Sunday, April 3, 2011

DAY NINE: Platforms (part two)

In the previous post about media coverage of the NDP, my desire was to illustrate one of the many ways in which the media can help to marginalize ideas and even an entire political party. It all depends on what aspect of a story they choose to emphasize.

 This can work both ways of course. You can help make a party look good by omitting mention of important parts of their tacit platform. This past week, so far as the Tories are concerned, the platform they wanted to discuss had little to do with the reality of the policy they're supposed to be defending. That, after all, is the essential question here, right? Do we want more of the same Conservative policies that we've been witness to these last five years, or not?

As the media reports on the roll-out of the Harper platform they've mentioned his bizarre, 'money I'll spend if we balance the budget' promises. There's also been his obvious attempts at bribery of Newfoundland and Quebec for votes. All well and good but these are not the tenets of this government that the opposition parties are running against.

They are running against the Conservatives spending $30 billion on sole-sourced jets that poorly suit Canada's needs, spending billions to incarcerate more Canadians at a time when crime rates are on the decline in Canada, imposing American style mandatory minimums for certain non-violent crimes, spending billions in tax breaks for already wealthy corporations, taking away the per-vote subsidy thus making our electoral system yet more advantageous for themselves. They have also tied our environmental policies to those of the Americans at a time when their Congress is in full meltdown over the issues of global climate disruption and the continuing degradation of the environment, as they are clearly more moved by wealthy corporate citizens and their lobbyists than by scientific reason and consensus.

And that's just domestic policies! Canada's foreign policy as it stands now has  lost us standing as a world leader in pressing for human rights, in part by taking a one-sided view on Middle East rights issues, according to  Amnesty International. These are likely reasons that prevented Canada from winning a United Nations Security Council seat. 

Oh yeah, they're also running against contempt because the Harper government refused to disclose the costs for their programs to Parliament. Mr. Ignatieff  declared, “We are the people’s representatives. When the government spends money, the people have a right to know what it is to be spent on. Parliament does not issue blank cheques.” You're excused for not knowing that. After all, if it's just barely news worthy, why mention it at all?

So, near as I can tell, that's their platform, Those are the policies you are voting for when you cast your vote for the Conservatives. That's what needs to be debated in this election. Do these policies reflect Canada, and Canadian sentiment and values on these issues? Whether or not that will happen is largely up to Canadian voters. If there is demand for a substantive discussion which people can express by rejecting the character assassination attacks that have been lifted from the likes of Karl Rove, they may well get it. If they remain complacent then they can continue to read stories about how the Harper campaign has the momentum of a runaway train and how it definitely hasn't fallen flat.

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