Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dobbin, Mallick & Theilheimer: a Fear Mongering Trifecta

With the far-left decrying Prime Minister Stephen Harper's alleged fear mongering over the prospect of a coalition of losers, they have also taken this as an opportunity to... fear monger.

It's no great surprise. They've been doing it non-stop for nearly 20 years.

Some of the far-left's premier fear mongerers have dusted off their most dystopic nightmare to send one overhwelming message to Canadians: give Harper a majority, and Canada is over. Done for. History.

Everyone -- especially the authors of these diatribes -- know it isn't true. But these people being who they are, they're saying it anyway. Here's a brief round up.

First up, at Straight Goods Ish Theilheimer declares that, if given a majority, the first thing Harper would do is destroy public health care.

"Politicians and activists need to remind Canadians of how drastic the threat is. The record clearly shows that Stephen Harper loathes medicare," Theilheimer declares.

"Harper deserted Preston Manning and left politics in 1997 to work for the National Citizens Coalition, which was formed expressly to fight medicare, as chronicled by Murray Dobbin. In 1997, as NCC Vice-President, Harper said that Canada should scrap the Canada Health Act."

"Until 2005 Harper publicly professed to believe in two-tier care," Theilheimer continues. "When asked by the CBC about a parallel health care system, he said: 'Well I think it would be a good idea. We're alone among OECD countries in deciding that we'll have a two-tier system but our second tier will be outside the country where only the very rich and powerful can access it and [it] will be of absolutely no benefit to the Canadian health care system.'"

"In October 2002, Dobbin reminds us, Harper said, 'We also support the exploration of alternative ways to deliver health care. Moving toward alternatives, including those provided by the private sector, is a natural development of our health care system.'"

Of course to people like Theilheimer, who denounce "US-style health care" to anyone who will listen, the idea of parallel health care systems seems like a scary idea... until you consider that the best health care systems in the world feature mixtures of public and private health care delivery.

Meanwhile, Canada's health care system -- operating within the framework defined in the Canada Health Act -- continues to perform dismally compared to other health care systems. Perhaps Harper was right in 1997; perhaps Canada needs a new health care framework in order to correct the ever-growing list of flaws in the current system.

Speaking of Murray Dobbin, he too took the interwebs for some good-old fashioned Dobbin-flavoured fear mongering:
"It's been a long five years for Stephen Harper, his gaggle of ex-Reformers and the gang of three from Harris-era Ontario -- Jim Flaherty, John Baird and Tony Clement. Long and infuriating, I am sure, because for all that time they had to pretend that they were a government. They had to masquerade as people who believed that government could be a force for good. They even "stimulated" the economy. They were a minority government and the big ticket items they really wanted to get their teeth into were out of reach.

They couldn't slash Medicare or gut the Canada Health Act. They couldn't cut transfers to the provinces, or further weaken EI. They left the public services unions with their rights intact. They had to leave education alone (more or less). And they didn't risk slashing the civil service they hate so much. Even the CBC has been spared (though they raised millions from their loyalists attacking it in fundraising letters).

The frustration level, especially for Harper, must have been almost unbearable. Remember, this is a man who got so frustrated being in Opposition as right-hand man to Preston Manning that he bolted from politics altogether. The place he chose to cleanse himself after all those years having to play the democrat was the National Citizens Coalition, by a big margin the most right-wing organization on the national scene. He said he was glad to be out of politics so he could say what he really thought.

Harper was hoping for revenge in the last election and blew it by attacking culture. He's eager for another try, making Jack Layton an offer he had to refuse. And if you want to see what real revenge looks like, give this crowd a majority and they will unleash the most destructive, nation-changing blitzkrieg in living memory. I can still remember the night that Brian Mulroney won the historic free trade election 1988. It was devastating. But Mulroney was a kindergarten teacher compared to Stephen Harper. Free trade started us down the road to Americanization. Harper will take us to the end of that road and beyond.
There's very little of substance in Dobbin's tirade. The sole issue of great concern Dobbin raises is the "committee handbook" the Conservatives were caught passing about earlier in their tenure. As disappointing as that affair was, it's but a mere patrol boat in Harper's political game of Battleship.

Dobbin spends the rest of his column chasing conspiratorial phantoms in the dark. Apparently, Dobbin believes in ghosts.

The rank anti-Americanism of Dobbin's column sets the table splendidly for Heather Mallick's contribution to the politics of fear, who is so brazen about her empty anti-Americanism that it's heralded in the title of her piece.

"We’re being conquered. If Stephen Harper wins a majority, the United States of Canada is what we’ll be. Maybe you’re fine with that. I am not," Mallick writes. "The Harperites’ attitude is Republican with a layer of Tea Party, a 'current of bitterness, an anger born of a sense of exclusion,' as Lawrence Martin wrote in his fine book Harperland, Conservatives 'viscerally hating their political opposition' in a way that was new and startling in Canada but old poisoned hat for the Americans. We will become more American in word and deed, in thought and feeling."

The only anti-American bogeymen Mallick seems to have missed are the Koch brothers and Sarah Palin (Mallick's self-humiliating vicious attack on Sarah Palin in 2008 managed to earn her a permanent place at the journalistic kids' table). Speaking of visceral hatred of political opposition, it was Mallick herself who openly admitted to experiencing a blubbering episode during the 2010 Olympics when Harper was simply shown on TV.

"The Harper Government does indeed love 'jets and jails,' as Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has been saying on the campaign trail," Mallick fumes. "Its plan for more jailing and less parole is at the core of the disastrous US prison explosion that even the Americans are horrified of by now (plus they can’t afford it)."

The Harper government may indeed love jets -- they are rather awesome -- but the salient fact is that no one loves jails. The difference between Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff is that Harper knows that Canada needs both.

Speaking of Ignatieff, he did once declare that the United States was his country, yet Mallick has nothing at all to say about that. Anti-Americanism, it seems, applies only to Conservatives.

Mallick even blames Harper for what she considers to be increasing public acceptance of racism. Comically, she refers to the "too Asian?" issue of Macleans magazine, but leaves out a central fact: that the issue was widely denounced by critics.

Facts like that clearly didn't matter to Mallick. They've been sacrificed at the altar of fear, Mallick's last resort to try to prevent a Stephen Harper majority government.

Fear served the Canadian far-left well for 13 years. Yet Heather Mallick Murray Dobbin and Ish Theilheimer have yet to realize that Canadians woke up from that coma in 2006 when they elected enough Conservative MPs to make Harper Prime Minister.

The bid to resurrect that fear in the minds of Canadians is sad and pathetic. Thankfully, it won't get them anywhere.

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