Form letter from John McKay, Liberal MP from Scarborough-Guilwood in response to my letter to him here.
My Fellow Canadians:
In the last election Canadians indicated that they wanted Parliament to work. They wanted a Parliament that would ensure stability during this time of economic uncertainty. Canadians also said that they wanted the tone of Parliament to change from one of hostility and bickering to one of cooperation.
The Prime Minister apparently agreed.
However, it has become abundantly clear that the Prime Minister was not only not interested in working with the opposition, but in a stunning lack of respect for democracy, wanted to silence all opposition. The ideas offered by the Liberal Party and others were treated with contempt and were summarily dismissed. He spent millions of dollars ridiculing Stephan Dion. All the while he seemed to be unaware that he had received less than 40% of the popular vote. The Canadian people had not seen fit to trust him with a majority. Twice.
Secondly, the insult to Canadians contained in the fiscal update showed that not only was there no fiscal stimulus like that of every other G7 nation, it was in fact an anti-stimulus package, instituting ideological cuts. All of the world’s leading economists are calling for governments to stimulate the economy, but Mr. Harper goes in the opposite direction.
The projections produced by the Finance Minister can only be described as “economical with the truth.” In an effort to conceal from Canadians the reality of a looming deficit he projected the sale of Canadian assets. Under no set of accounting principles do you book a sale of assets before they have been identified for sale, let alone sold, and then add those imaginary sales to your fiscal projections. It is a little like spending money from the sale of your home before you’ve even put a For Sale sign up on your front lawn.
Thirdly, the Prime Minister launched an attack on the fundamental principles of our country and society. He attacked democracy by unilaterally taking away civil servants’ guaranteed right to strike, funding for political parties (both of which he has since retracted) and women’s right to equal pay.
After the Prime Minister realized the magnitude of his miscalculation, he has been furiously back peddling. Simultaneously he has launched a massive advertising campaign to help his job.
Canada needs strong leadership during this time of economic uncertainty – not ridicule, political brinkmanship and efforts to silence democratic debate. Canada needs a government that will act as a steward to the economy, not a government that is content to leave Canadians to fend for themselves.
It is the duty of a responsible opposition to ensure that the government is acting in the interests of its people. A firm resolution to create a cooperative coalition will ensure that the government of Canada takes action to strengthen the economy, works to ensure the financial security of Canadians, and brings stability to our fragile democracy.
Canada at its foundation is a coalition of people with diverse interests and backgrounds, lead by great leaders like Sir John A. MacDonald and George Etienne Cartier who recognized that our strength and genius as a nation lies in our ability to compromise and work together for the good this great land and its people. It was the ability of our founders to cobble together diverse, yet stable, coalitions that gave birth to the Canadian federation. It is an inherent part of the tradition of our country, and it is a tradition that makes our democracy durable and robust.
I have spoken to many constituents and have received an overwhelming amount of correspondence, much of it supportive, though some have concerns. I have endeavoured to take all of your thoughts into account and communicate them with my colleagues. I thank you for your calm and resolution during this time of historic political and economic change.
Finally, this issue boils down to the most basic principle of Canadian democracy. Does the Prime Minister, the leader of the Canadian government, enjoy the confidence of his elected colleagues or does he not? At present, a majority in the House of Commons have no confidence in the current government’s ability to govern Canada responsibly. Mr. Harper should put the issue to vote and let the people’s chosen representatives decide. The prorogation of Parliament shows that Mr. Harper is afraid to face the House the Commons.
Hon. John McKay P.C., M.P.
Here is my followup response….
Dear Mr. McKay,
As someone who belongs to a constituency that has received the muzzling effects of Mr. Harper on many occasions, I sympathize with your complaints. Social conservatives know all too well about the Prime Minister’s penchant for shutting down debate and marginalizing groups who are in his way in order to secure his coveted majority. In fact, the past federal election was the first time ever I spoiled my ballot because I could not vote for any candidate, largely in part because of Stephen Harper’s political muzzle. There seems to be no boot too small for his tactics at times. I share your concerns on this matter, although my issues will differ from yours.
However, let us face the facts squarely and honestly.
The Prime Minister has withdrawn the controversial legislation you mentioned above, so there is no substantive impediment remaining (notwithstanding the negotiations to follow on the economic plan for the country’s future). Instead, you are essentially complaining about his methods and his contempt for the Liberal Party’s ideas. Whether or not such contempt is deserved is certainly a question of debate considering some of the destructive policies the Liberal Party has supported over the last few years. But, whether Stephen Harper finds the Liberal Party contemptible or whether he called your mother a nasty name, it matters little. Contempt and ridicule have been the currency of Canadian Parliament for decades, and the Liberal Party has done its fair share of trading in it during its time of power and entitlement. Whatever mud has been slung across the aisle all these years, it was always done among and between MPs who were loyal to Canada whatever their political or economic ideology. The currency of contempt and ridicule remained within Canadian political borders. It was never used to sell out Canada until, apparently, now.
And that, really, is the bottom line.
The Liberal Party has sold Canada out to the Bloc’s veto. Nothing, absolutely, nothing can compare to this betrayal, and I really wonder whether the Liberal Party will be able to recover from this after the next general election when Stephane Dion is long gone while his foolish gamble lives on to crush the Liberal Party. And that is not a good thing for Canada or for democracy. Indeed in seeking to impede Stephen Harper’s thirst for total control, the Liberal Party may have just guaranteed it not only in the immediate future but for the political long term as well. Have you even considered this? Based on your partisan tone and silly jingles in your letter, I doubt it very much.
There’s still time to turn back and refuse to join this disastrous Coalition. My suggestion to you is that you take the next seven weeks and think about it carefully.
Social Conservatives United
p.s. No political party should be financed by a subsidy from the Federal Government, outside of regular supporter donations. It only entrenches the current political establishment and ensures that mediocrity and corruption thrives. And as you well know, it also makes it very difficult for new and reforming political movements to compete with the existing political establishment. Is this what you mean by fair and democratic politics?
Here is another response, brilliantly written:
There is a lot of blustery rhetoric in your form letter, yet most of the hand-wringing about good governance tells nowhere so starkly as in alliance with nationalists and socialists. Do you not recall what National Socialism spelled in Germany? One of your eminent forebears, Mr. Trudeau, understood the severity of a national socialist threat out of Quebec, and every parliamentarian must soberly consider the nature of your alliance which allows the same threat a back door through the BQ (and PQ in the wings).
My advice to the governor general is that in fact such an alliance is not even fit to be called a “loyal opposition” since its power-balance wielders don’t even recognize the crown. It is further unfit to form a government because (a) it was not elected to do so and (b) the tail that wags it could never recognize an act of prorogation by the crown if it got out of hand. Hence it is open, like an infamous German chancellor, to seize power irrevocably. Talk about an afront to democracy! Your alliance was FAR more combative and ‘warlike’ than Harper’s proposed repeal of tax-funded party cushions or anything else you have carped at. Alternate proposals hammered-out are what we Canadians are looking for; not a destabilizing coup d’etat.