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Decision Canada: A Harper Win Is A Party Stopper



There aren’t many people in Canada’s major metropolitan centres that relish the prospect of a Conservative government — majority, minority or coalition — least of all those who work in the Canadian cultural industries.

In an article published earlier this week in the Toronto Star, columnist Antonia Zerbisias writes ...

“If the popularity of the red and white ‘Stop Harper’ buttons at Sunday night’s raucous MuchMusic Video Awards was any indication, nobody in the business is rocking to the Conservative tune.
A Canadian music channel with Canadian music and Canadian talent and Canadian veejays and Canadian awards in a Canadian building which houses other Canadian channels (Citytv, CP24, Bravo, Star, Space, etc.) which employ Canadian journalists and Canadian producers and Canadian writers and Canadian camera crews ... hundreds of people working at the awards show, (including) security guards and caterers ... In Stephen Harper’s Canada, none of this would have happened.”

Of course, as VanRamblings has written previously, the Conservatives would scrap the CRTC. Ms. Zerbisias points out that such a move would hand over broadcast licensing directly to government ...

“Just like they do in banana republics where dictators decide who owns the TV stations. Think about that. If, say, a newscast runs an unflattering report about el presidente, then yank goes the license. And Conservatives now call CBC a ‘state broadcaster’?”
click above

Ms. Zerbisias, a former Star television columnist, also expresses concern about the potential for “Fox News (which) would be a shoo-in to acquire access to Canadian viewers,” potentially displacing CBC Newsworld on the dial, as she mourns the Conservative record on arts and culture, a record she says is playing “the red, white and blues.”

Abortion: A Disconnect Between Harper and the Tory Caucus?

In 2000, it helped undo his predecessor, Stockwell Day. Therefore the last thing Stephen Harper wanted in the 2004 election campaign was to go anywhere near the issue of abortion. But, courtesy of two of his Conservative party members, the issue came to him.

First there was Tory health critic Rob Merrifield, who mused to a Toronto newspaper on the advisability of mandatory, third-party abortion counseling, setting off a firestorm of protest. Next, comments made by incumbent Cheryl Gallant (RealPlayer required) surfaced. In an interview with the Western Catholic Reporter, she compared women who have abortions to the terrorists who beheaded American civilian Nick Berg in Iraq. No hotter election button could have been pushed.

“A Conservative government has no intention of tabling abortion legislation,” Stephen Harper has said, although always with the caveat, “in the first term in office.” Yes, he has said, a Tory government would allow a private member’s bill to go forward, and yes, there would be a free vote on whether a woman’s right to choose would be preserved.

As for his own views, Mr. Harper has acknowledged that in the past he was firm in his pro-life values, but during the current campaign he’s refused to say how he feels on the issue now, saying repeatedly that he would not “get into a detailed discussion of abortion” during the election.

Harper’s refusal to clarify his personal views, or the Tory party’s position, and his attempt to shut down further inquiry raises a red flag for many women voters. Many of us ask, “Since when is the personal autonomy of 52 per cent of the population a marginal issue in an election? It’s central, it’s pivotal, it’s not marginal.” And, yet, for the most part, the media have not focused on the abortion issue, because it is seen as too inflammatory and prejudicial to the hopes of a Conservative Party win on Monday.

The abortion issue is a defining one for many in the Tory party, but it isn’t a priority for the leader. But if the Tories are elected by voters angry with the Liberals, Harper may have no choice. His caucus is fanatically anti-choice and they have a lot of power, unlike the Liberal pro-life contingent who have none. The fear is that he would cave in to caucus pressure.

At the very least, the Conservatives would cut funding, perhaps even, as has been speculated, de-listing abortion as a service covered by the Canada Health Act; make it difficult to get the morning-after pill; and bring in third-party counseling. Sure, it’s one thing to say women have the right in law to abortion; it’s quite another thing for them to have access to it.

Headlines of the Day

Conservative MP Randy White

We’d Use Notwithstanding Clause: Tory MP: Conservative MP and Tory party Justice critic Randy White, in a May 19th interview for a documentary on same-sex marriage by Alexis Mackintosh called Let No One Put Asunder White spoke frankly about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and suggests many in his party feel as he does:

The heck with the courts, eh? (RealPlayer required) You know, one of these days we in this country are going to stand up and say, ‘The politicians make the laws and the courts do not.’ The courts interpret that law. And if we don’t like that interpretation, there’s the notwithstanding clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which the Liberal government has never invoked and said they will not use. I believe we’ll see that with us in the House of Commons because enough is enough of this stuff ...

I think most people are getting sick and tired of judges writing the law to suit themselves and to suit the current Liberal government, in fact.

It’s time that we started to exert our responsibility as politicians in the country. If the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is going to be used as the crutch to carry forward all of the issues that social libertarians want, then there’s got to be for us conservatives out there a way to put checks and balances in there. ”

Liberal Leader Paul Martin responded by saying, “The Conservative party would make impulsive and widespread use of the notwithstanding clause to rescind the fundamental rights of Canadians.”

Martin said there’s a good reason that the federal government has never used the clause since it came into being 22 years ago.

“Canadians care deeply about the protection of individual and minority rights. And I believe that a true national leader recognizes that the use of the notwithstanding clause will take us down a slippery slope toward the erosion of individual and minority rights and freedoms. It is a step that we should not take. It is a step that we must not take.”

The NDP joined in slamming White: “His views reflect the extreme social agenda of Stephen Harper’s party, their lack of regard for Canada’s Charter, and their contempt for Canada’s courts.”

Like elections? Another likely around the corner: In a front-page story in yesterday’s Halifax-Chronicle Herald, reporter Stephen Maher writes that, “If the pollsters are right, Canadians will elect a minority government on Monday. It’s too close to tell if it will be Conservative or Liberal. History suggests if it’s a Conservative minority, it won’t last very long. Liberal minorities last longer (because) the Liberals tend to be better at manipulating the levers of power than the Conservatives, and more pragmatic ... when it comes to making deals to stay in power.”

VanRamblings On a Pre-Election Weekend Hiatus; well, kind of ...

In the waning days of the election campaign, VanRamblings will be taking something of a break from pre-election coverage. Rather than post lengthy Anybody But Harper treatises, instead we’ll post brief items (well, relatively brief ... after all, the sobriquet VanRamblings was chosen for a reason) on election news events of the day, and items of election-related interest.

In the meantime, for insight into Stephen Harper’s policies, as well as important 2004 federal election news events, we would encourage you to click on, and read through, all of VanRamblings’ Decision Canada coverage.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at June 26, 2004 12:01 AM in Decision Canada


1 Comment

Not only would they dismantle the CRTC but the Conservatives would privatize the CBC. They've already talked about this. People in the arts have come out strongly against Harper and his super right party. Those people you saw on Much Music wearing those buttons were part of an organized strategy against Harper called "Stop Harper":

I've started a blog campaign in affiliation with the larger "My vote's for a stronger CBC" to make bloggers aware of what Harper will do to public broadcasting in Canada:

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