Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Night the Prime Minister Purged Libertarians from Canadian Conservatism

Terence Corcoran has written on the speech Harper delivered at the Manning Centre conference in March. Shotgun bloggers have covered this multiple times, and it's nice to have Corcoran weighing in as well. From the column:

What followed was Mr. Harper’s conscious rebuke of libertarianism. In fact, more words were spent undermining libertarians than Liberals. Libertarians, he said, “believe that the solution to all problems lays in less government. More specifically, they believe in individual freedom, freedom from government, the freedom that does in fact underlie the market economy.”

The essence of Mr. Harper’s conservatism is that it is a happy middle ground between two undesirable extremes, the small-government push of libertarianism and the big-government push of Liberalism. This middle ground is based on “conservative values,” which he defined by the three “Fs” — freedom, faith and family. Freedom, he said, can only exist if it is “used well,” as if to achieve public good.

Mr. Harper’s attempt to purge libertarians from Canadian conservatism reached its lowest point when he pretty much blamed libertarianism for the economic crisis. Wall Street, he implied mockingly, was the heart of libertarianism, and Wall Street and the
libertarian free market tanked the economy.

... As if Wall Street bankers were libertarians. Worse, as if Wall Street bankers were libertarians who deserved to have their banks nationalized and their compensation controlled by government.

Do libertarians pose some kind of threat to the Harper Conservatives? Apparently they do, judging by Mr. Harper’s attempt to eliminate them from the party. And he might be right.

(Emphasis mine.)

Obviously libertarians (and fiscal conservatives, who had as much of a right to be upset as libertarians, imho) got the message. There was outrage all 'round.

Partisan Tories, though, often wonder how we could think Harper would think anything different. It's not as though we're talking about a guy who's ever said that, say, "all taxes are bad," or "I'm very libertarian in the sense that I believe in small government and, as a general rule, I don't believe in imposing values upon people."

Stephen Harper knew better and still knows better than the nonsense he was spewing at the Manning Centre conference. I have an awfully hard time believing he will ever find redemption from those he denounced in that speech, and I don't think he would deserve it if he did.

Cross posted to The Shotgun.

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