Tuesday, March 22, 2005

2005 Conservative Party of Canada Convention

March 22, 2005

Dear Editor,

The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) convention in Montreal is all over and weary delegates have all returned home. They should be weary as they applauded nearly every spoken word in their attempts to put on a united face. Were they successful? Only time will tell, but I want to take a look at what all the cheering was about.

Stephan Harper’s speech was the highlight of the great event. He said the liberals are on the way out and the Conservatives will form the next government. Does this mean they won’t abstain from any future votes like they did on the budget? Does this mean they will have the courage to win a non-confidence vote and cause an early election? Don’t hold your breath. If you were earning the salary MP’s earn how soon would you want to risk all with a roll of the dice in an election? The liberals are currently sitting around 40% compared to around 30% for the CPC according to reported polling. Of course, the CPC will dispute any polls that are not in their favour. The Conservatives are claiming they are united based on Harper getting an 84% approval rating from the delegates. Maybe they are, but Prime Minister Paul Martin received a rating of 88% from the liberal convention delegates. Does this mean the liberals are more united? You can expect the CPC to dispute this as well. Humility was none-existent in Harper’s speech or at the CPC convention.

Harper claimed that the liberal government years have only been good for liberals and he condemned them for having a surplus budget. The liberals balanced the budget for eight consecutive years, (This is the longest unbroken string of surpluses since Confederation.) have a five-year financial plan in place and Saskatchewan has done very well with Ralph Goodale at the Cabinet table. Further, our economy, on balance, is doing better than any of the other G7 countries. If the liberal government was not managing the economy and was falling in debt each year then the Conservatives would condemn them for that as well. The Harper Conservatives are quick to condemn those who dare to disagree with them, but we should take solace as Stephan Harper says he won’t call us stupid if we choose to disagree with him. Damn, I feel a lot better now.

Harper then asked what the liberals have done in twelve years. I thought he would have known the answer to that question. Regardless, the same question would likely be asked by liberals if the Conservatives were in power for twelve years. We now know some of the policies we can expect if the Harper Conservatives are elected to govern. They will define marriage as that being between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, but they will not address the equally sensitive issue of abortion. They will have to more clearly define their position on abortion before the next election or maybe just dump it in the “Vote your Conscience” box. They will support the US on issues of common interest, including Missile Defence. They will say yes to families and no to marijuana and drugs. They will scrap the gun registry and hold elections for new Senators. They will listen to every voter and will not attack you unless you disagree with them. Is that why many delegates were afraid to be interviewed by the media? That makes them no different than any other political party.

Stephan Harper and the Conservatives attacked the liberals and were insensitive to older people when they made repeated comments about Paul Martin’s age. Harper ignored the division among his own ranks as headlined by the media in the fight sparked by differences between former Conservative leader, Peter MacKay and Scott Reid, a senior Conservative MP from the former Canadian Alliance. It is clear that there are still deep divisions among Conservatives on a range of matters and issues. Regardless, I give them full marks in their attempts to gloss over these differences as they frantically pumped each other with applauds at every spoken word, cheers, standing ovations and a non-stop party atmosphere. Unfortunately, it takes more than this to responsibly serve and govern a nation such as Canada.

For over four decades I have worked campaigns for Conservatives, served as an elected member for three terms and successfully assisted, as a campaign manager and strategist, with the election of Conservative Member’s of Parliament from Saskatchewan. I most recently served as the executive assistant for former MP Larry Spencer who self-destructed just prior to the last election. Stephan Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada made sure his destruction was permanent by stripping him of his Conservative membership as they did with former Premier Grant Devine.

I decided to drop my membership in the Conservative Party of Canada in December of 2004. The recent CPC convention and all the false bravado provided no cause for me to ponder my decision.

Regardless, the Conservatives held the best convention they could have hoped for and I believe they achieved their goals. So join the weary delegates and get pumped. If you vote according to who held the most successful convention then you will have to vote Conservative. Enough already!

Larry Birkbeck