Monday, September 29, 2008

Canadians far more progressive than politicians think

Stephen Harper says Canadians have become more conservative in the past 20 years but he provides very little evidence of this.

In fact, even facing the weakest and most ineffective Liberal party in a generation, he cannot persuade more than 40 per cent of Canadians to say they will vote Conservative. In fact, all kinds of polls and in-depth studies of Canadian values suggest just the opposite: They are more progressive in their attitudes regarding the role of government.

The problem is, they have been convinced that their values will not or cannot find their way into public policy. It's not Canadians' values that have changed – it is their expectations.

Yearly polling by Ekos suggests that while the Canadian political and economic elite have become more conservative – that is, believing in a very limited role for government – everyone else sticks tenaciously to the view that government can be and should be a force for good. <Toronto Star>

This certainly did not surprise me. Most Canadians share relatively progressive values such as equality, social justice, collective rights, full employment and regulation of business - all things which "were low on the elite's preference list and high on the general public's."

The question is - how have we given up believing that these things are possible when we clearly believe they are moral imperatives?

I know I haven't been blogging much lately. I've been incredibly busy, and probably will continue my irregular posting for the next couple of months.

p.s. also check out A little problem with capitalism in which Thomas Walkom reminds us that "the financial crisis gripping the U.S. isn't an anomaly. We just have short memories." We forget that since capitalism began to be scrutinized and theorized, really smart people have noted its internal contradictions and inherent instability.


The Mound of Sound said...

Hi RJ. We haven't become less progressive. It's just that my party, the LPC, has given our progressive faithful so very little to sustain them lately. Harper has been able to freewheel in a Liberal void. I sincerely wish I didn't have to say that. It's painful.


Mound of Sound

Anonymous said...

I think Canadians have been lying either to pollsters and/or to themselves for years.

They tell pollsters they want to take meaningful action on climate change. Then they scream blue murder when it becomes clear there's a cost involved.

They tell pollsters something should be done about conditions on reserves. Then they elect the one political party that is certain to do absolutely nothing.

They tell pollsters all about their progressive desires then claim they are going to vote for the only political party with not a single progressive notion in their empty pinshaped heads.

We have to stop kidding ourselves about the Canadian people.

We're just as stupid, blind, self-seeking and backward as we've always liked to characterize our southern cousins.

Pal Hal Pall said...

We are progressive, but it seems sometimes that we are ashamed of it. For instance, the one party that truly reflects Canadian values in general is the NDP. Yet people are reluctant to vote for them, almost out of fear of a commitment to social democracy. This is the NDP's ultimate challenge, and it will be interesting to see how they respond, particularly if they become the official opposition.