Thursday, September 15, 2005

Regarding the Manning Centre Round Table

This weekend, a group of conservative-minded individuals will meet under the umbrella of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, which will look at plans to getting more conservative-minded folks involved in the democratic process.

Specifically, it asks:
What can conservative minded people do to strengthen their contributions to national political discourse, the attainment of national goals, and the revitalization of Canadian democracy – contributions essential to greater electoral success and becoming a governing party?
Institutions and infrastructures have got to show that, for conservatism to gain prominence in Canada, we cannot model ourselves after - I'll say it - unsuccessful models of conservatism in other countries, and I think Mr. Manning remarks that as well:
We should be exporters rather than importers of democratic technology and cutting edge solutions to public problems. Thus the Manning Centre for Building Democracy intends to mobilize Canadian resources to strengthen Canadian political infrastructure so that Canadians are less dependent on other countries for political ideas, training, and organizational techniques.
We must remember, that conservatives want the following:
  • Respect and protection of an individual's freedoms. The minute we begin to question the rights of others, simply because of our own perception of their faults or "misguided" ways, or we begin to criticize them for not doing things the "right" way, we fail to see that we begin a dangerous path to eroding other liberties that we enjoy. Our personal perceptions, no matter how strong a belief we have in them, cannot infringe on others. It's no good fighting to be kind of free.
  • To encourage diversity, in all forms - gender, religion, social, sexual orientation, ethnicity. Diversity must be valued and made equal under all public institutions, regardless of competing interests or perceptions. Diversity reinforces and strengthens a community, a cornerstone of true conservative principles - if you seek to marginalize a sector of our community or to mold the community into some kind of artificial ideal, you destroy the community as a whole. By strengthening this community and the understanding within, we can ensure that we have low crime, stronger families, and productive active youth.
  • Encourage fiscal prudence, which doesn't mean tax cuts or program cuts every month. Fiscal prudence means simply spending when spending is required and not spending when it's not required. If a program is wasteful, or not generating results, you cease the bleed and review. We must recognize that we need sound public infrastructure, that we need sound public investment, we need to make sure that there's a basic fulfillment of public needs. And we can do that and return some of that money to tax payers - we can eliminate wasteful spending, revitalize public spending, pay down the debt and return the millions that are leftover. Those things are all possible all at once.
  • Limited government, but not "no government". We need to ensure, that the governments closest to us and interacting directly with us have the means and the authority to address our needs expediently. It's no good to us to have a federal government promising money for programs that a province or a municipality cannot deliver or refuses to be a part of. At the same time, we do not require a federal government to govern and legislate every facet of our lives.
  • The free market can determine and regulate many things, but the free market cannot govern social justice and social equality, and profit cannot be the driving factor behind education and health care. It's recognition of that that's important.
  • A strong committment to the defense of the nation. It doesn't necessarily mean battleships, aircraft carriers, and ballistic missile defense. It means developing and maintaining an armed forces that can defend us and contribute to peacekeeping around the world. While that focuses on external defense, crime and justice are important as well to internal defense. We need to ensure that we have strong laws and strong transparent systems of justice.
  • Most importantly, conservatives must recognize that pragmatism trumps ideology every time. Every single time without exception. It means changing something even if it doesn't seem very conservative.
Sometimes, with this last point, we fight so strongly to prove an ideology that sometimes we forget the truths of the situation. We cannot enforce a "like it or leave it" mentality.

This is where conservatives in Canada can excel over the other political choices. These are the things that will ensure conservatism in Canada can thrive if we once again embrace them.

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angryroughneck said...

"Pragmatism trumps ideology every time"? That's ridiculous. It's contradictory statements like these that leave our Conservatice philosophy misunderstood and open to irrational leftist "pragmatic" attacks; perceptually based attacks --"look at the homeless man. it's evil that some people have cars while others are homeless". Pragmatism is whim worship, subjective and routed in feelings and or the mystical-- all are the antithesis of rational thought. The Pragmatist justifiably feeling empathetic towards the misery of the homeless man, unjustifiably declaring, based this strong emotive perceptual evidence (sense based and singular-- what something looks like) that "while all other aspects of capitalism are good-- lots of jobs, high standards of living, freedom..etc that no man has the right to a car, while another is homeless, and that all wealth should be shared equally."

But thinkers "look past the trees and see the forest" knowing a precept may initially fool him-- like the site of one homeless man, so he guards against rash judgements, adding the precept to his other sensory data, intergrating it, and discovering rational truths. Amalgamating many complex truths he develops intellectual strategies to prevent him in the future from being fooled by misleading precepts. Principles the opposite of pragmatist strategies are the result of conceptual thinking (an intergration of many precepts to form a complex thought, thus the individual is not fooled by confusing, emotive, misleading sensory data.) It is conceptual knowledge that intergtrates the sensory data with other sensory data, and many learned concepts from life and realizes that the the declaration that no man ought to be rich and acheive things other men have not acheived would only succeding in mandating wcomplete muisery, slavery and extreme poverty, through the cessation of all production, innovation, creativity , production, scientiffic and medical progress, forever dooming all men to eternal misery-- See Communist Russia, North Korea, China. So a principle declares that man's freedom is to valuable to be restiricted. Long rage goals require certain methods, disciplines and actions to acheive them. Long range goals are acheived by the adherence to principles. For example in order to acheive the value of success one must make working hard a principle.
Another example of pragmatist philosophy... Need more wealth... well then print more money. a principled thinker knows arbitrarily printing money only makes existing money worth less, and would only exagerate the current problem of "not enough money". Principle declares that inflation is wrong and detrimental to increasing wealth. Pragmatist methods avoid these complex truths and happily create that inflation.

Escott said...

So Manning was a pragmatist - he didn't believe anything except for what was politically expedient? That's not how I remember him. And why isn't he suntanning in Florida now?

AWR said...

I applaud any attempt to get people involved in the political process (we have way too much apathy in Canada when it comes to actually doing something about things).

But to answer Preston's question as to how to get the conservative movement going, well, shut down the CPC, banish all the extremist Alliance elements and re-create the Progressive Conservative Party.

Raging Ranter said...

That's a great idea Progressive Calgary. Actually, Sinclair Stevens and David Orchard are doing that right now. It's called the Progressive Canadian Party. Since you like the word "Progressive" so much, I think it would be a nice fit for you. Then you could despair over your extinction with the rest of the Red Tories.

Raging Ranter said...

And PR, "Encourage diversity in all its forms?" Come on, that's a bunch of Liberal bullshit. People are diverse. Period. Its a fact of life, a reality. Anyone who walks around "encouraging diversity" is just pandering to one special interest or another. That's what the Liberals have been doing for years, and its screwing up this country badly. Persuing diversity for diversity's sake is just weak-minded feelgood nonsense.

AWR said...

Actually, Ranter, the Red Tories aren't dead or extinct. In fact, a lot of them have joined the Liberal Party of Canada and are running as candidates (even right here in Alberta!).

Since the Alliance skinheads have destroyed their party, they needed to find a new home, and they found it in the Liberal Party.

So, next time watch who you vote for: the CPC will most likely be a total loser, while the Lib candidate you despise so much could in fact be a conservative.

My own riding will be represented by a former Progressive Conservative running for the Liberals in the next federal election.

Jim (Progressive Right) said...


Pragmatism is whim worship, subjective and routed in feelings and or the mystical -- all are the antithesis of rational thought.

My definition of pragmatism is involving a practical approach to solving a problem. And my argument is simply, that, we cannot immediately jump to what is classically thought of as "right-wing principle" to solve a problem. It sometimes doesn't work.

And I'm also not saying I believe that because one man has a car, he should not if another is homeless, that's not pragmatism either. While it's great to ensure we have a great economy, booming job creation - we have to recognize that others have to work harder than others, and those that cannot, must be helped. It's insufficient to ask somebody who is homeless to "go get a job" or to say "we all got problems".

Jim (Progressive Right) said...


Persuing diversity for diversity's sake is just weak-minded feelgood nonsense.

I didn't argue persuing diversity. I don't even know what "persuing diversity" means. I'm not calling for parades, and I'm not calling for self-awareness days, but it's simply realizing that people are different and recognizing that public institutions (ALL of them) cannot discriminate against any of them. Not a single one.

That's not Liberal bullshit, in fact, I'd argue the Liberals are very poor at recognizing diversity.

Jim (Progressive Right) said...

Progressive Calgary,

I disagree with shutting down the CPC. I think the CPC is the victim of some bad press, and some bad presumptions and ones that need to be combatted.

angryroughneck said...

ahh calling the right "skin heads" very progressive. Werner is the most backward hate filled bigot on the planet. He champions diversity as long as it's not another ideology. Backwards redneck!

Now back to civil discussion. Pragmatism is not doing the practical thing. It's doing what's best at the moment with no regard to past evidence or long term implications-- a very short sighted approach to problem solving.

Pragmatism is allowing fiscal freedoms but denying social freedoms as some social conservatives have been accused of. Principled conservatives respect both economic and religous freedom-- as freedom is the higher principle.

Pragmatism is the allowance of Sharia law into the canadian court system. It's a principle that claims "one law for all people: thus protecting equality-- with the risk of offending extremists.

Pragmatism is the philosophical foundation of Canada. Pactically manifested in the constant appeasement and multitude of side deals that are tearing this country apart. A principle declares that all regions are subject to the same federal status not allowing the short term gains of specialty status, even though they are politically benificial. It is those short term solutions that leave this country lost and without direction or guidance.

For more on Pragmatism I will post an essay i wrote last year on the subject at and no Werner i will not censor your comments, you are free to be judged by them like everyone else.

Take Care,
Angry roughneck

Jim (Progressive Right) said...


I look forward to reading your essay. It may be that we disagree on the "principle" then, and I think that's fair enough.

Scotian said...

Now this is conservatism I recognize as Canadian, and something that would actually do well in today's climate. However, I would make one quibble regarding "encouraging diversity". I think that is not the way this needs to be seen, but rather the encouragement of acceptance of diversity. I honestly think when most people talk about encouraging diversity they are talking about the acceptance of diversity within the society we live in. That all Canadians have the same basic legal rights and that all Canadians are first and foremost human being and deserve to be treated accordingly by society especially where government services are concerned.

As for pragmatism trumping ideology every time in this country, that does appear to be our history. Despite all of the doomsayers we have managed to this point and gotten as far as we have. Remember, we are a developing nation, not a developed one, which in the "three world" classification of nations puts us at the top of the second world. To expect us to be able to act as a full first world nation is to see us unrealistically at this period of our history, though we are not all that far from it especially if we can stop this marginalizing of those that do not subscribe to one particular philosophy/political affiliation.

The Progressive Right has far more power within the Canadian electorate than many of the western/hardcore conservatives appear willing to recognize. They thought if they "merged" (or as I have always seen as took over) with the PCPC they could succeed without those "soft"/"pink"/"weak sisters" once they were not splitting the vote with them. However, given the reception the CPC from the inception onwards has gotten from the progressive right, and especially highlighted by Stronach's defection, I'd say it is highly likely the Liberals will benefit if only to prevent the CPC from forming government this time out.

After all, if they can make the current configuration/leadership appear unwinnable/unsaleable, they have a chance at reforming the CPC into a party more reminiscent of the PCPC. It would not surprise me to see this happen in the next election barring significant changes within the CPC towards the "red Tories" in their midst, possibly even causing a Liberal majority to come about. This is the danger the CPC Reform/CA wing always ran by first strong-arming the creation of the CPC itself and then stacking the power structure with Reform/CA minded conservatives and having what appeared to be only token concessions and representation at the top of the PCPC wing. This is why the Stronach defection was so damaging and why it is having long term repercussions despite all the sliming of Stronach to try and prevent this, aided by the less than brilliant Martin move of immediately placing her in cabinet. That gave the CPC a tool for deflection they otherwise would not have had which would have made the damage of her departure even more devastating.

Unfortunately, it seems the majority of responses here do not grasp the realities of the Canadian political dynamic. I suspect even in the face of a serious loss at the polls these people will first blame Canadians instead of looking to themselves for why it happened. I miss traditional Canadian conservatism, what currently is passing itself of as such is not what most long time conservatives would agree is such. The CPC is walking a very dangerous path, and it is risking extending Liberal domination for another several years to a decade if it does not start recognizing the realities of the populace it wishes to govern instead of how pure their ideological policies and actions are. This is why the NDP never form government and the CPC is running the risk of branding itself the NDP on the Right. This is ultimately the evidence of pragmatism trumping ideology at the federal level in this country. Most Canadians see pragmatism as having gotten us this far, so why would they want to abandon it for blue sky ideology?