The sacrifice of idealism

FTLComm - Winnipeg - Tuesday, June 15, 2004
It was a shock to me in the fall of 1962 when I join the Young Progressive Conservatives at the Regina Campus. In the student election we won easily as the standing of John Diefenbaker at the time was still very high among the young people in the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus. When it came to holding mock parliament, we did not have enough members to fill the empty seats we had won. Many "Young Liberals" were invited and readily did fill those seats as Progressive Conservatives. At the time I thought that was so convenient that their political beliefs were so shallow that they could carry this off and I was even more surprised at the old guys in the Young Conservative organisation who thought this was the way things should be. Keep in mind that I was seventeen at the time and for me it was a much simpler world.

Later many of those adopted Liberals were the ones at the core of the dump Diefenbaker movement that developed with in the Progressive Conservative Party.

You will have heard that in war the truth is the first casualty, in politics it is idealism.

In less than two weeks Canadian voters will go to the polls and they will be faced with what is being called
"strategic voting". Unable to support the Liberals because of the leadership corrupting the riding nomination process, or justly unhappy that the sponsorship scandal only sent money to Quebec companies, those voters will have to find some one else to vote for.

Similarly, Progressive Conservatives who have seen their party high jacked by a traitor (Peter McKay) in all but fifteen ridings have no one to vote for.

The third form of strategic voting will be experienced by NDP supporters who realise that if they support their candidate they will be electing a Conservative, many will choose to vote for a Liberal just to prevent the unthinkable, Harper's anti-confederation, anti-Supreme Court, anti-Charter of Rights rabble of red necks and bigots grabing hold of the government of Canada.
So that is the first form of sacrificing idealism, the voter having to make compromises with a limited set of political alternatives on the ballot.

But late on the night of June 28th another kind of idealism will be driven over the cliff. The various polls conducted up to now are showing the possibility of a minority government being formed. That is not a new problem in Canada and has had some pretty good affects in the past, but this time around, the idealism is definitely going to be the victim. The two alternatives are a Conservative/Harper minority that would be propped up by the Quebec Separatist Bloc party. In this scenario there is a good deal of agreement as Harper's roots and those of his close advisors, was as an Alberta Separatist, the code word here being
"firewall." It makes sense that his party, which has no formal policies as it has never had a national policy convention, and those of separatists in Quebec, should have a lot in common. The second alternative is the Liberal/Martin party winning a minority and obtaining House support from the rejuvenated NDP. This has occurred several times in the past with enormous success for the country.

First let's deal with the Liberal/NDP informal coalition. This arrangement has positive possibilities because of the money. Martin is committed to maintaining a balanced budget almost to the point of being obsessive about the issue and the history of the NDP as provincial governments is that they have traditionally taken good care of their finances, leaving their successors with surpluses, which they quickly destroyed and went into massive debt.

The Harper/Boc combination is weakest where the Liberal/NDP grouping is the strongest and that is with money. Harper claims the mantel and has received the blessing of Brian Mulroney, the last conservative in power, who was able to out borrow and out spend almost every government in history, forcing the serious belt tightening and social programme reductions that came from the Liberals in their years in office. Provincially conservatives have tended to live debt, while preaching responsible management of money, the most blatant example is Alberta, Harper's spiritual home, which in recent years, even with Arab levels of income from resources, has been barely able to finance provincial programmes.

But there are other issues other than money. In particular the scandals that the Liberals seemed to have taken great pains to contrive. It is important to realise that these scandals, though a shameful waste of public money, really are small stuff in the greater scheme of things. Even the wastage of money in the gun registration programme is not even close to the kind of black whole projects the Mulroney Conservatives concocted, dumping billions into
"Friendly" businesses. It is the nature of bureaucracy to waste money and that is the primary problem our country has with medicare.

So what? Good question, what are we to do? Vote with our hearts, or with our minds? Is strategic voting the real hidden agenda in this election? Well, the answer is up to you. The belief we have in democracy, the belief we have in our own values, will play a part, the only part and each voter will have to make their own decision.

I know that many people are taking their religion and placing that before them as a guide as to what to do. That is a worry to me, because organised religion is the least intellectual part of human life and to think that people might project their religious convictions is down right dangerous to us all. Human rights and freedoms are based on the freedom of religion and yet most religions are totally unaccepting of the religious convictions of others. The simpler the religion, the more intolerant. Islam is the simplest of all organised religions and tops the list with its acceptance of murder of non-believers. But on the flip side the fundamentalist Christians are the basis for the Klu Klux Klan and it is they who advocate the limitation and imposition of their views on all others. Even the Roman Catholic Church is directly opposed to religious freedom having historically killed thousands to prevent their souls from being lost to religious belief that opposed the church.

So fellow Canadians, may you set your religious views aside and think of the basic rights of all your fellow citizens. In any event, discuss your options, but in this country the
"secret ballot" prevails and you have the right to vote, and the right to vote how you choose without interference from anyone.

Timothy W. Shire


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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