What Does "Tough on Crime" Really Mean to Conservatives?
Tom Flanagan, the supremely-respected Conservative and former advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, had some advice for President Barack Obama over the WikiLeaks information-release. Flanagan shared his thoughts with the media: Obama should consider the targetted assassination of Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. Not an arrest. No trial. Even "good 'ol boy" right-wing nut-bars in the United States like Mike Huckabee are only calling for Assange's execution.
Is this the kind of "law and order" society that Conservatives want to create? Don't be dismissive here. Recently elected Member of Parliament for Vaughan, Julian Fantino (whom the pundits claim is headed straight for cabinet) is on record, questioning Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In his autobiography, Fantino asked, "Who has reaped the greatest benefit from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? I would argue that, if it isn't the common criminals, then it must be the Hells Angels." Nevermind the protections the Charter has afforded to visible minorities, the disabled, women, religious organizations. For Conservative MP Fantino, the Charter is just another obstacle in the war on crime. Kind of like WikiLeaks.
What's really motivating the Conservatives "Tough on Crime" agenda? It's not because we're experiencing more crime in Canada, because statistics show that crime is actually trending downward. Those are the same statistics, however, which are also under attack by Conservatives, through denial of Freedom of Information requests, and through changes made to the way in which data will be collected. The Cons(ervatives) have always had a bit of a problem with crime stats, exemplified by recent remarks from Stockwell Day about the need for more prisons to house criminals from unreported crime.
It makes one wonder just who just all of those new, expensive, prisons are being built for?
Julian Fantino's Charter Challenge
Here's a link to the Globe and Mail's story about Julian Fantino's attack on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Liberal Justin Trudeau's defense of the Charter, for those who don't believe that Conservatives like Fantino might actually have a little disrespect stored up for one of the highest laws of our land. Folks, keep in mind: if the Charter goes, so do your human rights. Sure, we lived without a Charter for a very long time in this country, and we relied on common law for our legal defenses. We still do. But Charter guarantees are very powerful legal guarantees of rights. If the Charter is torn up, because it is perceived to benefit criminals, or for whatever reason, how might the Courts interpret that action when it comes to human rights cases? Getting rid of the Charter would be a game-changer. Based on Fantino's remarks, it's pretty clear where he stands with regards to his support of the Charter.
Middle Class Champions In Short Supply
Thomas Walkom at the Toronto Star: the already-shrinking middle class is shooting itself in the foot by demanding tax cuts and cuts to social services. Their demands benefit the very rich, and are detrimental to the aspirations of the middle class. If we continue to support Liberal and Conservative governments throughout Canada, we can expect to see the continued erosion of the middle class. To those Liberals who continue to believe that the current Liberal Party is the same as that under Lester Pearson or even Pierre Trudeau, open your eyes: your party has become the champion of Bay Street big business, and your policies have largely abandoned the middle class. Look no further to than to the massive tax cuts and service reductions and downloading of the Chretien-Martin years. Or the health care premium established by Dalton McGuinty. No matter how much Liberals want Canadians to believe that they are interested in the well-being of the middle class, their actions strongly suggest otherwise. The middle class needs to look elsehwere for a true political champion. That's why I joined the Green Party. It's time for the middle class to understand its plight, and to do something constructively to address it. Voting for either of the twin corporate parties, red or blue, isn't the answer. They will continue to screw us over.
Stimulus Spending and Jobs: Value for Dollars?
Why do people continue to believe that Conservatives can manage the economy? They plunged the country into record-setting budget deficits to finance "stimulus spending" and tax cutting, ostensbly to turn the economy around and create jobs. Did things get better? Wrong question. When you spend that kind of money, things are going to get better. Better questions: did we get value for money? Did all that money deficit money we spent, which we and our children will be paying off for years and years to come, did we receive the quick hit benefits promised to us by Harper? Budgetary watchdog Kevin Page's report is out today. When it comes to delivering on job creation for the middle class, which was ostensibly the primary motivator behind this orgy of spending, Page says that the Conservatives failed to deliver. Yes, we've built a lot of nice things, many of which were actually needed in communities. But with unemployment still high, at what cost have we mortgaged our future?
Instead of building a Canada equipped to handle the very real problems of today, through using stimulus money to target investment in green energy and green collar jobs, we built highways (for a future where there will be fewer cars on the road, due to higher gasoline prices, a shrinking middle class, and poverty). We built hockey arenas and sports complexes for a decreasing number of families who can afford to enrol their kids in sports. We built new college and university buildings at a time when we can expect fewer educators and students to inhabit them. Yes, the Conservatives were very good at spending money on stuff, but when it comes to making investments in people, the price-tag around the so-called economic stimulus has been an abject failure.
Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner in Sudbury
Green Party of Ontario Leader (and my newest Facebook friend) Mike Schreiner visited Greater Sudbury this past weekend to consult on the Green Party's draft election platform. What politician does that? Imagine...sincerely asking people what they think about a party's platform before telling people what they should think. Mike is clearly a new kind of political leader