Thursday, September 07, 2023

What Exactly Is A “Broad Coalition Of Conservatives”?

This morning, on the news one of the headline stories was about the CPC policy convention, where they are going to debate a range of policies, and two of them are outright eliminationist anti-transgender crap. (We’ll come back to that) One of the party talking heads said some inane drivel about the CPC being a “democratic party with a broad coalition of conservatives”. 

Besides being a somewhat silly attempt to define the party as “big tent”, what does the term really mean? It certainly doesn’t mean inclusion - the CPC continues to pander to extreme libertarians whose idea of “economic policy” is basically “let them eat cake”.  So if you’re somewhere in the middle and lower income ranges, they sure as hell aren’t including you - your pockets are the first ones they are going to pick through user fees, means testing programs, etc.  They also continue to be very much in the thrall of social conservative movements that want to exclude people who don’t fit into a particularly narrow idea of the world (usually one based on a bad reading of Old Testament texts).  So yeah, if you’re a woman, a member of the 2SLGBTQ community, or you belong to one of those “other religions”, don’t think for a moment that you’re safe in that party - you aren’t.

I did take a look through the CPC policy proposals, and there are some doozies in there.  Let's go exploring, shall we?

I'll admit up front that I'm unlikely to agree with anything "conservative" these days. Simply put, to me the days of "reasoned conservatism" are long past.  To me, they ended in the 1980s when Reform rose up with a religiously-inspired, rage baiting version of conservatism, and Thatcher and Reagan not only gave over to that, but adopted a particularly mean-spirited libertarianism.  Today's conservatives are the offspring of those forces, and half the time, they don't even realize it. 

However, let's go have a look at the CPC policy documents, shall we? 

Policy 1178 - Palliative Care 

Oh, they want to recognize palliative care as a "right" - that's a good thing, isn't it?  Well - sort of.  First of all, palliative care is a normal part of medicine these days.  We can't always "cure" whatever ails the patient, and sometimes the only option is to manage symptoms as best as possible. Do we need to enshrine this as a "right"?  It's normal medical practice.  

But, of course, when we are talking about conservative policy, the devil is inevitably in the context and details.  The rest of the policy reads as follows: 

 Ah - there we have the rest of the picture.  Privatization - sure, let's pour more money into the pockets of CEOs while making it harder to access services.  Conscience rights -> This is nothing more than a direct attack on healthcare for women (especially reproductive care), as well as making it much harder for gender and sexual minorities to access care.  

As for excluding MAID, sure death is a normal process.  Nobody ever said it wasn't.  But believe me, death isn't always a nice quiet "going to sleep" experience either.  Patients facing death by cancer or other terminal illnesses should have a right to pre-empt that exit as for some it can cause unnecessary suffering and trauma to the patient as well as their families.  MAID has a place in our medical world for no lesser a reason than upholding the fundamental ethical principle of supporting the patient's individual autonomy. 

So, this is no forward looking proposal at all, in fact it lies in the context of a broader policy context that would roll back access to health care on numerous fronts. 

Moving along in the document, we encounter policy proposal 999, which reads as follows: 

This particular proposal is clearly and unequivocally about shoving transgender people out of public life.  It might seem like it's "reasonable" on the surface, but underneath it all it's really quite misogynistic.  

First, it will create an environment where women find their bodies being policed in spaces like public washrooms and locker rooms.  If you aren't "sufficiently feminine", you will find yourself subject to being challenged.  This is already happening in places like the UK where some women have self-appointed themselves "guardians" of places like public washrooms, and they will harass anyone they deem to be "trans" until they leave. Mysteriously, a lot of the women being challenged are in fact natal women, but they just don't happen to conform to a particular notion of "feminine".  

Second, it presupposes that women "need to be protected" from trans people.  In my experience, trans people are far more likely to be subjected to violence in these situations, and should a conservative government ever enact legislation on this matter, the odds of trans people being subjected to violence will increase dramatically.

... and at the very bottom, there's a lovely little anti-abortion tag about "sex selection abortions" - a phenomenon that nobody has ever even shown happens in Canada, much less to a degree that warrants legislative or policy action on the matter.  In other words, a dog-whistle.  Don't be in the least bit surprised if a private members' bill comes from conservative back benches that happens to combine both of these topics. 

Lastly, we come to this one - which argues for banning medical treatments for transgender youth: 

This is a particularly offensive one because we know from what has been enacted in numerous US states that what this eventually turns into is an outright ban on health care for transgender people.  

It's cruel in the extreme as it forces transgender youth through two puberties, and believe me, the "wrong" puberty is inherently a traumatic experience, and it will have lifetime consequences that will affect the person for the entirety of their lives.  In spite of the shrieking from the far right, affirmative care for trans people is neither experimental, nor unproven.  It works, and the outcomes are known to be positive. 

The consequences of this will be to have the government intervene in people's health care through legislation, all to sate the fears of a few who worry more about the biblical correctness of something rather than its medical implications for the individual. 

There's a lot more in 50 pages of policy.  Some of it sounds superficially good - especially on social matters - but in full context most of those policies turn out to do exactly the opposite of what it is intended to do.  Every time I read a conservative policy document, I get the impression that it was the result of greed and malice encountering each other in a dark alley and having a good time of it.  Unfortunately, it's almost never good for anyone else. 

While there is little doubt in my mind that much of the legislation that would be passed to enact these policies would fail when challenged in the courts, that's a long, expensive process.  

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