In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Picking the correct objectives

Posted 12/18/2012 by Grant Mitchell


On Thursday evening as I sat in the Senate during the debate on the omnibus budget bill, Bill C-45, I began to consider a number of puzzling questions about the Conservative government. And, I began to wonder whether there is a common answer to these varied questions:

1. Why is it that the Conservatives provide literally no national leadership?

There is no national economic strategy; no national energy strategy; no national health care strategy; no national suicide prevention strategy; and no national climate change strategy. The Prime Minister does not bring the Premiers together to discuss these and any number of other issues that require national leadership.

2. Why is it that the Conservatives so diminish democracy?

The most recent evidence of this is yet another omnibus bill, but there is so much other evidence, including: misuse of prorogation; failure to report clearly on the F35’s cost; an inordinate use of in camera committee sessions, an almost complete -unwillingness to accept any amendments to their legislation; as well as countless other examples of breakdown in accountability.

3. Why is it that they seem incapable of balancing the budget?

4. Why is it that they array themselves so frequently against Canadians?

Why do they attack environmentalists? Why did they refuse to call MS patients before the Senate committee reviewing the new treatment for  the condition of MS? Why do they criticize charities for their involvement in public policy debate?

The common answer to these questions is this: because this Conservative government has focused on the wrong objective, an objective that distracts them from what should be their real objective. They focus on only the objective of reducing government instead of the objective of making Canada, and the lives of Canadians, better.

Great leadership is based upon, among other things, picking the correct objectives and inspiring people to achieve them. If you pick the wrong objective, you will get the wrong result.

This right wing Conservative government is driven by an ideology that, at its root, dislikes and disregards government.  There are obviously times in which the reduction of government - that is a more efficient government - can and does benefit Canada and Canadians. However, while a more efficient government will always, by definition, be a focus of good government, it is not immediately obvious that the idea can be applied indiscriminately.

Where has this right wing ideology ever really worked to make a better society? It simply doesn't work.

In the context of the failure to set the correct objective, that of making Canada better, the common answer to the four questions emerges:

1. There is no real national leadership because national leadership would extend the reach of government.

2. Democracy is diminished because the Parliamentary process that defends, defines, and supports it is clearly a part of government.

3. The Conservatives seem incapable of balancing budgets because, hating government as they  do means that they do not understand it, do not know how to manage it, and do not listen to their public servants who by and large can be very helpful in managing it.

4. They array themselves against so many Canadians because so often Canadians have the expectation and the understanding that government can and should assist them.

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