July 21, 2000 Halifax Herald

Day would head good government - but tolerant?

On July 8, I tuned into the Alliance Party's leadership convention to watch votes being tabulated. When the final results were announced, the winner and loser conducted themselves with dignity and professionalism. Stockwell Day didn't gloat and Preston Manning didn't whine. They extended to one another olive branches and praise for jobs well done.

The exchange came across as genuinely sincere and - this is almost in the believe-it-or-not realm - one of the most cynical persons around as far as politicians are concerned, yours truly, believed them.

After the final tally, Manning delivered a congratulatory speech that was straight from the heart. During his speech, he restated his ongoing commitment toward democratizing Canada's political process. This is something that most Canadians hold sympathy for.

This got me thinking about media biases. Since itís founding, the Reform Party has been depicted by the media as the home of right-wing villains who would leave the poor poorer and the rich richer, and cripple social programs. This perception may have been, as at least one editor has stated, unintentional. However, when one reads a current news story, they will find that what the media deems as the Party's right wing economic negatives are emphasised, while positives are ignored.

Although not a Manning fan, I never believed that he was out to rape the poor and send Canada's safety net reeling back to the Dark Ages. In fact, I believed the opposite: that politically, he was attempting to saddle the country with something it hasn't had for many moons - accountable, responsible government.

Day, in his acceptance speech, laid out that he is like-minded when it comes to reforming the political process. Two commitments he articulated could be big sellers: make MPs accountable to the people who elected them - all votes in Parliament would be based on this standard and not on party affiliation - and abolishment of the present Senate and replacement with an elected one. Such reforms would put Canada on the same road towards democratization that most of the industrialized democracies have long ago embarked upon. The days of the "King of the Commons" rule would end.

However, to get to the office where he can end imperial rule and give Canada responsible government, Day must overcome many other roadblocks posed by the media and party policies. Prominent among these is the media's tendency to support the Liberals, no matter what.

If you doubt this statement, try this on. Since they came to power, the Liberals have: made the rich richer and the poor poorer; knocked the hell out of essential programs such as health services; adopted almost every program of the former Mulroney government - which they campaigned against in order to get elected, and for which Mulroney is still vilified; then adopted and enriched the GST, instead of repealing it as promised, etc. Can anyone recall one time when the media demanded Liberal heads for these omissions?

Another possible problem for Day will be the "in" party's habit of using taxpayer's money to try to buy elections. The $700 million committed on June 30 to Atlantic Canada by the Liberals, so close to an election, is viewed by many as such. Taking into consideration the scepticism that the general public greeted the announcement with, the promise may prove counter-productive to those who made it. This is the twenty first century and I believe that most Canadians have passed the point where they can be so easily bought.

What probably will be the biggest obstacle to Alliance candidates being elected, and implementing otherwise good government, are party policies that reek of intolerance. On a personal basis, should we be scared of Day? He is a good husband and father, is not Jack-Booted, and does not belong to the KKK. The fact he is not a "the State knows best" socialist is not a reason to fear him. However, party policies that smack of white supremacist views and intolerance for other human differences, policies which he appears to condone, give cause to be hesitant, if not scared.

Foremost among these is the Party's intention to ignore Supreme Court of Canada decisions as they apply to First Nations peoples, and advocating the extinction of these distinct civilizations by assimilation, an act outlawed by the United Nation's Genocide Convention. There is also a hard nosed policy toward extending equal rights to cover other human differences.

Day has articulated all the key elements needed to turn political apparatus in this country on its head. He comes across as sincere, honest, smart, and a man of vision as it pertains to rearranging the political scene. Canada's financial mess demands that we start looking at electing leaders who will not just govern for the present - with getting re-elected the main consideration - but who will govern with the goal of ending the country's near bankruptcy. I believe that Day fits the bill in this regard and that he will, if elected, govern with fiscal common sense, which would assure a prosperous Nation to pass on to our children.

However, there is a big question; if his party takes power, will it bequeath a tolerant Nation, or one skirting the Dark Ages in acrimonious minority relationships? Mr. Day, we need honest answers.

Daniel N. Paul


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