Tak­ing is­sue with Harper Haters

The Compass - - OPINION -

Dear ed­i­tor,

Card play­ing metaphors aside for a moment, the only card I see when I read Robin Brent­nall’s let­ter to the ed­i­tor in the Feb. 19 edi­tion of the Com­pass (Unit­ing the left) is the joker.

Par­tic­u­larly amus­ing are Brent­nall’s de­scrip­tions of the Con­ser­va­tives. Brent­nall dis­closes up front that he sup­ports the New Democrats. I dis­close that I tend to sup­port the party which most suc­cess­fully pro­motes and achieves the great­est de­gree of lib­erty — the Con­ser­va­tive Party.

Brent­nall claims that the “Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive” party suf­fered a “takeover.” The re­al­ity is that more than 90 per cent of the PC Party of Canada voted in a na­tion­wide con­ven­tion for the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Con­ser­va­tives un­der a sin­gle ban­ner with pro­gres­sive prin­ci­ples at its very foun­da­tion.

Un­like the past prac­tice of Brent­nall’s NDP, this con­ven­tion had equal del­e­gates and didn’t give spe­cial sta­tus to big union del­e­gates.

Truth is, the Con­ser­va­tive big tent has grown. Sup­port for the party has risen over the four fed­eral elec­tions be­tween 2004 and 2011. From 29.63 per cent to 39 per cent of the votes cast. From four mil­lion up to 5.8 mil­lion Cana­di­ans. Th­ese are Cana­di­ans from sea to sea to sea who sup­port the Con­ser­va­tives’ re­spon­si­ble and mod­er­ate vi­sion.

I don’t blame them … and un­like Robin Brent­nall, I don’t vil­ify them. They aren’t aliens be­cause they vote Con­ser­va­tive. They aren’t an ob­sta­cle for some “united left” to oblit­er­ate. They’re a part of a silent but grow­ing con­sen­sus. Peo­ple re­al­ize Lib­eral/NDP dooms­day pre­dic­tions about Stephen Harper made years ago never did ma­te­ri­al­ize.

In 2012-2013 un­der Stephen Harper, our province got 34 per cent more health care fund­ing than it got the last time the Lib­er­als and NDP put through a bud­get. Ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial trans­fers in­creased by 19 per cent. The av­er­age Cana­dian fam­ily pays $3,000 less in taxes each year thanks to Con­ser­va­tive tax re­lief.

Con­ser­va­tives pro­tected a land area equiv­a­lent to the en­tire coun­try of Bangladesh in new parks and con­ser­va­tion ar­eas. They in­tro­duced Canada’s first ef­fec­tive laws re­duc­ing emis­sions.

We gained far more than we lost, and much of what we lost we didn’t need.

We lost the waste­ful, use­less and in­tru­sive long gun reg­istry, thanks to Con­ser­va­tives. When two NDP MPs dared vote as they had promised (to end the reg­istry), they were pun­ished.

We lost du­pli­cated job-killing red tape and de­lay on projects in our min­ing and ex­trac­tive in­dus­tries. We lost laws that al­lowed se­ri­ous con­victed crim­i­nals walking free while vic­tims saw no jus­tice. We lost costly tar­iffs on our ex­ports in many coun­tries. The NDP op­posed all th­ese changes. The Con­ser­va­tive Party, for all its faults, is no bo­gey­man. Most peo­ple see that now.

In­stead of in­ces­santly try­ing to par­a­lyze par­lia­ment and vil­ify Con­ser­va­tives, the NDP and Lib­er­als should prob­a­bly fig­ure out what they stand for. Ap­par­ently not much con­sis­tently — ex­cept they hate Harper. Deep stuff.

In the bat­tle be­tween Con­ser­va­tive vi­sion and Harper Haters, who on earth can trust ei­ther op­po­si­tion party if they only ever really de­fine them­selves in the neg­a­tive?

Michael O’Brien is a na­tive of Buchans. He is cur­rently work­ing in

Long Har­bour

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