Sunday, March 28, 2010

Frum, conservatives and free speech

I consider David Frum a friend, so I was saddened by the news that his relationship with the American Enterprise Institute had been abruptly terminated.

And even though David is not coming out and saying so directly, it seems his termination was politically motivated ---the AEI didn’t like his attacks on the Republican Party.

Certainly, I can identify with all this.

After all, I was fired from my job at the National Citizens Coalition a few weeks after I had criticized the Conservative Party.

So it seems that in both Canada and the United States speaking out against politicians can be a risky career move for conservatives.

What a sad state of affairs for our movement.

Now don’t get me wrong. I vehemently disagree with many of David’s contentions concerning the Republican Party and conservatism.

In my view, he concedes far too much to the left and promotes a wishy-washy, watered down ideology that as a conservative I find completely unappealing and ultimately self-defeating.

But at the same time, I respect the intellectual power of his arguments.

And more than that, by raising legitimate and thoughtful questions, David forces us as conservatives to look in the mirror and to defend our beliefs and our tactics.

This makes our movement stronger.

Indeed, as conservatives we must and should welcome the ideological combat that takes place in a free market place of ideas.

It keeps us vibrant, it keeps us growing intellectually.

That’s why organizations like the AEI and the NCC should allow and even encourage criticism of the political powers that be.

Yes, standing up to a political party can take a little courage, but at the end of the day aren’t these groups supposed to be about ideas?

And one idea conservatives must always embrace is the importance of free speech.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Final straw

Anybody out there still believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper is actually a conservative?

If so, check out this news report.

It says the Prime Minister slammed a Fraser Institute report, which suggested the Conservative government's recent spending binge had not really created much in the way of economic growth or jobs.

And in doing so Stephen Harper -- former president of the National Citizens Coalition -- uttered these words:

"Economic theory and history is clear, governments must … make sure [funds] are put to productive use in the economy to create jobs."

For him to say something so absurd, has got to be the final straw for anyone still harboring illusions that the Prime Minister has one conservative fibre left in his body.

I mean could you imagine Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher or Mike Harris making such a statement?

But then again they were conservatives and conservatives believe only the free market can create real economic growth and real jobs.

For conservatives, the government is just an anchor to economic productivity. It's part of the problem not part of the solution.

Stephen used to believe that too. In fact, back in his NCC days, Stephen was a disciple of Hayek; today it seems he is a disciple of Jack Layton.

Anyway, I suppose we can expect the sharks in the PMO to go into full attack mode against the Fraser Institute.

Hope nobody loses their job.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Flatten that tax

I don't like taxes of any sort, but if we can't slash them the next best thing to do is flatten them.

That's my clever way of introducing this column I wrote on the idea of a Flat Tax. It's posted over at Libertas Post.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

NCC Creates Worst Video of all time

Sometimes I am critical of my old friends at the National Citizens Coalition, mainly because since I left the group it has done nothing but go down hill.

But I have to admit they recently accomplished something quite spectacular: they have managed to produce the worst political video of all time.

I mean it. This video is the Plan 9 from Outer Space of political videos.

It's so bad, it's hard to single out its worst feature.

Is it NCC president Peter Coleman's hilariously speedy yet monotone delivery; is it the odd edits; is it the "man on the street" interview with a lunatic; is it the completely fake interaction between the "anchor" and the "street reporter," is it the letters from "Doug", "John" and "Dave", or is it the fact that the video starts out talking about the Alberta budget but ends up interviewing people in downtown Toronto?

You decide.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Loyal to the Core among Best Books of 2009

This just in ... OK it may have been in for a while, but I just found about it.

The Hill Times has listed my book, Loyal to the Core, as one of the Best Books of 2009.

So if you have been putting off purchasing my masterpiece, now is the time to buy!!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The problem with the NCC

Watching my old employer the National Citizens Coalition from afar I have reached two conclusions.

First, they try too hard to curry favour with the Conservative government.

Second, even when they do criticize the government they sometimes do so for the wrong ideological reasons.

Author and blogger, Paul Tuns recently picked up on this. Here's what Paul wrote about the NCC's response to the federal budget:

I couldn't help but notice the similarity between the National Citizen's Coalition and the Canadian Auto Workers:

CAW: "This budget does little to help Canadian workers secure their footing during a period of severe economic instability..."

NCC: "Instead of fixing the job crisis as it promised in yesterday’s Throne Speech, the Harper government appears to be coasting on last year’s stimulus budget, offering no meaningful new initiatives to get Canadians working again."

To be fair, the CAW veers further left and the NCC then goes to contradict themselves by calling for less government spending after indicating its displeasure that the government faltered in some way by "coasting" off last year's stimulus.

I'm just saying that the messaging from the NCC would have been clearer five or ten years ago; the NCC isn't supposed to be worried about job creation except as a talking point about lower taxes and less government.

Paul's comment reflects the weakness with the current NCC leadership. They have no clear understanding of true conservatism.

Sure they know that deficits are bad and that taxes are too high, but beyond that basic knowledge their grasp of ideology is weak.

Hence they often make statements which contradict conservative values (and sometimes long-held NCC positions).

Too bad.

Canada's conservative movement needs all the strong voices it can get.