Tag Archives: Conservatives

Go Ahead and Cross the Floor MPs. Just Ask First

By Jason Menard

What’s that old adage? Two wrongs don’t make a right? As good-intentioned as the Cross the Floor petition may be, encouraging elected representatives to bastardize the voices given to them by the Canadian electorate can’t be condoned.

I don’t think it will come as a shock to anyone familiar with my writing that I’m not exactly a Conservative supporter. I’ve long considered myself socially and culturally liberal, but fiscally conservative. Continue reading

Running on the Back of the Boogeyman

By Jason Menard

For the London-Fanshawe Conservative candidate, not supporting their plan to fight the boogeyman is akin to supporting sexual predators. And while Cheryl Miller continues to bully the NDP candidate in an attempt to coerce an agree/disagree statement about their GPS plan, are any of us sure that this idea even works?

The Ontario PC party is playing the politics of fear with its constant reiteration of their desire to mandate that convicted sex offenders wear GPS tracking devices, promoting it as a tool to increase public safety.  Continue reading

Responsible Government? Who Cares? Not Canadians

By Jason Menard

Awish Aslam booted from a local rally for Prime Minister Stephen Harper because of a Facebook photo? Who cares?

Ali Aref Hamadi asked to leave the same reception due to the presence of an NDP bumper sticker on his car? Who cares?

An election caused by the Harper government’s contempt of parliament charges? Arrogantly suggesting that Canadians don’t care about those same contempt charges? Previous elections called in a way that circumvented the very fixed-election-dates policy implemented? Partisan appointments to a Senate that he promised to make accountable? Promises to decentralize parliamentary power and an election campaign fuelled by promises of truth, accountability, and openness undone by an essential gag order on Ministers and a rationalization of power in the PMO?

Who cares? Continue reading

Left-Leaners Must Decide Whether to Vote with Head or Heart

By Jason Menard, 

If you’re a left-leaning voter in this Canadian federal election, you’re faced with more than the obvious four options when you step up to the ballot box — you’ve also got to deal with an even harder question: to vote with your head or with your heart.

Oh to be a conservative voter. It would be so much easier, since you really and truly only have one choice. But for those of us who find ourselves on the left-hand side of the political spectrum, in addition to the Liberal/NDP/Green debate, you also have to whether you’re willing to engage in strategic voting. Continue reading

Tory Puts Faith in Wrong School Plan

By Jason Menard

When it comes to faith-based education, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory has the right idea – just the totally wrong way to implement it. To meet the needs of an increasingly multicultural Canada, we have to embrace the thought that less is more.

It’s time to bring religion back to schools – but not in the traditional way. To meet the needs of its students, the public school system should offer a mandatory faith component that exposes children to all the world’s belief systems. We can easily make do with what we have, we don’t need to add more – especially when through addition of schools we’re actually subtracting the exposure our children have to each other’s cultures.

Already we’re facing a funding crunch for our two existing school systems. Both public and Catholic school boards are forced with dealing with changing demographics, dwindling attendance, and outdated buildings. The addition of public funding for more faith-based institutions won’t help either financially or socially.

Tory’s argument is that by validating faith-based education through the auspices of public funding, we’ll be creating an environment where all religions are blessed by the approving scepter of government finance. And while that’s fine for us adults, how exactly does that filter down to the kids?

In essence, this plan would stop kids of different religions from interacting. Children will be placed in their own corners and prevented from mixing with others. And, more importantly, they’ll be prevented from learning.

The way to fix this problem isn’t with more public funding of faith-based education – it’s with less. And that starts with the elimination of the Catholic school board. By consolidating the resources currently duplicated across two school boards, our educational system would be able to better manage resources, combine efforts, and use existing facilities to cope with shifting demographics.

We live in a secular society that’s growing increasingly multicultural. To offer taxpayer-funded services for one religion and not the other isn’t right. However, that doesn’t mean you just eliminate the one religion. Rather, you create a system that embraces the teachings of religion – all religions.

Religion should have a place in schools – and this is coming from someone who doesn’t believe in any one religion. But despite my lack of belief, I fully understand and support the idea of exposing our children to all the world’s religions. Not only will this open their minds to new ideas and experiences, but it will help them understand the people around them.

A public school system with a faith component would have a greater impact on global acceptance of religion than Tory’s validating-by-separating agenda. When students learn why their friends mother wears a hijab, or why their friend can’t mix meat and dairy, that makes it seem less strange. Our religious and societal differences no longer become fodder for mockery, but they become aspects of intrigue and respect.

In addition, students will see that despite the various differences and belief structures found in religion, the underlying message of all is basically the same – and that’s about being good to each other and being the best person we can be. By experiencing a faith class where that message is reinforced by exposure to the world’s religion, our children will be able to grow up in a world where our religious differences don’t matter as much.

Unfortunately, ignorance breeds mistrust and fear. Unless one is exposed to a religion, some of the practices, clothing, and imagery can seem odd. And kids deal with things they don’t understand by shunning them. However, imagine the benefits of having one public school system, where children of all faiths come to learn together and share their personal experiences. Then there would be no need to fear the unknown, because we’d have a better understanding of each other.

Then, just maybe, those kids can teach their parents a thing or two about tolerance.

Of course, there will be those who want their children educated in an environment that’s solely focused on their own belief system – and that’s their right. It’s also their obligation to pay for that privilege. Again, we live in a secular society – our obligation to our children is to teach tolerance, not make equal educational services available to all.

It’s a new world with an ever-changing demographic. The days of the Protestant/Catholic school board split are long gone – today’s Canadian mosaic is richly woven with threads from many different races, cultures, and religions. What better way to foster understanding and respect for each other than by learning about the very things we hold dear – our beliefs and our culture.

Sometimes less is more. We don’t need more publicly funded religious-based schools – we just need to reallocate the resources we have now in a way that makes sense for today’s children.

2007© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Toews Bats .500 on Crime

By Jason Menard

While Justice Minister Vic Toews swung for the fences in tabling tough new three-strikes legislation, the fact of the matter is that he only batted .500 – making solid contact on getting tough with crime, but whiffing badly when it comes to effective prevention of future crimes.

Similar to “three strikes” legislation present south of the border, Toews new proposal would mandate indefinite prison sentences for violent and sexual offenders after their third occurrence. In addition, it would be the burden of the offender to convince a judge as to why they are no longer a dangerous offender as a condition of their release.

Whether it’s political posturing or not Toews’ motion is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately it’s too much a step in the Right direction, with not enough consideration for the traditionally Left leanings. This three-strikes legislation focuses too much on punishment and not enough on prevention.

Simply put, you’d have to rape three people, or commit violent acts on three separate occasions to qualify for this strict punishment – and that’s three times too long. And nowhere are criminals compelled to deal with their tendencies while in prison. Instead, they’re able to sit in prison, fermenting their anger and rage, and learning new and interesting ways to commit new crimes from their prison cohabitants.

Where’s the prevention? Where are the measures to help people learn to integrate into society? And where’s the acknowledgement that we have to treat the disease, not just put long-term bandages on the symptoms.

Toews’ measure is a reflection of an increasingly agitated Canadian community that’s fed up with perceived leniency in the punishment of our society’s criminals. He’s preaching to a converted choir of disgruntled voters who are experiencing growing concern for the safety of their city streets. And while harsher sentencing may be an effective knee-jerk reaction, it’s one that’s going to end as effective as a kick in the teeth.

It’s not enough to put criminals away and forget about them. They must be dealt with and they must deal with the ramifications of their actions. First, longer prison sentences shouldn’t be where it stops. There should be life-long after-release monitoring for violent and sexual criminals. Just like we tried to do with Karla Homolka after the fact, we should in the future make regular police checks, inspections, and monitoring a part of all future sentences for violent and sexual criminals. If entering into a life-long relationship with your local police station doesn’t get some people to reconsider a life of crime, I don’t know what will.

Secondly, while in prison, violent and sexual criminals must attend and participate in psychological counselling and other programs designed to reintegrate them into the mainstream society. Unfortunately, our prison system is better at removing than rehabilitating and once one is released from jail, they often find themselves on a circuitous route back to their cell because they can’t cope with the pressures and temptations that await them outside the prison walls. Unfortunately, as most programs of this nature are currently voluntary, they don’t need to attend and won’t get the help that may assist them in their transition.

So take away the choice. Weekly mandatory therapy sessions for the duration of one’s prison sentence should be the norm. That way we can ensure that whatever issues have driven these people off the path that most of us take, at least we can do our utmost to steer them back on track.

Any complaints? Too bad. Criminal lose the right to be protected by our society and our laws due to the very fact that they’ve shown an inability to play by our rules. You can’t contravene the expected norms of our society and then expect that same society to protect you. Hey, you can’t play by our rules, don’t be upset when we change the game.

Finally, why do we have to wait for three strikes? Why do more people have to be victimized before we act? Why not make an effort before someone gets to this point, so that other innocent members of our society don’t have to have their lives shattered. Let’s work to root out the cause of this type of violent activity and put in place measures to counter it. Whether that’s support lines, safe houses or centres for those about to commit an act of violence, or programs to help people deal with their emotions in a productive and socially acceptable manner, we have to invest in the security of our society.

Yes, the measures will cost more in the short-term, but the long-term benefits for our society are priceless. Locking them up and throwing away the key won’t work – finding the key to unlock their inner demons and helping them deal with it might.

In baseball parlance, three strikes means you’re out – but wouldn’t it be better if everyone in our society was playing on the same team?

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Tory Cuts: You Win Some, You Lose Some

By Jason Menard

While it pains the left-leaner in me, I have to say I’m half-heartedly pleased with the cuts announced by the Conservative government on Monday. Now, it’s only half-heartedly due to the fact that for every good measure taken, there was another that shouldn’t have been done.

But that’s the way it is with politics – you win some, you lose many more.

First the good. The decision to end the visitor rebate program that saw tourists able to walk into the country, spend to their hearts’ content, and receive a GST rebate on all purchase is the right one. Tourism is an integral part of our economy, and an additional seven – oops, six going one day to five per cent isn’t going to dissuade people from visiting The Great White North.

At least not in the way that the never-ending passport issue will. Can we get that fixed?

And the fact that the $78.8 million in expected savings – part of a larger, two year, $2 billion dollar cut – will go towards reducing the national debt is good. However, it might have been nice to see some of that funding go towards promoting tourism to our various regions as part of an overall strategy that could have offset expected criticism from retailers and tourist bureaus who undoubtedly will – wrongly – assume that this rebate will mean less tourism. Hey, maybe that $78.8 could got towards making passports easy, affordable, and accessible to all Canadians – just a thought.

A $46.8 million dollar savings just from a pre-announced cabinet reduction? Also good. After all, few would doubt that government is bloated. But this is just the start. The government needs to undertake a serious review of the duplication of effort and redundancies in all levels of government. It’s not enough to simply lop off the top – we must maximize the return on our investment, which means eliminating much of the bureaucracy in our bureaucracy.

Imagine, a well-run, efficient, accessible government? Why, that’s worth an investment right in itself.

Now the bad. Administrative reductions to the Status of Women, and end to medical marijuana science funding, and cuts to museums assistance all reek of the same conservative short-sightedness that many Canadians feared when Harper took the helm.

Listen, I’m fully supportive of the idea that museums must find creative ways to maximize their funding. And, yes, I’m an advocate that if people don’t support the arts, they can’t expect the government to bail them out totally. However, we have to understand the social and emotional impact that supporting the arts has on our communities at large. We can’t live in a world that’s only guided by the bottom line. Quantifying the value that the arts offer our country is almost impossible – but qualifying it in terms of how they enrich our lives is undeniably easy. Unfortunately it seems the Conservatives have simply fallen back on the old standby of cutting from the social fabric of our society. And it’s for that reason that the Status of Women get their cut. Using the euphemism of administrative reductions, what that simply means is less money, less jobs, and – in the end – less effectiveness. And unlike the aforementioned reductions in government, there doesn’t appear to be much fat to slice away from here.

In the same way that social funding cuts are par for the conservative course, so too does the elimination of medical marijuana science funding seem like nothing more than scratching a long-irritating itch for our boys (and girls) in blue. While medical marijuana has shown promise in alleviating the symptoms for those with Multiple Sclerosis and chronic pain either from various disorders or as a result of other diseases, that progress means little. Much like Republican opposition to stem cell research south of the border, this decision sounds more like a policy of principal than of science.

Finally, the ominously worded “efficiencies” in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., accounting for $45 million. Sounds like those “efficiencies” are going to result in a lot of pink slips in the near future.

Other cuts were mentioned, but these were the big five. A mixed bag of sorts, which has been carefully crafted to avoid any sort of vehement dissention that could upset the delicate apple cart of this government. For everything left-leaners could complain about, there was something that they could support.

Slow and steady wins the race, and the Conservatives are slowly integrating their beliefs into the Canadian landscape, without raising any red flags. You may not like the players, but you have to admire their game.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved