Tom Flanagan is upset that Calgary’s city council has decided to end fluoride treatment of Calgary’s water supply. This is, as Flanagan correctly points out, against all evidence about the safety and benefits of fluoride in the water supply. Of course, as the Big City Liberal observes, Flanagan is reaping a whirlwind that he sowed by scoffing at “evidence” and “scientists” and so on when it came to global warming. Flanagan belongs to that strange and shrinking group of so-called respectable right-wingers. These are those on the right who like to whip up populist sentiment against the by deriding scientists, elites, liberals, ivory tower intellectuals and the government as being aloof and out of touch but still like to be able to hit the brakes some of the time and admit that yes, science or scholarship or what-have-you needs to be taken seriously once in a while. Some problems do actually require evidence-based solutions.
Of course as long as the majority opinion among right-wing media personalities was of this variety, there was a limit to how much frothing know-nothing outrage made it into the mainstream. There might be extreme or radical proposals on the American right but they had to be at least somewhat rationally defensible. I could call on the example here of William Buckley who had the courage to cast the Birchers out of the American conservative movement. I disagree with most of what Buckley stood for, but at least he had some kind of sense of what was the difference between someone who was strong-minded or opinionated and someone who was just plain crazy.
In today’s conservative movement though, it appears that the monkeys have final taken over the zoo and the energized populists will not heed the calls of sensible conservatives to rein in the crazy. They of course now have two heroes in this approach: Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Both Palin and Beck have been willing to double-down on the crazy every time they are given the option. They are prepared to entertain the nuttiest fringe stuff from birthers to death panels. Imagine if Palin and Beck somehow got embroiled in this fluoride thing, Palin would be calling on scientists to refudiate fluoride while Beck would draw a weird chart trying to show that big fluoride is connected to Soros, Islam, and the Nazis. If Flanagan is going to use the crazy fringe as a means to political ends, he is going to have to deal with more and more of this kind of thing. This is the tiger he has chosen to ride.
Okay, so the election was totally so long ago that I mean who could possibly have foreseen the need to run a deficit over a month ago. Now things are completely different!
The Conservatives are the party of deficit spending in federal politics. Let us make no mistake about that. It’s likely not an accident or a confluence of circumstances either – it’s purposeful, Harper wants a deficit.
I don’t care what Harper and his acolytes say about this election being called to fix a “dysfunctional” parliament, this was a stab at a majority. He failed. Yes, yes, he has a larger minority, but it’s still a minority. This might be part of a scheme outlined by Tom Flanagan to whittle down the Liberals, but I still can’t help but think that the timing here was about a bit more. I think Steve has enough of an ego that he’s upset that we still won’t go along with his vision of Canada.
The story coming out now about the bribe allegedly offered to Chuck Cadman to bring down the Martin government back in 2005 looks bad for the Conservatives to say the least. The explanation offered up yesterday by Tom Flanagan and Doug Finley seems, well, hard to believe. It was well known in 2005 that Cadman was very seriously ill with cancer, at some points it was unclear whether he would be well enough to make it into parliament for the vote. Why then would Flanagan and Finley offer to help Cadman with a riding nomination? Cadman died within a couple months of the vote, I cannot imagine that 1) Flanagan and Finley didn’t appreciate or couldn’t find out how serious Cadman’s condition was, and 2) that they really thought that his priority at that point was to win another election given his health.
Harper, Flanagan, and Finley, I call bullshit.
I’d say it would be Harper’s brain, Tom Flanagan who last year tipped his hand with these words:
“In times of perceived crisis, a conservative party can win by positioning itself further to the right, as shown by the victories of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Ralph Klein, Mike Harris and Gordon Campbell. But Canadians don’t perceive themselves in crisis right now.” [emphasis mine]
Here’s the crisis they need to sell off the AECL to GE or someone else. Convert decades of Canadian taxpayer investment into private profits – that’s what Lunn aims to do. It’s probably what also drove Lunn into a fit of economic nationalism when he insisted that Ontario buy AECL reactors. Create value for GE, great, that’s what will cause the Conservative to worry about the Ontario economy.
Well, I’m not quite sure if this could be considered the “best” in a conventional sense. Rather, this quote is perhaps one of the more important ones. Tom Flanagan on the Conservatives game plan:
“In times of perceived crisis, a conservative party can win by positioning itself further to the right, as shown by the victories of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Ralph Klein, Mike Harris and Gordon Campbell. But Canadians don’t perceive themselves in crisis right now.” (emphasis mine)
Again, when you watch how Harper governs, remember this.
I have this feeling that Harper has managed to shed the scary “hidden agenda” tag in the eyes of a great many Canadians once he got his free vote on same-sex-marriage handily defeated in the House of Commons. Perhaps it’s too much attention paid to the American culture wars, but we in Canada have come to equate the term with gays and abortion. Harper made a half-hearted run at the former and has not touched the latter.
Not only have we adopted a very narrow view of a culture war, we have also grown accustomed (especially in Ontario) to Conservatives governing in a hurry. Mike Harris rushed through reems of legislation in the first couple years of his first mandate. I suspect this is in part because hard right-wingers seem to be aware that they do not enjoy much of a natural constituency in Canada – and that’s according to their godfather, Tom Flanagan:
“Canada is not yet a conservative or Conservative country. The [Conservative] party can’t win if it veers too far to the right of the average voter.”
Harper and Flanagan seem to have taken the view that this political dynamic means that Conservatives need to go slow rather than try to rush through things in a term or two before the Liberals regroup.
For these guys this is a long war to remake Canada as a conservative country (not how Flanagan says “not yet”). They may well be anticipating that this will be a 20-year process. They are starting small, killing the Court Challenges Program and launching a war on drugs. Taken individually, you might have an austerity measure and a crime policy. Taken together, in the context of things that Flanagan and others have said, these are part of a long culture war, a conservative push-back. I suspect that the average voters isn’t even aware of the Court Challenges Program (though they may have benefited from it) and the anti-drug policy can be sold as “tough-on-crime” or something of that ilk.
Expect a long, incremental attempt to build a conservative consensus on whole range of cultural and economic issues. These are not individual policies tacked together, these are pieces in a much larger puzzle for Harper.