, for example, who make trouble for corporate food interests, and government scientists who think they have some kind of academic freedom to let the public know what they have found out, whether it be concerning the destruction fisheries due to insane Federal Fisheries management, the pollution of streams, rivers and oceans, etc., etc.

And talking of pollution, the Tories have been absolutely solid in their support of oil, gas, and pipelines. But then what's not to expect about that with a Tory Prime Minister from Alberta.

On Israel and the wars, the Tories have been true to the established Tory line: sycophantic to Israel in the extreme, as was the evanescent Tory Premier, Joe Clark, who tried to move the Canadian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; and up there with the Brits in providing moral and some trivial military assistance in the US NeoCon war for global empire.

No, contrary to the claim that Canada's Tories are undemocratic, they have been more consistent than any government in living memory in delivering exactly what they promised.

And, in fact, Canada's other parties are about as predictable. The NDP (based on their provincial performance) always run on three promises — on which they make good — and one big lie: More for schools, more for healthcare, more for welfare and a balanced budget. You can guess which is the lie.

The Liberals are trickier. They run on the NDP platform, but try to rule on the Conservative platform, with one possible distinction, which is a greater commitment to national sovereignty (Pierre Trudeau and Chretien, but neither the accountant, Martin, nor the Harvard NeoCon, Ignatieff). It will be interesting to see if Justin Trudeau shapes up as a Canadian sovereigntist. If he can take advice from the wisest liberals around and refrain from the "just watch me" impulse, he may prove to have a real future in politics.

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