Friday, December 28, 2007

Harper forces his square Conservative pegs into Canada's progressive holes...

It's long been very clear that Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper loves the top-down approach to management. Under Harper's leadership, any remnants of the old, populist, grassroots Reform Party have been wiped away in the united Conservative Party. The party running Canada today is far more autocratic than it ever was under Brian Mulroney. It's a hard-right, one-size-fits-all Conservative Party with no room for any kind of progressive dissent. There is truly no home for Red Tories or old Progressive Conservatives in this new creation.

Witness the treatment of progressive Conservative Mark Warner, who was removed as his party's candidate in Toronto Centre in the fall because he wanted to raise issues of concern in his downtown Toronto riding like housing and AIDS funding (both of which Harper loves to ignore.) Party central would have none of it and fired him. Now a new Tory candidate, Don Meredith, has been imposed on local party members and Toronto Centre voters.

Who is Don Meredith? His Wikipedia bio states he's the chair of the GTA Faith Alliance, "a group of churches and religious organizations" which focuses on the issue of youth violence, particularly involving gangs and guns. He's also a preacher, having graduated from the Rhema Studies of Theology Association and is the Senior Pastor of Pentecostal Praise Centre Ministries located in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Meredith is also a member of the Police Chief’s Advisory Council for the Toronto Police Services and has also been a member of the York Region Community Police Liaison since 2004, as well as a member of the R.C.M.P. Consultative Committee since 2005.

Does Meredith live in Toronto Centre? It appears he's based in York Region, way north of Toronto Centre. Of course, Liberal candidate Bob Rae doesn't live in Toronto Centre either, but most will agree that Rae's impressive progressive credentials, high profile and experience will be easy sells in this downtown urban riding. The NDP's running El-Farouk Khaki, a Canadian refugee and immigration lawyer and human rights activist, who also founded Salaam, the first queer Muslim group in Canada and second in the world. Both Rae and Khaki present credentials largely in sync with Toronto Centre voters.

But what exactly qualifies Meredith as a candidate in Toronto Centre, which contains the largest LGBT voting block in the country? An uber-religious background as a preacher and a whole lot of policing/anti-gang/gun-fighting experience. Hmmm...guns and religion.

I think it's fairly easy to decipher the themes Harper wants Meredith to raise in this by-election, set for March 17, 2008. This isn't a Conservative Party interested in listening to the concerns of downtown voters and bringing them to Ottawa; this is a Conservative Party interested in telling downtown voters the issues it thinks are important. Of course, turning a deaf ear to downtown Toronto will play well for the Harper-crites outside of the GTA, which of course is their real strategy.

With his uber-religious background, I'll be curious to find out Don Meredith's personal position on same sex marriage, that is if he's allowed to share it with local voters. I'll email his campaign as soon as they set up a website for the guy and wait to hear back. I am a resident of the riding after all.

Law-and-order types are running for the Tories elsewhere too. The Tory candidate in the northern Saskatchewan riding of Desneth√©—Missinippi—Churchill River, Rob Clarke, is a cop.

The Tories are also apparently trying to recruit controversial B.C. conservative/Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt to run federally. Mayencourt, who represents a downtown Vancouver riding in the B.C. legislature, introduced a private member's bill that targeted aggressive panhandlers and squeegee kids and earned Mayencourt the ire of poverty rights groups in his province. That bill eventually became the highly controversial B.C. Safe Streets Act. Mayencourt is also openly gay.

So it appears local candidates can be gay (Mayencourt), Aboriginal (Clarke) or of African-descent (Meredith) just as long as they also toe the hard-right Conservative Party line.

5 comments:

Mushroom said...

Matt,

Don't forget fellow MMP supporter Chris Tindal running for the Greens. A plug for him in blogosphere is useful, even if your vote is going to Bob ;)

Meredith in Toronto Centre is puzzling. With an election coming soon, I consider running him there is puzzling. How much traction will Meredith get in St. James Town and Regent Park? Are there a large number of evangelicals there? Harper should save his ammo and run Meredith in Etobicoke North instead. More conservative riding with a large Somali population. Besides, Roy Cullen isn't that liberal.

Mayencourt is useless for Harper in Vancouver downtown (no traction there). He would be useful in either North Van or West Vancouver.
At the same time, he is about the only star candidate for Harper in 2008, unless you consider Patrick Boyer in Etobicoke Lakeshore.

Kai_Wolf said...

There is truly no home for Red Tories or old Progressive Conservatives in this new creation.

They have another home - its called the Liberal Party, which is where they belong, and good riddance regardless.

If we had listened to the likes of dinosaurs like Joe Clark and others, the right would still be splitting their share of the vote and thus, conveniently for the Liberals, would have kept them in power indefinetly. Thankfully, that is not happening anymore, no thanks to them.

Matt Guerin said...

kai_wolf, you seem to be happy about your party's narrow focus. Surely your observations of Canadian political history didn't start in 2006. Even the old PC party with its moderate side intact had difficulty winning consistently against the Liberals. A hard-right republican Conservative Party in Canada, especially led by someone as unlikeable as Stephen Harper, isn't going to be a winning machine for a long time, even under our current Winner Take All system in Canada. It seems only a matter of time before Canadians revert to their centrist tendencies and re-elect the Liberals. The only reason we elected this Harper party was due to extreme distaste for ADSCAM as well as the unimpressive leadership skills of Paul Martin.

Stephane Dion may or may not have what it takes to win the confidence of the people, but he's a work in progress, too early to pass judgment. There is much to be optimistic about without a doubt. A man of principle.

However one thing seems certain, I doubt Harper will ever get more than the 36% of the vote that elected him, much of which was simple protest vote. It now seems certain his vote will drop in fact in the next election.

Canbuhay said...

Wow, talk about skin-deep diversity.

It's always funny to read blogs from "tolerant" type folks who dictate how other people should think.

Because we are brown or black or whatever sexual orientation, we have to think like liberals like you and toe (tow?) the Liberal Party line.

Grow up.

The far left in Canada is so far left that people who come from all over the world can't fathom why we would adopt such crazy laws. We come from countries where marriage between one man and one woman is honoured, where gov't handouts don't equal compassion and where people are respected for their ability and not because their skin colour is darker than someone else's.

If you truly believe in the tolerance that you spout, then stop trying to tell minorities what they should believe.

More of us are becoming aware of just how paternalistic the Liberal Party and liberals are, in general. You just proved this sentiment right.

Matt Guerin said...

canbuhay, I didn't tell minorities what they should believe. Anyone can believe anything they want, I've stated that several times on this blog.

I noticed a typical far right argument in your comments that people on the centre-left are somehow radical. I'm most certainly on the centre-left. When you're on the extreme right, like most in the Harper Conservative party are, moderate, reasonable people seem radical. The problem is you've mistaken your vantage point for the middle, when in fact it's anything but.

I also believe in equality. Not equality for heterosexuals only. Equality for all human beings. To you, that must be radical and far-left.

You said: "The far left in Canada is so far left that people who come from all over the world can't fathom why we would adopt such crazy laws. We come from countries where marriage between one man and one woman is honoured..."

Clearly you think treating everyone equally under the law is radical, far left and not good. How typical.