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The Conservative party – it wasn’t always like this

Letter To the Editor:
It wasn’t always like this. Conservative parties, and the Conservative ideologies behind them, used to be constructive, inspiring, progressive. Sir John A. Macdonald built this country and a railway to connect it all together. Sir Robert Borden guided Canada through WW1. Our 13th Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, appointed the first female minister in Canadian history to his cabinet and the first aboriginal member to the senate. He passed the Canadian Bill of Rights, calling it, “the only way to stop the march on the part of the government towards arbitrary power.” Ontario’s 18th PM, Bill Davis increased educational expenditure (between 1962 and 1971 by 454%), created the community college system (ie. Loyalist College) and established new public universities. Brian Mulroney brought us a North American Free Trade deal. Conservatives, and all Canadians, should be proud of what was achieved.

But not anymore.

A newer, meaner, destructive, regressive Conservative ideology has come to Canada, and indeed, to many parts of the world. We only have to look south to Donald Trump, to England’s Boris Johnson, to Geert Wilders of Holland, to France’s Marine Le Pen, and others. Here at home we have Conservatives Ontario’s Doug Ford and Alberta’s Jason Kenney following the new ideology.

In Ontario we can look at Mike Harris, Ontario’s 22nd PM (1995-2001) and his regressive measures that ran counter to the traditional Conservative and Canadian values with cuts to education and social services that hurt Ontario citizens for years afterwards. Numerous books have been written describing the destructive regime of Steven Harper who took Canada down a dark path and who, contrary to the wishes of John Diefenbaker years earlier, worked to grow the arbitrary power of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Modern Conservatives want to cut taxes, reduce the size of government, deregulate and weaken the laws that protect us from big business and big money. They weaken the social services, initiate cuts to health care and education and play down climate change issues. Conservative governments across Canada do not support the Carbon Tax, shown to be successful in British Colombia and California, as a way to help attack climate change. By cutting taxes, Conservative governments reduce governmental income thereby reducing their spending powers for education, health care and other services.

Then there’s Maxime Bernie, one of the finest examples of how far the current Conservative ideology can go in Canada. Fortunately, most Canadian voters do not buy into his extreme thinking.

Andrew Scheer is left of Mr. Bernier to be sure. However, it may be wise for us to look closely at his ideology and how it compares to the era of Progressive Conservatives over the years. I wonder if Macdonald, Borden, Diefenbaker, Davis or Mulroney would approve of the direction he is trying to take the Conservative movement, and Canada, today?

Nigel J. Sivel
Wellington

Filed Under: Letters and OpinionNews from Everywhere Else

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  1. Ron says:

    Sorry Dennis, wrong again. Please read the link. The combat mission ended in 2011 and the trainers left the Afghanistan in 2014. Trudeau didn’t come to power until 2015. As far as supporting the troops, the Conservatives fast tracked the acquisition of both the C17 and the Chinook which were both vital to CAF efforts. Were you aware that the Liberals sent the RCAF to Mali, to do a job we don’t train for and are not equipped to do with next to no prep time?

  2. SS says:

    What we all need is less finger pointing and more leadership by politicians of all parts of the spectrum. I agree with the letter, having decades ago voted and worked for Conservatives. I agree that the party with that name today bears little resemblance to the past. Not that the past was perfect, mind you — but at least discourse seemed more civil and principle-based.

    Nowadays, I crave leaders that look at what we CAN achieve, not at what we CANNOT achieve. I believe in social liberalism combined with fiscal responsibility, and there does not seem to be a party that can reliably deliver this compromise.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    Ron – I am aware of the history – but you need to recognise it was Trudeau who brought them home. Now if you want to go back only a few more years, you would find that it was a Liberal government who refused to get sucked into the Iraq War, while Harper, as a back bencher of the Reform Party wanted Canada to be there. You can thank Chretien for having the integrity for going against the Yanks and the Brits at that time and saving many Canadian lives.

  4. Ron says:

    Dennis, please check the history – https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/canadian-armed-forces/afghanistan and you will find that it was Prime Minister Paul Martin and the Liberals who committed Canada to the ISAF Mission in Afghanistan in 2003, not the Conservatives. They did so with less than adequate equipment and green camo for the desert environment!

  5. Gary says:

    When I think of the modern day Conservatives, I can’t help picturing Mulroney filling his paper bag full of cash in a sleazy hotel with the German lobbyist. Then after being caught rewarded with a 2 million lawsuit on the backs of Canadians.

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    Mr. Sivel – Thank you for your very accurate letter describing the fall in values of the Conservative Party in Canada. Their ever increasing desire to promote populist ideologies and not sound policies is disappointing, but not hard to understand. The Conservatives have decided to represent the wealthy 1% at the expense of the other 99% of Canada – even if it means cutting healthcare to the sick and education and social services to the poor.

    The most beneficial change I can name since the change of government in 2015 is no longer seeing Canadian soldiers being repatriated down the 401 and the Highway of Heroes. Saving the lives of young Canadians is more important than any tax break any Conservative government can offer. Thankfully our current government recognized that.

  7. Jo says:

    Or perhaps the political landscape changed with PET, forcing the other parties to re-evaluate their platforms.

  8. Rob #2 says:

    If anyone destroyed the Conservative movement it was Brian Mulroney. How do you think Reform and Canadian Alliance and Stephen Harper came to be?

  9. kb says:

    Very well written, and explained. I couldn’t agree more. Going forward, it’s difficult to navigate the political landscape and I think your narrative best describes where this party came from, and the stark contrast of where it is today. Left me feeling kind of sad and disappointed.

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