FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Agony of Canada’s Rightwing Pundits

by

While I realize it is churlish to take so much pleasure in the whining and wingeing of the usually arrogant right-wing pundits, I just can`t help myself. This gaggle of ideological nut bars rarely get angry at the fact that most governments in this country have been doing their duty in dismantling the democratic, activist state for 25 years. They really thought that it was impossible — due in part to their own pernicious influence — that the idea of government actually working for people could rise from the ashes.

But when Kathleen Wynne put together a budget and a campaign platform that looked like it came from the NDP in 1975 and then actually won a majority on it? Well that`s not just heresy, it`s apostasy. The Liberals, after all, are still supposed to be a Bay Street party, doing capital`s bidding — as defined so often by these same pundits

The pundits, all nominally in favour of democracy so long as it produces anti-democratic governments, will be twisting themselves out of shape for some time to come. Here`s  Kelly McParland of the National Post (headline: “Ontario election result makes perfect sense in an irrational world”), truly rendered incoherent by the unexpected results:

“Who won is, in a big way, immaterial. Oh, the result matters to the participants, of course, and in terms of the dismal message it sends about how tolerant the Ontario voter is of Liberal abuse and mismanagement. But in the big picture, who is premier or what party won the most seats wasn’t the real issue.”

Really? Then just what is the point of elections? I wonder why McParland bothers to write his columns. But he quickly returns to suggesting maybe it did matter — and trashing Ontarians who didn`t vote for communal suicide by voting for Tim Hudak: “Ontarians seem able to hate their government, while simultaneously wanting more of it.  Is this some sort of new public mania, masochism by democracy?”

So blotto is Mr McParland from drinking his ideological Kool-Aid, it is simply impossible for him to imagine that people might actually be attracted to the idea of a party that runs on a platform of making things better for ordinary people. Only someone living in that batty libertarian universe could see an enhanced pension plan as masochism.

The National Post`s John Ivison attacked Wynne for a cynical campaign of “fear and anger” but then criticized the Conservative leader because he “did not make enough people angry enough at the Liberals for them to ignore their misgivings about Mr. Hudak.”

No mention, however, of the cynicism demonstrated by Hudak who travelled to the U.S. to consult with some genuinely certifiable Tea Partiers about how to win the hearts and minds of Ontarians by trashing their government programs and firing those who deliver them.

And then there was the Sun chain`s Christina Blizzard addicted, apparently, to hyperbole:

“This province is morally and financially bankrupt. Yet, we’ve patted the perpetrators on the back and sent them to Queen’s Park with a licence to spend and plunder. They will be insufferable. Watch for a festival of smug triumphalism from the Liberals….voters had no appetite for honesty in politics.…This is a stunning Friday the 13th horror story.”

The Toronto Sun is a newspaper devoted to the Conservatives like a mother to her children. With Wynne’s “’safe hands’ in charge of this province, we’re closer to Greece or Detroit than the witless in this city ever want to think,” wrote Sue-Anne Levy. “Wynne cares about one thing only: Clinging to power and keeping her Liberal friends happily rolling in largesse.” And Anthony Furey, another Sun columnist chastised voters with the headline “Shame on you, Ontarians.”

And then there was the National Post`s Robyn Urbach who boldly declared: “Liberals shouldn’t mistake their majority with voter support for their mandate.”  I would love to see what Urbach wrote about Stephen Harper`s mandate with virtually the same percentage of the vote for his majority.  And given that NDP voters almost certainly supported virtually all of the Liberal budget and platform that does translate into a big majority: 62.4 per cent.

Amongst the right wing commentators it seems only Andrew Coyne could bear to tell it straight up:

“This election was very much a referendum on fiscal conservatism, and the fiscal conservatives lost. [T]he central issue in this campaign, unambiguously, was fiscal policy — the Liberals ran on their budget, and the Tories ran on theirs, the Million Jobs Plan. Everyone agreed this election presented the voters with a clear choice, perhaps the clearest in 20 years. And they made their choice, just as clearly.”

Amen.

While the right’s hard liners may be lighting their hair on fire, citizens on the other hand may actually get to see what governments used to be like. There is, of course, still a possibility that Wynne will renege on these pledges as Liberals have done historically. But just imagine if she does deliver with the most progressive budget in Canada in 20 years. It could have huge implications for politics at all levels.

Ever since the so-called `free-trade` deal with the U.S. Canadians have been sold a bill of goods by the economic and political elites about there “being no alternative” to small, mean, punitive and arrogant government. With the NDP`s apparent abandonment of principle in favour of crass opportunism and consumer populism, it seemed activist government was well and truly buried.

If Wynne wants to have a really extraordinary legacy she has a golden opportunity — and a powerful personal mandate.  Progressive politicians can pitch good policies until the cows come home but the impact of actually seeing them work could be enormous: an executed plan is worth a thousand pledges.

Wynn`s $15 billion mass transit plan is huge in terms of reducing Ontario`s climate foot print.

Providing retirees with greater income security is something almost every government knows is critically necessary.

Her pledge to raise the pay of the lowest paid health and child care workers directly addresses the issue of inequality. The rest of the platform was pretty interesting, too.

I can think of three positive outcomes of Wynne carrying out her pledges (besides her actual program).

Most important is demonstrating to voters across the country that governments can do things that make their lives better — that voting can make a difference. When the punditry puzzle over how the Liberals could have won despite a litany of corruption charges and large deficits consider this possibility: the tired mantra about deficits and debt (and the scary bond-raters) suddenly takes its rightful place in the political firmament when it has to compete with real public goods and higher taxes on the undeserving rich.

Secondly, if this does start a trend towards more rational and less ideological politics (like actually addressing the $160 billion infrastructure deficit across Canada) the NDP might once again find the courage to run campaigns and engage the public on social democratic principles. After all, if they are going to mimic the Liberals to get to the centre, better they mimic Wynne, who is moving the centre to the left. NDPers everywhere would thank her (notwithstanding the irony that it took a Liberal to push the fiscal boundary — sort of like Nixon recognizing China).

Lastly, though there may not be time for this to play out, a government representing over a third of the country`s population actually pursuing an activist agenda could make things very difficult for Stephen Harper`s continued assault on democratic governance.  The 905 area surrounding Toronto went solidly Liberal in this election and it is these voters that Harper must have to win even a minority in 2015. If they are happy with Wynne`s performance, Harper could be in serious trouble.

MURRAY DOBBIN, now living in Powell River, BC has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for over forty years.  He now writes a bi-weekly column for the on-line journals the Tyee and rabble.ca. He can be reached at murraydobbin@shaw.ca

 

MURRAY DOBBIN, now living in Powell River, BC has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for over forty years.  He can be reached at murraydobbin@shaw.ca

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail