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Stand for something
During the past 20 to 30 years, we’ve reached the point where the views of those Canadians on “the right” of the political spectrum are not similar enough to be represented by a single party.
This is why it was natural that the Reform Party was born, reflecting very different views from the Progressive Conservative Party. Merging Reform/Alliance with the PCs made no sense whatsoever, except in the context of an electoral system where vote-splitting results in no representation at all.
The Conservative Party which eventually emerged was only held together by the top-down leadership of Stephen Harper, and a willingness to overlook fundamental differences in the party while revelling in the power of success.
The success is now over, and it’s no surprise there’s an appetite for a split again. Maxime Bernier is not wrong. What does Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Party stand for? Like the Liberals, they pander to whatever will get votes. How could they do otherwise and still please all the different viewpoints they are supposed to represent?
Voters on the right are in a difficult position. They will never have a party that truly speaks for them until first-past-the-post been replaced by proportional representation. When that happens, there will be room for a party in the style of Maxime Bernier’s conservatism, and also for a Conservative Party that can find its Progressive Conservative roots and actually stand for something again.
Brett Hodnett, Gatineau, Que.
So Maxime Bernier is going to start a new party. I suggest he call it the Poor Loser Party.
Peter McCreath, Hubbards, N.S.
In your editorial, A Dangerous Power Play (Aug. 24), you state, “The Tory/Reform split of the 1990s ensured successive Liberal majorities and a stultifying centre-left consensus in the wider political culture.” Why do you call a centre-left consensus “stultifying”? If you refer to the Liberal, NDP and Green parties, they are not a formal consensus and are not hampering or impeding the political culture. If anything, they are failing to achieve what their combined numbers suggest.
Here’s why: It took until 2004, after three successive Liberal majorities, for the three centre-left parties to climb over 50 per cent collectively, reaching a peak in 2015 of 62.7 per cent. The Conservative Party, however, achieved three successive wins in 2006, 2008 and 2010 with an average of 37.9 per cent. So much for the centre-left stultifying anyone.
What comes next?
How about a “stultifying historic majority” after a Liberal/NDP merger into a Progressive Centre Left Party?
Richard Willingham, Toronto
Fail. Repeat. Huh?
Re Ottawa Vows New Approach To Phoenix Replacement (Aug. 24): So the federal government will take an “entirely different approach” to the issue of paying its employees after the utter, embarrassing and expensive failure of the Phoenix system. By different, I hope the federal Treasury Board Secretariat means a system that pays people what they are owed and when it is due.
Unfortunately the department omitted the real reason the Phoenix system failed. It was launched by federal bureaucrats despite warnings from the vendor that it needed more testing to be “ready for prime time.” Bureaucrats then suppressed or simply did not file reports of system problems to senior management.
I find it difficult to believe that IBM Canada could not handle a simple payroll system. Simple compared to what? I worked for a Canadian bank that ran its operations on IBM mainframes.
As far as I can tell, no government employee was fired for incompetence in rushing the Phoenix system into production before it was certified as stable by the vendor. So how will following the same procedure – bureaucrats making decisions based on political needs and not technical standards – that caused the original problem prevent its recurrence?
Moses Shuldiner, Toronto
Re Bill C-69 Needs A Reboot (Report on Business, Aug. 24): The federal government’s new environmental legislation, Bill C-69, is essentially a copy of the existing laws, plus some modest improvements. Contrary to what is suggested, the bill, which deals with the energy project assessment process, imposes shorter timelines for reaching decisions than the current law.
Martha Hall Findlay does not deal with the fact that the current system grants just as much discretion, if not more, to decision-makers. Currently, cabinet may determine, behind closed doors, that a project is “justified in the circumstances,” even if it will result in significant environmental harms, without providing any rationale or reasons.
The fact of the matter is that C-69 will ask whether projects like pipelines help or hinder Canada’s ability to meet its climate objectives. It is time for oil and gas proponents to stop ducking environmental regulation, and realize that to be good Canadian citizens, they, too, need to follow the rules.
Anna Johnston, staff lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law, Vancouver
I am not surprised that the White House press secretary, when responding to the news of Paul Manafort’s conviction and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, is now using the excuse that the President has done “nothing wrong.”
It puts me in mind of the line from Guys and Dolls with respect to the gangster Big Jule, who says, “I used to be bad when I was a kid but ever since then I have gone straight as I can prove by my record – 33 arrests and no convictions.”
One can only hope that the mid-term elections will change the political landscape to the south and Donald Trump’s actions will be dealt with appropriately.
Paul Moulton, Ridgeway, Ont.
Facial … seasoning
I first grew my mustache about the time I earned that other macho badge, my driver’s licence (The Lowly Crumb Catcher – First Person, Aug. 24). It wasn’t because I wanted to appear anti-establishment, nor was I influenced by that expression that kissing a man without a mustache is like eating an egg without salt.
I just wanted to accelerate my path to manhood.
Once I had an acceptable growth, I was encouraged by that famous image of Che Guevara looking down at me from a poster in my bathroom.
About that same time, Mark Spitz was tearing through the water, claiming that his broom deflected water away from his mouth and greatly contributed to his medals horde. So persuasive was his argument that the entire Russian swim team followed suit!
No blade has gone north of my lip since, and I and everyone around me knows that it is as permanent a fixture of my persona as is my grumpiness. I no longer think of myself as a Che or Mark, or a believer in the eggs-without-salt expression.
I’ve just become accustomed to my face.
Nigel Harris, Ottawa