Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Has Canadian Conservatism Come To Imply Bigotry?

In my travels through the Blogosphere lately, I've run into a number of "Conservative Blog" lists. Theoretically, many of these people would vote for the Conservative Party, and certainly have reflected some of the more extreme views expressed by vocal factions in the Reform / Alliance incarnations of the current Conservative party.

I've seen a few things being called for that I find profoundly unsettling:

1. Calls for restrictions on immigration.

These are often based in a quasi-Bush/Blair xeno-paranoia. The notion is that we will "know" what a terrorist looks like. Today's "terrorist du jour" is theoretically of arab descent, but back in the 1970s, would that terrorist have been someone of Irish descent? What about Basque separatists, or Tamils from Sri Lanka? Or, our own FLQ - remember them?

The concept of terrorist is far too vague, far too fuzzy. It implies a guilt-by-association that is neither reasonable nor comprehensible. For example, there are people whose involvement with Palestinian resistance organizations is strictly as part of their social services side. These people aren't terrorists any more than I am. On the other hand, if they were recruiting suicide bombers, they certainly would qualify as a potential problem.

I'm not saying that we open the gates wide, merely that obviously - and blindly - racially centered immigration policies are foolish, and do not reflect a Canada that I believe in.

2. Religious Intolerance

The "Christian Right" (and I use both terms loosely, for the "CR" is neither Christian in any sense I understand the word, nor is it correct) has asserted a great deal of vocal opinion lately. Whether it is on the topics of other religions, or recent debates over marriage.

The complaint is made time and again that granting rights to other groups is trampling all over their rights as "Christians". As near as I can tell this is a code phrase for "we can't openly discriminate against X any more". Whether X is a sexual minority, a member of a different faith, or for that matter the practice of teaching science in our schools.

3. Economic Superiority

For reasons I have never understood, the current crop of Conservatives cleave to a nearly Dickensian notion of poverty. Essentially, the open market will solve all the world's ills, and anyone who happens to be of limited means is a victim of their own weakness.

While some of those who live in poverty do so as a result of a combination of decisions made in their lives and misfortune afterwards, the evidence is clear enough that poverty is seldom a result of any intentional sloth or desire on the part of the impoverished.

The assumption that society should not collectively take steps to look after those who have not been successful in the economic ladder is an evil combination of Darwinism blended with Machievelli - a combination I find worrisome indeed.

4. Separatism

For reasons that I find quite inexplicable, many Western "Conservative" commentators have mutated and become Western Separatists. You can't have it both ways boys. You are either backing a federalist party, or you're not. You either believe there's more to this great nation than petty regionalist disputes, or you are going to "pack up your toys and play elsewhere". So far, I have yet to see anything of a coherent argument from a separatist as to why Alberta - or Western Canada - should separate. The noxious "what does Alberta get from remaining part of Canada?" response is insulting to any intelligent logic. It basically turns the challenge around, and puts anyone questioning the separatist on the defensive. Separatism is a cop-out, and a pathetic one at that.

Half of all separatists I have heard whine incessantly about the NEP or transfer payments; the other half are unhappy because they don't like the Charter of Rights and the legal implications.

Returning to my original thesis, I am becoming more and more convinced that the notion of Conservatism in Canada has been usurped by malcontents, bigotry and a cold heartedness rooted in a horrendous distortion of Burkean thinking. It is unfortunate, for the Conservative in the days of Sir John A. MacDonald had much to reccomend them - todays lot seem to be small, petty and self centered.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm Darwinism and Machievelli mixed together ...
Ahhhh got it !! Darwievelli (tm) if you listen closley to the pronunciation you can almost here 'weevil'


Anonymous said...

It is these extreme views expressed by some members of the party that is keeping Canadians away from it in droves. Canadians would rather deal with a fiscally irresponsible, but socially tolerant Liberal government than a fiscally responsible, socially intolerant Conservative government. The problem for the Conservatives is that the Alberta wing of the party, the wing that has control at the moment, doesn't realize this. So as long as there's Tories in Alberta willing to open their big mouths on social issues, there'll never be a western based conservative party as the government in Ottawa.