Posted in Opinions

Conservatives are eroding Canadian values

By Ian Bushfield

Stephen Harper hates Canada, or at least he has indicated as much. He and his brand of Reform Party theo-cons have every intention of tearing down the institutions that make our country great.

The most recent evidence of this is Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s personal interventions to remove references to homosexual rights from Canada’s latest immigration brochures. Rather than have new immigrants know that Canada was among the first countries in the world to extend the right of marriage to same-sex couples, the Conservatives would rather paint a picture of the Canada they wish existed. Similarly, the brochure also omits any reference to health care and feminism, and plays up our history of armed conflict while downplaying our role as world peacekeepers.

Yet these Conservatives’ pasts haunt them. In 2003, as a member of the neoconservative group Civitas, Harper stated that to achieve the goal of a conservative social policy, the Conservatives must win over immigrants and make “incremental” movements to the right, knowing full well that an abrupt change of course toward their true goals would scare most Canadians.

So after six years as leader of a minority government, we have watched Harper make deep cuts to our federal income streams. Lowered income from the GST, as well as corporate and personal income taxes, has put the country in a deficit, to which the only available answer for the neoconservative is an attack on one of the foundations of our modern Canadian society — the welfare state.

In a similar vein, to reform our society, we have witnessed massive cuts and legislation changes to cripple several decades of progress fought for by this nation’s feminists. Status of Women Canada is a shell of its former self, and after the 2009 budget, it is now harder for women to achieve equal pay for equal work.

Even our democratic systems suffer, as our prime minister is in contempt of the will of Parliament, and thereby the will of the majority of Canadians, who are demanding documents that will confirm the claims of whistleblower Richard Colvin or clear the names of our soldiers. Rather than provide these documents, Harper again dishonestly shut the door on democracy and hid behind claims that the opposition hates our troops. If Harper truly cared about our troops he would present the documents that clear their names of what must be wrongful accusations. At least, that is what the government keeps saying.

But we don’t have to look as far as Ottawa to see the anti-progressives at work. Mirroring tactics used by Ontario, campus conservative groups have attempted to destroy their Public Interest Research Groups; campus conservatives here at SFU have taken up a crusade against SFPIRG, under the banners of “democracy” and “accountability.” The argument is that SFPIRG needs improvement, and few would disagree, yet the claim that they are arbitrarily appointing people to their board is absurd. Have these conservatives attempted to join SFPIRG and reform the group from the inside?

As was pointed out, if there are too few candidates for the board, acclamations are granted to those few who step forward to actually do the work. Otherwise you have shit disturbers who lobby the SFSS and student body to destroy a group that they have the ability to opt-out of.

But it is too easy to write these actions off as a grand right-wing conspiracy. Rather, we have a minority subset of society that hates the institutions we have fought for in this country, and is working incrementally at various levels to take away many of the things we take for granted.