Tory Politics Exclusive, Not Inclusive

Winnipeg Free Press, May 3, 2012 | Go to article overview

Tory Politics Exclusive, Not Inclusive


222Today, the care and feeding of "the base" means kicking everyone else out the dance hall's door.

"Narrowcasting" is the term used by American Republicans and Canadian Conservatives to describe how they win elections by tending to the base above all else.

Forget about building an ever-bigger tent. The wider your ideological net, the more watered-down your principles must become. "Narrowcasting," the ceaseless promotion of the "red meat" issues that animate your base -- in the Conservatives' case, issues like guns, prisons and punitive employment insurance rules -- drives your core supporters to work, donate and proselytize their friends.

The Conservative base is older, male, predominantly Anglo-Saxon, upper income, college educated and faith-based. It's strong in Alberta, the West and rural Canada. The NDP base is the opposite. It's economically vulnerable, young, female, secular, university educated and urban. It's strong in B.C. and Quebec.

These demographics explain why the government isn't interested in younger Canadians and why it's the young who've sustained the most collateral damage inflicted by the government's 425-page omnibus budget bill. It unravels Canada's social and environmental safety net and launches a frontal assault on parliamentary government itself.

The massive legislation fairly bristles with initiatives that leave younger Canadians facing starkly bleaker life prospects than their parents.

Canadians 55 years and older -- the Conservative's core vote -- will collect old age security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement at age 65. But Canadians 55 years and under will have to work an additional two years, to age 67, before they qualify for the two programs, even though they contribute to them through their taxes and the parliamentary budget officer and most economists say the two-year delay is unnecessary as the program is actuarially strong.

One of the current government's ancestors is the far-right National Citizens' Coalition. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was its president from 1998 to 2002. One of its primary aims was to install American "right-to-work" laws in Canada, especially in the federal public service. "Right to work" is an Orwellian term designed to mask its objective of ensuring a worker's only right is to work for whatever wage the employer wants to pay.

It's hardly surprising the government has legislated a form of "right to work" in every labour dispute since winning its majority last May.

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