Sunday, March 2, 2008

Are Canadians individualists or collectivists?

Robert Fulford asked in his interesting article (National Post, Feb.16, 2008) titled “Preaching the dogma of dependency”:

“In political matters, are Canadians individualists or collectivists? [Garth] Turner, Liberal MP for the Ontario riding of Halton, deserves attention in this context because he's an experienced foot soldier in the army of politicians and bureaucrats governing Canada. A former business journalist, he's proven he can sit as a Conservative, an Independent or a Liberal. As a politician never accused of originality, he has a firm grip on the conventional wisdom. That, and his flexibility, make him a representative figure…

He's now among those Liberals who favour defeating the government on the budget. In this role, he told a Globe and Mail reporter on Wednesday that Harper may well deserve defeat: "The reality is, if the budget doesn't satisfy people's economic concerns, if it doesn't quell those anxieties that families have about the future, then they should be presented another alternative." (Italics added.)
Hiding in the shadows behind those words, probably unclear even to Turner himself, is a whole philosophy of political life. Politicians soak up this doctrine without ever understanding
With politicians so willing to take responsibility, we always have someone else to blame its implications. What they know and like most about it is the way it makes them more important than they would be otherwise.
As Liberals, New Democrats, Bloc Quebecois members or Conservatives, they discover that voters are happiest when they believe they can depend on government to solve most of their problems. There are citizens and even institutions opposing this idea, but the progress they make is erratic and often only temporary.
We can be fairly certain that not even Garth Turner believes a budget passed by Parliament will "quell" the anxieties of the citizens. Anxieties about the future are so numerous, and are caused by such a multiplicity of forces, that governments can do only a little to alleviate them and nothing whatever to "quell" them. If an auto worker fears unemployment because foreign cars are cheaper, can the government fix that? No. Passing high tariffs against Korean cars, for instance, would be impossible without destroying the trade policy Canada has pursued, with great success, for generations. In most cases, our economy depends heavily on the financial health of other countries, especially the U.S. It also evolves according to technological change, not government decisions.

Yet we blame the government for every weakness in the economy, just as we blame educators because they can't teach students who show up at school with no desire to learn. (Almost everybody says the schools are failing the students. Hardly anyone points out that the students and their parents are failing the public education system.)
Who taught us this habit? The Liberals, above all. They have been more than happy to encourage the rise of dependency on government while presiding over the decline and fall of individualism in every aspect of politics and commerce.
With politicians so willing to shoulder responsibility, we always have someone other than ourselves to blame. Politicians discover our fears through polling, then promise to pass laws that will improve the conditions that worry us. In most cases, of course, they fail, sometimes spectacularly. Naturally, we are disappointed, and we decide that politicians are liars. This elaborate system of cynical commitments followed by impulsive blaming has turned into a form of moral and intellectual corruption far deeper than anything forbidden by Parliamentary ethics or the Criminal Code.
Garth Turner may still be a newcomer in the Liberal party, but he proved this week that he can compress into a few words the automatic, unthinking arrogance that has been an essential part of Liberalism for generations.”

Fulford’s column reminded me of the Ontario Liberal approach to health care and the environment, promising changes that never really materialize. Liberal health care duplicity is legendary, as is Liberal environmental duplicity. Just trust us seems to be their mantra.

Ontario Liberals continue to beat the dying - if not already dead - horse of universal, single-payer, government-run health care, despite the fact that Health Minister George Smitherman has already acknowledged that the government can’t do it all when it comes to health care delivery. Yet the preaching of dependency and the fearmongering about allowing patient choice and privatization (spoiling the Liberal’s health care power base) continues. Despite the Chaoulli decision in Quebec, and the recent Castonguay Report in Quebec, the Ontario Liberals and their status-quo-supporting sycophants have done nothing to discuss, prepare, or pro-actively set the new future of health care in Ontario in motion. It’s as if they are waiting and hoping that the McCreith/Holmes health care charter challenge now before the court in Ontario (similar to Quebec’s earlier Chaoulli challenge) ultimately fails, and that the Liberals can then merrily continue propagating their failing health care monopoly in perpetuity.

The Liberals, likewise, whine consistently about the environment, now blaming the federal Conservatives for alleged inaction. Ontario's Liberals cringed, opposed and fobbed off Ottawa’s attempt last year to set a California –type standard across Canada – citing damage to Ontario’s auto manufacturing industry. Yet when all the Kyoto B.S. was being bandied about (with St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley cheerleading in Ontario), the Liberals downplayed that any damage to Ontario’s economy would be minimal!

Again, like with health care, Ontario Liberals stubbornly refuse to look next door to Quebec. Quebec was the first Canadian province to adopt the California emissions standard, as reported in the St. Catharines Standard story “Quebec adopts California’s stringent emissuions controls” (Dec.12, 2007).

Ontario’s Liberal Premier Dalton ‘Clean-Air’ McGuinty has had since 2003 to put his money and his policies where his mouth and his rhetoric are. Yet here too, the Liberals are laggards behind Quebec.

When Fulford writes of politicians’ willing to shoulder responsibility, I question how far this responsibility really goes.

No politician, Liberal or not, is held liable for patients’ suffering and deaths caused by the government-run health monopoly. Maybe they might not be re elected, but that’s a far cry from being actually held responsible for what occurs on their watch. They claim to assume responsibility, and we give away our trust to their monopoly, only to find that when the promises are not delivered, there is no one ultimately accountable - it's "the system" that's to blame!

The sinister aspect of this is that politicians ultimately are conveniently insulated and held harmless from the blow-back of their own decisions.

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