Thursday, March 10, 2005

TORIES UNMUZZLED

I didn't know the federal Tories' caucus were trying to put the boots to the rank and file delegates at the Montreal convention; I didn't know they were planning resolutions that might have stifled the social debate. I thought this was supposed to be an open convention with people getting a chance to speak, heck, I thought it was supposed to be an open party to begin with.

I think the party did the right thing by opening it up again, but the way this has gone down has me really worried. Even though the caucus backtracked, it still looks as if policies are still being imposed from the top down of the party, which is bad enough. But the way the rank and file reacted has me REALLY worried. I'm worried the delegates are bigger social conservatives than I thought, and are obsessed with social issues. I'm scared they're going to try and turn this convention next week into some kind of religious revival meeting, and go up to the microphones and speak their minds and REALLY embarrass and marginalize the party in the process. They were the ones who made the biggest stink about this half-cooked plan to put the clamps on debate in the first place.

Now that the gloves are off, this convention will be free and open for all the frothing-at-the-mouths delegates to make a full spectacle of themselves on every social issue imaginable. This has all the potential to be a big disaster for the party if these people don't show some restraint and hold their tongues. I'm worried you're going to have people going up there and calling for the use of the Notwithstanding Clause and worse. Gosh darnet, gang, hold your fire! The Canadian public doesn't want to see this party going nuts over the Notwithstanding Clause or criticizing judges, or trashing alternative lifestyles. Don't make this party look like irresponsible rednecks, and for G's sakes don't cause a civil war within the party.

Personally if I were there I'd be wanting us to have a "status quo" policy on social issues: keep the current laws the way they are, no changes to the laws on the books respecting abortion, capital punishment, marijuana possession, and traditional marriage. And full compliance with any Supreme Court decisions that overturn laws on the books, no use of the Notwithstanding Clause. By going that route you make the Liberals look like the ones rocking the boat, because they're the ones pushing for all the changes. But I'm worried the Conservative Party is going to look like they will return Canada to the Stone Age. If you have delegates spouting off about the Notwithstanding Clause and the rest of it, there won't be clarity by the party on social issues. And the party will be duck soup at the hands of the Liberals.

I just want all the delegates to show some self-restraint, that's all. They need to conduct themselves in the knowledge that the entire country is watching and looking for an alternative to the Liberals, and the party needs to act like a capable government-in-waiting. Everyone criticized the party for not holding a policy convention and for not having any policies. Now that the convention is being held, it's important to make it a success by drafting policies that will be winners with the Canadian public. Then the Conservatives will emerge with some momentum and maybe start showing some guts in the House of Commons, for a change. They've been propping the Liberals up and abstaining from budget votes, just so they can hold their bleeping policy convention so that people will finally know where they stand so that it won't be an issue anymore. The last thing the party needs is to look like a bunch of disorganized, redneck wingnuts on TV.

You know what the American political parties do with their conventions? They shove these contentious issues off to committees who consult everyone and draft the platform before the convention even begins, so that there aren't any embarrassing floor fights that are caught live on TV. But of course, even if the Conservatives had willingly gone ahead and done that, there would have been criticism anyway: by all the other, less-open political parties. It's a no-win situation. Draft policy before the convention, and Liberals could accuse Conservatives of stifling debate and not being an open party. But allow a full floor debate, and then the Liberals can use the quotes from all the biggest mouths at the convention and use them all in the next election, just to embarrass the party. See, this is what drives me nuts when I read quotes by Liberals about Conservative party affairs and policy fights. Guys, the Liberals have no business commenting on internal Conservative party affairs and should shut up, and stay out of it! We all know how democratic the Liberal party is, with their appointed candidates etcetera. Let the Conservatives run their own party!

I'm supposed to be out of politics but I can't let go of it, man. But I change my mind again: I'm glad I'm not going to Montreal to have to listen to same-sex marriage debates. Who cares.

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