Tag Archives: Conservative government

Defining moments in Canada’s identity


Some may quibble with their methods, means and policy agenda. Others may laud their no-nonsense approach to national governance and economic stewardship. But, as the days begin to set on 2013, all must agree that Canada’s Conservative leadership is not the laissez-faire bunch it once proudly billed itself to be. Far from it.

In fact, no federal government since the early 1960s has spent more time deliberately branding itself and, in the process, redefining what it means to be a Canuck – good or bad.

Even those among us who do not subscribe to such late-model Tory notions as patriotism, self-reliance and personal responsibility as social policy must admit that’s it’s never been easier to answer that perennially posed and quintessentially Canadian question: “Who am I?”

Under the Conservatives, Canada is a law-abiding, right-thinking nation of 33 million souls. Forget the Great White North of old: haven for draft dodgers and Liberal elites run amok. Ours is a nation teetering at the edge of chaos, but for our timely embrace of law and order. Or so says the Department of Justice.

“There were almost two million Criminal Code violations reported to police in 2011,” the web site declares. “There were more than 424,400 violent incidents reported to police in 2011. Violent crime accounted for about one-fifth of the offences reported to police in 2011. Although most types of violent crime decreased or remained stable in 2011, there was a 7 per cent increase in the rate of homicides.

“The total costs of crime have been estimated at $99.6B per year – the majority of which ($82.5B or 83%) was borne by victims: $14.3 billion is directly attributable to tangible costs such as medical attention, hospitalizations, lost wages, missed school days, stolen/damaged property. Productivity losses represent 47 per cent of the tangible costs borne by victims followed by stolen/damaged property (42.9 per cent) and health care costs (10.1 per cent). Total intangible costs (including pain and suffering and loss of life) is $68.2 billion.”

Under the Conservatives, Canada is a natural resources behemoth, ready to flood the world with its oil, natural gas and mineral wealth. Forget the people who once went out of their way to represent themselves as anything but hewers of wood and drawers of water. Or so says the Department of Natural Resources.

“Natural resources are an important part of the fabric of Canada’s economy,” declares the web site. “Natural resources are poised to play an even bigger role in our future. . It’s estimated that hundreds of major resource projects are currently underway in Canada or planned over the next 10 years, worth approximately $650 billion in investment. That $650 billion figure represents hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs in every sector of our economy, in every region of Canada.

“That’s why our Government has a plan to unleash Canada’s natural resource potential. We call it Responsible Resource Development. This plan is streamlining reviews of major projects by ensuring more predictable and timely reviews, reducing duplication, strengthening environmental protection, and enhancing consultations with Aboriginal peoples.”

Under the Conservatives, Canada is a proud country, clearly informed by its history. Forget any notion that ours is the only country in the world that was granted its independence after asking for it politely. Or so says Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the official War of 1812 web site:

“The War of 1812 was a seminal event in the making of our great country. On the occasion of its 200th anniversary, I invite all Canadians to share in our history and commemorate our proud and brave ancestors who fought and won against enormous odds. As we near our country’s 150th anniversary in 2017, Canadians have an opportunity to pay tribute to our founders, defining moments, and heroes who fought for Canada.

“The War helped establish our path toward becoming an independent and free country, united under the Crown with a respect for linguistic and ethnic diversity. The heroic efforts of Canadians then helped define who we are today, what side of the border we live on, and which flag we salute.”

Some may quibble with all of this. Under the Conservatives, however, none remain confused for long.

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Modern mythologies in the post-apocalypse



It’s been precisely 10 months and 10 days since the Mayan long count calendar ran down and the world, as we know it, was supposed to have ended in a cataclysmic fury. Not for nothing, but we’re still here.

Fortunately, as the world survives, popular myths and misconceptions continue to proliferate. I say “fortunately” because in the absence of such apocrypha, grim, intractable reality would be well-nigh impossible to bear.

A well-known, national newspaper columnist contends this week that “the idea that people ever achieved secure and stable lives with ease is largely a myth.”

Indeed, The Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente writes, “My grandparents weathered the Depression. My folks lived with them until having their third child. My dad had health problems in middle age and lost his business. That’s life. I’m pretty sure that most of today’s up-to-their-necks-in-debt graduates will be fine.”

Sure they will, just as soon as they manage to obtain gainful employment, which is also “largely a myth”. Or so says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in a September 27 report, to wit:

“In 2013, the unemployment rate for Ontario youth aged 15-24 fluctuated between 16 per cent and 17.1 per cent, trending above the Canadian range of 13.5 per cent to 14.5 per cent and placing Ontario as the worst province outside Atlantic Canada for high youth unemployment.

“Windsor, Oshawa, Brantford and London stand out as youth unemployment hotspots: their youth unemployment rate is over 20 per cent, similar to the European Union rates. Toronto’s youth employment rate – the measure that determines how many youth actually have jobs – is 43.5 per cent. That’s the worst employment rate of any Ontario region and it may be driving some youth out of the province in search of work. Toronto also gets the prize for having the largest gap between youth and adult employment in the province, at 21.8 per cent. That’s the highest it’s ever been.”

Higher still, of course, is the percentage of voting-age Canadians, either employed or otherwise, who support the reigning federal Conservatives as they bob for apples at their policy convention tonight.

Received wisdom had called for a shellacking of Tory prospects in the court of public opinion – so appalled are we with the Senate expense scandal and the knobby knees of short-panted factotums in the Prime Minister’s Office.

But received wisdom begins to look like a myth when Ipsos Reid reports that the Conservatives currently enjoy a 30 per cent approval rating – virtually unchanged from a week ago, before the most serious allegations came to light.

Here, in New Brunswick, rank politics takes a back seat to. . .well. . .rank politics as we juggle the myths and realities associated with shale gas development.

The provincial government says it is committed to consulting with opponents of hydraulic fracturing, yet it has no intention of slowing down the exploratory work that has sparked most public protests and demonstrations.

Leaders of the Elsipogtog First Nation, chief among the anti-frackers, decry what they term unnecessary provocation in the debate, yet they formerly resolve to reclaim Crown land to “save our waters, lands and animals from ruin.”

Meanwhile, the stories we tell ourselves dip in and out of verisimilitude heedless of their sources.

“Britain’s energy secretary on Wednesday advocated a public awareness campaign to promote shale gas and dispel the ‘myths’ surrounding fracking, the controversial method for unlocking the natural gas,” the Wall Street Journal online reported this summer. “Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the concerns were being dealt with through study and regulation, suggesting they had given rise to false notions about the dangers. The industry’s main challenge is to win over the public, he said.

‘Because those myths have taken hold in some areas, and sometimes when a myth takes hold it’s quite difficult to dispel it,’ he told a cross-party parliamentary group on unconventional oil and gas.”

For its part, Friends of the Earth Europe reports, “The American myth of ‘cheap and abundant’ energy from shale gas is based on artificially low prices driven by speculation and industry overestimates. Trying to repeat this experience in Europe would only lead to even higher gas prices and would lock public subsidies into fossil fuel use at the expense of renewable energy and energy efficiency policies.”

Who’s right?

We may have survived the apocalypse, but we might not live long enough to know the truth.

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