Recent Events

Since last blog, four recent events have occurred and below are my thoughts on those. They are discovery of an unmarked mass graves of 215 at a Kamloops residential schools, racist attack in London, Ontario that killed four Muslims, C-10, and C-233 which is bill on banning sex-selective abortion.

Last week, a mass grave of 215 from a residential school was found. This is both shocking but also underlines that our worst fears about residential schools are true. What we did to First Nations was beyond pale and no doubt is a very dark part of our history that we must remember and learn from. This strengthens the importance of acting on Truth and Reconciliation recommendations. I am not an expert on what is the best way forward; I don’t think anyone does. But what is clear is status quo is not working and there must both be acknowledgement of the awful atrocity and then efforts going forward to improve things for First Nations. Most importantly, we need to listen more than dictating what we think are solutions. Hopefully governments will pay more attention to this file and focus on real lasting results, not quick photo ops or virtue signaling but actual meaningful changes that can help First Nations. We cannot erase the past, but we can learn from it and find a way to improve things going forward.

Also this past week, a 20 year old deliberately ran over a Muslim family in London, Ontario killing the Grandmother, both parents, and daughter while only the 9 year old boy survived. I feel awful for the 9 year old boy who will grow up without his parents and sister. This was a hate crime and as I have emphasized before, we must take action to stop the spread of Islamophobia and hate. With more and more going to echo chambers, I fear that people who are hateful are increasingly being radicalized. Much like with Islamic terrorists, we need to have a de-radicalization program for people who join hate groups which are a far bigger threat in Canada. We need to understand what motivates people towards hate and find ways to steer people away. Also each of us has our role to do. Many of us including myself are sometimes guilty of turning a blind eye when a family or friend says something intolerant as we assume they don’t mean it since we like them as people. That needs to change. We all need to call out bigotry when we see it, even if family or friends. And likewise we need to have zero tolerance for politicians who pander to bigots even though dog whistles. This is the tragic consequences and when politicians pander to this group, it legitimizes this. Instead all parties must unite against hate and all parties must have zero tolerance for bigotry. Any member of party or MP who engages in bigotry even if just dog whistles, needs to be booted out of party immediately.

C-10 is in its final stages and is seen as a bill to regulate internet by supporters while an example of censorship by detractors. I believe the bill needs to go back to drawing board and be re-written. I agree web giants should pay taxes like all other companies doing business in Canada, but this goes far beyond that. As for preserving Canadian content; that may work on television and radio where you have fixed number of channels, but becomes much more problematic on the internet where number of outlets is infinite. I worry this could make it more difficult for Canadians to access things that are not Canadian. More importantly it is very vague on role of CRTC and its possible it may be nothing, but also risk of abuse. Its not just a bunch of right wing paranoid types complaining about this restricting free speech; you have internet expert from University of Ottawa Michael Geist against this and a number of former CRTC commissioners. So when you have people like that against it, that suggests there are problems and its not just your usual right wing types pushing fear of free speech being threatened. I know this is popular in Quebec where protecting culture is a sensitive issue, but I think best to withdraw bill and start over. Tax revenue from web giants can be used to help cultural sector. Likewise freedom of expression has limits, but we already have hate speech laws, laws against child pornography and other types of harmful expressions so enforcing existing laws deals with that; no need for new ones. I realize all rights have limits and none are absolute, but at same time far too often governments have abused them so better to err on side of caution, but not to point libertarians want.

Finally there was C-233 which was a private member’s bill that banned sex selective abortions. I believe this was a PR nightmare for Tories and they just handed the Liberals a gift. Yes O’Toole voted against it, but 2/3 of his caucus voted for it meaning Liberals can argue a Tory government is a risk to a woman’s right to choose. Like most, I do not agree with sex selective abortions, but morally opposing is quite different from criminalizing. For starters male to female ratios are in line with global average so it doesn’t happen a lot and more importantly impossible to enforce. More likely many women fearful of this even if not reason for abortion just won’t get one. And reality is this is an attempt to limit a woman’s right to choose and sex selective abortions are just chosen to make it look more innocuous. Already medical practioners code of ethics bans performing such type if they know it is reason so our current abortion laws work fine as is and need to be left alone. Tories need to stop beating this dead horse. Yes I get O’Toole is pro-choice and I also get free votes on issues of conscience is something Tories believe strongly in, but at same time things like this just ensure they are unelectable. Pro-life groups like Right Now are actively trying to hijack party much like gun lobby is and doing nothing and letting them in tent for fear of split will just ensure party goes way of GOP and unlike US it means permanent opposition. Never mind I strongly disagree with both groups so could never vote for a party that pandered too heavily to them. Best solution is while they shouldn’t end free votes like Liberals have, O’Toole if he was in control would be able to convince members this is doing more harm than good and that it is a lost cause and not worth losing election over. And not withstanding false polls gun lobby and pro-life groups put out, party should listen to what campaign veterans say not slanted polls by these groups which suggest their ideas are popular as they are not and simply saying they are to convince some who are naïve to go along with it. Like with climate change, I think O’Toole understands party needs to moderate to win, but unfortunately for him, much of the party isn’t interested in going along and until he can bring party along it will be hard to win. More worrisome is when he loses, I fear next leader will be further right thus ensuring another loss. I have stated elsewhere, I believe odds of Tories winning an election in next decade are not good yet I feel much of membership either doesn’t see this or doesn’t care. I actually think O’Toole needs to start booting out the more right wing types and if it risks a split, so be it. Short term harm of a split will be offset by being able to win when people tire of Liberals. Former Progressive Conservatives may have had a weaker base than Reform side did, but they had a much higher ceiling. And most further to right at end of day want Liberals gone and when push comes to shove will vote for a Red Tory leader over Liberals so best to call their bluff and ignore them.

2 thoughts on “Recent Events

  1. Regarding C-233, most of those 82 members who voted for it also did so because the median position in their riding tends to at least lean, if not stray heavily, pro-life. Notice that most of them who voted for it were in the Prairies and rural Ontario, with a few from BC and the New Brunswick members also voting yes. Those who voted no were largely from urban/suburban ridings and from Quebec. If the CPC caucus was much larger, it is likely that the percentage who would take the pro-choice position would be greater.

    That dramatically changes in competitive ridings where the median voter is generally solidly pro-choice and many of them are needed to win, particularly in the Toronto area where splits don’t usually go their way. In the 130 or so hopeless ridings for them that they would never win even on a perfect day, they are nearly unanimously pro-choice in most cases (except perhaps a few Atlantic ridings although social issues are secondary there either way). However, even their economic policies would play horrendously in those ridings. About 60 of those ridings are in Quebec, while the rest are concentrated in the urban core areas and parts of Atlantic Canada (although it’s more economic than social there).

    The problem if they become like the Liberals and say 100% pro-choice is that there will certainly be enormous hostility, both within the caucus and the grassroots. Also the Liberals weren’t like they are now until Trudeau took over in 2014 either, although their former pro-life base was largely eradicated before then as the rural ridings largely became Conservative along with a small number of the socially conservative urban types (think Markham and Richmond) and the urban ridings outside of those types became strongly pro-choice. That meant the Liberals had less to lose, although it basically put them out of play in many areas.

    I doubt the Conservatives would ever win with a Reform-type party on the ballot and a more moderate agenda even if the population gets tired of the Liberals, since the more right-wing types control 20-25% of the electorate and most of them would likely bolt, as they would fall far to the right of the CPC with a 100% pro-choice agenda (plus their economic agenda would likely be more suited to their base – rural and Western). Assuming the NDP, Bloc and Green all combine for about 15-20% (which would be a poor result for them not seen since before 2000), the remnant Conservatives would need 35% of the electorate to win a majority (with the Liberals at about 25-30% and splits all going the Conservatives’ way). That would mean them + the breakaway party combining for 55-60% of the vote. AFAIK, there has never been an election in modern Canadian history where right-leaning parties combined for that much of the vote.

    The truth is that they are in a lose-lose situation.

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    1. Agreed that making a whipped vote like Trudeau wouldn’t work, but O’Toole still could convince party this is not in their electoral interest as I suspect percentage who see abortion as a key issue in how they vote is in low single digits. Even for most pro-life voters, its not the most important issue. More family friendly policies, especially on taxes I think could win that group without scaring off the key voters they need to gain. And yes you are right, the larger the caucus is, the more pro-choice it would be as pro-life MPs mostly from very safe Tory ridings, not swing ones.

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