EDITORIAL: For the sake of the conservative movement, vote NDP
The past nine years have in some ways been welcome to conservatives in Canada, being as they have been a needed break from Liberal governance. But in many other ways they have been a grand disappointment. Canadians who favour smaller government, along with other conservative priorities, should not forget the failure of the Tories to markedly reform the country, even with four years of majority rule.
The greatest sin has been the Conservatives’ unwillingness to alter the tax code in the direction of flatness and fairness. Far from making the tax system simpler, with decreases in marginal rates across the board, the Tories have indulged in boutique tax credit after boutique tax credit. These are closet subsidies which, contrary to the party’s self-promotion, are no substitute for broadening the tax base and lowering rates. Rather, they complicate the tax code and grow the bureaucracy.
On trade, the Tories have advanced the noble cause of free international enterprise, first involving the agreement with the European Union, and in the past weeks with their signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But the government has not pursued the end of internal trade barriers which constitute a founding principle of the Canadian federation. Apart from a legal challenge and negotiations with the provinces, the government should have long ago intervened on the ground of “peace, order, and good government” to force the provinces to bring down their protection policies. Neither have the Tories overturned the mad, Soviet model of supply management which serves to inflate the price of milk, eggs, and poultry. The TPP negotiations would have been a fine occasion to abolish the cartels. Instead, they have fought to protect them.
The Conservatives have also made no inroads in challenging the Supreme Court, despite the clear efforts of that court to block the government’s legislation at every turn. A majority Conservative government could have invoked the Notwithstanding Clause on numerous occasions, thereby establishing its use as a normal political operation by Parliament. Instead, Harper has been outmanoeuvred by the unelected Court Party, further entrenching its power.
Plus, the Tories have embraced a pettiness of style that is unbecoming of a conservative party. The Senate Scandal is of course no comparison to the rank corruption of the preceding Liberal regimes, which thieved to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds. But there is still no possible justification for attempting to cover up the worst excuse for a senator, whose illegitimate appointment was itself a political favour. Whether $90,000 is a significant figure or not, they should have known better than to shelter Mister Duffy.
That’s not to mention the government’s inaction on the CBC, the public broadcaster that should long ago have been forced to earn more of its revenues from subscriptions, donations, and private stakes in the corporation, rather than depending so greatly on taxpayer dollars.
As a newspaper founded to represent the small-C conservative philosophy among youth, it might come to some surprise that we will not endorse the Conservatives in this election. As much as we tried to convince ourselves, the current party under Stephen Harper cannot be supported. It has become a party stripped of ideas and whose sole mission is to win elections.
This leaves the matter of choosing a party to endorse. The temptation certainly exists to advise a protest vote: for our readers to spoil their ballots, choose a minor party, or not vote at all. But this election has been a true three-way race, one in which three distinct visions of government have been offered to the electorate. Everyone should be able to choose one of the major parties this time around.
On the other hand, no one with either a brain or a conscience should ever vote for any candidate from the wretched Liberal Party.
As an alternative to the Conservatives, the NDP represent a fair option. It is not just a process of elimination. There is much to like in Thomas Mulcair, who unlike Justin Trudeau is actually a serious person with some intellectual and leadership qualities. He has proven himself well in Parliament as leader of the opposition, and we can’t help but enjoy his past comments of praise for Mrs. Thatcher, small government, and the privatization of government assets.
Unlikely as an NDP win appears to be right now, any change of fortunes in this respect would doubtless be limited to minority rule. The most worrying aspect of the NDP platform — the national daycare program — would be years away from implementation; it also depends on support from the provinces, of which several have already stated opposition. Otherwise, the NDP has promised to keep the budget balanced and to not raise taxes. In sum, there is a limit to the amount of damage an NDP government could do.
But perhaps most importantly, an NDP win would allow the Conservative Party to take a deep breath, rediscover itself and return to its roots. There is little doubt that a Tory loss would spell the end of Stephen Harper as leader of the party. A leadership race would give the party a chance to rejuvenate, strengthen its ideals, and come back more united in the 43rd General Election. We are willing to make this short term sacrifice for the conservative movement’s long-term gain.
To be sure, if the NDP were to form a government, we would be one of its strongest critics. But so would be the case for any administration. A combination of the failures of the Conservatives, the sheer and permanent unpalatability of the Liberals, and an encouraging NDP campaign leads us as the Prince Arthur Herald editorial board to endorse the New Democrats in the 2015 election.
Prince Arthur Herald
Photo Credit: Toronto Star