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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Canada and its Two Liberal Parties

I’m not sure it makes any kind of sense mourning the conservative loss on October the 19, 2015. Sure, the Trudeau Liberals filled the void, sure it is another Trudeau at the head of Our Majesty’s Government, but that is not the be all end all. The Liberal party being back in power is not unusual (they have governed the country for the better part of its history); it’s just a return to what the Liberal Party does best secure and hold power, which would not be possible unless we discard the cries of Canadians on the right that the liberals are radical leftists. In fact, the concept that the liberal party and Mr Trudeau are radical leftists makes almost no sense. Despite our efforts to paint the party otherwise the Liberal Party has always been a broker party holding the center, regardless of shifts, and adopting Tory and NDP policies when necessary to ensure its continued hegemony: William Lyon Mackenzie King pulled off this trick many a time. So what can we lament, and what can we look forward too instead?

We can lament the onset of a variety of progressive policies: Trudeau has made it clear that he will not approbate pro-life sentiment in his caucus for example. We will likely see counterproductive foreign policy, just as bad in fact as Harper's, but perhaps lacking in a moral compass to an even larger degree. And finally, we will likely be hit with some misguided Keynesian stimulus, the stuff of election winners who think the government can direct the economy with any kind of authority, Stephen Harper at least knew that the economy was not some malleable thing.

At least it's not the Mulcair NDP. No great revolution is coming, some tweaks and perhaps some disregard for the sentiments of the better part of the Canadian polity, but not great NDP restructuring. Trudeau is not at the head of a revolutionary government, just an obnoxious one tempered by liberalism and progressive dogmatism.

But what rankles me more than anything in the past few weeks is the utter deification of Stephen Harper post-mortem.

Few would dare to say that we have two liberal parties in Canada, but in fact we do. Stephen Harper's government was no conservative government. It offered not even an effective olive branch to the social conservatives both amongst the public and in caucus; it effectively drove a massive and possibly unbreakable net down over our heads with bill C-51 and other misguided terror legislation antithetical to our ancient rights under English Common law; P.M Harper drove government spending throughout the bureaucracy to new heights; he annihilated manufacturing through free trade and anti-union legislation; market fundamentalism traded cheap goods for cheap jobs, and finally, he eviscerated environmental legislation despite our duty to preserve our majestic landscape for our posterity. His failure in providing for the unborn both through the debt burden, environmental legislation, and a failure to acknowledge the abortion debate are a deep betrayal of conservatism at its core: we should stop pretending otherwise. The Stephen Harper government was liberal, libertarian at best. Now let's work on electing real conservative leadership in his place and restore respect for our tradition of peace, order, and good government.

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Conservative Standpoint Part 10: The Conservative and Democracy

This is Part 10 of the Conservative Standpoint by Cole D

The United Nations on Democracy: Democracy is a universally recognized ideal and is one of the core values and principles of the United Nations.
Democracy provides an environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights. The UN General Assembly has reaffirmed that “democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives. “According to the United Nations not only is democracy a universal value but also, the protector of human rights, an aspect of all our lives, and a means of free expression that offers the people the ability to determine their various social and economic systems. What could be wrong with this? How could one dispute it?
I insist that the conservative must dispute it. The conservative must come up with a critique of democracy that either indicts it as unworkable and debasing to the political system or at least provide an examination of the deplorable elements in the democratic system as a means to extract genuine legitimacy. The faults inbred in the will of the people and the exercises of such a will in political affairs, have been expressed for thousands of years, and yet, in the last approximately two hundred years the wellspring of dissention has ceased to bubble. The conservative may not in fact oppose democracy; however, if we examine the faults we may actually determine why it is, to a conservative that despite its vast flaws democracy has merit.
It is also worth drawing the distinction between blanket support for democracy, liberty, and deference to the mandate; as opposed to judicial superiority, representative government, and circumscription of powers and popular authority, because such distinctions allow one to draw a clearer line between the libertarians and conservatives.
Francis Fukuyama in his book the Origins of Political Order gives a brief outline of the shape of modern democracy and the attendant controversy. He notes that democracy is considered the sole legitimizing factor of a regime claiming that even the most tyrannical despots hold elections or maintain assemblies as a means of generating authority. Meanwhile, Fukuyama despite admitting that he sees democracy as a current, default form of government, Fukuyama is not so naive as to insist that such an ideal is a good by nature.  Fukuyama asserts that despite the near universal demand for democracy, the efficacy is still in dispute, and poor execution may be behind numerous regressive outcomes. Agitators around the world push for democracy, and may in fact secure regime change, but they expect quick and ethical government without accommodation for the time it takes to establish institutions capable of making the democratic system operate in an efficient and transparent fashion. Fukuyama insists (as I do) that wealth and security are conducive to democracy. Democracy is bound up in these things. Hierarchical and orderly government along with strong institutions serve as the foundation for a secure economic and social order.  Fukuyama notes that those who aspire for democracy and prosperity are seeking to “get to Denmark” Denmark: a place with good political and economic Institutions. Two problems arise out of getting to Denmark. First, Somalia, Afghanistan or anywhere else cannot construct institutions which evolved over centuries, and have a basis in local culture; secondly, most people like those in Denmark have no idea how their institutions evolved or became useful in the first place, and if such a thing is unknown it's certainly not simple to emulate.
The key to Fukuyama’s assessment, aside from the recognition of organic institutions bound within a cultural and time, is the observation made by Fukuyama that the democratic system is bound within a multitude of categories primary among them being the state, the rule of law, and accountable government; all important, but not all necessarily existing concurrently. Fukuyama gives the example of Prussia in the 18th century, were despite the lack of what we would consider democracy the monarchy was held accountable.
What I would title these various factors, social consensus, the rule of law, physical stability, accountability, civil unrest (in order to motivate extension of the franchise), legitimate institutions of government, and educated population is independent preconditions. Factors that may operate independently or within a democratic system: they are necessary for the genesis of such a democratic system, but in the absence of more than a handful quickly cause the collapse of democratic structures.
Francis Fukuyama has observed that in contrast to his thesis in The End of History, democracy has in fact ceased to expand, since 2009 Freedomhouse has recorded a decline in the number of democracies in the world for 4 years in a row.  This according to Francis Fukuyama is the first time this has happened since the 1970’s. If democracy is now contracting is, there a picture we can draw of how and why democracy earned its universal appeal, and why those same sentiments are now, potentially, beginning to fail? Maybe this will offer the conservative a better picture of the beliefs, successes and failures democracy as a theoretical exercise in the will of the people.
To be sure, I am using the term democracy in a macro sense, democracies inevitably vary widely, and that will be part of the consideration on behalf of whomever reads this. They must assess whether these statements apply to all democracies and to what extent. Electoral systems and various institutions will change the function and purposes of a democracy or may bring into question whether or not such a system is by its nature democratic; I will bypass specifics simply out of a lack of time and a consideration for brevity. However, by painting with a broad brush perhaps we will portray the universal components of democracy, the things in common and the collective weaknesses implicit in popular government.
The first thinkers to study democracy were Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato. Perhaps, authors did before or concurrently, but their writings do not survive. Plato and his pupil Aristotle sought to understand the faults of the democratic system in which they lived. A system of direct democracy organized though mass plebiscites and extensive meetings whereby the citizens of the polis decided upon issues without recourse to representatives. Looking back at these early assessments is valuable, because not only they remain contemporary in form, but also they allow for an understanding of the potential of direct democracy to fail.
Plato was the first to scrutinize democracy; he did so in the Republic book VIII where he gave his account of the five forms of government, and his analogy of the ship of state. Plato insisted that the government of the people: democracy was a latent system that existed within the ship of the state. The ship of state being an allegorical conception of the relationship between the philosopher and the people, where the sailors (politicians/demagogues) in their wish to take the boat from the pilot (philosopher), who seems to be doing nothing of use. The Sailors appeal to the ship-owner (the Demos) who despite his strength and ownership of the ship, is deaf, nearsighted, and unskilled, despite his right to own and decide on behalf of the ship it is obvious that he is not fit for custody.
Plato states of the sailors, “they are always crowded around the ship-owner himself, begging and doing everything so that he’ll turn the rudder over to them.” The sailors quarrel and bicker and the show themselves too distracted to understand the navigation of the ship, the techne (art) of the pilot who navigates, like the philosopher who knows the techne of ruling. The concept of techne is the key to Plato’s theory of government in the Republic, the concept of techne insists that the art is something that is rational, teachable, and good for the object of the art. To Plato the techne of ruling fits into this class. An exceptional person can be taught to rule and established in conditions to do so, despite the authoritarian means required, and that ruling is just or at least of its art and true ruling when it is done at the benefit of the ruled.  This is forms a large part of Plato’s disdain for democracy, those who would be elected or make decisions in the public forums do not possess the art of ruling and are therefore incapable of benefiting the object of their art— the ruled, and the failure to act on behalf of those who need it, the producers in the city with bronze souls, and countenance their desires is part of why democracy is unjust. Democratic government is not harmonious government.
Plato illustrates this disunity and vacillation inherent in democracy by first illustrating its evolution from the oligarchic state, and then its further devolution into tyranny.
Plato did not permit his Guardians and Philosopher kings to own property or keep families, but Plato sketches a necessary scenario where both families and ownership of property and wealth come to be permitted through the gradual failure of the eugenics and education in his just city leading to the Timarchy (the spirited government). Timarchy gradually leads over generations to an oligarchic nature. The rulers begin to fetishize wealth and property acquisition and the loosening of norms related to wisdom and moderation. Slowly imperfect souls enter the ruling class, and to placate the leaders who now own great wealth and property, the city enshrines wealth and property ownership as prerequisites for government bringing the oligarchy in its official capacity.
Oligarchy necessarily descends into democracy because of the hierarchy between rulers and ruled is no longer one based on rationality and fittedness, but rather a government based on one's property and wealth determine opportunities to rule.  Those who had the ability to rule through virtue and natural intelligence (their nature) are no longer permitted and discontent erupts from the bronze souled in a city. The legitimacy of the government has been shattered and the ability that made the gold souled Guardians most able to restrain and moderate the desires of the bronze souled in the just city has fled.
From here, the transition to democracy occurs; democracy creates a city obsessed with freedom and its unnecessary desires. The obsession with the desires drives the individuals away from interest in governance and tyrannical men into perceiving themselves as being exploited quickly manipulate them. The polis descends into factionalism: the rich feeling threatened about the poor restrict their freedom. In fear of the oligarchy returning the people to revolt.  To protect the masses the man with the most tyrannical soul will seize power and in doing so expunge the city of anyone who may offer a challenge, and because this man originated in the society with no restraint upon its appetite and desires. The tyrant uses any means to protect his status in leadership, busying the people with constant war, and lives out his life in authoritarian opulence.
Aristotle too concedes something similar. Aristotle envisioned in Politics a description of government vastly greater in flexibility that of Plato’s Republic. Government to Aristotle did not exist only on a continuum, but rather in an antithetical relationship between forms. So that each form had its corresponding corruption. Kingship vs Tyranny, Aristocracy vs Oligarchy, and Polity vs Democracy. Unlike Plato, Aristotle conceived of democracy as the most moderate of the corruptions to government. He realized that a government run by a collection of unchecked oligarchs or a king had little capacity for correction without extreme political action, and that a smaller body of people is more prone to corruption than a larger in some respects. Here we have one of the first reasoned apologies for democratic governance. The interesting in Aristotle derives not from the fact that he wrote about democracy, but rather that he did not dismiss it like his teacher, rather he recognized that it was imperfect in nature.
The Greeks tell us something about perennial problems with democracy specifically that it operates on the assumption that people have the capacity to be rational and that freedom and legitimacy could and should derive themselves from the assent of the people. The Greeks did not see the people as rational actors nor did they see freedom as a good thing, but others in times that are more contemporary would see no limit to the rationality of man or see any concern with the right to rule being vested in an implicit contract between the ruler and the ruled. Meanwhile, Plato’s devolution from democracy to tyranny would validate premonitions from thousands of years in the past.
Back in modern times democracy, the default form of government is floundering across the globe. Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and countless others all serve as emblems of the dangers of majoritarian rule and the propensity toward democratic failure. These states fail because they are established without the necessary order. The democratic impulse has superseded reality. Too often, the democracy is an infant birthed by a foreign father in the land, but set free from his pen long before he has matured enough to support himself in the world. Instead, he is carried place to place and held as a symbol of dignity and accomplishment by the father and his collective of friends long before any accomplishments themselves have been rendered. The speak of his precociousness and then watch as the child plunges headlong down a staircase with an ill-timed step.
This analogy brings us to another question. . . . Both implied by reference to the child and in reference to Plato’s ship-owner are either fit to rule? Do they have the means by which they can make effective choices? Are they culpable for their own actions? And how simply can the child and the short sighted and stupid be manipulated?
In the democratic system, immense weight is placed on the social contract and the mandate. The concept, which I hope shall be proven pernicious, that the authority to govern is not coffered through tradition, merit, appointment, arbitrary selection, committee, or any other such manner, but rather than the right to rule has its natural legitimacy embedded in the choice of the majority. Since the people, as a collective, are the ones to be governed and rule is bestowed upon them from above, in some form, they are the ones who hold the key to its legitimacy. All the power of investments and governance is maintained in a single notion, this seems of the utmost danger. James Madison recognized this early on writing in “Federalist No. 49,” Madison would not concede to Jefferson’s radical notion of a constitution subject to frequent revisions and rewrites. Jefferson proposed that constitutional disagreements and amendments could be rectified through appeal to electorate. Madison however, knew that the people's interests and desires are fleeting and fickle, prone to emotional highs and devastating lows. To Madison the assumption that the majority acts in a reasonable fashion was questionable. He suggested a nation of Platonic philosophers could govern in such a fashion; reassessing the constitution through study and dialogue before placing it before their assembly, but the people have no such ability, and by modifying the constitution whenever deemed fit the document itself would cease to be a permanent source of authority, or an object of reverence, once tainted too frequently by human hands the immutable and indissoluble character of the document would be gone. The relation between the contemporary and the past would expire and the permanent convention of the nation would die.
Democracy through its nature invites destruction, sophistry, and revolution.
How does democratic rule invite destruction? It invites destruction because without appropriate checks, we place the body of people in command of a tradition that they may have no desire to maintain. The people not seeing the direct benefit of one institution or tradition on society, and invested with the power of the legislature can easily enough destroy what they deem as arbitrary. To the conservative the failure to uncover immediate benefits in established traditions and institutions is not a failure of reason or a failure of the institution. Instead, we as people have remarkably little comprehension of the utility of structures that exist at the periphery of reason. Democracy causes destruction because it is the ultimate leveler. Its egalitarianism applied to politics and its interests consistently advance in that direction.
Carl Schmitt wrote of the way in which the state is capable of merging with society through popular sovereignty until the soft despotism leads the nation to ruin either fiscal or otherwise. Schmitt wrote after the establishment of Weimar Germany. In the Weimar assemblies, the Reichsrat was greatly weakened and could no longer check the assembly at leisure, and the Reichstag, now elected through proportional representation, became a debating hall for any interest group. In Schmitt's words, “the distinctions between state and society vanished. Schmitt wrote that many of the class and confession based parties that emerged in the interwar period were changing the nature of the state and society. Society overcame the state whenever it had the opportunity to do so, and he asserted that, “If state and society are in principle to become identical, then all social and economic problems immediately become problems of the state.” With a unified state and society, the state would by its nature seize control of the welfare, culture, and “every aspect of social life.” It was in this society (a society of unchecked democracy) that Schmitt saw the origins of totalitarianism. A soft totalitarianism, but a totalitarianism none the less.
Schmitt asserts that democracy and particularly large and complex elective assemblies with a diverse base of parties not only establishes a “total state” through appeal to all demographics, confessions and subcultures, but it also makes for pedantic and ineffective government, which has no means to legislate or act of its own will due to the broad base of support necessary to ensure a successful parliamentary majority. The parties to maintain such a majority, very regularly through coalitions, are always beholden to a diverse section of outside interests and not their own duty to govern.
I mentioned the natural tendency of democratic regimes to fall victim to the arguments of sophists and rhetoricians, and that conjecture will be extended upon the implication being that the natural state of democracy is one that provides for the circumvention of institutional control and the and the enablement of revolution at the cost of the enfeeblement of the state. The very concept of revolution being antithetical to the conservative propensity for moderation, must therefore lead to a healthy scepticism of the democratic project.
No doubt the great mass of people in any society hold the largest portion of the reserve of power, but they are naturally kept from its exercise through the interwoven bodies of authority that provide a basis for their respect and affection. It is these bodies, as resides in the monarchy, the constitution, the popular assemblies, and the courts, the family, among other webs such as the church and the enforcers of law, which place us into a position of trust with the state and allow for the allocation of certain responsibilities to those most able and fit for the task. Yet, by investing the authority of government in the reciprocation of the people we have effectively elevated the people beyond the traditional constraints and brought them into a sphere formerly reserved for a powerful and well fitted minority— the best in a society.
Through the introduction of the popular sovereignty institution and law are subject to change at the will of people and if a legislative body or any other body seeks to check this temper than it must be so that it is in immediate conflict with the public good, if we are to assess the public good on the basis of majority opinion. Hobbes recognized this acutely in Leviathan. Hobbes suggests democracy is dangerous because it establishes the mandate of the people as the means of determining legitimacy, but the mandate of the people may easily shift to popular politicians or outsiders who may undermine the political order, such as Julius Caesar. Democracy to Hobbes may to easily transfer authority from a sovereign body to a despot.
This ability to bypass the framework of institutional authority and informal obligations would not, by nature, be a great risk, if it were not for the fact that a naturally distinguished class of people with means and property beyond that of the majority is certain to develop; distinguished though these elites may be they are in no capacity equal to the power of the majority, and as Jerry Muller notes in Conservatism these elites must trust in government structure, stability and strength to maintain the by-product of their industry and heredity.  Edmund Burke was well aware of the hardship and betrayal innate in revolutionary seizures when he wrote. “When men are encouraged to go into a certain mode of life by existing laws, and protected in that mode as a lawful occupation . . . I am sure it is unjust in legislature, by an arbitrary act, to offer sudden violence. . . .To stigmatize with shame and infamy that character and those customs which before had made measure of their happiness and honour. If to this be added an expulsion from their habitations, and a confiscation of all their goods, I am not sagacious enough to discover how this despotic sport . . . can be discriminated from the rankest tyranny.”
Flowing from the capricious and demanding nature of the great body of the population begs the question of whether or not most are prepared or deserve self-government. We do not tell children to rule themselves and what other relationship does the state have to its charges than that of a parent? The nature of the bond and its execution may change, but the subordinate relationship does not, and any true child will direct its affections upward to the parent likewise. Those who stray from this formula all too often ended up with easily bypassed harm to those, which are incapable of recognizing the risk and dangers long since triumphed over by ancestral good sense and collective wisdom.
Joseph Schumpeter dedicated himself to an analysis of the gap between the theoretical conception of democracy and its empirical reality. Specifically, he took the time in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy to expose the errors of conferring too much agency upon the public. Schumpeter unlike most theorists believed that a relative lack of oversight and a degree of negligence was necessary to ensure efficient government, by those who govern best more specifically, and he asserted that despite our wishes to the contrary, the vast body of popular opinion did not find itself engaged in the political process in any meaningful way. “We all know the man . . . who says that the local administration is not his business and callously shrugs his shoulders at practices. . . . “ Likewise Schumpeter states, “ High-minded citizens . . . who preach responsibility of the individual voter . . . invariably discover the fact that this voter does not feel responsible for what the local politicians do.” He contrasts this with larger scale national elections were a coherent and significant interest group might emerge; however, these interest groups often focus directly on short-term goals and limited rationality. This short run pattern often produces corrupt leaders. But as Schumpeter says, “[O]nly the short-run promise . . . tells politically.”  Schumpeter postulates that when the people are moved to act it is often based on passion and indignation and that since these are fleeting moments often driven by emotion the general will likely be dangerous and possibly “fatal to his nation.” Schumpeter realizes that interest groups can manipulate the perceived general will and coerce the individual into false desires and indignations. This is problematic, as Schumpeter notes because any decisions made in a democracy are not like purchases in a store, you cannot try out the products and replace them at leisure, yet our political apparatus functions like commercial advertising.
This leads to my closing comments on the unconservative nature of democratic politics. By no means is the jury decided, rather, I and most other conservatives have a degree of reconciliation to democracy that must yet take place. However we can determine that there is good cause to be suspect about the primary way by which we choose our leadership and hold them accountable today; this is not because the leadership itself is truly the problem, most conservatives can reasonably assert that there is a hierarchy to rule, and a necessary one at that: John Adams, Edmund Burke, and countless other historical tories and conservatives attest to this sentiment, but rather that our democratic constitutions, untempered by the value of unelected and timeless sentiment— of monarchs and upper-chambers— are prone to rampant destructive and revolutionary impulses. Sentiments advocated by revolutionary and freedom loving individuals who see change as the barometer of success and hold no affection for the ways of the past.

More than anything else however the conservative must consider themselves a skeptic of the democratic process, because the democratic process does not concern itself with the future nor the past, but rather it places its trust in the now— at the expense of its posterity and antecedents— and this is devastating: perhaps not perceptible to all but the most sagacious, but look back at the years of change and the way they advanced inexorably toward the modern degeneracy and disunity and you will see, as have I, that devastation may occur piecemeal.  Philosopher Roger Scruton, in his book The Meaning of Conservatism, rightly asserts that democracy inherently breeches the founding principle of conservative thought, it necessarily confers choice and acts in the interests of only those who of the present generation, for they are the only ones present to vote! However, he touches on one important redeeming factor of the democratic process and one we would do well to recall in times of great hardship, and that is it provides a legitimate way to oust the worst of leaders [but does it also not allow the worst to make appeal to the people despite of institutional rejection? In a democracy, we may get rid of our rulers.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Might as Well Have Anarchy: Most People Already Live it

Lately I have realized a fundamental error in my thinking. This I believe is my frequent perception that everyone has an equal capacity for self government and delayed gratification. I operate relatively harmoniously in my daily life and am generally good at directing my own activities toward my benefit and the circumscription of my desires. However, most people of my millennial generation seem to fail in this regard, and in fact those who came before— the generation of 68 and beyond have failed as well. They remain adolescent or  even childish in terms of ability to restrict pleasure.

The notion that you may want to postpone indulgence, or that not enjoying something may be just as desirable as enjoying it in full is beyond their capacity to comprehend.

Such a distinction as is made by Peter Hitchens between happiness and pleasure reaches beyond the understanding of many of my contemporaries. The attachment to here and now leads to this confusion.

This has led me to an even greater and more terrifying speculation. . . . that our laws, and my conservatism and any other attempt to circumscribe our desires for the sake of orderly living is essentially meaningless. Why meaningless? Because the spirit that directed us toward higher aspirations and the transcendental struggle against our base natures has vanished. What good is a reintroduction of any law that attempts to circumscribe morally illicit behavior if not even the conservatives amongst us will give it countenance? What can one do with a whole generation who sees no purpose in living for tomorrow or the past and will only agitate if you were to put in place the legal conditions necessary to maintain a compact between past and present

No law would seemingly survive its total rejection of the majority. Since the 1960’s and possible earlier the population of the western world has let its love of self and love of its appetites supersede its love for each other.

The war on the inside must come first. In order to have a conservative orderly, moral, and traditional society, we first need a society which is willing to turn toward permanent things and embrace them. Until the church, the past, asceticism and aestheticism have a place in the hearts of most, attempts to rebuild an ethical nation will fail and that is a horrifying prospect.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Why Would Someone Vote Independent on October 19, 2015?

[Creative Commons 4, Courtesy of Galneweinhaw, Wikimedia Commons ]

Author: Matt Neufeld

As I was flipping through the newspaper the other day, a small advertisement caught my eye. Buried a few pages deep in the local paper was a notice informing the public that the candidates for the local (St. Albert- Edmonton) MP position for this federal election were holding a forum and question period. With how important this election is, I was baffled that this hadn’t been better advertised, and no one I knew had even heard about it. I decided it was worth going to, as I was in a predicament trying to decide which way to cast my ballot. I felt stuck voting conservative, because the other two choices like to pretend that the Canadian border runs along the western edge of Ontario. In the recent provincial election, I voted for the Wildrose Party, the best alternative for Conservatives that are just as sick as everyone else is with the Progressive Conservative Party (PC).

Attending this forum were the usual parties: Michael Cooper of the Conseravtive Party of Canada, Beatrice Ghettuba of the Liberal Party and Darlene Malayko of the New Democratic Party. The attendee I was most curious however about was the fourth; Brent Rathgeber running as an Independent (Ind). Rathgeber is the incumbent and a Best Parliamentarian award winner. Formerly of the Conservatives he grew tired of the party whips and the PMO running the show and felt he could be more effective outside of the party’s tight leash.

Each candidate started with an opening statement, which basically sounded the same as their ad campaigns that we are all getting sick of. Harper the Great, and Harper the destroyer depending on the side of the isle. Rathgeber also had some choice words about the current government, but also pointed out a perspective that hadn’t even crossed my mind before. With how close this election is in the polls, it is more than likely that the next government will be a minority (assuming all the keyboard warriors actually leave their basements and wander into a voting booth). That being said, individual voices will have more of an impact in Parliament, as one strong speaker is more likely to be able to turn a few votes his/her way, which can make all the difference with a minority in power. Having a your local candidate be able to vote for their constituents without party politics interfering is now more of an advantage than ever before. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so stuck with Conservative.

Next, they answered questions submitted from the audience and reviewed by a panel. The questions chosen were the expected hot button talking points, primarily focused on current, hot button issues. I can’t remember every question with every response, but I will highlight the questions and responses that stood out. I will refrain from quoting anything specific, because I do not remember word for word what they had said.

Starting off the heated and tense moments of the forum was a question about what each party's stance, as well as their personal opinion, was in regards to female reproductive rights. The response from Malayko (NDP) as well as Ghettuba (Liberal) were exactly what one would expect; government has no right telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. Rathgeber (Ind) responded similarly, but with a slight conservative twist. Women should absolutely have access to services such as abortions, but there needs to be some set of guidelines, and an obligation put the health and safety of the women first. And then came the conservative response. Cooper had went on to state the how accessible the PCs have made health care and glorify the Harper regime and then simply put the mic down. Someone had then shouted from the crowd that he hadn’t answered the question, so he picked the mic back up, repeated the PC party line statement on abortion and then put it back down, which angered the majority of the audience. A conservative avoiding questions and deflecting, what a surprise . . . [Note this is not unusual. Often conservative candidates are coached extensively and instructed not to stray from talking points less they face disciplinary action]

Another key question was would the elected party amend or support all the conditions of the newly signed TPP trade deal (Trans-Pacific Partnership). I was disappointed with the response from both the NDP and the Conservatives, who both simply put said “Its great!” Ghettuba and Rathgeber both responded with a bit more thought, pointing out that the PC government agreed to it before it has even been completely written, so we can’t really say if it is going to be a good deal or not. Experience as a politician truly showed from Rathgeber at this point, as well as critical thinking from Ghettuba.

And finally the question everyone was waiting for, the Niqab. With a struggling economy, an addiction to oil revenue and a plethora of international issues, this has somehow become this elections key debate. The Liberal candidate, being an immigrant herself, responded that accepting every Canadian as a Canadian is key, and that diversity makes our country stronger. Malayko (NDP) stated that the government has no place telling people how to dress, and this was a non-issue. Rathgeber believes the government should be focusing on more important issues and stop wasting taxpayer money appealing this case. Now, all that Cooper had to do here was give a blanket statement and walk away from this unscathed. But no. His response was exactly what everyone expected. He effectively called muslims medieval and barbaric people who need to assimilate. He may as well have been tuning a banjo , telling everyone to grab their best pitchfork and some torches. Conservatives continue to not know when to shut up, and when to play nice; but at least we know exactly what they are thinking.

All in all I am very glad that I attended this event. I was disappointed that I was one of possibly ten people in attendance under the age of thirty-five, but I suppose that shows who will actually be making an informed decision while voting. I encourage everyone to learn more about the actual candidate on the ballot, and not just the Party leader who more than likely has never even heard of your town or city. After witnessing the Conservative Candidate first hand, there is absolutely no way that he is getting my vote. While the Liberal and NDP candidates seemed like genuine, authentic people, their inexperience showed several times (Maybe they are just not ready?) My vote will in all likeliness be going to Brent Rathgeber, an independent who has no party line to walk, no blanket statements on party beliefs, and with that can be an actual voice for this community instead of just another cog in an oversized political machine.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Mohammed, Outrage and Pride in the West

I recently watched the official video of the much alluded to conference in Denmark on the [I believe] fifth anniversary of the publishing of the Danish Mohammed cartoons, later only published in Canada by brave Ezra Levant, the event sponsored by the Danish Ministry of Culture and put on by Free Press Society of Denmark, was muted, but proud. Two very captivating and powerful speeches took place: one by Canada’s own Mark Steyn who despite the occasional wacky opinion is a powerful advocate for western confidence, strength, and identity in the face of those who would seek to erase it and Douglas Murray the venerable and sagacious operator of the Henry Jackson Society, and one of the most powerful unabashed and intellectual voices of Europe; Douglas, has been know to address the anger at immigration in Britain and elsewhere, why, because he knows, like Enoch Powell knew, that if you do not address the issue someone else will.

I am going to post the videos and the Mohammed cartoons, from Jyllands Post and Charlie Hebdo, because they need to be posted, in solidarity, and in the spirit of sharing the danger; Ayaan Hirsi Ali and countless others called for the publication of the cartoons in every western media outlet to no avail.

And to anyone who has the time or care to watch them they may also indulge in two of the most soulful and powerful laments for a culture that no longer loves itself or even knows what it itself is.

Any thoughts? Comments? I'd love to hear them.