Thursday, April 21, 2016

The problem with the relative-merit defence of Harper's government

Here's, I think, my issue with Conservatives' demand that those of us unhappy with Harper's policies and Trudeau's policies hold back on critiquing what Harper did because the alternative was X, The-Even-Worse-Big-Government-Program from a Liberal or NDP (or both) government.

Like, sure. Fine. If all democracy is about is voting and passing laws, then I guess that might be the choice.

But it doesn't seem like it was the choice, does it? We didn't get Bad Conservative Policy Y instead of Worse Liberal Policy X, we got Bad Conservative Policy Y and then Worse Liberal Policy X. Nothing was prevented. So why, exactly, should people unhappy with both withhold criticism if they think the Harper government's bad policy was not literally the worst we could do?

The hard work against Worse Liberal Policy X includes a critique of Bad Conservative Policy Y when they're bad and worse forms of the same bad idea. The hard work of policy debate in a democracy determines what 'menu' of possible policies. The easy work of shoving a piece of paper in a ballot box just makes a choice from that narrow range. Democratic policy debate can't take place without criticism.

The Harper Conservative government (and all those who continue their reflexive opposition to its criticism) act as though they have to be judged by the relative options on the table at the time, as though this was an extraneous factor. But it wasn't, and it isn't. Demands for loyalty then and now have done serious damage to conservative and at least some real liberal participation in the much more meaningful process of deciding what's on the table by demanding shelter from the criticism due to bad policies.

You need to let people talk about why a policy is a bad idea, even if your party passed a law enacting it in the past, if you want things to improve in the future.

1 comment:

UMPCBoy said...

If the CPC does not change any of their policies and approach in the coming few years, under new leadership, then we will have no chance to win the next election. The media will be giving Trudeau a free pass for the foreseeable future.

I thought Harper was a great PM for the time, and we may not see his like again. However, I think the party lost much of its direction and energy in the last few years, and became more about retaining power than about doing the right thing. We need to re-energize. The basics of what it means to be "conservative" have not changed, but surely there is room to question some of what the CPC did, and to offer Canadians an alternative to the Liberals that is not just "Stephen Harper's government did everything right, let's go back to it"

The main criticism I had is that the party and the government became overly controlling. I think there is room, and public support, for opening up the Libertarian voice within the party, and returning to the notion of transparency. There is also room for being more the champions of Canadian workers rather than Canadian big business. The NDP is losing the worker vote. The CPC can pick some of that up. There is also room for growth in Quebec. We also don't need to go to war with science and the educational system. There are many things that can and should change. If we don't have an open discussion, there will be no renewal.