Monday, January 09, 2006

The Devil We Do Not Know (in Canada)

In Their Own Words (Rabble News by Michael Nickerson December 22, 2005)

http://www.rabble.ca/politics.shtml?x=45204

Stephen Harper quipped that the NDP is “proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men.” It's hard to imagine a Devil promoting affordable housing, education, social conscience, women's rights, gay rights, minority rights, daycare or health care.




He calls us a welfare state, second tier, a land where unemployed people happily live on the public dole. We are “basically an English-speaking country,” with a French-speaking minority throwing dirt in the gears of government. We consider things like universal health care and women's rights fundamental, ideas that apparently would horrify his audience whom he calls “a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.”

I would be very surprised if many in this country would ever consider the Council for National Policy an inspiration, save for a few evangelicals who might like to see church and state find their way back into the same room.

Referred to by some as a “think tank,” the CNP is a collection of diehard conservatives and religious fundamentalists who are already making many Americans fear for their First Amendment rights. Expressing and financially supporting views that have been at the heart of a resurgence of Republican power in the U.S., this group represents much that is right (forgive the pun), if you're Stephen Harper, but much that is very wrong if you have an ounce of social compassion.

Since Harper's speech in 1997, the United States has moved steadily towards a policy of tax cuts, and more tax cuts. The idea has always been an unproven one: that putting money in the hands of the middle class will lead to prosperity for all. The sad fact is, it has gone quite the other way in the U.S., with an increased stratification of rich and poor, spiraling debt, and a devalued dollar, along with social and foreign policies that few in Canada would ever consider “an inspiration.”

Stephen Harper quipped that the NDP is “proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men.” It's hard to imagine a Devil promoting affordable housing, education, social conscience, women's rights, gay rights, minority rights, daycare or health care.

The Devil may be in the details, but not in the policies. It's an observation that I suspect is still lost on the new Harper, or at least the Republican behind the costume.

Michael Nickerson is a regular columnist and political commentator for Politics Canada and Esprit de Corps magazine. His work has also appeared in a range of publications, including The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star, The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, and the e-zine Caffimage.com.



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