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Jon Siemko

Let’s Get Ready For The Manning Centre Conference

If any rumbles came out of Washington last month it was as a result of the free marketplace of ideas known as CPAC.  The Conservative conference is a hallmark of the political calendar in the United States; it is the ultimate intersection of ideas and the political Grassroots.  Similarly, sowing the seed of Conservatism in Canada is the Manning Centre for Building Democracy.The Manning Centre has been fostering the next generation of Conservative leaders and thinkers since 2005. They're annual networking conference  is a must for anyone interested in learning more about, individual responsibility, free markets and how government can get out of the way. It is a hybrid between the latest technical know-how and theory based policy.In fact, a trailer promoting the upcoming conference has been circulating the Internet for about a month now on You-Tube. The short one minute video clip takes the viewer on a patriotic and panacea journey of the opening and building of the Canadian frontier. In addition to highlighting quaint brief glimpses into Canada's past, along with the stunning visuals, it splashes well-known quotes across the screen, from such diverse sources as Québécois artists Félix Leclerc to former Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier. The Video leaves one with the feeling that the Manning Centre is trying to not only stay connected to Canada's past but set out on a bold new vision for the country's future. As for the conference this year, slated for March 8-10, the schedule of programmes includes "Beyond The Welfare State” and a "Conservative View Of The Armed Forces".   As well there will be distinguished speakers such as world-renowned British ME P. Daniel Hannan including Conservative strategist, Nick Kouvalis; along with a slew of federal MPs including the Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney. Clearly for one weekend this will be the… Read More

Conservative cultural policy

With the upcoming budget later this month, many eyes and much press, will be focused on the anticipated 10% cut to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and what that means for the future of Arts funding in Canada. Of course, the friends of the CBC and other left-wing advocacy groups will raise a hue and cry over continuing indifference of our public broadcaster. With one of the most anticipated austerity budgets in recent memory it is important to re-examine the relationship or ask questions about Canada's broader cultural policy and how it can flourish in today’s society.Along with fighting the war of ideas, the Conservative Movement also needs to focus on the Cultural aspects of Canadian society, in many ways it has as much impact as any other governmental policy. The Conservative Party approach to Cultural policy is markedly different from the traditional Liberal method. From a political standpoint the Conservatives in counterbalance to the Liberals have decided to focus more on historical and traditional institutions with the maintaining of the Canadian identity focusing on institutions like the monarchy and historical events such as the War of 1812. Therefore, rebranding and reinforcing the Canadian identity. This is in contrast to the traditional “Trudeau-utopian” model where there was a myriad of grants and cultural organizations that everyone paid for but no one saw. Economic freedom and cultural liberty are intertwined and the individual should be able to choose what art he or she supports as this principle should be paramount in the ideal world based on free market principles. Currently, we have to live with the hand that we are dealt, most Canadians although, not a top priority do support arts and culture. Conservatives now need to take a twin pronged approach first constructively criticize and point out any waste or mismanagement of… Read More

From the “wild ones” to the “entitled ones”

As the cold hard facts of court rulings and winter weather bring the Occupy protests to a screeching halt, it’s worth reflecting on the lofty ambitions that marked the movement’s origins. A movement that was supposed to be the “millennial” generation’s moment of social protest.A generation ago, the rebellion of the “boomers” was artistically summarized in films like "The Wild One," where Marlon Brando (the picture of leather jacket cool) personified a healthy disregard for the establishment. When famously asked what he was rebelling against, Brando's character coolly answered: “Whatever you got.”Every generation has the protesters and moments of social discontent. However, the sporadic uprisings of students in Occupy camps and protests earlier this month at the University of McGill (ostensibly over demands for lower tuition) are, in one sense, less sincere. Rather than being a rebellion against their culture, these protesters are a product of their environment more than anything else. In 60 years we have come from the “wild ones” to the “entitled ones.” And as the millennial generation expresses an ever-growing sense of entitlement, they would be wise to reflect on the legacy of their forbearers: the ever-diminishing capacity of the decaying welfare state to support their demands.Appearances suggest that the millennial generation will be defined by its superb use of social media and ability to adapt to emerging technology - ushering in the burgeoning era of the “Twitthnocrat,” where social media savvy passes as a marketable skill. However, an unintended by-product of this new job skill is that too many come to believe that they possess a right (rather than a privilege) to have social media access at work.An exaggeration? Consider a current study conducted by Cisco Systems that found over 56% of the new generation would pass over on taking a new job, if it… Read More

Why we should remember the War of 1812

It has been almost two hundred years since the fog of war loomed thick on battlefields across the North American continent – from Sackets Harbor to Queenston Heights. Though the events of 1812 have receded into the mist of our collective memory, their impact still echoes across centuries. Among other global conflicts during the 19th century, the War of 1812 represents a relatively minor affair, but it had a significant impact in shaping a nation out of a Britain’s last North American colonies.This week the forgotten war took front stage with a slew of federal announcements aiming to reintroduce Canadians to an important part of our past. The Canadian government has invested over $28 million to commemorate the war’s fast-approaching bicentennial. This also represents another step for the Conservatives in rebranding, or re-rebranding, our national identity. Having started with such institutions as the monarchy, the government is now repackaging our historical commemorations. Simply put, the Harper government is further defining Canadian identity – or, more importantly, providing a counterbalance to the prevailing Trudeauvian spin on Canadian history: that our identity is rooted in no more than the Charter, the flag, and a gaggle of social programs.While it is healthy for a nation to call upon cultural touchstones from its past, our citizenry sorely lacks basic understanding of our own history. It is a problem that 4 out of 10 Canadians between the ages of 25 and 34 have not even heard of the War of 1812. There may be a significant gap in common understanding of how the country came to be, but not only did the events of 1812 catalyze Canadian nationhood, but the war’s outcome determined the globe’s longest-reaching and longest-standing unarmed border.To those detractors that argue that the government should not be spending any of the public’s… Read More

CBC’s week of embarrassment

This week, a cloud will hang over the CBC’s official celebration of what was supposed to be a landmark occasion, the 75th anniversary of the crown corporation’s founding. Instead, jokes surrounding journalistic integrity, as well as the relevance of public broadcasting in Canada, will represent the watchword among the chattering classes in Canada. From a princess warrior gone awry, to access to information hearings, last week was certainly interesting for the CBC, as two seemingly disconnected events helped to highlight the hubris inside the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Originally, the raison d’être of the CBC was to provide a Canadian voice in broadcasting from coast to coast. In fact, one of the call signs for the CBC in the 1970s was: “When you watch, watch the best”.  This statement brings us to the present, and the events that transpired over the course of the past week, as the CBC engaged in practices that wouldn’t muster a passing grade in a first-year journalism ethics course.  First, the comedy sketch show This Hour Has 22 Minutes attempted an ambush-style interview early Monday morning at the home of Toronto mayor Rob Ford. Shortly after, the comedy stunt backfired on the broadcaster; in response, they spread misinformation about Ford’s statements to the 911 operator during the event. “Watch the best”, I don’t think so.In addition, the Ford incident proved yet again the double standard apparent when it comes to the treatment of Conservatives in Canada’s media. Although we have a Conservative federal government, this does not make the party and its supporters immune to immature and baseless attacks by Canada’s own publicly-funded broadcaster.More to the point, there is a growing chasm between the small cadre of CBC true believers, and the growing chorus of Canadians calling for some sort of accountability from our government broadcaster. When… Read More