I can't put it any plainer than that. For the first time since 1976 I'm telling people not to waste their vote on the Conservative Party of Canada. This was not an easy decision. It has, in fact, been the most excruciating conclusion I've ever come to.
For months now my gut has been at war with itself, hoping against hope that the new Conservative Party would break free of it's Reform/Alliance shackles and become the centrist party it claims it can be.
There has been a part of me that has really wanted to see that. You see, I like change. I don't like the same people in charge for too long, it opens the door for corruption. And the sponsorship scandal is proof that I'm right.
So why am I against replacing the Liberals with the Conservatives?
Well, here's the list:
1. The New Conservative Party is not Conservative.
In fact, they're about as far from conservative as you can get. Oh sure, they've recently released a new policy document. The first one since the "merger". And yes, it's chock full of nice, moderate, progressive inspired policies designed to show what a nice, friendly face the new Conservatives have. More importantly it's there to prove once and for all that the new Conservative Party is a solid, centrist alternative to the Liberals.
It's also, as with everything else relating to the merger of the two "right-wing" parties, not worth the paper it's written on. I've heard more than one party hack tell me straight up they must "put on the face of a centrist party to get elected."
OK, but what happens then? What happens after you've convinced enough voters in Canada that you're not reactionary and radical? What happens AFTER you form Government?
Don't kid yourself voters! The sheep's clothing will come off faster than a bride's dress in the honeymoon suite. Many a "Reformer" has joked about changing the name back to the "Reform Party" once they form Government. I'm sure this is less of a joke to some and more of a plan. Based on the last ten years of Reform strategy it certainly fits with past behavior.
2. The only Conservative leader in the House of Commons right now is Paul Martin.
This is nothing new. People have been joking about this for almost a year. Steven Harper is a reformer who couldn't keep from arguing with his bosses back when he was the just the policy hag. Now that he's in charge the arrogance and swagger remind me of Mike Harris (former Premier of Ontario - popularly known as "Mike the Knife" for the cuts he made to Health-Care and Education, and people's tax bill. Something that apparently caused a multi-billion deficit the new Provincial Government is paralyzed over).
3. The only hope of fixing the Sponsorship Scandal is with the Liberals.
This is a bizarre dynamic that's playing out in a very interesting way. Paul Martin is the Liberal's "Wolf in the Fold" and he's come out with teeth barring. If the Liberals were trying to defend against an external threat they'd be fine. The scandal would have been brushed under the rug faster than you can say "hey look, a woodchuck!" and that would be that.
Instead, because former Prime Minister Cretien tried to hang onto power too long, tried to marginalize his successor and forced Paul Martin into creating his own camp, a schism was created within the party and there is no place to hide.
Liberal against Liberal might seem like a bad thing but in this Age of One Party Rule it's actually great. The Opposition isn't much of one so at least this way there's two camps, within the power circle, keeping each other honest, well, let's just say we're hearing about more than we would if we relied only on the Opposition. And that's why the Liberals must be left to clean up this mess. They're the only ones who know where the bodies are.
Besides, who goes out and hires another contractor to fix a mistake when the guy who made the mistake is standing right there!
4. The Conservative Party is controlled by Reformers.
I know this seems like a rehash of the first point but it isn't. The point here is that a Conservative is someone who knows fiscally responsible management; respects tradition; and seeks ways to jump start Canada's economy through business incentives and the reduction of trade barriers.
A Reformer is someone who seeks change for changes sake; tax breaks for workers no matter what the cost; closer economic, political and operational ties with the United States, which for most us means basically the destruction of Canada as a sovereign nation. Why?
Because a Reformer is basically an American who was born in Canada and has a genetic drive to return home one way or another.
A Reformer is also more Republican than Democrat which is why the new Conservative Party has been nick-named the "Republican Party North."
5. A vote for the Conservative Party is a vote for more problems in Quebec.
It's a fact. During the years of declining support in the Canadian Alliance (Reform 2.0) the Bloq Quebec Party saw their support collapsing. Why? Because the Bloq was created in reaction to the Reform Party. If Alberta could have their own party in the Federal Parliament then Quebec was going to have theirs too! As the Reform Party became less of a threat the Bloq lost support.
The moment Reform 2.0 began swamping the Progressive Conservative Party with an eye to taking it over Bloq support started to climb. Now, the only threat to another Liberal Majority Government isn't from the new Conservative Party, it's from a renewed Bloq in Quebec.
Albertans, who only want "in" on their terms, are apparently the strongest thing fanning the flame of separtism in Quebec.
Rest assured, should the Conservatives form government, the first issue they'll be facing will be renewed calls for a Sovereignty Referendum in Quebec and that's bad because Reform 3.0 might say they're against Referendums but that's only the paper document they hold in front of their lying faces. (Yeah, I've got issues with this!)
6. Harper is the wrong person to be Prime Minister.
Throughout Canadian history there has been one complaint that a Prime Minister, once given, cannot shake. It's usually the precursor to their party losing at the polls too. And that complaint is that they're "arrogant." Canadians hate arrogant leaders.
Conservative Leader Steven Harper is one of the most arrogant S*O*B's in Canadian political history. I can say that because he's never run anything yet he walks around with that "Everything would work perfectly if people only listened to me!" expression on his face. I hate that expression.
He might be a smart man, in fact, considering how he engineered this take-over I'm sure of it. But he's still a smarmy, arrogant S*O*B and if he's like that now, then how bad would he be were he to win Government? A goose bump the size of a semi-truck just ran up my back.
7. The new Conservatives have never formed Government.
The moment Reform 2.0 took over the Conservatives, and Leader Steven Harper surrounded himself with like-minded Reformers, and shuffled the former Progressive Conservatives off to the closet so they could tap out party policy like the infinite number of monkeys that they are, it became apparent that should the new Conservatives ever form Government then they'd be doing it for the first time.
This has never before been the case. Even Joe Clark's short-term as Prime Minister in 1979 had people in the party who had held Minister's Portfolios. They even had a former Prime Minister to advise them and they still ran into more problems than they could handle. The new Conservative Party doesn't have a single person in it, nor anyone running for it, who has ever been in Government.
This is the real devil. Having turned their backs and marginalized the Progressive Conservatives in their rush to command, Reform 3.0 has ensured that should they ever get the prize that they'll be tripping over themselves with every rookie mistake a new Government could make. This is the wrong time for this.
Our economy is precarious, our relationship with the Americans tenuous but mendable. Our Armed Forces stretched to the limit. Even if this was the ideal time to switch horses would we really want to ride a nag who has never been to the races before?
8. Groups who brand-rape must not be rewarded for it.
The Reform Party has been salivating for the "Conservative" banner for more than a decade. Why, they're not the slightest bit Conservative, what should they care? Well, despite the large number of political parties with seats in the Canadian Parliament the fact remains that only two parties have ever formed Government, the Liberals and the Conservatives.
As any businessman will tell you, if you're starting a soda pop company with your own name it's an uphill battle to get sales, if you somehow get the name of a well-known brand then half your battle is already done.
But don't be fooled. If someone buys the Coke name and puts Pepsi behind the label it's still Pepsi. The Reform Party 2.0 took advantage of the Progressive Conservative rule that allowed members to belong to two parties at the same time. Members of Reform 2.0 bought memberships in the Progressive Conservatives so they could vote in favour of merger between the two parties.
They could have given up on Reform, joined the Progressive Conservative Party and then worked within the party to effect the changes they wanted (just as they're telling the Progressive Conservatives to do within the new party) but they didn't want that. The simple reason for that is that Reformers know they have very little in common with Progressive Conservatives.
They pressured the PC Party leadership into accepting a delegate selection system that almost guaranteed victory. It went like this.
Each riding had to elect their delegates. Their delegates were voted on by all members attending the meeting. This means if 51% of the people at the meeting wanted to merge then 100% of the delegates would vote in favor of merging with the Canadian Alliance. It worked. 90% of all the ridings voted in favour of merging so 90% of all the delegates supported merger.
But we don't know how many PC Members actually voted in favour of the merger. It's obviously below the 66% minimum requirement (if it were above then the new Conservative Party would release those numbers to show they had legitimate support). They haven't because it isn't.
Which means the Canadian Alliance engineered a reverse-takeover. Which would be fine if they simply admitted it. The idea that they could trot out a series of political wags saying this was a "union of equals" is so laughable as qualify for therapy.
The Canadian Alliance membership outnumbered the Progressive Conservatives more than 2 to 1. Even if a real union had occurred (which I would have supported) the CA would dominate. I, for one, simply can't trust a machine that would be this vile and obvious in it's grab for power, oops, I'm getting ahead of myself here.
9. You can't trust a machine this vile and obvious in it's grab for power.
The power base of the new Conservative Party is Steven Harper and his cronies. Can you believe that even when the Agreement in Principle was announced heralding in the "merger" of the Canadian Alliance with the Progressive Conservatives, that there were people who insisted it was possible it was not a take-over? Ludicrous!
The day after the vote all sorts of moderate members of the PC Party left the party to sit as independents or with other parties. And then the process of replacing the Tory element with Reform elements began. First, Party headquarters, communications and Executives were all replaced with Reform elements. But what about Policy?
Well kids, despite claiming since December 2003 that they are the party that should replace the Liberals as Government, the only policy the Conservative Party has had until May 2004, the literal eve of an election call, has been the agreement in principle, a document that was outdated the moment the merger took place.
And that document was put forward by former PC Party Leader Peter McKay, a man who, in my opinion, is without integrity, a man who repeatedly puts his signature to documents that he turns his back on at the first opportunity. Or as I like to call him, Death. Think about this, does anyone who has met the man have any difficulty imagining him in an oversized black cloak and holding a scythe? I didn't think so!
So they've just come out with their first Party Policy statement. Gone are the Reform calls for Referendums to decide controversial issues, gone is the call for a flat-tax and the rallying cry for privatized health-care (although there are back-door provisions in their wording that don't hide their real intention very well).
So maybe the party has embraced a centrist vision, maybe they have finally found that middle ground that can appeal to all Canadians, why not give them a try then? Well, forget policy. Don't pay any attention to what's on paper, MacKay is author of the document so you already know that it's worth.
Instead listen to their members on the news, in the House of Commons and during the election. You'll be able to tell the difference between when they're saying something they believe and something they were told to say. The one saving grace of the new Conservative Party is that they're all terrible liars!
10. Because I said so.
You didn't think I was going to actually come up with ten reasons, did you? What am I, Letterman?
Seriously. If you've been reading these and you disagree with me then Number 10 ain't going to make a difference, but if any of these Tirades have struck a chord then you've got to admit, at least part of you is simpatico with my thought processes.
And if that's the case then I'm telling you to trust me. Don't vote Conservative.
Vote Liberal, or if you're in a riding where another party is favored (other than Conservative) vote for them.
If the Conservative party loses seats in the next election then the real internal struggle, simmering beneath the surface, can boil off the lies, and by the election after that we'll at least know what is under their sheep's clothing.