Thursday, September 23, 2010

A "Progressive" Conservative is:...

By it's very definition, a Conservative is someone who likes things just the way they are. They like the status quo and if they had a unifying axiom, it would probably be: " if it ain't broken, don't fix it". 

Of course, our political roots are from the English tradition where a Conservative or "Tory's" ethics might have originally been summed up as: "God, King and Country". Of course, both English and Canadian Conservatism have evolved somewhat beyond this very simple description. 

So Conservatives by their very nature have placed a great deal of value on tradition, customs, family values, social order and natural law. God and the church have also played a very large role in Conservatism as well. 

The Conservative concept of natural law  could be very closely related to capitalism or a free market economy. In a free, open and democratic society, this would mean that some people would, by nature, rise to the top of the social hierarchy. These would be the successful business men, the corporate leaders. And in theory, successful and ethical captains of industry would put more money into the economy, provide more jobs, increase wages which would in turn increase the standard of living for all. And of course, the better the standard of living, the more citizens will spend, thus creating a healthy consumer driven environment. 

Conservatives, because of their belief in "natural law" have often over the years, run a foul of their Liberal cousins who would see more government intervention in industry and in society as a whole in an effort to create better working conditions, better pay, equal rights and a social safety net for the sick and jobless. Conservatives are more prone to keeping government at arms length and letting the nature of free enterprise take it's course.  

Because a Conservative would believe that a healthy business class generates a healthy economy, they are inclined toward good fiscal management. A company that cant manage it's own affairs responsibly has no business existing. Traditional Conservatives take the same view toward government. Less is more and let nature take it's course. 

In the 1940s, the Conservative Party in Canada became known as the "Progressive Conservative Party of Canada". This indicated a move toward the ideological center of the political spectrum. It acknowledged that, while tradition and consistency are something to be striven for, not all change is bad. Often times it is unavoidable and is for the greater good. But in typical Conservative fashion, change is approached with caution. Data, proof, hard facts need to be obtained and studied before any change can occur.  If it doesn't make sense, it wont happen. Change does not occur strictly for the sake of change nor is it a result of misguided ideology. 

The first Progressive Conservative Prime Minister was John Diefenbaker (1957-1963) or "Dief the Chief". During his tenure as Prime Minister, Diefenbaker elected the first woman (Ellen Fairclough),and the First Ethnic (Michael Starr) as members of Cabinet. In addition,  the first member of a First Nations (James Gladstone)was appointed to the Senate in 1958 

Diefenbaker also created the "Canadian Bill of Rights" in an effort to bestow equal rights on all Canadian Citizens. He came out strongly against a racially segregated South Africa and was instrumental in having that country removed from the Commonwealth of Nations due to it's refusal to give up apartheid. Under Mr. Diefenbaker, First Nations and Inuit people were allowed to vote for the first time.

So following Mr. Diefenbaker's example, one could say that a Progressive Conservative is not only fiscally responsible and mindful of tradition, but he/she embraces the concept of equality for all people regardless of race, creed, or gender and are deserving of rights equal to any other Canadian citizen. Canada is an all inclusive society that, while it adheres to the "natural laws" of a free market economy, acknowledges the equality of all it's citizens. A Progressive Conservative embraces change when change is for the good of all and is the "right thing to do". 

 By contrast, today's Conservative Party, the Reform/ Conservatives or Ref/Cons seem to embrace neither of the two basic tenants of Progressive Conservatism. They tend not to be "all inclusive". They seem to hold certain ethnic groups in contempt, have little regard for the rights of women and are horrified at the concept of Homosexuality. They are poor  managers of the economy and tend to generate an environment of fear rather than hope. They are divisive as opposed to unifying and they allow their ideology to shape their policy rather than the needs of the country. In essence, they seem to want to reshape the country in their own image rather than embracing and enhancing it's uniqueness and pervading attitudes of acceptance and tolerance. So the Ref/Cons not only seem closed to the concept responsible social evolution, but they seem to care little for the traditions and values that have Made Canada the Country it is today. 

So it seems that there is little or nothing in the values of this Ref/Con party that are either "Progressive" or "Conservative". The name is strictly a name of convenience that has allowed a strictly Western-centric party of elitists and ideologues to come to power. They care little for the needs of the nation. They concern themselves strictly with their own survival and rise to power. Does this sound "Canadian" to you?

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