In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Conservative Disrespect for the Institutions of Government

Posted 8/20/2008 by Grant Mitchell


The “Theory of Everything” that explains most of what the Conservatives do or don’t do lies in their ideological belief that government really should not do much more than build the military and put people in jail. (Isn’t it interesting that in spite of their talk, they actually are spending less on the military as a percentage of GDP than the Trudeau Liberal governments and while the tobacco companies have been fined for smuggling cigarettes not a single senior company official has been charged let alone subjected to a mandatory minimum sentence).

You know that this is more than theory when you count the ways in which they have diminished government:

·      Cuts to all kinds of groups, like women’s groups, that disagree with the Conservatives’ right wing agenda.

·      Cuts to culture and arts funding. (Some insightful letter to the editor writer made the point that this amounts to the sporting equivalent needed for bringing our athletes home from Bejing.)

·       Offloading to the provinces and erosion of the federal prerogative.

·       An almost criminal neglect of foreign relations, except those that are most acceptable to the Bush government. The recent and most blatant is the failure of the Prime Minister to go to the Olympics where almost all major world leaders were seen to be. Imagine the possibilities for a motivated Prime Minister to sell Canada, sell Canadian business expertise and export possibilities.

·       The failure to provide the leadership required to catalyze Canadian action on climate change. It is as though they are saying “If people want to fix climate change, then people will fix it”; which is a lot like saying “If people want to win the Second World War then people will win it”. But, then again, Conservative leadership is the ultimate oxymoron.

·       Even more, the complete lack of significant environmental policy because they hate government and they think environmental policy is synonymous with regulation. Subjecting yourself to regulation is worse than subjecting your children to an uninhabitable planet.

·       Profound lack of leadership on the economy.

·       It is not a coincidence that this year already we have had two months of federal government deficits. One wonders if they think someone other than them should take care of this because they do not actually see that it is their responsibility to avoid this.

·       Their failure to anticipate the nuclear isotope problem because it would seem that they just cannot get that in fact government does have the power and responsibility to deal with things like this, anticipate them before they happen and take action.

·       People think that the Conservatives completely disrespect the Senate and they do. But they also disrespect most of the other institutions of government. They are systematically undermining committees in both houses (they even have a manual on how to do that). They do not allow their ministers to answer questions, delegating that almost exclusively to the House Leader. They fight every officer of Parliament it seems, most recently Mayrand, the Electoral Officer.

Prime Minister Harper once said that after he has been Prime Minister, you will not recognize this country. This may be one of the promises he is actually keeping.


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