Friday, October 23, 2015

On value judgments

Apparently the Conservative exercise in spin isn't about to end anytime soon just because Stephen Harper has lost power. Here's Ken Boessenkool as a representative spokesflack on the Cons' time in office:
The Conservative party has a remarkable opportunity to prepare to regain power in the wake of our equally remarkable nine-year run in government. Together we have moved Canada in a conservative direction on a broad range of policy fronts. And we owe it to our record, to our movement and to our party to continue to do so.

Key to regaining power is selecting the right leader.

Politics today is more leader-driven than ever before. This campaign, if anything, reinforced this. The public did not turn away from the broad policy agenda of Conservatives, instead they turned toward “change” as embodied in Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
In response, let's set the record straight: Harper has done nothing at all to persuade Canadians to accept a more small-c conservative worldview. In fact, public opinion has moved in the opposite direction on his watch.

And that reality is reflected the Cons' election strategies and results.

In 2006, they won power primarily demanding accountability and reassuring voters they wouldn't be in a position to change Canada much at all. In 2008 and 2011, they focused mostly on nebulous concepts like "not a leader" and "just visiting" for lack of any belief that their value system would resonate beyond a 28% base. And in 2015, forced to abandon leadership politics due to Stephen Harper's unpopularity, they lost their place in power pushing a right-wing worldview as their final campaign message.

Which isn't to say the Cons haven't tried to sway public opinion and turn Canada into a meaner society. But while they've misused their power to temporarily silence anybody they could control, there's no evidence they've ultimately managed to win Canadians over.


  1. I don't know what else you could have expected him to say. Harper's legacy, to the extent there is any, is gossamer thin. He never had a vision of Canada. Even his old BFF, Tom Flanagan, told a gathering on Saltspring Island a couple of years ago that Harper abhorred vision.

    You're right. We, as a people, aren't one bit more right-wing than we ever were. And imagine, Greg, the public reaction as public servants, especially our scientists, regale us with accounts of what they wanted to tell us, what they wanted to warn us of, but couldn't do to being gagged.

    1. Actually, I strongly disagree as to whether Harper had a vision - I don't see how any of his actions (when placed in the context in which he operated) are inconsistent with the Grover Norquist line about drowning government in the bathtub.

      But the context of a far more progressive voting public placed some limits on how much of that vision he could implement. Hence his combination of misdirection and incrementalism over meaningful efforts to actually win the majority of the public to his side of any values debate (as opposed to solidifying the base which already accepted it, while trying to win over other voters with niche issues and personality politcs).

  2. Anonymous1:28 p.m.

    Conservatives seem to be under the impression that they lost just because Harper was unpopular but don't seem to have considered why he was unpopular.

    1. True that. But I suppose we shouldn't complain if they buy Jason Kenney's spin that they just need to smile more while being no less out of touch.