Thestar.com
Lower taxes, united right, will save day
Dalton Camp
STAR COLUMNIST
I'm really not worried about having a recession. So we're all — most of us — a little poorer but that's okay.

According to Statistics Canada, the rich are getting much richer. I'm not worried because we Canadians have done just about everything we've been asked to do, holding back on wage demands, eliminating government deficits, starving health care, education and welfare, giving more money back to deserving Canadians, such as property developers, Alberta lawyers, friends of Mike Harris, and sufferers trapped in the dear "energy" sector.

And we have dunned the students, stiffed the teachers and otherwise bought into the proposed scenario for eternal prosperity. What went wrong?

Well, no one really knows. They're working on it. If we can just hang on another month, the Summit of the Americas will be coming to Quebec city and all the people who have arranged things for us — economics-wise — will be there mulling, pondering and, if you don't mind my saying so, faking it.

The thing is — I just read this a minute ago — they say there is a crisis in consumer confidence. I don't agree there's a consumer confidence crisis. There is a people confidence crisis, brought on by so many who are becoming weary of being ignored and lied to by politicians, fortune tellers disguised as economists and corporate propagandists disguised as newspapers.

For example, Canadians have been fed reams of copy, yards of editorials and forests of columns about the need to "unite the right." But there is no need to unite the right — they're meeting every day in phone booths near you. There is no real right to unite; let me illustrate the point:

Ekos Research Associates has been tracking the growth of ideology in our politics for some time. I have a four-year compilation of answers by Canadians to a single question: "Thinking about your overall political persuasion, would you say you are more of a small "l" liberal or a small "c" conservative?

From 1997 to January of his year, the results have not changed much — this year, for example, 32 per cent of respondents described themselves as largely small "l" liberal, 22 per cent as small "c" conservative, but 43 per cent said they were neither. Compared with previous years, there are today more Canadians who say they have no political ideology and fewer each year who define themselves as small "c" conservatives.

A further revelation: Ekos also polled what it calls private and public sector "elites." Public sector elites are mostly liberal, but in the private sector (where the political money comes from), 73 per cent of the elites say they're small "c" conservative.

In a survey conducted in 1999, Ekos asked Canadians whether they opposed or supported "the following visions: status quo, new right or progressive. Ekos found the results "somewhat surprising, notably the strength of the progressive vision.''

The point is obvious. Despite all the hustling, noisesome, frenzied propaganda in the national press, Canadians remain, for the most part, disinterested in ideological politics.

There is no evidence from any respectable poll, from any sensible source, to suggest a coalition of a Reform Alliance cult and a debased Progressive Conservative party would pose any more of a threat to the Liberals in the country than if the Bloc Quιbιcois merged with the Flat Earth party.

Despite the imagined excitements of Parliament, post-election polls show the Alliance slipping everywhere, its leader the least trusted party leader in the nation, the Liberals in greater public favour than on election day, and the Tories wallowing in self-pity and intellectual bankruptcy.

Their revised survey to test the patience and disposition of puzzled party regulars in the round of "consultations" shows the same transparent ambition to scuttle the ship and row for the life raft of Stockwell Day:

Question: "Would you ever be in favour of a merger between the Canadian Alliance and the PC party? Between the Bloc and the PC party? Between the NDP and the PC party? Why or why not?

Question: "How important is the name Progressive Conservative to you?" (their emphasis.)

As I said earlier on, I like to believe — since we did all the right things — it's just a matter of time until Yahoo is back on track and Nortel is once again the hottest stock on the big board. Once the vast number of intimate friends of U.S. President George W. Bush get their income tax cuts, their estate taxes cut, and reduced taxes on their marriages, they'll start hiring again.

I was sort of hoping for more word on the brain drain. There must be a lot of Canadians out there who just got fired owing to the present lack of consumer confidence — blame the people, I always say — and who could now go to the States and get work in that business where you develop a nuclear rocket that can hit a horsefly in the eye at 97,000 hectares above Texas.

Meanwhile, keep the faith — that along with lower taxes, less government and a united right will see us all through. And I'm serious.


Dalton Camp is a political commentator. His column appears on Wednesday and Sunday.




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