Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Well, So Much for That...

Star readers snuff out the light at the end of the tunnel

Conservative Toronto Star watchers were probably positively dumbfounded by this op/ed piece, written by Tony Gizzie, which appeared in the flagrantly anti-conservative paper yesterday:

"In the current U.S. presidential race, Canadians overwhelmingly support the Democratic party over the Republicans by a ratio of four to one.

It is no surprise that Canadians feel this way. One reason may be the negative perception of the Bush administration. Another may be that for the first time the Democratic candidate will be either a woman or an African-American.

But look at one Democrat-versus-Republican issue that relates to Canada – trade. The Democrats are protectionist and anti-free trade. The Republicans tend to be free traders.

Based on their comments, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would love to renegotiate the current Free Trade Agreement to get a better deal for their country. They know it's about jobs, American jobs. So obviously a Democratic administration backed by a Democratic Congress would be bad news for Canadian exporters.

But beyond any specific issue, support for Democrats or Republicans is more than a choice between political parties; it is a choice of political inclinations.

In Canada, as in the States, the divide between left and right continues to grow. I find this fascinating. Why are those on the left so sensitive when their support for politically correct, humanistic, big government is questioned?

If I tell someone I respect George W. Bush's actions in Iraq, I must be prepared to be called a redneck, bigoted, fundamentalist Christian. Now, I'm a Christian, but I'm far from a redneck bigot.

Why are Canadians so fearful of the right? Since when are fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and less government in our lives bad things? One could argue that the times when government stepped in to control the economy, such as Pierre Trudeau's wage and price controls of the mid-1970s, the results were disastrous.

If I had a choice between tax-and-spend policies that tend to run up deficits, versus greater accountability on how our tax dollars are spent and a balanced budget, I would gladly take the latter.

The current opposition parties also are to blame for this negative perception of the right. They continue to demonize our Prime Minister because he is a real small-c "conservative."

No doubt, the next federal election campaign will see the opposition rise up to rant about Stephen Harper's fanaticism, his hidden agenda and his contempt for the parliamentary process. Harper may be a lot of things but a reactionary fundamentalist he is not.

I don't believe the Toronto electorate gives the right a fair shake. This is short-sighted and unfortunate. Toronto proudly votes for the Grits in every federal election and the citizens then wonder why a former card-carrying NDP member, Mayor David Miller, can't get his 1 per cent of the GST.

We in the GTA should begin to see conservative politicians in a positive light. To have the federal Liberals run the show indefinitely is not healthy for the state of democracy.

Yes, Paul Martin did a great job as finance minister, but he served in a period of economic boom and prosperity, and he enacted fiscally responsible and, dare I say, conservative measures, which were to reduce the debt and ease our tax burden. He would have been a good fit in Stephen Harper's cabinet.

Conservatives believe that Canadians are intelligent enough to do the right thing for themselves. They do not need to be taxed at a punitive level. They should ask themselves who can better spend their hard-earned money, an Ottawa bureaucrat, or themselves?

Socialist policies are expensive and they restrict the economy. Besides, the only Marx that was ever worth paying attention to was Groucho.

Some may have thought the column in question was was essentially a light at the end of the tunnel, a ray of hope that the Conservative party just might find some positive press coverage in Canada's alleged centre of the universe outside of the Toronto Sun.

Today, they're probably wondering who turned out the lights, as the readership of the Star has apparently struck back, starting with Adam Quinan:

"Tony Gizzie's defence of right-wing governments made this astonishing statement: "If I had a choice between tax-and-spend policies that tend to run up deficits, versus greater accountability on how our tax dollars are spent and a balanced budget, I would gladly take the latter." By that reasoning, he should oppose the Conservatives and Republicans and support the Liberals and Democrats.

It was a Liberal government under Jean Chr├ętien that set Canada's finances straight after the debt ballooned. When he was U.S. president, Democrat Bill Clinton brought the deficit under control and created the greatest surplus the country ever had. It is President George W. Bush who squandered that legacy, and it is Prime Minister Stephen Harper who is being warned that his policies are leading Canada back into deficits.

The great myth of the right is that it is prudent with public finances, but the right is as profligate as any other ideology, and less likely than parties of the left to actually try and control public finances.
It's a cute theory, and in regards to the Republicans, certainly true.

Yet he seems to overlook the fact that then-Liberal Finance Minister Paul Martin only moved to decisively eliminate the deficit after a number of scathing op/ed articles by writers such as Andrew Coyne about that very same subject. Furthermore, mr Quinan seems to be forgetting the extreme wastefulness of Liberal expenditure of Canadian tax funds following this decisive wrangling of the deficit, particularly Jane Stewart's billion dollar HRDC boondoggle.

If Canadian conservatives proved any less responsible with taxpayer funds, one would be willing to grant Quinan a point.

Up next, Daniel Heisler has a rather predictable bone to pick:

"Brian Mulroney ran up the biggest debt in Canadian history. Ronald Reagan spent billions on Star Wars, while cutting the taxes he needed to pay for it. Ditto George W. Bush. The war in Iraq has cost Americans billions of dollars and, along with cuts in taxes, run up the biggest debt and deficit in U.S. history.

Bush lied to get his war in Iraq. Remember weapons of mass destruction and the link to Osama bin Laden? And Reagan either knew about Iran-Contra or was too dumb to read his own briefing papers.

Mike Harris sold valuable assets to get his tax cuts. Highway 407 could be offsetting Ontario's debt today. He was also less than candid about Ipperwash. Stephen Harper has given us a GST cut that we barely notice, with no measurable economic value, and has cost the treasury billions when the country's infrastructure is falling apart.

And, oh yeah, there's Watergate.

Why fear the right? Intelligent self-interest.
Funny that in response to an article that doesn't even mention Iraq -- or even George W Bush -- that Heilser would find it so necessary to beat that particular dead horse.

And certainly, Brian Mulroney did double the national debt. But he did that by continuing to expend Trudeau-level funding on public services during a time of economic recession and (if you ask the NDP) high interest rates.

And if Heisler wants to parade out the tired old litany of Republican abuses of American politics, John Diefenbaker, if he were still alive, could probably educate him all about the "indiscretions" of Liberal James Gardiner who, during prohibition, was known to plant whiskey bottles on his opponents then call the Mounties.

Then, there's John Gulland:

"I'll tell Tony Gizzie what's so scary about the right. Its policies don't work in the long run and it uses poisonous tactics to dupe a gullible public into supporting them. Gizzie asks, "Since when are fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and less government in our lives bad things?" They are bad when these oft-repeated phrases are code for the starvation of public services, tax cuts for the wealthy and support of creeping corporate dominance.

Right-wing politicians lack any awareness of how to build a healthy society, much less a great nation. They base success entirely on the rate of economic growth, which is a faulty measure of progress and virtually assures the continued destruction of the environment.

Yes, the right is scary, but what is more scary is its success in convincing voters that a couple of hundred dollars in tax cuts that can be spent at the local big-box store is the way to achieve a better life.
One wonders if mr Gulland understand that, a scant 10 years ago, many global observers were wondering if Canada would survive the '90s on account of the debt accrued building the "great nation" that individuals like Gulland envisioned.

One wonders if mr Gulland remembers that, consistently over the past several decades, the Liberal party has continually opposed any efforts to end corporate welfare in Canada while ratcheting individual income tax rates to a level that rivals nearly anywhere in the world?

Probably not. Neither, apparently, does Steve Andrews:

"Simply stated, those on the right put profits ahead of people. The "lower taxes and less government" that Tony Gizzie attributes to the right disproportionately benefit corporations and well-off individuals, while the cost of tax cuts is the reduction of services that benefit and protect everyone – services like food inspection, education, health care and policing. And, as the Walkerton tragedy so clearly illustrated, service cuts can kill.

Why do we fear the right? Because the society it envisions would be less equal, less just and less safe.
Of course, this all depends upon how one defines things such as "just" and (most importantly) "safe".

The fact is that Liberal criminal justice policies undermined justice in Canada for decades, particularly in the decades following Pierre Trudeau's reign. Furthermore, the most recent omnibus bill introduced by the Conservatives would actually make Canadians safer by putting dangerous offenders behind bars -- where they belong.

Too bad the Liberal-dominated senate has yet to vote on it.

Perhaps most disturbing thing about today's burst of letters is the seeming lack of tolerance for any other view point within the pages of the "hallowed" Toronto Star.

One thing that we can be certain of is that the letters printed were likely only the least vitriolic of those recieved, even if they are laden with the same old predictable rhetoric as always.

Conservatives in Toronto may be waiting a long time yet for that light at the end of the tunnel. Even so, that the Star would print the column at all suggests that things there are at least moving in a better direction.


  1. If I tell someone I respect George W. Bush's actions in Iraq, I must be prepared to be called a redneck, bigoted, fundamentalist Christian. Now, I'm a Christian, but I'm far from a redneck bigot.

    Iraq is provably a war crime. Former Aussie PM John Howard is being prosecuted by some of Australia's best legal minds -- even leading politicians from his own party. Bush, Howard and Blair are all serious war criminals just like the murderers we hanged at the end of WW2. There is no difference between illegally invading a country and murdering strangers in the street. The conceit of "good intentions" (especially manufactured ones) was never an adequate legal or moral cover for this kind of criminality. If you really believe that Bush went into Iraq for noble reasons then you're an idiot.

    And there are now 3 independant studies assessing a million Iraqi civilians dead. I guess you could dispute them, but the US doesn't do civilian body counts so they have no credibility and the methodologies have been used succesfully in other war zones.

    Why are Canadians so fearful of the right? Since when are fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and less government in our lives bad things?

    I am not trying to be rude but this is total rubbish. Unfettered market deregulation and tax breaks for the wealthy destroy good economies. The Bush government has blown the US budget to smithereens and Reagan screwed the economy when he was in office. The GOP is a total economic menace. They were behind Enron, the Savings and Loans debacle, HUD and now their refusal to exercise adequate regulatory oversight has brought us the subprime meltdown which will bring the global economy to its knees. Yet these are the guys who rave on about "fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and less government".

    You want to know where Bush's loyalties lie? ... here.

    There's nothing wrong with being a Christian. But being gullible about criminal politicians is inexcusable.

  2. But look at one Democrat-versus-Republican issue that relates to Canada – trade. The Democrats are protectionist and anti-free trade. The Republicans tend to be free traders.

    -- The Republicans are job exporters and they practice "free trade" only when there's a buck in it for them (remember the ban on importing drugs from Canada just to keep up the profits for big pharma.)

    The US Republican Party is a crime syndicate. Everything from Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay through to the stolen Presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 (also here).

    Their so-called "conservative" economic and social principles are just talking points. They're Jacobins committed to screwing everything and everybody if it will serve the super rich -- so they spout "free market" nonsense that is neither true the way they pursue it nor useful. The Reagan economy never equaled the Carter economy. The US job creation rate under Reagan never equaled that of Jimmy Carter.

    In Canada, as in the States, the divide between left and right continues to grow. I find this fascinating. Why are those on the left so sensitive when their support for politically correct, humanistic, big government is questioned?

    Because they prefer a "big government" public health system that is cheaper and better than the fraudulent US private system. I guess they have some mindless objections to home surgery...

    The only "politically correct, humanistic, big government" being practiced anywhere these days is corporate welfare. If you can wean yourself off that and put some more government cash towards single mums you'll do just fine.

  3. WOW. As I much as I also disapprove of the war in Iraq -- wrong battle to right, shaky pretext -- comparing George W Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard to Himmler is an extreme contortion of the facts.

    When American, British and Australian troops in Iraq start gassing and incinerating Iraqis, maybe then you'll be in business.

    As for Free Trade, there certainly is a case to be made against the practice of free trade.

    Various mercantilist principles have wormed their way into the practice of free trade policy (no pure free trader would be concerned about a "trade deficit"), and I agree that the Americans have shown a disturbing tendency to not abide by the terms of NAFTA, even when ruled against in varying trade courts.

    It may eventually lead to a forced abrogation of NAFTA. What good is the agreement if those party to it won't abide by it?

    But as for the Republicans as a crime syndicate: one again, sheesh. Certainly, the Republican party had more than its fair share of bad apples in it. By the same token, so have the Democrats. In fact, a number of Democrats have been linked to Jack Abramoff as well. Should that qualify the Democrats as a crime syndicate as well?

  4. Read the links! They stole BOTH Presidential elections and Ohio in 2006. They endorsed the activities of Enron and punished the lawyers who prosecuted Ken Lay. Read about James Baker's connections to the S&L scandals. Former US attorney general Alberto Gonzales fired federal prosecutors for refusing to bring politically based criminal charges against Democratic Party candidates. Republican Party loyalty has been the basis of a swag of hard Right judicial appointments. Don Siegelman, Democratic governor of Alabama from 1999 to 2003 had 32 fraudulent counts of bribery charges brought against and was given seven years in jail. He's entirely innocent. Evidence points to former Bush adviser, Karl Rove, as the instigator of the charges. A Republican Party whistle blower who spoke out about it had her home burgled in search of documents and she was run down in the street. There are a number of similar disturbing incidents along these lines concerning GOP political opponents.

    George Bush Snr used an obscure 1872 law to sell valuable mining land to his pals at $5 an acre. Georgie Jnr just recently used the same law. His little gift to Bush "Pioneers" who had anted up $100,000 to his electoral campaigns was $155 million worth of federal land. What can you say? It's like a bank robbery in broad daylight.

    And then there's the tax breaks to, mostly, the upper 1% of America, with the lie that no reputable economist supports: "Reduced taxes for some mean a bigger national tax take overall." And don't forget the massive fraudulent business contracts for Iraq.

    While we're at it, Bush is also a murderer. In his 2003 State of the Union Address he said that over 3000 "suspected" al Qaeda operatives had been killed outside the rule of any law - "they are no longer a problem for our friends and allies". "Suspects" murdered. No trials, no apology, nothing.

    Bush is prepared to murder innocent civilans quite knowingly and especially his critics. In the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan Al Jazeera's Kabul office was bombed by an American 'smart bomb' in what was officially described as an accident. Journalist Ron Suskind spoke to US military sources who confirmed, however, that the bombing was deliberate, to "send a message" to the media organisation and that the order had come from the White House.

    In a further incident in April 2003, during the Iraq invasion, Al Jazeera's Baghdad office was hit by a US missile, killing one person and wounding another. The network's chief editor said: "Witnesses in the area saw the plane fly over twice before dropping the bombs. Our office is in a residential area and even the Pentagon knows its location." (On that same day the Baghdad office of Abu Dhabi television was also hit).

    Finally, two British officials have recently been charges under the Official Secrets Act for leaking a classified memo to the Daily Mirror where it is alleged that Pres. Bush, in an April 2004 meeting with Tony Blair, had discussed bombing the headquarters of Al Jazeera in Qatar. Blair reportedly talked him out of it. Now Qatar is a US ally and the journalists are civilians. The claim appears to have some substance since the officals have been charged and they would have been unlikely to leak a false claim in the face of such serious consequences. So there you have it...Bush planned to murder innocent civilians in a country allied to the US who were just going about their daily business. Sounds like attempted murder to me.

    Over a million people are dead in Iraq. Bush, Blair and Howard are war criminals. Ther "sincerity" is mostly fake and in no way relevant. If it was your son or daughter melted with "whiskey-pete" at Fallujah you'd be happy to declare hese people as war criminals.

    The media has yet to come to terms with the deeply criminalized nature of the upper echelons of the US Republican Party.

  5. All I can say to about half of that is "good grief".



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