Monday, January 28, 2008

Harper's Anti-City, Rural-Based Party Is Still Anti-City

Stephen Harper came to town (wearing his stetson backwards, with an "under-sized" vest), and launched "Canada's New Government". Two years later he is still sticking it to the city dwellers. Harper's and the Conservatives' disdain for cities is pretty obvious in his party's stance on urban issues. His dumping of Liberal urban initiatives is a symptom of the Conservative Party's disease: They are mainly a rural-based, Prairie-powered party. Even their "urban" ridings are centered in Prairie cities OR lie on the fringe of cities in the rest of Canada.

PM Harper is a perfect example of one of those concerned conservatives who despises city life so much he chooses to live on the very outskirts of suburbia... call it "sub-suburban". The PM chooses not to live in Calgary - in the riding he represents (my old riding of Calgary SW), but in a small town outside of Calgary - about 35km from his riding - in the town of Cochrane. Like conservative opinions I've heard in the past (Conservative MLA/Minister Grant "X" in Sask), there is a need - no- a desire, to live as far away from "those people" as possible. The former Sask. Minister made a comment about foreigners in his neighborhood, and commented about "the smell of their cooking". Typically conservative.

Ultra-cons tend to distance themselves from the city with purported fear of crime (on the decline, in reality - while small towns are hotbeds for drug activity, and drug crime), their disdain for things different from them (immigrants and minorities), their need to live the "no trespassing, private property, two Pit-bull, gun-toting, lifestyle". How can these narrow-minded people represent anyone from a truly urban riding?

The rural-urban split is fairly typical of the differentiation between conservative and liberal. Anywhere you go liberals tend to hail from urban, or more progressive and changing areas, while conservatives tend to be more rural - and more aptly, isolationist in thought (still, there are many liberals living in rural areas, just as there are conservative supporters living in urban centers). The ideologies tend to have their "heartlands". For the Cons, in Canada, it is the rural prairie. For Canadian Liberals, it is pretty much urban centers coast to coast - Calgary being the one conservative nut the libs haven't cracked (yet), and Eastern rural areas. The Liberals do have a significant rural backing, but it is in the less populated Northern ridings (which have traditionally benefited from Liberal gov'ts more than any other).

With the voting pattern of the urban and rural areas, it is fairly clear that the Conservatives will continue to kowtow to rural issues and demands - gun "freedom"; perceived crime; "corporatization" of farms; traditional family appeals (since rural families tend to be more traditional than urban ones); etc., while continuing to ignore urban demands. Being of a more closed-minded, conservative (ie: resistant to change) ideology, Conservatives will never be very likely to adopt policies which broadly appeal to urban Canada. Unlike Liberals - who will try (at least) to reach out to the other's bases (on left and right - hence our power/political center growing or shrinking), conservatives typically don't like to reach out to, or appeal to people unlike them, or to anyone who would require them to change their own ideology.

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