The art of being Conservative
I attended the recent candidates’ debate in Whitehorse. It was a fairly polite affair, but I was disturbed by two matters.
Conservative candidate Darrell Pasloski insisted, at least twice, the Conservatives have increased the Arts, Culture and Heritage budget by eight per cent, despite the news of funding cuts. The other candidates were dismissive, but never directly challenged this assertion.
The facts are that the Conservatives have broadened the definition of what is to be categorized as expenditures on the arts and they have claimed a spike in capital expenses, that is expenditures on bricks and mortar, as arts expenditures.
The reality is that funding to artists has declined, and this point was not clearly pressed.
Pasloski went on to say they have passed legislation to impose censorship on the arts by the minister of Culture because the public expects politicians to impose moral standards. If the minister feels any expression of art is offensive, he or she can remove entitlement to tax breaks and even remove a groups’ charitable designation based on his or her moral view.
It was the Conservative Party that passed legislation in 1921 to prohibit various expressions of art, culture and heritage, legislation that lasted for 30 years.
Hundreds of people were imprisoned for dancing, for practicing their culture, for celebrating their heritage. For many, it was a sentence of death. These people had their artifacts, their artwork seized and often destroyed.
In that case, it was done under the guise of the Indian Act.
We have laws that address criminal conduct associated with hate, with exploitation of children and with pornography. We do not need a government that wants to go beyond these sanctions and be entrusted with moral authority to censure thought and expression.
Pasloski was clearly astonished that anyone would think Conservatives would do anything unreasonable in restricting free expression. This is what makes Conservatives scary. They can’t believe anyone would think that they would act like Conservatives.
So, Murray Martin thinks the Conservatives’ record has been ‘questionable’ (Letters, September 29).
Among his reasons, he cites the allegations against former prime minister Brian Mulroney, and the termination of the parliamentary committee ‘investigations’ due to the calling of the present election.
Yet, Mulroney’s record has no relevance whatever to the record of today’s Conservatives, so why did Martin raise it except to create false impressions.
Martin would do better to question the past Liberal record.
It includes Adscam, the $2-billion waste of taxpayer money on the totally useless long-gun registry, the uncalled for pepper spraying of people protesting the presence of Indonesian Dictator Sukharno on Canadian soil to attend the APEC conference, a former Liberal minister appointed to a juicy post proclaiming, “I am entitled to my entitlements!” the Human Resources department boondoggle, which saw about $2 billion disappear without any accountability, a $190-million contract to Canada Steamship Lines when it was owned by then-Finance minister Paul Martin; the Grande Mere hotel and golf course deal and the firing of the president of the Business Development Bank for refusing to give them a loan; stopping the Krever inquiry into the tainted blood scandal just before Krever was about to name those responsible — (tens of thousands of Canadians were infected by the tainted blood under the Liberal watch, and a great many of them died prematurely, yet, because of the Liberal’s decision to stop Krever from naming names, no one has been held accountable).
Even the Liberals’ so-called ‘balancing the budget’ was done, not by their good management, but by downloading their federal fiscal responsibilities onto the provinces, building on the foundation of the Mulroney Conservatives’ free trade and GST initiatives (which the Liberals promised they would kill) and by raising our taxes.
These are just a few of the ‘highlights’ of the truly ‘questionable’ Liberal record.
Surely Martin will give it full consideration before he goes to the voting booth.
As for the fixed election date, why didn’t the opposition commit to it?
Under our Parliamentary system, fixed date elections can only work when there is a majority government. Harper deserves credit for at least trying to create a level playing field, but he did not propose limiting the power of the prime minister to call an election whenever he sees it to his electoral advantage, only to give the power to the opposition to force an election whenever they think it is to their political advantage.
The Bloc and NDP have been trying to bring down the government from day one, and Stephane Dion assured Canadians that he would force an election this fall.
This Parliament was not going to last till the fixed date, so under opposition threat, Harper did what he had to do and he cannot be blamed for it.
Murray’s allegation that there was impropriety on the part of ministers coming to Yukon to make announcements is utterly without merit.
This is not only the common practice of all levels of government, it is also about time Yukon and the North started to get some recognition and attention. I believe it is good that so many of our government ministers have now seen the North for themselves, and I suspect that most Yukoners would agree.
None of those ministerial trips were scheduled for the benefit of the Yukon Conservative Association, or our candidate, Darrell Pasloski, and the insinuation that we abused taxpayers-dollars simply because we piggybacked on some of those trips to hold events with a few of those ministers is both absurd and offensive.
If Martin wishes to label pamphlets from a Conservative MP as ‘propaganda’, I can only assume he also considers pamphlets from all the other parties, including our sitting MP, ‘propaganda’ as well.
Applying his standard, perhaps he might even consider his own letter to the Star as propaganda.
All the parties send literature and, no doubt, all the parties ‘spin’ their points of view, but I think calling it propaganda is way off base.
As for literature coming to the Yukon from a Manitoba MP — well, why not?
Cross-constituency help from MPs and party members is common practice of all parties. Moreover, free postage for mail to any sitting MP is part of our democratic heritage, and is in no way disrespectful of taxpayers.
I will not bother responding to the rest of Martin’s points excepting for his last question, “…do we elect a person who will truly represent his people and stand up to a powerful leader?”
My answer is an unequivocal yes, and that person is our Conservative candidate Darrell Pasloski — a family man, a business leader, a community booster, energetic, intelligent, caring and passionate about service to our territory and our country.
He will stand up for Yukon, for Canada and for good government, and he can stand up to anyone.
We have a prime minister who is well disposed to the needs and concerns of the North.
This election is an opportunity for us to maximize our advantage by having an MP sitting on the government side of the house.
Finally, contrary to Martin’s views about the Conservative record, even many Liberal-leaning journalists and commentators have given the Conservatives high marks for their good governance.
In an August 29 column, journalist Don Martin wrote, “Any objective analysis of its accomplishments would conclude this government has outperformed the Paul Martin reign or any of the Jean Chrétien majorities.”
I have no doubt that a renewed Conservative government will continue to serve Canada well.
Let’s make sure Yukon is represented in it.
Rick Tone, president, Yukon Conservative Association