The art of agenda control
Guns, abortion and pronouns. Those issues really concern you, or at least they ought to concern you, according to Pierre Lemieux.
In his campaign to replace Stephen Harper as leader of the federal Conservative party, the former Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MP is flogging topics that few others are discussing.
Yet, Mr. Lemieux is still in the crowded race, and continues to get financial support from people who obviously hope he can steer the Tories to the far right.
Everyone has issues. One of the keys to success in politics is the ability to convince others that your issues are more important than their own issues. All politicians engage in “dog whistle politics,” speaking in tongues that trigger responses from followers’ sensitized ears. For example, decades ago, the mere mention of capital punishment would make everyone’s ears twitch.
Mr. Lemieux’s platform has a note of nostalgia since it includes some matters that fell off the radar long ago.
Take guns. “I understand firearm issues because I am a firearm owner myself and because I am regularly at the range with other firearm owners,” boasts the retired soldier. “The government needs to stop targeting law abiding gun owners and instead focus its energies on stopping the criminal use of firearms.” One of his pledges is to encourage the creation of more firing ranges.
Then there is abortion, which he opposes, by the way. We should be talking more about abortion, he tells us. “The next time you hear someone say, ‘The debate is over,’ you need to know that: 1) It is anything but over. 2) Only the Liberals benefit from us believing that it is.”
A newer menace, warns Mr. Lemieux, is the promotion of certain words, politically correct terms that he fears will usurp free speech.
When he visited Alexandria recently, he cautioned that proposed legislation would force people to recognize gender neutral pronouns and make it hate speech to question a person's gender. Seriously.
“People who feel they are gender fluid have come up with a whole lexicon of pronouns, words you have never heard of, like “zee,” “zer,” “perself” and a lengthy list of others,” said Mr. Lemieux. ”These gender pronouns are not the problem, rather it’s the move to legislate their use,” he said.
So, you are sitting around the kitchen table, sipping on your tea. What are you most likely to chew the cud about? Hockey, electricity bills, the weather, sap flow, or the long-term impact of transgender and transsexual adjectives on the evolution of our free and fair society? All of the above?
“Populist” politicians claim they know what the “meat and potato” worries really are.
But one never knows for certain what make the voters tick or gives them nervous ticks.
For example, when Stormont- DundasSouth Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell held prebudget consultations earlier this year, a long list of diverse concerns was aired.
Among the topics meriting consideration were “advanced education and skills development,” a proposed reversal of the neonicotinoid pesticide ban, public safety, paramedics funding, respite services for caregivers of physically and developmentally challenged Ontarians, the need for residences for physically disabled Ontarians with mild or no cognitive challenges.
Business people want to be left alone by the government, unless the state can help them make more money. Red tape is a scourge, even in a so-called paperless society. Yet we all gain if governments address business concerns, such as the need for skilled workers.
The people told Mr. McDonell that the province ought to make it easier for employers to apply for training services by making online program applications available to all businesses.
“Improve awareness and literacy in the financial, retirement and succession planning field to encourage older workers to retire,” somebody suggested.
Think of this one for a sec. It makes sense. Who doesn’t want to retire? The challenge is setting aside enough money so you can put your feet up and not have to live in a cardboard box, in a bad part of town, for the rest of your life.
We would all be better off if, as another person told the MPP, we tackled any regulatory, licensing or tax barriers that make offshore manufacturing more attractive than keeping jobs in Ontario.
Other recommendations from the masses: “Consider implementing a different minimum wage for new employees in probation or training to create an incentive to hire and train. Focus on restoring Ontario’s affordability as a place to do business. Improve job market awareness among all new and young jobseekers to ensure salary expectations are aligned with local job market realities.”
Butternut trees ought to be protected from wind-powered energy installations, somebody pointed out.
Rural residents need access to natural gas. This could be huge. “Our farms, businesses and neighbours will save over $1 billion per year in energy costs for heating and appliances with access to natural gas. It is simply the best and most effective investment the province can make in rural Ontario,” reads the summary of recommendations posted on Mr. McDonell’s web page.
Cap- and- trade is no good, a citizen declared. His system is simple: Polluters’ carbon emissions are capped. If they exceed the limit, they are penalized. Polluters can surpass the cap by trading permits with polluters that are under the ceiling.
But Mr. McDonell was told governments should either rescind cap-and-trade or guarantee its “revenue-neutrality.” What dreamer came up that hilarious notion? You don’t have to be a fiscal conservative to know that nothing the government does is “revenue neutral.”
Another controversial suggestion: “Recognize the positive economic impact of Energy East and other pipelines.”
Here are some familiar thoughts: “Support municipalities whose tax base has been eroded by declining assessments. Take action to curb increases in municipal expenditures by focusing on municipalities’ ability to pay. Acknowledge that there is only one ultimate tax payer. Encourage Ontarians to preserve and promote heritage by creating favourable assessment frameworks for properties that host museums, including private ones.”
Others had a more narrow focus. “Publish design and inspection standards for regulated industries, such as electrical contractors, boilers, pressure vessels and fuels and reduce inspectors’ discretion to deviate from these standards.”
And, “Allow Ontarians to choose which of their registered names appear, and in which order, on their provincially- issued ID.” There’s obviously a good story behind that one.
Anyway, the comments made at the consultations further illustrate that we all have our own special personal priorities. In fact, there are so many we could easily compile an A to “Zee” rundown. Some fret about affordability; others sweat over “zer.”
Isn’t it wonderful to live in a world where we freely exchange ideas?
At the same time, we ought to keep in mind the Christian Golden Rule, the quaint, yet often forgotten, one about treating others as one would like to be treated.