FFWD REW

Conservatives have abandoned Alberta’s values

Elected on a promise of accountability and integrity Harper’s party has proven itself lacking

I’m no conservative or Conservative. Seeing as these are hyper-partisan times I should also note I’m not a Liberal a Dipper a Green a Marxist-Leninist Pirate or any other party you can think of. In short I’m no party lapdog.

But I am an Albertan. A Calgarian born and raised. I know a thing or two about perceptions in this place and the way those shape the region’s worldview. It’s a view that has always clashed against the status quo giving rise to the likes of Henry Wise Wood and his social gospel the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation that led to the NDP and the Reform Party and its sustained conservative attack on those eastern liberal bums.

This is a place that still mostly believes in meritocracy independence and work.

This is also a place where the most powerful politicos in Canada will gather to discuss policy for the Conservative Party of Canada this weekend — that Reform Party offshoot that now rules the land. It’s a rather uncomfortable homecoming.

The Conservatives as everyone hopefully knows by this point are embroiled in a scandal involving greed and entitlement in the Senate that has raised questions about the actions of the Prime Minister and his cabal in the PMO — an offensive (and offensive) wing of the Conservative machine within government. The scandal involves allegations of blackmail lying backstabbing and hushed cheque-writing. It’s the exact thing the Conservatives promised to stamp out. It’s the exact thing that saw a western protest movement morph into a government that called for a more open and accountable form of Canadian governance.

Albertans jumped on that bandwagon with hearts a flutter dreams of Senate reform and transparency dancing in their heads. Surely the new power based at least in spirit in Calgary would show those in Ottawa how it’s done.

Well here we are seven years since the first minority Conservative government. It’s safe to say those dreams are long since dead.

Andrew Coyne writing for Postmedia penned a great column on the ongoing Senate scandal. In it he lambasted the actions of all involved not necessarily as a product of this government but of Canada’s governmental system and its lack of checks and balances. In a real democracy he wrote all involved would have already been hauled before a committee or an inquiry and been required to testify under oath and the RCMP investigation wouldn’t be chuggin’ along at an almost imperceptible pace. Instead we have grown men and women who are so far removed from the way the world actually works with their heads so far up Ottawa’s black hole that they simply squabble and lie and point fingers and whine and carry on as though this were a perfectly normal and acceptable way to act. No accountability here. No independent grilling. Just question period grandstanding in the Senate and the Prime Minister doing the rounds talking trash to “friendly” media.

What Coyne fails to highlight is that many of the oversights that are now lacking in our Parliament are gone because of the actions of this government. Elected for greater accountability the prime minister and his MPs have quickly and effectively eroded or eliminated those institutions and conventions meant to keep the bloated egos of leaders in check. The constant fights with the Parliamentary Budget Officer and his replacement with a new officer who has no budget experience; fighting with Elections Canada; the fights with the Auditor General (okay that one is nothing new); the defunding of NGOs which take a different stand than the governing party; the control over parliamentary committees; the aforementioned hyper-partisan PMO; the complete disregard for the media.

And now the party is coming home to talk policy right in its heartland. When I say it’s an uncomfortable homecoming I don’t mean that Harper et al. are going to be confronted and ultimately booted for their actions — that’s not on the agenda. This is a tightly scripted policy convention.

There will however be grumbles. And in Alberta those grumbles have a tendency to grow louder and more boisterous once they start.

Those values that still largely exist here and that gave rise to Harper the values that drew him to this place (I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: he’s from Toronto) have been violated or just completely tossed out.

Yes it’s a symptom of the culture in Ottawa one that seems to suck the decency out of anyone too weak to resist its pull but that’s a cop-out. Harper preaches a hard line for ethical behaviour and should be held to account. After all I’m sure he wasn’t just talking pretty in order to appease the Albertans whose backs he climbed over to get to the top right?

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