While Conservatives the world over (see the USA for an example) love to "dumb down" politics and bring discourse to the lowest common denominator (us or them, kill or be killed, you're "wit' us, or agin' us", rich vs. poor, creating class struggle, etc.), Canada can - like Europe - continue to be a beacon of intelligent discourse.
The Conservative way is the "new dishonesty" in politics (as I like to term it). Talk about "nothing", galvanize an unsuspecting populace into separate camps, get people angry about things, then choose the biggest angry groups and placate them. Fudge the truth for everyone else, but do it this way: Use your loud voice, lots of money, and an "unquestioning" 4th Estate to constantly pound your views across. Don't listen to anyone else (even experts), just stick to your guns. Don't back down. Show you are "right" by speaking the loudest and refusing to admit you are wrong. That's victory "PR-style" in the new corporate society. A large company will never admit a mistake - they are taught by "PR experts" to twist the truth. Never admit a problem - call it an "opportunity". If you are challenged in court, always "settle" out of court. Talk about how you're "listening", when all you are doing is biding time until you can push your agenda. Use skewed polls, and loaded surveys to demonstrate how "right" you are. You can see these sentiments echoed in the Conservative "advertising/PR" machinery. They've brought it all up, lock stock and barrell, from the USA. The New Dishonesty.
Over the past 10-12 years the Conservatives/Reform/Alliance have tried their hardest to bring down the level of discourse. This is their "populism". Find the "Joe The Plumbers" and "hockey moms", the "Joes down at Tim Hortons", etc., and feed them tripe about how tax cuts benefit them (when they really don't), how it is best they don't have a national day-care plan, and how government is bad. Toss in some crap about "terrorists" and "crime" (ie: scare the crap out of them), and watch as the masses come to you for comfort. Very right wing ideas: scare the populace into "Big Brother's" arms.
Conservatives like to take complex problems with required complex solutions, and take an "all or none" approach, dumbed down to the most limited and ridiculous level. They see no moderation, or "shades of grey" - only black or white. They are the type of people who would use a 10lb sledgehammer to push a thumbtack into a wall... This approach fits their philosophy best. Experts are "evil" or "ivory tower academics" to them, because these people bring in debate and intelligent discourse. Experts - scientific or otherwise - question "bludgeon answers", and find solutions that work the best for a situation - regardless of ideology.
In their best opportunity to attack intelligent discourse in Canada, Conservatives succeeded - through nefarious means - to destroy a very cerebral and intelligent man. They succeeded - but may have helped the Liberal Party, by forcing us to a quick decision. They may have also succeeded in uniting Liberals - something insiders found challenging for years.
As Liberals, this is our opportunity to take up the battle cry for intelligent discourse. In the US, the Republicans tried to kill intelligent debate by calling Mr. Obama an "ivory tower elitist", "elitist" (my, how the Canadian Conservatives mimic their American cousins), "terrorist", etc. We can champion the cause of "intelligent discourse" in this country because that is what we're all about, and THAT is what this country requires in this time of great economic uncertainty.
There are a few Liberals, and a few blog discussions, talking about not liking the selection of our new leader. Even Mr. Trudeau had a large group of detractors (only winning his leadership with 51% support). Here is Wiki info about his leadership battle:
"At the end of Canada's centennial year in 1967, Prime Minister Pearson announced his intention to step down. Trudeau was persuaded to run for the Liberal leadership. His energetic campaign attracted the attention of the news media and mobilized and inspired many youths, who saw Trudeau as a symbol of generational change (he was 48). Going into the leadership convention, Trudeau was the front-runner, and was clearly the favourite candidate with the Canadian public. Many within the Liberal Party still had deep doubts about him, though. Having joined the party only in 1965, he was still considered an outsider. Many saw him as too radical and outspoken a figure. Some of his views, particularly those on divorce, abortion, and homosexuality, were opposed by the substantial conservative wing of the party. Nevertheless, at the April 1968 Liberal leadership convention, Trudeau was elected leader of the party on the fourth ballot, with the support of 51% of the delegates, defeating some prominent, long-serving Liberals including Paul Martin Sr., Robert Winters and Paul Hellyer. Trudeau was sworn in as Liberal leader and Prime Minister two weeks later on 20 April."
Over at Red Tory, there is an engaging argument over Mr. Ignatieff, and (only) a couple of Liberals (I'm not going to even consider any "anonymous" trolls) who do not appear to like him. Some even comparing Mr. Ignatieff's politics to Mr. Harper's. Here is what I posted in reply to the discussion:
Saying Ignatieff's ideas are the "same"
as Harper's is akin to the Cons saying "Dion is not a leader" while
ignoring everything else the Liberals present (team, ideas, platform,
Mr. Ignatieff, at one point supported the action in Iraq - based on his
real life experience living with the Kurds and viewing their collective
horror. When he saw the administration of the war, he called it "wrong"
and even "illegally conducted". He was big enough, and mature enough to
change his mind based on new facts he had learned. That's what
If the "war/justice" question is the ONLY issue, then we really need to
change the channel. Due to the agreed (Liberals also agreed to this as
a party) withdrawal date, this is a non-issue. If you're a "one-issue"
person, you will continue to attack Mr. Ignatieff on this "retired"
Fact is, Mr. Ignatieff is progressive on the environment (wit: Green
Shift), progressive on social change, and prudent on the economy. We is
a brilliant scholar - who can also speak (yes, he had his own TV show -
they don't just give those to anyone) and express his views eloquently
in both national languages. He can reflect the views of the "broad
center" of the party.
If we wish to continue attacks on his "elite" status, then we're no
better than Obama's detractors. We need an elite Prime Minister.
Someone who isn't "new" to the world - knows the world well, and is a
"beacon" because of his intelligence. Time to bring "intelligence" back
to the discourse.
As Liberals, we are bound to a duty to Canada - as Nation Builders. We are the party which has always taken up that mantle. Being at the center of the Canadian political spectrum (with a new leader who WILL focus on that), we are THE ONLY PARTY which can reflect the broad spectrum views of most Canadians. Unlike the "Reform-a-Tories", or the far left, we don't frighten away those of the moderate left or right. We build concensus governments, based on pragmatic liberalism.
Mr. Harper would like to challenge this vision of a united Canada - with everyone's views reflected. Mr. Harper would like to bring down the level of discourse in this country until we are all "slack-jawed yokels" sitting in front of an "idiot box" watching piped in American programming, idolizing the "angry gun culture", the consumerist - "corporate-pumping" commercial culture, and not questioning anything the government (or corporations) do.
Harper's approach is a typically right wing approach to politics. With lots of money, and a media that leaves the "investigative" out of reporting, Harper could come dangerously close to getting his way - at least part of the way...
Canadians, however, are still a lot smarter than he thinks. Intelligent discourse is still valued here. It will just require a fight, with Liberals as the defenders, and Mr. Ignatieff as our leader.