Harper just doesn't get it

Lana
Lana Payne
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In the end it may well be his aloofness - his inability to convey empathy - that does him in.
That coolness, combined with his rigidity and his too-right policies have always been his Achilles heel with the majority of Canadian voters. No empathy, bad policy and a leader most Canadians strongly dislike.
Stephen Harper's insistence - not unlike John McCain's in the United States just days before a whopping bailout of Wall Street - that the fundamentals of the economy are strong so stop worrying is not what Canadians watching their jobs disappear, their retirement savings vanish and stock markets plunge want to hear.
Rome is burning - it has been for a long time in the centre of the country - and the prime minister watches impassively, saying the best economic medicine for Canada is for government to stay out of things and let the markets do their job.
Well, I guess the markets have done their job and then some.
Indeed you'd have to question just how sound our economic fundamentals have been when you consider that wages have stagnated and good-paying jobs have evaporated. How sound is an economy when the economic pie is so unevenly shared?
As banks around the world are rescued by governments, as Wall Street sucks up a $700-billion bailout while a multitude of American families lose their homes and as bank economists in Canada proclaim we are headed for something worse than a recession, Canadians want sympathy from their prime minister. They want understanding; reassurance; compassion. They want action.
What they got was none of that.
Instead, they got a stock tip from the prime minister.
"I think there are probably a lot of great buying opportunities emerging in the stock market as a consequence of all this panic," Harper said Tuesday after finally announcing his party's platform with just a week left in the election campaign.
Absolutely stunning! The world is crashing around us and the best Canada's prime minister can come up with is cold-hearted stock market advice.
Canadians who have lost nearly $100 billion in pension funds and RRSPs in the past seven months want something more from their prime minister than buy low and sell high.
They also got a lecture in Milton Friedman economics. Friedman was Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher's economic guru. He promoted an economy with no government intervention or regulation - in other words unfettered capitalism.
It is this system that has caused such pain and misery and is throwing the world into financial chaos. It is this system in the days and weeks ahead that must be re-examined and thrown out - replaced with one that does not allow what John Kenneth Galbraith referred to as "recurrent lapses into financial dementia."
Canadians should be grateful Harper didn't have more time to apply Friedman medicine to our economy.
It is after all regulation of our banking sector that has saved Canada from being in the kind of shape the U.S., U.K., Iceland and other European nations have suffered from these past weeks.
The polls were so volatile last week that it was difficult to imagine Harper would recover from his numerous blunders. What's clear is this is a man who doesn't just lack the ability to express emotion, he lacks a basic understanding of what it is Canadians care about. He lacks the all important thing every leader needs in a time of crisis - heart, humility and the ability to convey a plan of action.
Canadians might look to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for inspiration. Instead of ignoring or downplaying the magnitude of the global financial crisis, Brown moved quickly and decisively last week.
"Extraordinary times call for bold and far-reaching solutions. This is not a time for conventional thinking or outdated dogma but for fresh and innovative intervention that gets to the heart of the problem," he said.
It seems though that Harper is insulated from the average worries of Canadians, out of touch with their dreams and aspirations.
There were more than a few clues in this election campaign.
His insulting, patronizing assertion that ordinary Canadians don't care about the arts missed the mark in more ways than one. After all, it is these so- called ordinary Canadians who scrimp and save so their kids can take music and dance lessons.
Today they are not looking for a cheap stock, but are instead worrying about their retirement funds, about paying the bills, balancing their cheque books, their kids' education, and aging parents.
Stephen Harper just doesn't get it.
What Canadians don't want to be told is that there is no need to worry as the world's financial system is crashing around them.
And what is clear is the financial meltdown hasn't been enough to thaw the ice around Harper's heart.

Lana Payne is a former journalist who is active in the labour movement. She can be reached by e-mail at lanapayne@nl.rogers.com. Her column returns Oct. 25.

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Rome Iceland

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  • Funky
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Phoebe Tilley writes.... for the love of God woman dont be so one sided and opinionated all the time.

    Wow. Wow. You're a completely unbiased observer aren't you Phoebe.

  • apples
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    MY retirement RRSP's have dropped by 35% this year. Is Mr Harper willing to take a 35% cut in his pension?

  • George
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Yeah right. Vote NDP or Liberal and watch the jobs disappear altogether.

  • Kevin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Monkey Funky I dont see the point of anyone trying to explain anything to you or argue with you you clearly have no idea whats going on anyway just mostly meaningless rambles. But thats your right so knock yourself out my friend. Opps do I need to explain what I mean by that. Hopefully you dont take me literally.Its nice to know that your the official monotor for the rest of us as we ramble on. Must be nice to have all that spare time with nothing better to do.

  • Funky
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Let me explain something to you Kevin. In an argument or discussion, people use ideas, logic, knowledge to attack the other persons argument and to try to prove that their own is right.

    Saying my argument is bad and I'm rambling and you don't need to explain anything to me is the same as saying that I'm winning. Because (an explaination of your opinion or idea is important in an argument) you have no ideas or thoughts to support your own argument. Simply trying to dismiss my arugment as nonsense (when clearly it is not, because I'm a genious) points to the fact that you have no real arugment.

    There are lots of opinions I don't agree with. I don't agree with a lot of the things Tim from Banff has said, but he has articulated his points and opinions with a rational argument. It's obvious he doesn't agree with my interpretation of the world and neither I his, but that's fine by me. At least he is trying to counter my discussion with his conflicting point of view.

    Your just basically doing nothing.

    How's that for rambling. I can ramble with the best of them. Ramble on my friends.

  • Fred
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Funky Monkey Man its because of people like you that a party can get 30% and still form the government. Your talking out of both sides of your mouth as usual. You yourself must be or should be a politician. You can rant off for ever and really end up saying nothing of any value. Oh well good luck whoever you choose to vote for on Tuesday. Look forward to hear you give all the reasons why things went wrong in the world and how you can fix it all. Phoebe my dear you make perfect sense. Too bad Monkey Man has a hard time dealing with reality.

  • Tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    As amazed as I am that someone who has a title Funky Monkey, can actually debate intelligently, I will try to contain my excitment.
    We agree on many points. Firstly, I did not say I was a conservative. I was trying to open a line on Steven's demeanor and perhaps get people to view his persona differently. I empathise
    with the man.
    I want to thank you for the lessons concerning capitalism and socialism. Once again we agree that, in theroy, many systems look good including communism. However, they all involve the flawed species called humans, and therefore no system can remain pure or stable.
    Having said that there are basic fundamental's that govern the outcome of whatever people play with. i.e. some basic economics. It is all well and good to want day care, fully funded medicare, dental, the arts, etc, however if the method of paying for all of the above is to tax the very backbone, (the people who can afford to support all of the goodies), to the point of breaking, you end up where we have been heading for 40 yrs. (and who has been in charge historically for the majority of that time?). That is to say - we are on the brink of destroying our very foundations. We cannot afford to attack, via taxes, the ones paying for most of the desires of others. It is a recipe for failure.
    Capitalist are not necessarily thinking only of themselves, but they do have an understanding of what it takes to exists in a capitalistic society. - read - world. Solid platforms, good fore thought, wide vision with individual enhancement, healthy, happy people - this is all good business sense which is not in conflict with socialistic ideals. Many businesses offer on site child care. Yes it may stem from pure competition and poaching of good employees, however the ideal is still obtained. And there is no drain on society as a whole. Many businesses are now offering flex hours, four day work weeks, transportation to and from work, (I'm speaking worldly not necessarily in Canada), cheap lunches and cafeterias, in essense, a socialized mini society.
    My point is, I want people to realize there are other ways to make it good for all, without killing the few.
    Concerning the arts and the sense of identity. I hear this all of the time and cannot fathom how people can believe that identiy should be a government dictated ideal. Identiy is not controlable, enforced, built, or fabricated. It is - or it isn't. To use this argument in defense of the art programs, in a nation that just completed paving the trans canada highway, is preposterous. Anyone who has moved from one province to another, understands Canada's identity is a fallacy. Every district, province, county has it's own identity based on the historical facts of the area. As is the case in the entire world. The thought that without art we are an empty species does not baffle me. What baffles me is the illogical argument that governments must force art on the people for their own good. If art, in whatever format, is true, it will reach the people's hearts on it's own volition. Art, by definition, is subjective, and therefore should not expect all to pay for it. I would prefer to choose my own art, not have a government interpret what art is!
    Enough for now. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Funky
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Fred...you never made a single point in that whole comment. You never tried to counter any of the points I made or tried to explain any of the points you tried to make. Please enlighten me as to how I have been talking out of both sides of my mouth.

    Because I said something you didn't agree with doesn't mean I didn't actually say anything of value. PLEASE make a point Fred, PLEASE.

    Fred said... Funky Monkey Man its because of people like you that a party can get 30% and still form the government.

    I don't know what this means. Please explain. Use knowledge and reason to formulate a response this time. Wink!

  • Phoebe Tilley
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Lana let me get this right. You rant on and complain because Prime Minister Harper didnt panic like the other leaders so this is somehow not the right thing to do. What absolute garbage you continue to spew out. You are obviously not a Conservative supporter and thats your right but for the love of God woman dont be so one sided and opinionated all the time. Your negativity is sickening. You really have a chip on your shoulder for some reason. Get over it and move on. After all you are a FORMER Journalist. Now we all know why that is.

  • Joyce
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    The writer is right on the mark here. Listenning to the worn our talk about buying stocks when low, sure gamble some more with money you do not have !

    And of course his Senior citizen mother watchgin her stocks has given him insight to the plight of the ordinary people ! Only very well-heeled Seniors are playing the markets. Wouldn 't it be great if he could figure out the plight of others, by simply using his brain, with no need for bogus insight from Mother?

    Another of his comment that drove me nuts, was If I could read the markets, I would be much richer than I am ...wow....out to lunch or what! Wonder how rich he really is.

  • D
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Phoebe, honestly, no one held a gun to your head and made you read Ms. Payne's articles. If being a former journalist makes that much of a difference to someone's credibility, then why don't YOU write something if you think you can do better?

    As for voting Liberal, no effing way. I'm with Funky Monkey on this one--I weigh my needs and preferences and pick a leader based on that, not some historical requirement or personal gain. So far, based on what is important to me, Harper is at rock bottom of the list. And honestly, Dion isn't too far ahead of him.

    If Canadians can't get a clue from watching what the Bush administration has done to the US, then they deserve to have Harper. Maybe when he sneaks the horsemen of the Apocalypse into parliament people will catch on, but by then it'll be too late.

  • Tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Lana Payne has a knack for story telling. Fictitious stories-never-the-less. In case she has forgotten, capitalism is the ideal Canadians subscribe. Evidentally, socialism is what Lana desires. The unfortunate reality of socialist is the expectations that all desires, (as opposed to needs), are satisfied, and that someone else should pay for it.
    I'm not sure what kind of heart pumps Lana's ideals, however, it may behoove one to consider that Steven Harper appears solid as a manner of containing and contolling emotions so as not to react. In other words, thinking, planning, then going forward. A novel concept that Lana may want to try. As a person having reached high levels of business, I can attest that my demeanor did not reflect my person in business meetings. As a matter of principle, decorum, and civility, it was important to portray an image of confidence, solid vision, and control. Seeing the largeness of an issue and how it may effect all, was called fair insight.
    In my experience people who consistantly vote liberal are doing so as a historical requirement, or for personal gain. The nation never enters their thoughts.

  • Funky
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I find it rather funny that people such as Tim always believe that people only vote Liberal out of some historical connection to the party...but those who choose conservative minded parties do so out of careful thought and consideration of the options.

    The idea of socialism is not a selfish one, hoping that others will pay for you. It's the idea that everyone is working together to help provide for everyone else in society, especailly those who cannot help themselves. Capitalism on the other hand (as it is practised) is inherently selfish in nature. It's based on the idea that everyone should try to make as much money as possible and eventually that money will trickle down to everyone else. It's based on small government and the idea that private business can provide services better then a government ever could. In theory it would work if it wasn't for the human species generally selfish personalities. If a business's goal was to help people instead of making money it would work, but that's never the goal of a money making enterprise.

    I'll admit that all political or societal theories such as capitalism or socialism work in theory, but in practice they all have their flaws. But it's an incorrect statement to say socialism is a selfish practice.

    In practice Canadians do not soley subscribe to capitalism. We are in fact a socialist-leaning country with a free market where capitalism is practiced. Neither system dominates (and neither it should) and it works. We have socialized medicine, public schools, publicly funded police forces and armies. The polls also show that (even thought I dislike polls during an election). Anywhere between 60-70 % of people have consistently supported left-leaning parties. There is a topic for another day. Our electoral system is seriously flawed when a right-wing party can conceivably only win around 30% of the popular vote and form a government. This is the most likely scenario of the upcoming vote on Tuesday. The Conservatives will win another minority government, but between 60-70% of the people voted against it.

    The fundamental difference in my view between those that consider them left-wing or right-wing is in support of programs such as arts funding or childcare or recreation programs. Whereas a left-leaning person will want such programs to help build a sense of identity within our communities, provinces, and country, a right-wing person believes their money should stay with them and not be used to support other people. I can see their point, but in terms of community and nation-building, this is the wrong attitude and Harper personifies this.

    There is something else people should remember. Look at history. Politics is alwasy changing. Today's Liberal party is more centralist then ever before and more closely resembles the old Progressive Conservative party in terms of policy and ideology. The NDP are more like the Liberals of the 1990s and the Greens are filling the void in the further-left vacated by the NDP. Today's Conservative party does not resemble the PC's of old and has moved further-right and their plans more closely resemble the old Reform party.

    Also, to those who say that the NDP will drive us further into debt...in terms of history, NDP governments actually have a great record of balanced budgets. Look at Tommy Douglas's record in Saskatchewan...I think it was 9 or 11 straight balanced budgets. And to those that always bring up Rae-Days in Ontario....Bob Rae actually inherited a mess from the Tory government led by Mike Harris.

    I am neither a Liberal, NDP, Green, Conservative, or Rhinocerous Party member (I have voted for all parties, except the Rhinos). I am a concerned Canadian that diligently weighs all options during an election and picks the party that has a platform that most closely resembles my beliefs and opinions.

    My name is Funky Monkey, and I apporved this message.

  • Funky
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Tim, I agree somewhat with your assessment of arts. But I do not believe having government funded arts programs is akin to having the government control the arts. We are not living in a dictatorship in Canada and are not being run by a tyranical despot (although many people would argue that is exactly what Harper is). Artists and arts programs do need an injection of funds to be able to continue to survive and produce their art. The recent cuts to arts funding (yes, arts funding was cut, Heritage Canada funding went up, but arts programs in that department have lost money). Not helping artists with the funds to create art and more specifically (acknowledging the programs that were cut) spread their art around the world. Having government funded arts programs does not force specific art on people (people can enjoy what they want), it gives artists momentum to produce art that challenges our ideals and identities and makes us take a look at who we actually are. Limiting funds to arts programs is the dangerous play as it limits art to only that which is deemed acceptable by the government.

    Also, I have travelled coast to coast. I agree each area has it's own unique identity, but there is a common Canadian identity. Belief that there isn't is one of the reasons that one day there will very likely not be a Canada as we know it today.

    I completely disagree with you that taxation is destroying our country. Taxes do not attack people. They are designed to provide money which is used for programs and infrastructure that are used by everyone. It's used for the common good.

    You say that you.... ...want people to realize there are other ways to make it good for all, without killing the few.

    You make the point that a lot of companies provide day-care, 4-day work weeks, corporate health plans etc. But the vast majority of people in the country do not work for these type of companies. Luckily I do, and I'm greatful for my companies generosity. But I also know that tomorrow there is a possibility something could happen and I could lose this job and have to take one of the thousands of McJobs that are out there.

    I don't believe having taxes to pay for these programs as a safety net and support for those not as fortunate as me is a big deal.

    Those are the competing ideologies of our world today. Both look great in theory, neither works well alone. But the amount to which each dominates the other is where the debate lies.

    If we didn't have a tax system there would be a greater percentage of people in our country today without work, homes, or food to eat every night.

    Yes, I agree with some of your thoughts on capitalism, but I don't believe it is the system which helps the greatest number of people. And that's what I expect our government to do. Provide the greatest amount of benefit for the greatest number of people.

    On your line of debate regarding Harper's personality...his cool demeaner does have positives and is in a sense calming. But regardless of how strong our economy is (and I believe we will pull through this latest economic crisis better then most countries) we are in a global economy and if the biggest players are hurting it will trickle down to us in some ways.

  • Funky
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Phoebe Tilley writes.... for the love of God woman dont be so one sided and opinionated all the time.

    Wow. Wow. You're a completely unbiased observer aren't you Phoebe.

  • apples
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    MY retirement RRSP's have dropped by 35% this year. Is Mr Harper willing to take a 35% cut in his pension?

  • George
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Yeah right. Vote NDP or Liberal and watch the jobs disappear altogether.

  • Kevin
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Monkey Funky I dont see the point of anyone trying to explain anything to you or argue with you you clearly have no idea whats going on anyway just mostly meaningless rambles. But thats your right so knock yourself out my friend. Opps do I need to explain what I mean by that. Hopefully you dont take me literally.Its nice to know that your the official monotor for the rest of us as we ramble on. Must be nice to have all that spare time with nothing better to do.

  • Funky
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Let me explain something to you Kevin. In an argument or discussion, people use ideas, logic, knowledge to attack the other persons argument and to try to prove that their own is right.

    Saying my argument is bad and I'm rambling and you don't need to explain anything to me is the same as saying that I'm winning. Because (an explaination of your opinion or idea is important in an argument) you have no ideas or thoughts to support your own argument. Simply trying to dismiss my arugment as nonsense (when clearly it is not, because I'm a genious) points to the fact that you have no real arugment.

    There are lots of opinions I don't agree with. I don't agree with a lot of the things Tim from Banff has said, but he has articulated his points and opinions with a rational argument. It's obvious he doesn't agree with my interpretation of the world and neither I his, but that's fine by me. At least he is trying to counter my discussion with his conflicting point of view.

    Your just basically doing nothing.

    How's that for rambling. I can ramble with the best of them. Ramble on my friends.

  • Fred
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Funky Monkey Man its because of people like you that a party can get 30% and still form the government. Your talking out of both sides of your mouth as usual. You yourself must be or should be a politician. You can rant off for ever and really end up saying nothing of any value. Oh well good luck whoever you choose to vote for on Tuesday. Look forward to hear you give all the reasons why things went wrong in the world and how you can fix it all. Phoebe my dear you make perfect sense. Too bad Monkey Man has a hard time dealing with reality.

  • Tim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    As amazed as I am that someone who has a title Funky Monkey, can actually debate intelligently, I will try to contain my excitment.
    We agree on many points. Firstly, I did not say I was a conservative. I was trying to open a line on Steven's demeanor and perhaps get people to view his persona differently. I empathise
    with the man.
    I want to thank you for the lessons concerning capitalism and socialism. Once again we agree that, in theroy, many systems look good including communism. However, they all involve the flawed species called humans, and therefore no system can remain pure or stable.
    Having said that there are basic fundamental's that govern the outcome of whatever people play with. i.e. some basic economics. It is all well and good to want day care, fully funded medicare, dental, the arts, etc, however if the method of paying for all of the above is to tax the very backbone, (the people who can afford to support all of the goodies), to the point of breaking, you end up where we have been heading for 40 yrs. (and who has been in charge historically for the majority of that time?). That is to say - we are on the brink of destroying our very foundations. We cannot afford to attack, via taxes, the ones paying for most of the desires of others. It is a recipe for failure.
    Capitalist are not necessarily thinking only of themselves, but they do have an understanding of what it takes to exists in a capitalistic society. - read - world. Solid platforms, good fore thought, wide vision with individual enhancement, healthy, happy people - this is all good business sense which is not in conflict with socialistic ideals. Many businesses offer on site child care. Yes it may stem from pure competition and poaching of good employees, however the ideal is still obtained. And there is no drain on society as a whole. Many businesses are now offering flex hours, four day work weeks, transportation to and from work, (I'm speaking worldly not necessarily in Canada), cheap lunches and cafeterias, in essense, a socialized mini society.
    My point is, I want people to realize there are other ways to make it good for all, without killing the few.
    Concerning the arts and the sense of identity. I hear this all of the time and cannot fathom how people can believe that identiy should be a government dictated ideal. Identiy is not controlable, enforced, built, or fabricated. It is - or it isn't. To use this argument in defense of the art programs, in a nation that just completed paving the trans canada highway, is preposterous. Anyone who has moved from one province to another, understands Canada's identity is a fallacy. Every district, province, county has it's own identity based on the historical facts of the area. As is the case in the entire world. The thought that without art we are an empty species does not baffle me. What baffles me is the illogical argument that governments must force art on the people for their own good. If art, in whatever format, is true, it will reach the people's hearts on it's own volition. Art, by definition, is subjective, and therefore should not expect all to pay for it. I would prefer to choose my own art, not have a government interpret what art is!
    Enough for now. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Funky
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Fred...you never made a single point in that whole comment. You never tried to counter any of the points I made or tried to explain any of the points you tried to make. Please enlighten me as to how I have been talking out of both sides of my mouth.

    Because I said something you didn't agree with doesn't mean I didn't actually say anything of value. PLEASE make a point Fred, PLEASE.

    Fred said... Funky Monkey Man its because of people like you that a party can get 30% and still form the government.

    I don't know what this means. Please explain. Use knowledge and reason to formulate a response this time. Wink!

  • Phoebe Tilley
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Lana let me get this right. You rant on and complain because Prime Minister Harper didnt panic like the other leaders so this is somehow not the right thing to do. What absolute garbage you continue to spew out. You are obviously not a Conservative supporter and thats your right but for the love of God woman dont be so one sided and opinionated all the time. Your negativity is sickening. You really have a chip on your shoulder for some reason. Get over it and move on. After all you are a FORMER Journalist. Now we all know why that is.

  • Joyce
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    The writer is right on the mark here. Listenning to the worn our talk about buying stocks when low, sure gamble some more with money you do not have !

    And of course his Senior citizen mother watchgin her stocks has given him insight to the plight of the ordinary people ! Only very well-heeled Seniors are playing the markets. Wouldn 't it be great if he could figure out the plight of others, by simply using his brain, with no need for bogus insight from Mother?

    Another of his comment that drove me nuts, was If I could read the markets, I would be much richer than I am ...wow....out to lunch or what! Wonder how rich he really is.

  • D
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Phoebe, honestly, no one held a gun to your head and made you read Ms. Payne's articles. If being a former journalist makes that much of a difference to someone's credibility, then why don't YOU write something if you think you can do better?

    As for voting Liberal, no effing way. I'm with Funky Monkey on this one--I weigh my needs and preferences and pick a leader based on that, not some historical requirement or personal gain. So far, based on what is important to me, Harper is at rock bottom of the list. And honestly, Dion isn't too far ahead of him.

    If Canadians can't get a clue from watching what the Bush administration has done to the US, then they deserve to have Harper. Maybe when he sneaks the horsemen of the Apocalypse into parliament people will catch on, but by then it'll be too late.

  • Tim
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Lana Payne has a knack for story telling. Fictitious stories-never-the-less. In case she has forgotten, capitalism is the ideal Canadians subscribe. Evidentally, socialism is what Lana desires. The unfortunate reality of socialist is the expectations that all desires, (as opposed to needs), are satisfied, and that someone else should pay for it.
    I'm not sure what kind of heart pumps Lana's ideals, however, it may behoove one to consider that Steven Harper appears solid as a manner of containing and contolling emotions so as not to react. In other words, thinking, planning, then going forward. A novel concept that Lana may want to try. As a person having reached high levels of business, I can attest that my demeanor did not reflect my person in business meetings. As a matter of principle, decorum, and civility, it was important to portray an image of confidence, solid vision, and control. Seeing the largeness of an issue and how it may effect all, was called fair insight.
    In my experience people who consistantly vote liberal are doing so as a historical requirement, or for personal gain. The nation never enters their thoughts.

  • Funky
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    I find it rather funny that people such as Tim always believe that people only vote Liberal out of some historical connection to the party...but those who choose conservative minded parties do so out of careful thought and consideration of the options.

    The idea of socialism is not a selfish one, hoping that others will pay for you. It's the idea that everyone is working together to help provide for everyone else in society, especailly those who cannot help themselves. Capitalism on the other hand (as it is practised) is inherently selfish in nature. It's based on the idea that everyone should try to make as much money as possible and eventually that money will trickle down to everyone else. It's based on small government and the idea that private business can provide services better then a government ever could. In theory it would work if it wasn't for the human species generally selfish personalities. If a business's goal was to help people instead of making money it would work, but that's never the goal of a money making enterprise.

    I'll admit that all political or societal theories such as capitalism or socialism work in theory, but in practice they all have their flaws. But it's an incorrect statement to say socialism is a selfish practice.

    In practice Canadians do not soley subscribe to capitalism. We are in fact a socialist-leaning country with a free market where capitalism is practiced. Neither system dominates (and neither it should) and it works. We have socialized medicine, public schools, publicly funded police forces and armies. The polls also show that (even thought I dislike polls during an election). Anywhere between 60-70 % of people have consistently supported left-leaning parties. There is a topic for another day. Our electoral system is seriously flawed when a right-wing party can conceivably only win around 30% of the popular vote and form a government. This is the most likely scenario of the upcoming vote on Tuesday. The Conservatives will win another minority government, but between 60-70% of the people voted against it.

    The fundamental difference in my view between those that consider them left-wing or right-wing is in support of programs such as arts funding or childcare or recreation programs. Whereas a left-leaning person will want such programs to help build a sense of identity within our communities, provinces, and country, a right-wing person believes their money should stay with them and not be used to support other people. I can see their point, but in terms of community and nation-building, this is the wrong attitude and Harper personifies this.

    There is something else people should remember. Look at history. Politics is alwasy changing. Today's Liberal party is more centralist then ever before and more closely resembles the old Progressive Conservative party in terms of policy and ideology. The NDP are more like the Liberals of the 1990s and the Greens are filling the void in the further-left vacated by the NDP. Today's Conservative party does not resemble the PC's of old and has moved further-right and their plans more closely resemble the old Reform party.

    Also, to those who say that the NDP will drive us further into debt...in terms of history, NDP governments actually have a great record of balanced budgets. Look at Tommy Douglas's record in Saskatchewan...I think it was 9 or 11 straight balanced budgets. And to those that always bring up Rae-Days in Ontario....Bob Rae actually inherited a mess from the Tory government led by Mike Harris.

    I am neither a Liberal, NDP, Green, Conservative, or Rhinocerous Party member (I have voted for all parties, except the Rhinos). I am a concerned Canadian that diligently weighs all options during an election and picks the party that has a platform that most closely resembles my beliefs and opinions.

    My name is Funky Monkey, and I apporved this message.

  • Funky
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Tim, I agree somewhat with your assessment of arts. But I do not believe having government funded arts programs is akin to having the government control the arts. We are not living in a dictatorship in Canada and are not being run by a tyranical despot (although many people would argue that is exactly what Harper is). Artists and arts programs do need an injection of funds to be able to continue to survive and produce their art. The recent cuts to arts funding (yes, arts funding was cut, Heritage Canada funding went up, but arts programs in that department have lost money). Not helping artists with the funds to create art and more specifically (acknowledging the programs that were cut) spread their art around the world. Having government funded arts programs does not force specific art on people (people can enjoy what they want), it gives artists momentum to produce art that challenges our ideals and identities and makes us take a look at who we actually are. Limiting funds to arts programs is the dangerous play as it limits art to only that which is deemed acceptable by the government.

    Also, I have travelled coast to coast. I agree each area has it's own unique identity, but there is a common Canadian identity. Belief that there isn't is one of the reasons that one day there will very likely not be a Canada as we know it today.

    I completely disagree with you that taxation is destroying our country. Taxes do not attack people. They are designed to provide money which is used for programs and infrastructure that are used by everyone. It's used for the common good.

    You say that you.... ...want people to realize there are other ways to make it good for all, without killing the few.

    You make the point that a lot of companies provide day-care, 4-day work weeks, corporate health plans etc. But the vast majority of people in the country do not work for these type of companies. Luckily I do, and I'm greatful for my companies generosity. But I also know that tomorrow there is a possibility something could happen and I could lose this job and have to take one of the thousands of McJobs that are out there.

    I don't believe having taxes to pay for these programs as a safety net and support for those not as fortunate as me is a big deal.

    Those are the competing ideologies of our world today. Both look great in theory, neither works well alone. But the amount to which each dominates the other is where the debate lies.

    If we didn't have a tax system there would be a greater percentage of people in our country today without work, homes, or food to eat every night.

    Yes, I agree with some of your thoughts on capitalism, but I don't believe it is the system which helps the greatest number of people. And that's what I expect our government to do. Provide the greatest amount of benefit for the greatest number of people.

    On your line of debate regarding Harper's personality...his cool demeaner does have positives and is in a sense calming. But regardless of how strong our economy is (and I believe we will pull through this latest economic crisis better then most countries) we are in a global economy and if the biggest players are hurting it will trickle down to us in some ways.