Three articles in the weekend papers caught my eye:
First: Jeffrey Simpson, in the Globe and Mail, explained how the Ontario Liberals have grossly, almost criminally, mismanaged projects for years;
Second: Scott Gilmore, in the Ottawa Citizen, lamented the sad state of the state monopoly on alcohol and concluded that we get the governments we, Ontarians, deserve; and
Third: Lorrie Goldstein, in the Toronto Sun, predicts that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne can win again in 2018, despite, in his words, the fact that “It’s the complete and utter incompetence,” of successive Liberal governments and “Everything the Liberals touch turns into a disaster.“
So, one has to ask: is it us? Are we, really, such passive, uninformed, easily manipulated voters that the likes of the Wynne-Trudeau Liberals can fool us again and again and again? Or do they actually offer something that appeals, positively, to enough (40%) of us that we, consciously, choose them to govern us?
Lorrie Goldstein notes that the Trudeau-Wynne Liberals ~ and I make no apologies for saying that they are, for now anyway, one and the same party ~ have three things going for them:
Time … we will forget and, tacitly, therefore forgive their mistakes and worse;
Big Labour is on their side and brings big money to the propaganda wars; and
Big Business has been bought off … again.
I have been saying, for years, on Army.ca, that “The Liberals were, traditionally, the BIG party, friends of Big banks, Big labour, Big business and Big cities.” Those BIG things ~ cities, businesses and unions ~ are potent vote-getters, and, traditionally, since the days of Leslie Frost in Ontario and John Diefenbaker in Canada, at large, Conservatives have been the party of the small town, of Main Street rather then Bay Street, of the local Kiwanis Club rather than the St James, Rideau or Albany Clubs (in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, respectively). The Conservatives, have left two key “constituencies” to the Liberals (and to a lesser extent to the NDP): young urbanites and Big Business.
Now, it may be ~ I think it is true ~ that good, solid, Conservative social moderation is incompatible with the laissez-faire social attitudes of many (most?) young urbanites, and the CPC is never going to get most of them to vote Conservative … not, at least, until they are 35, have two kids and have moved to the suburbs. But, Conservatives, need not, should not, must not project an image of the religious right … like it or not, some of your colleagues at work, some of your neighbours, some of your friends and some family members are homosexual, but they are, first and foremost, people, just like you and me, and we all need to respect and protect their fundamental rights, just as we demand that ours our respected and protected by law and society.
Equally, some may wish that abortion was not used as a convenience tool but we must all recognize that, despite some strongly held moral objections, it is, in our law, a “settled issue.” It is fine for many of us, even our party leaders, to oppose abortion as an individual … it is not fine to propose, as a matter of party policy, that abortion rights be curtailed.
At the same time Conservatives can, should and, in my opinion, must present an image of fiscal probity. That begins, in my opinion, again, with eschewing handouts and payoffs to Big Business. We should agree that the late NDP Leader David Lewis was right and some (too many) of them are corporate welfare bums.
Conservatives need to support business and industry in every legal and proper way possible … but we also need to affirm that the free market means just that and we are not going to try to intervene in it.
Trade unions are not bad things. They perform functions in the free market that are valuable, even essential; especially, they set the cost or price of labour. Only when the cost of labour is established in the market can the owners of enterprises decide, rationally, how much labour to use as against, say, robotics or how much Canadian labour to use instead of Indian, for example.
No one should blame unions for supporting the political parties that they think will best suit their interests … but Conservatives should be very clear, in their own minds and in their campaigning, that the “best interests” of a trade union are, too often, not the same as the “best interests” of the workers, the union members. The best way to serve the worker is to make it easier for him or her to find and keep a good-paying job. The best way to do that is to help create the conditions that make starting, operating and succeeding in business easier in Canada than elsewhere.
What can, what should governments and political parties do?
First: avoid the sort of “badly executed and poorly co-ordinated” policies, the “flaccid political leadership” and the overly “centralized nature of contemporary government” that Jeffrey Simpson mentioned;
Second: there is a need to persuade voters that Conservatives are not the party of the status quo, which Scott Gilmore suggests is what too many people settle for, now; and
Third: make use of the time available until 2018/19 to show Ontarians and Canadians that Conservatives offer better ~ socially moderate, fiscally prudent and job-creating ~ leadership at the provincial and national levels.
The Conservative Party may have to concede Big Labour to the NDP and to the Trudeau-Wynne Liberals, but they ought to be a party that appeals to business, big and small, on Main Street and Bay Street, and to the people who work in business and industry, young and old, alike.