|FTLComm - Tisdale - Monday, June 2, 2003|
|During the long hours of working through the Progressive
Conservative leadership convention in Toronto Saturday the various experts
and television commentators, professional and otherwise, had a huge amount of time
to fill and if you were watching, or listening on the radio, you were able to witness
the kind of thing that your high school teachers and college professors warned you
about. Ultimately, the responsibility for critical thought is your own, but I found
it extremely disturbing to see and hear a world being described, devoid of historical
context, or political reality. The purpose here is to help to define, in some small
way, the concepts that seemed to completely pass several thousand feet over the heads
of those who should know better.
We first have to set the stage for this past weekend's adventure story. After the Progressive Conservative party under the leadership of Brian Mulroney nearly bankrupt the country and established a structure that would guarantee economic union with the United States, was tossed out of office, almost completely whipping out the party. Kim Campbell and the new premier of Quebec (now a Liberal), did as best as they could with a hopeless situation, Joe Clark came out of retirement and tried to reorganise the party. Most of the support and money that had once been claimed by the Progressive Conservatives was in the hands of the Alberta Separatist party also known as the Canadian Alliance. When their leadership was in question, many Alliance members formed a loose coalition with the Conservatives, but when Stephen Harper was elected leader, they returned to their rightful place and Joe Clark made a startling discover.
Canadian voters, especially those who matter (live in Ontario or Quebec) found the policies of the Canadian Alliance unacceptable. Clark also discovered that if he did not move the party toward the things Canadians wanted from government, he would preside over the extinction of Canada's oldest political organisation.
When Mr. Clark began to take action and make the sounds that would increase the party's support with voters, several Progressive Conservatives (who like to call themselves "real conservatives" which essentially means they worship the late great Dalton Camp) became extremely uneasy. Scott Brisson was one of the first to call for a replacement of the party's leadership. Joe Clark considered things and decided he had had quite enough and said he was quitting. Of those who would enter the leadership race to succeed Joe Clark, only one candidate was loyal and opposed the resignation of Joe Clark and that was David Orchard from Saskatchewan. Orchard is the fellow that Joe Clark had defeated to gain the leadership of the party and had referred to David as a "tourist" in the party.
It should be painful obvious to everyone that when it comes to politics and religion there are really only two kinds of people, those with faith and those with intellect. Those with faith adopt the concepts that they "believe" will bring them salvation and they follow that creed blindly. All spectrums of political thought have these folks and they are all capable of creating chaos and destruction, since they worship a gospel and most often ignore reality. Brian Mulroney was such a leader, as is George Bush along with Benito Mussolini and Lenin.
But successful leaders are smart enough not to get trapped in ideology. Take a look at some of those who were flexible and you begin to realise that if you ignore tractors and the weather you are a programme running on an obsolete computer. Winston Churchill, Franklin Delenor Roosevelt, MacKenzie King, Stalin and Mao Tse Tung all were able to achieve incredible success by using one simple tool, compromise. I realise many would not include Stalin and Mao on such a list, but neither could ever have been successfully accused of following the dictates of communism, they were incredible pragmatists.
The longer you live, the more likely you are to discover that how things are achieved, is much less important, than deciding what it is that must be the ultimate goal of action. Once you set about a goal, one that is worthy of pursuit, there are many paths to its success. Each of the political figures on this page did what they set out to do and did so using entirely different methods. Each recognised what the people wanted and then did all that they could to get as close to that goal as they possible.
John Diefenbaker, Tommy Douglas and Ross Thatcher were all in parliament at the same time. John was a Conservative, Tommy and Ross were CCF. All three were voted for by the same voters who would make John a prime minister, Tommy a "socialist" CCF premier, and Ross crossed the floor to be come a Liberal and succeeded Tommy as premier of the province.
John had the goal of making Canada "one country" and there were to be no "hyphenated Canadians". He did that by getting one of the largest majorities ever and stood up to the Americans, asserting that Canada was a place of its own. During his leadership of the country the economic conditions in Canada were the most favourable in its history, with the Canadian dollar eclipsing the American currency.
Tommy Douglas establish medicare not only in Saskatchewan, but Pierre Trudeau would take it and make it a national policy of all Canada.
Ross Thatcher's achievements were more subtle, but impressive, as he flattened out the ideological excesses of Douglas' regime and turned Saskatchewan political goals to some simple practical stuff, like planting trees along number one highway from Regina to Moose Jaw. Not earth shattering, but a worthwhile achievement.
What you must come to accept is that the same folks voted for Tommy Douglas or Ross Thatcher in a provincial election then went to the polls and voted for Diefenbaker and his Progressive Conservative candidates in the federal election. This process went on for decade after decade.
Each of these politicians were not hung up about a specific way of doing things, but set goals that their voters shared and as populist individuals did what had to be done.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau and John Diefenbaker were both aiming for exactly the same goals, both wanted to unite the country, both wanted to reform the laws of the land and both wanted what Pierre would describe as a "just" society. The difference was that Trudeau was far more skilled than Diefenbaker and as a Liberal with support from everyone, did not have the minute by minute struggle Diefenbaker had to cope with, because his party was actively fighting to defeat him from the day he ran for office. They called him a maverick, a renegade and a 'red' Tory. Members of his party executive coast to coast worked harder to do him in than did Lester Pearson and the Liberals of the day. Diefenbaker even had to contend with the United States government providing financial support to defeat him.
John wanted a Canadian bill of rights and was able to create it but because he did not have it frozen into the constitution it was almost a worthless effort. Trudeau wanted the same thing but was able to redo confederation so that a Charter of Rights would be at the base of the Canadian constitution. He had learned that lesson from Diefenbaker's failure.
What about Roy Romanow? Absolutely brilliant man, with a long career in politics, it just happened that the successful party in Saskatchewan was NDP so Mr. Romanow was NDP but a true and true populist. Never concerned about ideology and dedicated to the projects at hand.
David Orchard has never once wavered from his realisation that Canadians and the Canadian voter have some things that they hold as important. His book is a documentation of what Canadians want and when he went to Toronto this past weekend, over 640 delegates were with him 100% sharing those same goals. Orchard is a populist, he is also a Diefenbakerite, a practical man and a farmer.
On this page are images of agriculture. You can not successfully farm from a textbook, or a menu of specified constraining strategies. A successful farmer is adaptable, his goals are clear and he does what has to be done to get to those goals. Pragmatism is the key, just as adaptability is essential.
When it was clear that the followers of "the real conservatives" Brisson and Calgary lawyer Prentice would not move to support Orchard, he made a deal with an equally practical maritime politician. The back scratching began as Peter MacKay and David Orchard put in a written agreement what their deal was and Canada is a better place because of it.
The government party of Canada, has for almost all of its history, been the Liberal party, largely centred in Quebec and almost always during the past
forty years lead by people from Quebec, including its next leader. This party has followed one simple plan, what the people want is what the party wants. MacKenzie King and Jean Chretien have been astute people, almost always knowing what the voter wants before they realise it themselves. Rarely concerned about any ideology and elected time after time after time.
When the war ended Tommy Douglas was back in Saskatchewan as the new premier of the province and John, Ross and Hazen Argue were in Ottawa. Notice in this list the party affiliation of each of these elected members in 1945. Then in the list below, the year that John Diefenbaker swept the
country and good old Hazen Argue who was the only CCF member in Saskatchewan. Same voters, but they practically chose to vote for the party that was heading in the direction they wanted to go. They were rewarded as Alvin Hamilton became the grain salesman of all salesman and there was prosperity in Saskatchewan. Canada had a strong military force at the time and refused to join the United States in its losing adventure in Southeast Asia.
It is funny that the only CCF member in 58 was good old Hazen Argue. I remember Roy Bailey in 1966 outraged at the man because he opportunistically accepted an
offer he couldn't refuse to become a Liberal.
Mr. Bailey at the time was a super Progressive Conservative and today sits as a member of the Canadian Alliance. But back then, Roy's twin brother was an ardent CCF supporter and then in 1971 brother Rae ran just as committed as a provincial Progressive Conservative.
The only thing that trees believe in is sunshine, rain and dirt. They do not care if they grow together or struggle standing alone, for them life is all that matters.
Below, one of Gray's (from Alysham) harvesting units is heading through Tisdale (last week) on their way to start this year's harvest in Texas. They, no doubt, believe in "free trade" and so does Brian Mulroney who brought it into being and David
|Orchard who can show conclusively that it is lowering
the standard of living in Canada.
To get the the needed support to become leader of the party Peter MacKay had to agree in writing to review the terms of the Free Trade agreement. As he explained it to everyone one more time, he said it has been in place for fifteen years and its time to check it out and make sure it is doing what it was intended to do. It is unlikely that anyone in Canada would object to Free Trade, including David Orchard if it was indeed Free Trade, but as we can see, it is nothing close to what it claims to be. One cattle farmer told me Saturday that he thought that the BSE (Mad Cow) affair was merely an excuse for American agricultural protectionism.
Now should you be a television or radio commentator, skim over this page one more time and notice the connection between success and pragmatism. Notice that being a "real conservative" or "real socialist" is just another name for failure. Canadians know what they want and for the first time in a really long time there is a viable alternative to the Liberal party. Not because the Conservatives have moved to the centre, but because the Conservatives have looked at practical popular views held by the voter and decided that maybe, just maybe democracy might work.
Peter MacKay has demonstrated what Canadians want and what they admire most in those people who work for them, flexibility and willingness to listen and seek alternatives. He may lose a vote or two among those people who were Canadian Alliance fringe folks like Brisson and Prentice but for the first time since 1957 there are two political parties interested in the interests of Canadian people. But even more than that, the Canadian voter in the next federal election will not only be able to consider Liberal and Conservative candidates but the New Democratic Party has widened its stance and also is offering the voter ways and means of looking at things that they want.
The Liberal party has always been able to get support from every one, not because of what they believe but because of what they do. The Chretien government fiddles with money a bit, but Canada is much better off then when Mulroney was spending much more money than can be expected to be raised in several decades.
Peter MacKay will now be able to approach the same voters, coast to coast who may have voted Liberal and offer them an alternative, maritime graft instead of Quebec graft. I just couldn't resist that one, for clearly MacKay is going to have to be Mr. Clean so as not to taint himself as a back room deal maker. The great thing about his deal with Orchard is that it was not a secret, up front, out there, here's the deal we made and I'm sticking to it.
If the new Progressive Conservative party adopts even some of the Orchard attitude and a few of its policies both Paul Martin and Jack Layton will find voters looking at the candidates in their ridings very careful and 1957 in 2005 might just be a possibility.
Now that will put a bunch of believers in a twist. There are many who "believe" that minority governments are bad, but historical fact does not support that concept, as democracy is at its best when voters are involved, politicians have issues to standup for, and practical popular deals can be made, something for everyone.