Taking his cue from Andrew Coyne's recent column on the utter vacuity of Canada's three major political parties, Zack Paikin writes that the Conservative Party has replaced values with venom. Whether or not you agreed with them, the Reform Party -- which gave birth to the Harper Party -- was a party of principle:
If any party on the national scene could claim to be known as the party of principle, it was Reform. One could agree or disagree with those principles, but one could not deny that the party had them.
Brian Mulroney being unable to balance the books, Reform advocated controlling public spending. Mulroney and Jean Chrétien having taken the centralization of power in Ottawa to new heights, the Reformers stood for more power for individual MPs.
But, Paikin writes, consider the modern Conservative Party of Canada:
Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is — even after inflation and taking population growth into account — the highest-spending government in Canadian history. It has taken party discipline to new extremes, ramming omnibus bills through Parliament and invoking closure on debate like never before. Harper’s is a party that clearly has discarded its principles in order to win power. More importantly, it is a party that has been unable to find its principles again once it won power.
The day after Justin Trudeau was elected leader of the Liberal Party, the attack ads -- patently false -- began:
These ads are guilty of several moral flaws and factual errors. First, Trudeau is shown stripping to circus-like music as if in a fashion show — despite the fact that these actions were done to raise money for the Canadian Liver Foundation. Second, a quote is attributed to him which came out of Trudeau paraphrasing his father’s beliefs, not his own.
Paikin's conclusion is unavoidable:
Behold: the Conservative party — once the party of principle, now nothing more than the party of character-assassination. One can think of no reason why the Tories would resort to such puerile tactics other than the fact that they are themselves devoid of ideas. The Conservatives have exhausted their social agenda — having gone as far as possible on crime while not daring to touch the abortion file — and have proven themselves incapable of balancing a budget or advancing Canada’s global position.
As Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland, California, "There is no 'there' there."