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The Conservative rightwing wolf in moderate sheep’s clothing exposed finally – by the Census?

It seems a bit odd, even to me, if it turns out the Census is what causes folks to realize the Conservatives aren’t as moderate as they are trying to appear – that this (and the musings on removing affirmative action programs for entry into Canada’s public service for visible minorities and aboriginal peoples will add to that) is just a hint of the extreme right-wing policies we’d get if for some unfortunate reason Harper and his bunch were given a majority government.

However, one doesn’t or shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, so I won’t complain too badly.

Today, there is widespread harsh media and columnist reaction over what we’re seeing them doing to the Census – very harsh. For example,  the Ottawa Citizen’s editorial is titled The Tories exposed:

For years Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, sensitive to accusations of harbouring “hidden” agendas, and knowing that Canada’s political culture is centrist, have sought to avoid being typecast as a party of ideologues. Sadly, all the efforts to appear moderate, flexible and impartial are now discredited, as a result of the war Stephen Harper has declared on the census. The census is the mechanism by which the government gathers the hard facts — social, economic, demographic — needed to formulate effective public policy. The Conservative plot to destroy the census represents the most vivid blow yet in its war against empirical data.

Ideologues don’t just ignore research. They actually abhor it, because it gets in their way.

The Halifax Chronicle-Herald calls for Tony Clement’s resignation:

THE WRONG MAN has quit in Ottawa. It’s Industry Minister Tony Clement who should have resigned Wednesday.It’s Mr. Clement who has lost sight of his ministerial duty to protect the integrity of the national census and of Statistics Canada. It’s Mr. Clement who has settled for being a mere cheerleader for a government political decision to replace the mandatory long-form census with a voluntary survey.

Stephen Maher, writing at the same paper, calls the Conservative arguments “nonsense”, and more or less applauds Sheikh saying it showed everyone what he was made of.  The Edmonton Journal chimes in, calling Shiekh an honourable man, and wondering what Harper was thinking of with this move. The folks at La Presse, who I’m told normally support the government, came out with a hard-hitting editorial today as well.  Jeffery Simpson at the Globe decries this as the  “temporary triumph of ideology over reason”, and the Globe publishes yet another fine editorial calling on the Census to be left alone, and the mandatory longform retained. The Toronto Star editorial condemns the Conservatives as “Tea Party North“.

All well and good. But it’s now going to be up to the opposition parties (and obviously from my stance, the Liberals in particular) who need to turn that into voter support for themselves, and to hammer home that we have a bunch of closet ideologues in power right now, who are waiting for the chance to implement the rest of what they wish to do, but can’t under a minority government.

UPDATE: This is a bang-on description as far as I’m concerned from a fellow progressive blogger about this government: ‘For the Conservatives, truth is terror’


16 comments to The Conservative rightwing wolf in moderate sheep’s clothing exposed finally – by the Census?

  • Northern PoV

    I regret to say I agree with the views of Anon ABC

    If Harper was concerned about the Census issue he would not have followed it so closely with another culture-war issue: affirmative action.

    They don’t care about the people against them and the swing voters just see more squabbling politicians, setting the stage for a “give us a majority to stop the pain” campaign. Prorogation not only generated the same buzz but also deflected the detainee issue far enough down the road for the Liberals to cave.

    this is the plan folks – and all the rage we are documenting is ensuring success.

    • Ottlib

      I might have agreed with you if this was three weeks ago.

      However, this has been in the news for weeks. Even summer adled Canadians would have noticed it by now. They may not know all of the details but it is probably not lost on them that everybody and their uncle is slamming the government over this decision, not just Opposition politicians.

      Indeed, they have been rather muted during this whole time rather letting others carry the ball on it and allowing the Conservatives to dig themselves deeper and deeper with each passing day.

      This was a grave miscalculation by the Conservatives that is taking what should have been a quiet summer for them and turning it into a controversy that could have negative implications for them down the road.

  • Anon ABC

    With the attack on affirmative action, it would seem that Harper thinks the time is ripe to go for broke.

    Perhaps his polls tell him that Canadians have never been as uninformed/malleable as they are now. Wonder whether these were the same people who informed him that a voluntary census is as reliable as an involuntary one? LOL.

    More seriously though, this type of extreme politics has the potential to turn a peaceful society into an unstable, possibly even violent, one. It has happened in many countries. The British Empire called it “divide and rule” during their colonial times. The colonialists were, arguably, masters of this game.

    However, judging from the harsh criticisms of our local wedge politics master’s actions in the MSM recently,it appears that many rationale people are waking up and sounding the alarm.

    Hopefully, ordinary Canadians are paying attention, eh?

  • foottothefire

    The Calgary Herald (I swear; I avoid it like the plaque but knowing thine enemy requires a check now and then) would knock your socks off with their take (well…maybe doesn’t apply to Licia Corbella…yet)…

  • Tracy Gartner

    Nice outing of Norman from the UofC, Scott. Sad little poser caught with his pants down!

    Facts are just too much for this government. If the long form is scrapped they can say we are all white, middle age, evangelical, middle class, gun-totting, war-loving, abortion hating, gay-bashing, racist, hetero males that all support their right wing ideals. Mr. Harper – your agenda is showing.

    Great post. I hope the apathetic populace is shook by this issue and begin to awaken from their long slumber before no one can recognize our once great country.

    • @Tracy Gartner, If the population hasn’t woken up thus far, I don’t see how this is going to rouse them. I just think the majority of people are having trouble seeing the real implications of many of the moves this government makes. I think even their own constituency is largely blind to what is going on here. We have a government that is attempting, at a very basic and profound level, to dismantle government at its very core; that is to say government as a force of good for the nation and the people. But it is death by a thousand cut rather than one blow, and many people just aren’t understanding what is going on.

      • Northern PoV

        You are so sadly correct Kirby

        taking down the bulwarks of our civil society one brick at a time

        the somnolent voters like proverbial frogs in slowing heating water as it heads inevitably to the boiling point

  • Hi Scott,

    Thanks for the link!


  • Léo Bourdon

    Not only is the editorial from La Presse is harsh – it says the following (my translation):

    “Before the government does further damage to the institution of the government of Canada, the intelligent people within Cabinet have the duty to stand up and cease the rampage. If not, the Harper government could be known in history as one of the most incompetent and harmful this country has ever known”

  • Roll Tide

    Its so extreme, that 62% of the people of Quebec endorse Harper’s census move.
    I guess, like Norman, they all graduated from the University of Calgary.

    • @Roll Tide, Chuckle. that’s one poll Roll Tide.. and an online one at that from Ipsos-Reid. Let’s see what other polls say.. and lets see what they say after the StatsCan head did his dramatic and honourable resignation.

  • @Norman, Hmm.. don’t you folks at the University of Calgary have something better to do, and should you really be posting drivel like this from an admin account there?

    • Anybody who posts here and think that Scott’s not going to dig into your background is making a very grave error as Scott happens to be a fantastic Internet detective, one who doesn’t pose as the Black Bloc.

      BAM MAN!


      • @Nadine_L, It’s not really detective work. Many blogs have built-in-ways or external plugins to trace IP addresses back to the source of the post – which we often use to block IP addresses of spammers or flamers. I don’t normally publicly mention where an IP address traces back to of people who leave comments here – even ones that disagree with me, but for Norman’s case and in light of his stupid comment, I made an exception.

    • foottothefire

      Good on you, Scott. Is it any wonder the UofC comes in last in the rankings?@Scott Tribe,

  • Norman

    “…removing affirmative action programs for entry into Canada’s public service for visible minorities and aboriginal peoples…”

    Never though you to be such a racist. Quotas of certain colours of people, eh? You don’t think that visible minorities such as myself can make it without big brother government to their rescue? Why work hard to get ahead when you liberal whiteys will give me a free pass.

    I’m insulted.

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