What passes for Conservatism these days is really Harperism. Those who know what Conservatism means are appalled by Pierre Poilievre's Travelling Payola Show. Certainly former Harper Party MP Brent Rathgeber is. He writes:
There was a time when Conservatives would scoff at — or at least be embarrassed by — such huge expenditures, especially ones linked to the welfare state. But I truthfully can’t remember when that might have been. After seven consecutive deficit budgets, adding over $200 billion to the national debt — including the single largest deficit in Canadian history — it’s clear that this Conservative government is not too embarrassed to spend taxpayers’ dollars in large quantities.
You might think, however, that there would be some principled people remaining in the Conservative party who would see through all of this blatant, shameless self-promotion, on the eve of a national election when the Conservatives are trailing in the polls. Apparently, there aren’t.
And that's just the point. Stephen Harper has expelled those people from the party -- among them Rathgeber, who knows that the roadshow is all a ruse. The old Child Tax Credit was not taxable. Not so the UCCB:
The cheques might appear large — $520 for children under six, $420 for children under 18. But this is not “Christmas in July” for parents. In the last omnibus budget bill, the government eliminated the Child Tax Credit. The new Universal Child Care Benefit is taxable income. So although you get to cash the cheque before the election, you’ll be taxed on it come April. With the elimination of the Child Tax Credit, a family earning $90,000 per year will only be able to keep an extra $7.50 per month after the tax clawback.
From a political and electoral perspective, of course, it matters not. The cheques get cashed before the election. The tax liability is not incurred until six and a half months after the government hopes to be re-elected.
So the whole exercise is fundamentally dishonest and fundamentally contrary to what used to the bedrock principles of conservatism:
Conservatives in this country used to stand for something — for small, limited government, for low taxes, for individual choice and individual responsibility for choices made. This week’s spectacle showed that the Conservatives are no better as guardians of public money than any other party; worse, they have taken electioneering and electoral bribery to new and dangerous levels.
The fundamental principle of Harperism is that you use public money to buy votes. There's an old fashioned word for that: fraud.