Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Joe Clark - Canada’s Jimmy Carter

Whenever Joe Clark, a dismal failure as Prime Minister, gets the chance he takes a shot at PM Harper. Today was no exception. In a CTV interview with Mike Duffy he took the opportunity to show his small mind and bad form in criticizing the sitting Prime Minister. He seems to think that this kind of behavior somehow enhances his image. It does the opposite.

Maybe it’s just simple, moronic envy. Harper is a heavy weight. Clark is feather weight and deep down he knows it.


Calgary Junkie said...

Ah yes, Joe Clark, the big monkey wrench in our unite-the-right efforts. I'll never forget how the left--Libs, Dippers, gays, etc--united in Calgary Centre to get him elected in 2000 as a PC.

And then, when Clark gets sworn in as an MP in the House, the entire Liberal caucus gives him a standing ovation ! In those days, Libs actually showed up for work.

Anonymous said...

Who cares what Joe Clark says? The public has long ago rendered its verdict on Mr. Clark's competence.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Lib left media are upset this morning: Being the Bernier affair will overshadow Clark's comment...It's hard to cover two Conservative bashings ad nauseum at the same time before yawns are heard from a generally apathetic population.


JR said...

Speaking of Clark's popularity with the left he certainly is proud of being a "progressive" as contrasted with Harper being a "conservative". As Art Hanger snarled at the paparazzi yesterday "I guess Joe Clark never was a Conservative". Exactly.

Aeneas the Younger said...

You goofs are so ignorant of the Conservative tradition in Canada it is embarassing really. You are classical liberals at the least, and US Republicans at the most. Neither are understood to be "conservative" in the English sense of the term.

I read this column by David Orchard in The Globe & Mail some years ago. The year 2000 in fact; despite David's ill-considered defection to the Liberal Party, this little column neatly summarises the difference between Toryism as it has been practised in Canada since before Confederation, and the US-style Republican thought that has triumphed in the Conservative Party of Canada under the Reform element.


Globe and Mail, March 6, 2000
What makes me a Conservative
by David Orchard

Preston Manning has decided who is a real Conservative. Joe Clark is not; neither is David Orchard. Judged by Mr. Manning's criteria neither is John Diefenbaker, Robert Stanfield, R.B. Bennett, Robert Borden, Arthur Meighen, John A. Macdonald, Winston Churchill or Benjamin Disraeli.

My encyclopedia defines "conservative" as: "A political outlook that involves a preference for institutions and practices that have evolved historically, over radical innovations and blueprints for reshaping society."

Edmund Burke coined its classic definition: "A disposition to preserve and an ability to improve."

William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge further elaborated conservative sentiment. Once wholehearted supporters of the French Revolution, the terror in France changed their minds and both reacted against the ideology of liberalism. (Businessmen, wrote Coleridge, were often subversive, not conservative.)

In the 1830s, a youthful Jewish radical named Benjamin Disraeli thought the Tories, who had lost their traditions, could be purged of reaction and reinstalled as leaders of the people. In 1837, he was elected to Westminster as a rather different kind of Conservative MP. "The rights of labour are as sacred as those of property," he asserted and attacked the Poor Law for treating relief to the poor as a charity. "I maintain that it is a right," he said.

When Conservative Prime Minister Robert Peel broke his campaign promise to oppose free trade, Disraeli condemned his betrayal in a speech that would become a classic in parliamentary history. The government fell and the party disintegrated. From its ruins, Disraeli built the modern Conservative Party. To outflank the Liberals with their merchant support, Disraeli reached out to the working class. Along with fellow Tory, Lord Shaftesbury, the great 19th century social reformer who led the long battle for the 10-hour workday, he championed the rights of workers.

Children at four were working in the mines. There were no limits to the hours of work. Life expectancy in working class areas was 21 years. The Liberals and factory owners argued against any regulation. Young people were learning a useful work ethic, they maintained.

In power, Disraeli regulated the hours of work and legislated protection for unions and the environment. "Power has only one duty," he declared, "to secure the social welfare of the people." According to Alex Macdonald, an early Labour MP, Disraeli did more for the working class in five years than the Liberals had in 50.

"The dream of my life," Disraeli explained, "was to re-establish Toryism on a national foundation." His guiding principles -- "to elevate the condition of the people" and "maintain the institutions of the country" -- stand in stark contrast to Manning's call to dismantle ever more national infrastructure.

In Canada, as in Britain, the Conservatives are the nation's oldest political party. Created by John A. Macdonald and George-Etienne Cartier, the party achieved Confederation against the vehement opposition of the Rouges, forerunners of the Liberal Party, some of whom argued for union with the United States.

The Conservatives refused to allow the entry of U.S. railways, and faced down a campaign by American rail owners to overthrow their government. The idea of building an all-Canadian railroad to British Columbia was vehemently opposed by the Liberals: How could a new country of four million inhabitants promise to build the world's greatest railway? they asked. If built, it should at least follow the cheaper, easier route south of the Great Lakes and the contracts be awarded to U.S. business.

"Never," replied Cartier, "will a damned American company have control of the CPR." Manitoba, then British Columbia and the entire northwest entered Canada and the railroad was built.

While Mr. Manning claims a conservative believes in wide-open borders, Canada's great Conservative leaders were adamant in their opposition to free trade with the United States. The idea was, Macdonald said, "sheer insanity" that would have "as its inevitable result, annexation." How could Canada keep its political independence after it had thrown away its economic independence, he asked.

Cartier was no less blunt. "What will be the consequences of industrial reciprocity?" he asked. "The factories of Canada will lose the advantages they now possess and eventually the largest manufacturing industries will be concentrated in the U.S." The end result would be union of the two countries, "that is to say, our annihilation as a nation."

In 1911, the Liberals, under Wilfrid Laurier, negotiated a free-trade agreement with the United States. The Conservatives, under Robert Borden, defeated it. "Laurier," Borden said, "was calling for a greater Canada, but it seemed to be a greater United States the Liberals had achieved."

Contrary to Mr. Manning's view that government's role is to stay out of the economy, Robert Borden and his interior minister, Arthur Meighen, nationalized five railway systems to create the CNR. Meighen's successor as Conservative leader, R.B. Bennett, likewise had no fear of government enterprises and believed they could be efficient. Corporations, he said, are creations of Parliament and Parliament can regulate them.

Kicking off his 1927 leadership campaign, Bennett said: "The first thing we must do in this country is build up a strong national consciousness -- a virile Canadianism -- we have suffered from an inferiority complex long enough."

In power from 1930 to 1935, Bennett introduced the CBC, the Canadian Wheat Board and the Bank of Canada, the institution that allowed Canada to finance its entire Second World War effort without borrowing abroad.

In direct opposition to Mr. Manning's postulation that a conservative believes smaller government is better government, Bennett said, "Reform means government intervention. It means government control and regulation. It means the end of laissez-faire." He described the Conservative Party as being "for the greatest good, for the greatest number of people," and was labelled "a Tory of the Left."

The Conservatives under John Bracken and George Drew moved right, adopted a business orientation and were largely unsuccessful at the polls. In 1956, however, John Diefenbaker won the leadership and moved the party sharply left -- and to victory. He called on Canadians "to take a clear stand in opposition to economic continentalism" and the "baneful effects of foreign ownership." Condemned as a "prairie Bolshevik," he replied: "To those who label me as some kind of party maverick and have claimed that I have been untrue to the great principles of the Conservative Party, I can only reply that they have forgotten the traditions of Disraeli and Shaftesbury in Britain and Macdonald in Canada."

In 1983, Brian Mulroney strongly opposed John Crosbie's proposal for free trade with the United States. He was swept to power. In office, however, Mr. Mulroney reversed his views, broke the Conservative Party's historic position and ushered in the North American free-trade agreement. In 1993, the party was dealt the most dramatic repudiation in a western democracy, and was reduced to two seats.

When the Conservative Party adheres to its people-come-first roots, its following is strong. Each time it loses its sense of nationhood, moves too far right and adopts a narrow business agenda -- exactly the stance being advocated by Preston Manning today -- the party itself loses, too.

Mr. Manning's affection for a survival-of-the-fittest society is not conservatism; it is classic liberalism.

The environmental movement, based upon the impulse to preserve, is a conservative idea. The liberal free-market model, which Mr. Manning preaches, ridicules and opposes this impulse, slashing national institutions, escalating the clear cutting of our forests, the genetic manipulation of our agriculture and food supply, recklessly revolutionizing without regard for the consequences. The Disraeli/Macdonald concept of preservation and the public good are polar opposites to this view, as is the very definition of conservatism.

Mr. Manning's so-called Canadian Alliance attempts to import directly from the United States a brand of right-wing evangelism, package it with a Canadian name and declare the product to be Canadian conservatism. But the United States has no conservative party -- its political tradition is an expressed reaction against conservatism -- and it doesn't belong here.

Preston Manning's movement falls well short of the values Canadian conservatvies cherish. The older, deeper pro-Canadian conservatism that elevates the condition of the people, as Disraeli put it, is tried and proven conservatism. It is the key to the victory of the Conservative Party at the polls and to our survival as a sovereign nation.

JR said...


Thanks for sharing but I think you could have spared us the condescension.

Most of us are quite aware of the various shades of conservatism, its history and its dictionary definitions. And David Orchard is a bright guy and he has his own perspective on things but I don’t think he has a lock on who is or who isn’t Conservative any more than he has a lock on what Preston Manning thinks. So what if some of us are classical liberals, libertarians, social conservatives, Republicans, Tories, conservatives or whatever? Most (but apparently not all) of us find the Conservative Party as it is now formed as most representative of our views given the choices available. It’s a big tent - one that Preston Manning did his best to erect in the face of open hostility from bitter, small-minded little dweebs like Joe Clark.

On that note, back to the topic at hand. Joe Clark, in his CTV interview, labeled himself as a “progressive” contrasting himself with Stephen Harper whom he labeled a “conservative” which I assume we were to understand means “far right wing” and that is a BAD thing. So, taking Clark at his word, and even though he campaigned and became Prime Minister as a “Progressive” “Conservative”, he now considers himself simply a “progressive” and not a “conservative”. Given our up-to-date understanding of the term “progressive” we can expect him to support either the Liberals or NDP in the next election.

Aeneas the Younger said...

If I seemed condescending, then I ... don't give a damn!

If the CPC is such a "big tent" then how come it can do no better than a Minority Government?

The reason is clear: (real) Tories have been alienated by the US-style) Republican tone that the CPC espouses, and until the CPC can start speaking in terms of conservatism (and not classical liberalism) loyalty, tradition, conservation, sovereignty, and the common good, then it stands little hope of gathering the votes and voters it needs to form a majority.

Further, the constant droning-on as to how Joe Clark is really a Liberal is not only tiresome, but philosophically inaccurate. Though he was not "tory" enough for me in 1983 (I supported Crombie ...), the fact remains that he has at least one foot in the traditions of loyalty and sovereignty that defined the Tory tradition in Canada from 1796 to 1987.

If you are an admirer of Hayek and Friedman you are NOT a conservative; both of those men were liberals and had more in common with James Mill, Cobden and Bright, Gladstone, and Laurier than they did with Hooker, Burke, Disraeli, and the Churchills.

So I am an elitist prig. What do you expect? I am a Tory. Anti-elitism is the hallmark of the liberals and socialists.

JR said...

Actually, Aeneas, other than your apparent anti-Americanism it's not very clear where you differ from most other conservatives. I know David Orchard and Mel Hurtig favour economic nationalism and isolationism; but ...
"...loyalty, tradition, conservation, sovereignty, and the common good."? Specifically, how does the current Harper government fail to live up to these principles? Hell, even the Liberals and NDP would have little difficulty claiming them as their own.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Loyalty: Where is the Queen and why has she not been to Canada for recent historical commemorations? What is the commitment to The Commonwealth?

Tradition: Economic Nationalism is the "Conservative Tradition" in Canada.

Conservation: Kyoto? The mess in Fort McMurray?

Sovereignty: The SPP and Deep Integration.

The Common Good: GST reductions! What a farce!. Any economist would tell you that the GST was a fair and equitable way of securing revenue for the maintenance of Surpluses and the continuation of our Welfare State. What kind of crisis is Harper trying to force with this ill-considered cut? Better to cut income tax rates than the Consumption Tax. Bread and Circuses.

Much damage has been done in the name of ideology. And all this with only a Minority Government.

The only thing I like is the inclusion of the Red Ensign at the Vimy Ridge 90th Anniversary.

I hate the LPC and I have never voted for them, and I never will. They are Americanisers as well.

We Tories will never forget Harper's adress to the US Council for for National Policy in 1997. What self-loathing pap!

Full text of Stephen Harper's 1997 speech Updated Wed. Dec. 14 2005 9:20 PM ET

Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- The text from a speech made by Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, to a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing U.S. think tank, and taken from the council's website:

"Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by giving you a big welcome to Canada. Let's start up with a compliment. You're here from the second greatest nation on earth. But seriously, your country, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.

Now, having given you a compliment, let me also give you an insult. I was asked to speak about Canadian politics. It may not be true, but it's legendary that if you're like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians.

But in any case, my speech will make that assumption. I'll talk fairly basic stuff. If it seems pedestrian to some of you who do know a lot about Canada, I apologize.

I'm going to look at three things. First of all, just some basic facts about Canada that are relevant to my talk, facts about the country and its political system, its civics. Second, I want to take a look at the party system that's developed in Canada from a conventional left/right, or liberal/conservative perspective. The third thing I'm going to do is look at the political system again, because it can't be looked at in this country simply from the conventional perspective.

First, facts about Canada. Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States.

In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance."

He goes on and on and on.



In addressing a right-wing American audience he actually says:

"But seriously, your country, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world."

And this man is our Prime Minister! Sir John A. Macdonald must be turning over in his grave.

Aeneas the Younger said...

By the way, I met both men, albeit it was in the early-to-mid 1980's ... but nevertheless, I suspect I know more about each of them as individuals than you will ever know.

marginalizedactiondinosaur said...

Maybe if he listened to Joe he could have figured how to be out of office years ago,

9 months MR Clark. Jealousy me thinks. ;)

"...loyalty, tradition, conservation, sovereignty, and the common good."? Specifically, how does the current Harper government fail to live up to these principles?

Not jailing sob's who steal 30 cars and Immigration.

From the car theft capital of Canada, Winnipeg.

Plus 56% of Canadians want LESS Immigration.

Immigration is an attack on tradition, sovereignty, is the common good served by having Muslim only swim times in public pools in Brampton?

Plus it's THE reason my children's school doesn't say Merry Christmas.

I'd rather the school said Merry Christmas it's like a tradition.

Poof gone!

Aeneas the Younger said...

So what? You think Harper will fix problems like unassimilated immigrant communities? Do you REALLY believe that Harper will cut the hands off Manitoba car thieves?

Do you guys understand how government works? Do you guys understand that majority governments govern with the goal of ensuring re-election? Do you really believe that cabinet Ministers write broad and definitive legislation on their own? Do you understand how ideas flow through the bureaucracy? Do you understand how the Civil Service plays their role in shaping policy?

Do you think if Harper goes radically to the Right he can win anything?

IF he wins a Majority (which I do not see happening ...) the ONLY thing he can do is cut the shit out of spending programmes; however, if he does this, he undercuts his popularity and risks losing the next election.

As long as Canadians refuse to address the real problems, such as unregulated Foreign Investment and Foreign Control of our Economy, the coming demographic earthquake, and crumbling infrastructure and social services, then things will get much worse before they get (marginally) better.

Great problems require sacrifices; I just don't think the Canada that faced down The Great War and World War Two exists anymore. We refuse to be great. We just want more stuff.

JR said...

(Referring to your comments of 12:02 yesterday)

Most of your points strike me as fairly minor gripes in the big scheme. They're characteristic of any big tent party, which the merged PC and Alliance certainly is. Everybody is going to dissatisfied on one score or another - like the ‘Dinosaur’, for example :) Hell, I’ve got bigger gripes than most of yours - like the Conservative’s gutlessness and stupidity on Human Rights Commissions and freedom of speech (which is enough to make me consider withdrawing my vote and financial support). And in my view the Harper government has gone way too far in guzzling the “climate change” kool-aid.

But back to your points. The ones on ‘tradition’ and ‘sovereignty’ are the most problematic. Economic nationalism may be Red Tory “tradition” but that is very, very weak justification - it hardly makes it wise economics. Even more problematic, though, is your related position on SPP and Deep Integration. It appears to affiliate you with Maude Barlow, David Suzuki et al. I didn’t but perhaps should have known that Red (radical) Tories might climb into bed with the radical socialists on some issues.

More generally, Friedrich Hayek’s essay “Why I am not a conservative” from a half century ago still captures the situation quite well. Some snippets:

At a time when most movements that are thought to be progressive advocate further encroachments on individual liberty, those who cherish freedom are likely to expend their energies in opposition. In this they find themselves much of the time on the same side as those who habitually resist change. In matters of current politics today they generally have little choice but to support the conservative parties.

...Conservatism proper is a legitimate, probably necessary, and certainly widespread attitude of opposition to drastic change. It has, since the French Revolution, for a century and a half played an important role in European politics. Until the rise of socialism its opposite was liberalism.

.... the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance. It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing. The tug of war between conservatives and progressives can only affect the speed, not the direction, of contemporary developments.

....This difference between liberalism and conservatism must not be obscured by the fact that in the United States it is still possible to defend individual liberty by defending long-established institutions. To the liberal they are valuable not mainly because they are long established or because they are American but because they correspond to the ideals which he cherishes.

....the first point on which the conservative and the liberal dispositions differ radically. As has often been acknowledged by conservative writers, one of the fundamental traits of the conservative attitude is a fear of change, a timid distrust of the new as such, while the liberal position is based on courage and confidence, on a preparedness to let change run its course even if we cannot predict where it will lead.

To better satisfy us all I suppose we could seek to split the party (again). But where would that get us?

Aeneas the Younger said...

Canada was founded in opposition to the United States, hence the mere idea of SPP runs counter to our raison d'etre.

My primary objection is to the high-jacking of the appellation "conservative." As you have pointed-out, you are a liberal. I see no reason why the CPC cannot just rename itself the "Right-Wing Liberal Party of Canada" or some such thing.

The problem with the highjacking is that also incorporates American frames-of-reference into the political language of Canada. As an example, there is nothing "conservative" about hyper-market liberalism. Market liberalism itself is hostile and the most effective eroding element of the traditional society and culture.

As a conservative, I have no problem with limiting hate-speech - as this is something conservatives must limit from time to time in the interest of peace and order. Permitting unrestrained free-speech is a liberal virtue, not a conservative one. I think speaking ill of the Monarchy and Her Majesty is treason, and I would gladly seek to limit such speech. The same goes for Holocaust-denial.

Unrestrained liberty leads to anarchy and disorder. Like Burke, "I flatter myself that I love a manly, moral, regulated liberty as well as any gentleman... It is one of the gifts of Providence."

"I should, therefore, suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of France until I was informed how it had been combined with government; with public force; with the discipline and obedience of armies; with the collection of an effective and well-distributed revenue; with morality and religion; with the morality and religion; with the solidity of property; with peace and order; with civil and social manners."

In other words, liberty is NOT absolute. Nor can it be.

JR said...

I'm sure you know this but just to be clear, I'm a classical liberal - ie a liberal in Hayek's sense of the word.

We all have a similar problem with terminology. The labels once used to describe liberals and conservatives have been "hijacked". The word "liberal" has been hijacked by the statist, socialist (ie illiberal) Liberals (and by the illiberal Democrats in the U.S.)

Following your suggestion why don't you and yours label youselves the "Left Wing Conservative Nationalist Party of Canada" or maybe you could team up with the NDP and call youselves the "National Socialist Party of Canada".

Aeneas the Younger said...

... or maybe you could team up with the NDP and call youselves the "National Socialist Party of Canada".

Nice smear.

Typical of the liberal right.

Good Day.