Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Progressive Conservative Revival?

 Michael Harris writes that Stephen Harper can't save the Conservative Party. Neither can anyone in his cabinet:

The essential reason that no Harper cabinet minister can ride to the party’s rescue is that they are all part of the problem. They all bought in to the model Harper built for winning and holding power. But the model was flawed, the principles it espoused were inimical to civil public life, and now people are throwing off this Steve-Power that he tried to pass off as conservatism and democracy. If Canadians no longer want the organ grinder, why would they want the monkeys?

If the party is to survive, Harris writes, it will have to return to its progressive roots:

Ironically, it is the Red Tories, the ‘progressive conservatives’, who could turn out to be the party messiahs. The Conservative Party of Canada still has some stellar assets.

One of them is Senator Hugh Segal — not as a contender himself but a wise counsellor. Segal combines the political rigour of a moderate conservative with the credentials of a true intellectual. He knows who he is but there is room in his world for other voices.

Another is former Harper cabinet minister Jim Prentice, who embraced science as Environment minister instead of smothering it, and who decided the Harper-cult being built in Ottawa was not for him. Talent with scruples.

Finally, there is Michael Chong, the quiet man from Fergus, Ont. with the first-class mind and sense of integrity to match. He gave up his minister’s perks when Stephen Harper declared Quebec a nation — a decision taken by the prime minister alone, without consulting cabinet. Chong knows that better than most; he was minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and he knew that what the PM had done was not exactly democracy in action. Again, talent with scruples.

The problem is that Mr. Harper -- with Peter Mackay's help -- decimated the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. There may not be enough of it left to stage a comeback. And that is the ultimate irony. Stephen Harper's "strong, stable, majority Conservative government" has been its -- and the country's  -- worst enemy.


Ck said...

Sen Hugh Segal? Media didn't do much coverage of this, but didn't he serve on the board of directors of SNC-Lavalin when it was in the middle of that huge scandal regarding former CEO Pierre Duhaime and his friends who hide in places with no extradition agreements?

Owen Gray said...

As I recall, he was on the board, ck. Regarding his involvement in that swamp, I have no information.

As an indication of how far to the left he is from Harper, I do know that he advocates a Guaranteed Annual Income.

GAB said...

Yes Segal is a supporter of a Guaranteed Annual Income and proportional rep, both GPC policies not CPC, or PC before that. He may wear the conservative coat but I don't think it still fits.

Not that they are very relevant but the old PC brand is still moldering as the Progressive Canadians with maybe 7 EDAs (Sinclair Stevens as leader, he looks like a Lich), that fact that so few bailed to the progressive Canadians after MacKay betrayed them shows that power was far more important than ideals to the old PC crowd.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, GAB. Most of the PC's followed MacKay and traded their principles for power.

Only a few -- like Bill Casey -- refused to be steamrolled by Harper.

The Mound of Sound said...

The Tories can't return to their progressive past without jettisoning, that is to say purging, the radical right that now runs the show. There is no sign that the hard right would meekly give up their prominence.

And, just imagine, what that would mean for the Conservative-Lite Libs who, since Ignatieff, have likewise ditched progressivism in their butt-sniffing pursuit of the Tories?

Hell, I'm not even sure there's much progressivism remaining in the Dippers.

If it's progressivism you're searching for you'll have to find some party willing to talk about dismantling Canada's corporate media cartel, about freeing our government from the mantle of petro-statehood and corporatism, about restoring equality of income, wealth and opportunity which necessarily entails revitalizing our public education and public healthcare systems.

Sorry, Owen, but I don't hear that or anything remotely like that coming from the NDP or the LPC and I don't expect to hear it from any future iteration of the Tories either.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Mound, that all of the parties have followed the money right into the arms of the corporate elite.

It would be easier for any party to return to its progressive roots than to re-invent the wheel of a new party.

But that requires turning your back on the money -- and it's not easy to win elections these days without it.

Still, in the end, it's about convincing voters, not about filling the coffers. I keep hoping against hope that things will change.

Anonymous said...

Canada has become a cesspool of corruption. A shameful and embarrassing country. Our country's once good name, is in tatters.

Politicians are no longer about, what is good for the country, provinces and the people. Politicians are about, their power, greed, their own selfish goals and, to hell with the people.

e.a.f. said...

The progressive arm of the Conservatives are gone and buried. They did it themselves. In their quest for power and office, they decided to fall into bed with the Reformers. That got them screwed but not kissed.

In their quest for office and power they sold their ethics, values, heritage and its too late now to get it back. The few true Progressive Conservatives who remain are older and don't hve the energy or money to revive the old party, as it once was.

The current Conservative party is made in the image of stevie slime and his slimers. Just have a look at his front bench and cabinet. They aren't going anywhere. The few Progessives left, still want to hang on to their jobs. If there is a revolt, they will all be gone.

The Conservatives have never been the "natural ruling party of Canada". That title went to the federal Liberals. After the scheduled federal election we could still be looking stevie slime in the eye. By that time it will be too late. Canada will have been sold to multi national corporations who will destroy the country we once were.

Mulroney and his free trade agreement with the U.S.A. and Mexico began the decline of Canada. The liberals didn't fix it when they were in office. We now have Harper in office and he will finish what Mulroney and his ethically challenged group started.

One of the advantages of being older is, we have seen what Canada was. A great country, which had values, stood for something. Now we see a Canada increasingly taken over by other countries, with little democracy, etc. By the time the agendas of Mulroney, Harper, and their cohorets is achieved, I hope to be dead so I don't have to see it.

Dana said...

"I keep hoping against hope that things will change."

I think that horse has left the stable, Owen.

I'm pretty certain nothing is going to return to anything resembling previous states.

I think that's actually a universal law or central tenet of quantum mechanics or something.

Having changed nothing returns to it's former state.

And boy has Canada changed.

In fact the change has been so very easy that I find myself wondering if we weren't living in a delusional state before and this is the real nature of the country and people.

Either way I'm not hopeful at all.

Nor do I have any trust in the "great Canadian people". I think they're mostly unconscious or intellectually challenged near to the point of idiocy.

In 8 weeks ask a stranger on the street who Nigel Wright is.

Owen Gray said...

When a politician says to hell with the people, Anon, that's the time for the people to vote him or her out of office.

Owen Gray said...

I understand your cynicism, e.a.f. This country's wounds have been self inflicted.

However, I still cling to the faint hope that -- while my children may have to live with the Mulroney-Harper and yes, Liberal-corporatist agenda -- they will eventually throw that yoke into the dustbin of history.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps the natural state of things is exactly what Hobbes said it was, Dana -- "nasty, brutish and short."

Our present masters certainly accept that premise. There would be some kind of justice if their own reign turned out to be just that.