Monday, November 14, 2011

Fusion or Confusion? Why I Think the Conservative Movement Will Self-Destruct

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

I read an interesting paper by Mytheos Holt, a neoconservative intellectual, I suppose you'd call him; that discusses the fusion of right-wing groups, that currently make up the nucleus of the conservative movement.

It was simpler in the beginning, because there were primarily just two: libertarianism and traditionalism.  However, in their quest for power, two additional cells were added to the mass: neoconservatism and paleoconservatism.
The Libertarian promotes individual freedom and the freedom to make money without government restrictions, like product safety standards or environmental regulations.  They believe that the market will dictate safety standards, because if their product kills people, no one will buy it.  I'd sooner know in advance if using that product could kill me, not wait for additional research or a new marketing strategy.
The Traditionalist wants a return to moral standards, which they see as only being possible in a Judeo-Christian society.  This should clash with Libertarianism, because it dictates how a person can live.  In many ways, organized religion is a form of collectivism, since members are expected to conform to a set of standards laid out by the hierarchy of the Church, which is like a regulatory board.  This political group is more often referred to as the Christian Right or Religious Right.
The Neoconservatives believe that they are the intelligentsia of the movement. They create the ambigous policy statements that are designed to mean different things to different people.  And despite the fact that movement conservatives claim to detest "elites", these people are elites.  Wealthy and well educated puppet masters.  As Paul Krugman says in his Conscience of a Liberal, becoming an intellectual in this movement is a good career choice.  You will never be unemployed, moving into government when conservatives are in power, and into right-wing think-tanks when they're not. Neoconservatives are followers of Leo Strauss.
The Paleoconservative is committed to creating a society with a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant hierarchy (WASPs).  Their views fit well with the Religious Right.  Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis A. Schaeffer, whose book A Cristian Manifesto is believed to be the blueprint for the Religious Right, confirms that the movement was always about race.
Paul Weyrich agreed, saying that it was not the abortion issue that mobilized them, but the end of segregation.  Weyrich was not only a founding member of the RR, but also a Paleoconservative.  He helped to create The Council for National Policy, which is a kind of vanguard group, for all four elements of American conservatism.  In Canada, the Civitas Society plays that role.
How Do You Sort it All Out?
With so many conflicting elements, how do you sort it all out?  It can't be easy.
To appease the Libertarians, Stephen Harper has placed Maxime Bernier, the former head of the libertarian Montreal Institute, into his cabinet, and allows the Fraser Institute to draft policy
To appease the Religious Right, he has moved their members into every nook and cranny of his government. In April, Le Devoir, published a piece on: Religious Fanatics in the Conservative Party (April 7, 2011).

They tell of a Liberal MP who was going into anaphylactic shock. Instead of providing medical assistance, three Conservative politicians, "Mark Warawa, Jeffrey Watson and Blaine Calkins, approached the sick woman, knelt down, placed their hands on her head and ... began incantations and prayers." Says Les Devoir:

This story is not widely known on the Hill, and for good reason. Those who witnessed the scene were shocked by this counter-productive religious reflex (the crowd was keeping the MP from breathing), but they are reluctant to condemn it for fear of being accused of intolerance.

They can get away with anything under the protection of religion. Others speak of members in almost constant prayer and some who even speak in tongues. (And you thought it was just Jason Kenney)

To appease the Neoconservatives is not that difficult. The Ezra Levants and David Frums get more media exposure than Paris Hilton.

And finally to appease the Paleoconservatives, he has taken Canada down perhaps the most dangerous path yet. He is allowing the Monarchist League to begin the transformation of our country, from one with a vast cultural heritage, to one whose history begins with Confederation. This not only ignores the contributions of those who were here centuries before the Anglo-Saxons, but also those who came after. We will be transformed from our wonderful cultural mosaic, to a work of still life.

Where is the Commonality?

Mytheos Holt discusses the clashing of views held by the four cells of the conservative movement.

Traditionalism has been taken over by religious conservatism, or what conservative writer Kathleen Parker refers to as the "evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP."  ("Letting Go of God." Washington Post. November 19, 2008)

David Frum was fired from the American Enterprise Institute for criticizing the Republican's stance on Obama's healthcare plan.  Tom Flanagan was exiled from the Harper government for writing his book Harper's Team, even though he cut out almost half of it. (Harperland, Lawrence Martin, 2010) Gerry Nicholls, Harper's VP when he was president of the National Citizens Coalition, was fired when he publicly criticised our current prime minister.

Holt believes that there might be "too much individual freedom", that is creating a paranoia with the movement.
...because each of the four sectors of the movement views their compatriots as potential traitors, each of them believes it is absolutely essential that the problematic elements be tossed out before ideological war can be made on liberalism, since traitorous urges will inevitably manifest themselves on the battlefield. This paranoia induces a state of ideological paralysis, in which each of the different factions of conservatism find it impossible to build upon each others’ insights, for fear of accidentally accepting a liberal narrative. (The Unchanging Republic: Prospects for a New Conservative Fusion, by Mytheos Holt, 2010)
Their only commonality is a hatred for liberalism and it consumes them.  In his book Harperland, Lawrence Martin tells of speaking with a foreign leader, who claimed that while he openly criticizes his political opponents at home, he was quite taken aback by Stephen Harper, who he claimed actually "hates" his.  What he must think of us.

The very word 'liberal' ignites an hypnotic induction that no amount of clapping will wake them from.  But as Holt suggests, since the movement began, the character of liberalism has changed dramatically, yet the conservative arguments against it have not.  They have only turned their arguments against each other, in their quest to find the perfect conservative specimen.

So can a fusion held together with hate survive, or will it undergo a fission, breaking apart as each pursues its own agenda?

Maybe the real question is not will it, but when?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Politics of Contempt: The Nixon-Harper Ticket

************** Still to edit and merge ***********

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

In April of 2008, an article appeared in the UK Guardian entitled: The Canadian Nixon. Even then political observers noticed the similarity in styles between Stephen Harper and Richard Nixon. Both held a high level of contempt for their political opponents and in many ways, the people they were supposed to serve. They trusted no one.

Dimitry Anastakis and Jeet Heer noted their shared characteristics and modes of operation.
In the same week Kelly McParland wrote in the National Post of Harper's paranoia and what he described as a "siege mentality".
In 2008, 198 hours of recordings and 90,000 pages of documents were released by the Nixon Presidential Library, and what they revealed of the man, is quite telling. According to Dan Glaister: Recordings show Nixon urged staff to use all means to discredit his political opponents, both large and small.
This message could have come from Harper's own lips. But there's more.
Stephen Harper had all portraits of past prime ministers, many of them works of art, removed from the government block and replaced with photographs of himself. (4) Hundreds and hundreds of photographs of himself. I'll bet there's a memo somewhere stating that the "the project was completed."

And Luke Nichter, a Nixon scholar, says of the 37th president that his was: "One of the most secretive presidential administrations in American history." There's no denying that the Harper government is the most secretive we've ever had.

More recently Jeffrey Simpson is looking for parallels from Lawrence Martin's Harperland.

Simpson calls Nixon: "...the brilliant, brooding, socially awkward, intensely private, conspiratorial Mr. Nixon, who, more than any other U.S. politician, shaped conservatism from his entry into Congress to his resignation as president."
Some of the comparisons are abstract, like the episode of the threatening tapes. (6) But the key ones are fundamental. And perhaps there's a good reason for that. Wrapped up in their shared hatred of liberalism, academics and political opponents... And wrapped up in their shared awkwardness and paranoia, is the fact that they are both Republican*, schooled in Republican campaigning and indoctrinated in anti-government governance.

However, there is something else, that a lot of people are not aware of that helps to explain their "unique" political tactics. Both men were "Finkle Thinked".

Ouch! Did it Hurt?

Arthur Finklestein was** the man who worked behind the scenes for Richard Nixon and has been called one of the most secretive, but effective, political strategists who ever lived. His strategy was dubbed "Finkle Think". I've often thought that Guy Giorno tried to emulate him.

Jack Huberman includes Finklestein in his book: 101 People who are Really Screwing up America. And in a column for Huffington Post points out the hypocrisy of Finklestein's recent marriage to his male partner:
And according to Gerry Nicholls who was Stephen Harper's VP when he was running the National Citizens Coalition, Mr. Finklestein also worked for them.
So Stephen Harper is not that difficult to figure out. He is not that deep or complex. He is simply the product of Republican strategists, especially one who "invented the negative ad", and is following in the footsteps of a former Finklestein protege.

The new "Merchant of Venom".


*High profile Republican pollster John Maclaughlin takes credit for Stephen Harper's career, including it on his resume.

**Finklestein died on May 28, 2010

***When Guy Giorno had to appear before a commons committee, the media had to have him pointed out. No one knew then what he looked like. He was the same when he did the job for Mike Harris.


1. The Canadian Nixon: Stephen Harper's feud with Elections Canada is just the latest front in his war against government institutions, By Dimitry Anastakis and Jeet Heer, The UK Guardian, April 24, 2008

2. Harper discovers it's easy to find enemies, if you look hard enough, By Kelly McParland, National Post, April 23, 2008

3. Recordings reveal Richard Nixon's paranoia: Recordings show Nixon urged staff to use all means to discredit his political opponents, both large and small, By Dan Glaister, UK Guardian, December 3, 2008

4. Harper gallery leaves MPs speechless: Citizens who really want a national portrait gallery in Ottawa can rest easy. The government already has one, By The Ottawa Citizen, January 29, 2008

5. Looking for Nixon-like tendencies in Harperland, By Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail, October 8, 2010

6. PM threatens Ignatieff with old tapes`Every day that goes by he's more like Richard Nixon,' Liberal leader says after Harper, By Richard Brennan, Toronto Star, May 28, 2009

7. Arthur Finkelstein Is Screwing Up America, By Jack Huberman, Huffington Post, June 11, 2006

8. Libertarianism and me, by Gerry Nicholls, November 13, 2009
Arthur [Finklestein] was an American political consultant who worked for the NCC, he gave us political, media and fundraising advice. He was, in fact, truth-be-told, one of the chief reasons behind the NCC’s success. He was also the top Republican political consultant, if not the top American political consultant period.

He was also the guy who basically invented the negative ad. His nickname was the “Merchant of Venom.” Now you might be asking yourself, “If Arthur was so great, why haven’t I ever heard of the guy?” Well, let me tell you a secret about political consultants. The ones who promote themselves a lot, the ones you see on TV talk shows and speaking at seminars are not usually the top consultants. That’s why they need to get the public limelight. That’s why they self-promote. The really top consultants don’t need to do that. The insiders know who they are and they are always busy. Arthur fit into that category. If anything he did everything possible to avoid media scrutiny. (8)

It wouldn't be worth mentioning if the consultant hadn't, through most of the 40 years of that domestic partnership, worked on behalf of some of America's most rabidly homophobic politicians; if he wasn't "the architect of Jesse Helms's political rise"; if he wasn't acclaimed as "the guy who slandered the term 'liberal' in American politics"; if he hadn't worked for presidents Nixon and Reagan; helped elect the likes of George W. Bush, New York Governor George Pataki, Senator Alphonse D'Amato, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "To the Right of Attila Sharon" Netanyahu; advised Sharon; helped the Swift Boat Smearers for Bush smear John Kerry's military reputation; and announced that he would be spearheading the "Get Hillary" campaign to defeat Senator Clinton's reelection campaign in 2006.

All that, and more, is on Arthur Finkelstein's resume. If you haven't heard of him before, it's because he made sure you didn't. As CNN reported in 1996: "He is the stuff of Hollywood: A man who can topple even the most powerful foes, yet so secretive that few have ever seen him." Finkelstein has been compared to criminal mastermind Kaiser Sose in The Usual Suspects, who lay so low that some doubted he really existed. *** (7)

... the interesting comparisons arise between Mr. Harper and Mr. Nixon. By all accounts, and especially those in Harperland, the Prime Minister is not only a partisan, as all prime ministers must be, but he viscerally hates Liberals. His objective is not just to defeat but to obliterate the Liberal Party of Canada. For that purpose, the gloves are off all the time, from nasty attack ads against Liberal leaders to ritualistic, partisan punches from him and his ministers.

Mr. Nixon saw enemies everywhere: in the media, the “liberal elites,” the Ivy League colleges .... He carried enormous resentments, remembered many past slights, and bottled them up inside where they fed paranoid streaks in his character. He was a control freak, and demanded that his staff act accordingly. (5)

Documents released alongside the recordings detail the progress made by his staff in carrying out a presidential order to remove all pictures of past presidents from the White House. An office belonging to a junior civil servant in which he had seen two photographs of Kennedy, one bearing a personal inscription, particularly offended Nixon. "On January 14," wrote White House staffer Alexander Butterfield in a 1970 memo, "the project was completed and all 35 offices displayed only your photograph." (3)

"Never forget," he tells national security advisers Henry Kissinger .. and Alexander Haig in a conversation on December 14 1972, "the press is the enemy, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy, the professors are the enemy, the professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times." (3)

One of the many online encyclopedias defines “siege mentality” as “a shared feeling of helplessness, victimization and defensiveness” which “refers to persecution feelings by anyone in the minority, or of a group that views itself as a threatened minority.” If there’s anything that typifies the Conservatives under Mr. Harper, it’s the notion that anyone outside the party is to be viewed with suspicion, and even within the party trust is to be handed out sparingly. Beyond the fortified redoubt of the Prime Minister’s inner circle, everyone is on permanent probation. (2)

The historian Garry Wills once observed that Richard Nixon wanted to be president not to govern the nation but to undermine the government. The Nixon presidency was one long counterinsurgency campaign against key American institutions like the courts, the FBI, the state department and the CIA. Harper has the same basic approach to politics: attack not just political foes but the very institutions that make governing possible. The state for Nixon and Harper exists not as an instrument of policy making but as an alien force to be subdued.

If it's not the media, or the courts, or the Senate, or Elections Canada, it's the Wheat Board, the federal government's own spending power, the bureaucracy, the gun registry ... Canadians should rightly wonder why their head of government has such a problem with so many Canadian institutions. (1)

New Canadian Epidemic. We've All Been "Finkel Thinked"

************* Still to edit and merge **************

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole my Country

After Watergate brought down Richard Nixon, the U.S. passed the Federal Election Campaign Act in an attempt to make election campaigns more open and transparent. One of the key features of the act, was that it placed legal limits on campaign contributions.

This prompted high profile Republican strategist, Arthur Finkelstein, who had worked on Nixon's campaign, to come up with something called Independent Expenditure Campaigns (in Canada this is known as Third Party Advertising). This allowed the wealthy to funnel their contributions through a political activist group, who could run attacks ads freely, usually zeroing in on a policy the Republicans opposed and their opponents favoured, or had already adopted.

Finkelstein would also work for Ronald Reagan, before joining Canada's National Citizens Coalition. According to Gerry Nicholls, who was Stephen Harper's VP when he was running the NCC:
Arthur [Finkelstein] was an American political consultant who worked for the NCC, he gave us political, media and fundraising advice. He was, in fact, truth-be-told, one of the chief reasons behind the NCC’s success. He was also the top Republican political consultant, if not the top American political consultant period. He was also the guy who basically invented the negative ad. His nickname was the “Merchant of Venom.” (1)
And this "Merchant of Venom" taught Stephen Harper well.

Finkelstein's strength was in finding a weak spot, as flimsy as it might be, and then creating an entire campaign around it. Harper found Dion's in his difficulty with the English language, to create the image of a bumbling fool with the simple "Not a Leader" attack.

With Michael Ignatieff it was more difficult, but he found a "weak spot" in his five years spent teaching at Harvard. He couldn't use his teaching positions at Oxford, Cambridge or the London School of Economics, because they were British. So those five years spent in Boston became the focal point of the "Just Visiting" ads. And the fact that while teaching in Boston, Ignatieff chose "we" to connect with his students, that "we" became the most powerful two letter word in the English language.

Another strategy of Finkelstein's was to give negative connotations to certain things through repetition and association. "Tax and spend liberals", "reckless coalition", that kind of thing.

This strategy became known as "Finkel Think". But too much Finkelthinking can be a bad thing. In the U.S. several of his campaigns backfired because he used terms so much, that the negative response was aimed at the ads, and the Democrat won.

Harper's overuse of "reckless coalition" appears to have also backfired, especially after it was made public that he himself had tried to become prime minister in 2004, in a coalition that included the full support of the Bloc.

In fact, a recent poll suggests that the majority of Canadians would prefer a coalition to a Harper majority. This doesn't mean that Harper will change his strategy. He can't. His Finkelthinkitis is terminal.

Symptoms of the Disease

1. The first sign that a nation has been finklethinked is the odd behaviour of the media. They will begin to froth at the mouth while watching the latest attack ad. Then they wait for the polls to see if the ad is working. Now collectively, with arms extended like Zombies, they will head to their keyboards to create headline news. "Latest Harper Attack ad may cause Michael Ignatieff to plummet to his political death."

There is an easy cure at this stage, but it would involve their having to think and perhaps ponder what this is doing to our democracy. But thinking is elitist, meaning they could become the next victim of Fatal Finkeling.

2. The electorate begins to develop a rash. They can't sit still while watching the attack ads, so will fidget and hold their tummies, waiting for the nausea to consume them. In the most severe cases you may also see a gauging out of the eyes and the placing of sticks in ears, while the victim runs in circles singing "la, la, la, la, la, la ..."

An Old Wives Tale suggests that they lock themselves inside on election day, but research has shown this to be false. The best cure for Finkelthinkitis, is to show up at the polling station on election day to receive the antidote.

It's called a ballot. The only known cure.

So don't become a frothing, fuming, fumbling, fulminating, fickle faced foolish Finkelthinker. On May 2 vote and vote wisely.


1. Libertarianism and me, by Gerry Nicholls, November 13, 2009

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From Joseph Mitchell to Rob Ford to Herman Cain. They Just Don't Get It.

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

In 1960, the city council of Newburgh, New York, looking to clean up the slums created by migrant workers, who made the area a permanent home, hired Joseph McDowell Mitchell as City Manager.  Mitchell had earned a reputation as a hard nose "fixer" and he immediately ordered a survey of their relief program.  Thirty borderline cases were cut off and the food relief allotment reduced, to help pay for snow removal.

Then concluding that the city was too generous to the terminally lazy, Mitchell drafted thirteen measures in an attempt to not only limit welfare expenditures, but also drive the mostly black unemployed out of town.

They included a three-month limitation on relief payments, except for the physically handicapped and the aged; unmarried mothers who bore any more illegitimate children would be cut off from assistance; whenever possible, food and rent vouchers would be issued instead of cash; able-bodied males on relief would have to work 40 hours each week for the city building-maintenance department and newcomers who settled in Newburgh without specific job offers would be limited to one week of relief payments. (1)
However, the State Board of Social Welfare, which reimbursed Newburgh for 33% of its relief costs, concluded that at least two provisions—the three-month cutoff, and the discrimination against unwed mothers—violated both state and federal standards.
When the national media picked up the story, alerted by Mitchell himself (2), there was overwhelming support for his program, and the more that the media denounced Mitchell, the stronger the support.  He made it OK to hate poor people.
Encouraged, Newburgh's rising star, began grandstanding, challenging the State's position and making life even more miserable for those barely living.  In one publicity stunt, he sent letters to all welfare recipients stating "Your welfare check is being held for you at the police department.  Please report to the police department and pick up your check there."  A reporter from the local newspaper described the scene:
At 2:15 P.M. yesterday there were approximately 60 persons standing in a Y-shaped line at police headquarters waiting for their [welfare] checks. They were interrogated in a small, drab back room which ordinarily serves as a communications center and fingerprinting room. Each applicant was asked to produce proper identification. They were questioned about their marital status, the number of their dependents, their address, and when they last worked. (2)
In other words, they were treated like common criminals.  The Republicans took notice, including Barry Goldwater, who sent Mitchell a personal note, applauding the Newburgh program "as refreshing as the clear air of Arizona ... I would like to see every city adopt the plan. I don't like to see my taxes paid for children born out of wedlock." (1)
Thirty years later conservatives were still extolling Mitchell, despite the fact that he would eventually lose his job, not for his Draconian welfare clean up, but for taking bribes.
According to Sam Roberts in a 1992 piece for the New York Times:
When Mr. Mitchell was driven into political oblivion from his job as City Manager of Newburgh, N.Y., leaders of the welfare-rights movement heaved a collective sigh of relief. Fully 30 years later, though, he haunts the national welfare debate that he briefly dominated ... What is so striking about the 13 welfare regulations he sought to impose three decades ago is not how Draconian they seem in retrospect, but how many of them have been adopted, proposed or rationally discussed in recent months by Republicans and even than a few Democrats.

Before Mr. Mitchell's regulations were voided by the State Supreme Court in 1962, they transformed Newburgh from an obscure Hudson River city of 31,000 into a national symbol of revolt against Federally mandated welfare programs, benefits that critics maintained redistributed wealth from productive taxpayers to an expanding and parasitic dependent class. (4)
What Mitchell's crusade accomplished  was the idea that "it is a suckers game to spend one's money on the weak element in society."
The evidence displayed during the Newburgh controversy that many good Americans who contribute regularly to their Community Chest, donate their clothing to flood victims, and sponsor Christmas parties for orphans scorn those on relief shocked many welfare officials secure in their semi- private world of forms and statistics. A large segment of the public despises, even hates the poor. (2)
And neoconservatives have been exploiting this hatred for decades.  Mike Harris built it into his platform in Ontario, secure in the belief that his overhaul of the welfare system could proceed with little public opposition.  In fact, like Mitchell, he had many fans, and the more the progressives complained, the stronger the support for the Harris government.

When FDR implemented the New Deal, critics claimed that people didn't want to work, and relief payments would only exacerbate unemployment.  He proved them wrong.  In Ontario, many people on welfare voted for Harris because they thought that his tough stand meant that he would find them the jobs they were unable to get on their own.  What they found instead, was that they were cut off if they were able to work, despite the fact that the unemployment rate hindered their ability to work, in the same way that a physical handicap might.

When Harris was asked about the rise in the use of foodbanks, he shrugged and said that it was a good organization, and that he and his wife had just dropped off a bag of groceries.

When his government released a monthly food plan for those whose benefits had been slashed, Harris justified it by saying that he knew what it was like to live on beans and tuna.  His embarrassed parents told the press that Mikey's silver spoon had never so much as touched a bean.

The cartoon at the top of the page is from a 1944 book by B.A. Trestail: Stand Up and Be Counted, written to discredit the CCF (now the NDP) and State Socialism.  It was hyperbolic, but written at the time when the conservative movement was getting started, and the doctrine of individual responsibility, was being chiseled into their stone tablet.

And yet it is not unlike ads being used by neoconservatives today.

Republican presidential hopeful, Herman Cain, when speaking of the Occupy Wall Street movement, suggests that if people would just work harder, they too could be among the top 1%.

If all it took was hard work; labourers, teachers, nurses, food service workers, construction workers, bricklayers, police officers, fire fighters, social workers, paramedics, bus drivers, truck drivers,  et al, would all be billionaires!

Rob Ford's father was in Mike Harris's caucus, and his son has developed a similar attitude, as mayor of Toronto.  Currently, he is threatening to gut union contracts, even training managers to operate heavy equipment.  Joseph Mitchell may have tested our commitment to social justice, but Ford's initiative could backfire, if it means that traffic in Toronto is brought to a standstill, or garbage lines the streets.  People like Don Cherry may say "I love what yous guys 'r doin'", but others may take a different view.

A report released in the United States, shows that 45 million U.S. citizens are now on food stamps and 1 in 15 Americans are living well below the poverty line.  And there is not only a growing gap between rich and poor, but also between young and old.  There is little out there for people graduating from college or university.

Does Cain really believe that they just need to work a little harder? And how will this impact future generations?  Socialism may not be the enemy of capitalism.  Capitalism will kill itself, if this is the best it can do for those living under it.

B.A. Trestail used cartoons to get his message across in several pamphlets and books, so maybe we need to develop neocon cartoons and joke books.  They provide so much good material.  Their bumper sticker slogans have not changed in more than half a century, so we just need to tweak a few classics.

Like the neoconservative who was undergoing surgery, and worried about the lasting affects of the anaesthetic.  He asked his doctor: "How long after I take this will I be able to think clearly and intelligently?", to which the doctor replied: "I think you are expecting too much of the anaesthetic."


1. New York: The Welfare City, Time Magazine, July 28, 1961

2. The Despised Poor: Newburgh's War on Welfare, By Joseph P. Ritz, Beacon Press, 1966

3. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, By Rick Perlstein, Nation Books, 2001, ISBN: 0-8090-2858-1, p. 131-133

4. METRO MATTERS; Spirit of Newburgh Past Haunts Political Present, By Sam Roberts, The New York Times, March 09, 1992

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chapter Thirteen: Canada's Conservative Youth Movement Begins and Ends With Preston Manning

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

[Ernest]Manning campaigned actively on behalf of a full slate of Social Credit candidates, one such candidate being his son, Preston Manning, who ran for election in the Constituency of East Edmonton. The Conservative candidate secured 13,596 votes to Mr. Manning's: 6,762. Having spoken on young Mr. Preston Manning's behalf myself, I found the overwhelming vote against him hard to believe. I was one of those many who looked forward to hearing the voice of young Preston Manning on behalf of the Social Credit movement in the House of Commons. (1)

The year was 1965, when Preston Manning ran as the federal Social Credit candidate, losing out to William Skoreyko. Alf Hooke, former Alberta Social Credit MP, may not have heard Preston Manning speak on behalf of the Social Credit movement in the House of Commons, but Manning would go on to become a voice for the

Growing Up With no Through Traffic

Preston Manning was born on June 10, 1942, in Edmonton, Alberta and was raised as a devout Baptist. His godfather was William Aberhart, then premier of Alberta. Within a year, Aberhart would be deceased and Ernest Manning, Preston's father, would become premier, holding that position for 25 years.

While claiming that his father did not bring politics into the home, Preston nonetheless, grew up under the influence of Social Credit, which became a mixture of American conservatism and Christian fundamentalism, under his dad. Time magazine once referred to the Manning government as "the nearest approach to a theocracy in the Western Hemisphere." (2)

With his own brand of Baptist-fundamentalist evangelism, he blended religion and politics throughout his public career. "Religion isn't to be kept on a shelf and only taken down on Sundays" he would suggest. In every public speech, religion, not politics, was the dominant theme.

Throughout most of Ernest Manning's reign in Alberta, the province was run as a one-party state. We don't need an opposition," he once said. "They're just a hindrance to us. You don't hire a man to do a job and then hire another man to hinder him." (3) Yet, the "hindrance" is what helps to define democracy.

Preston Manning would say that his father was often distant and cold. John Barr in his book, The Dynasty, called him "intensely private — and very formal". He rarely made public appearances and never invited familiarity. Only a handful of people ever called him 'Ernest'. He was E.C. Manning, thank you very much.

His constituents would connect with their premier every Sunday on his Back to the Bible Hour, a tactic learned from his mentor "Bible Bill" Aberhart. For the first four years that Aberhart was in power, he never answered a question in the legislature. Instead he would write them down, and then deliver his responses over the airwaves.

Preston was raised in a similar fashion, cut off from all those not connected to school, family and church. Even at university, it was understood that he avoid relationships, except with those who thought as he did, which meant that he was out of step with the times. According to author Murray Dobbin:Conservative Movement in the House, and today trains young activists in the art of political guerrilla warfare.

At university in the early sixties he gave the impression of a rural kid completely isolated from the ways of urban society. He presented an odd image. "He was part of the Youth Parliament's Social Credit caucus at the same time Joe Clark, Grant Notley (the late, former leader of the New Democratic Party in Alberta), Jim Coutts (who became prominent in the Liberal Party under Pierre Trudeau), and others were representing their respective parties. He was a good speaker, but you never saw him on campus. People knew who he was, and the rumour was that his father didn't want him to hang around the university too much because it would be a bad moral influence on him," recalls Fred Walker, a student at that time. "He looked very out of place — odd enough in his mannerisms and physical appearance and dress to be the occasional subject of ridicule. He gave the impression of being a very serious and committed young man — but more an apologist for his father's party and policies. He didn't play a very prominent role." (2)
As Dobbin says, both father and son "had become socially and politically isolated from the changing mainstream of Canadian society." And when they wrote Political Realignment in 1967, it was actually a blueprint for the past.

This kind of semi-isolation, also impacted the views of Stephen Harper. Growing up in what his biographer, William Johnson, referred to as the "quintessential WASP middle-class suburb."  His childhood was spent with mostly white middle-class protestants, in a pre-designed community with little "through traffic".  It must have been quite a culture shock when he arrived at the University of Toronto, a multiculturalist delight.

He lasted two months.


When running as a Social Credit candidate, Preston Manning came to know David Wilson, a former fundraiser and strategist for the Social Credit party. Wilson had just been named director of a newly formed group, known as the National Public Affairs Research Foundation (NPARF), and hired young Manning as a 'policy researcher.'

According to Alf Hooke, Ernest Manning had been approached on several occasions, by a group of wealthy individuals, to establish a new conservative party in Canada, based on the principles of the Conservative movement in the United States. Instead Manning suggested that they simply take over Canada's Tory party, in the same way that the U.S. conservatives had taken over the Republican Party. In his book Political Realignment, which was a blueprint for what Manning called 'social conservatism', he states:
"... in the national field, the Social Credit party can make its maximum contribution to the furthering of its own ideals and principles and more importantly to the well being of the country as a whole, by doing everything within its power to encourage and assist in bringing about an effective reorganization of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Social Credit supporters, however, must insist that reorganization occur on a basis which will enable them, without sacrificing their convictions, to join with and support such a reconstructed national political movement." (3)
NPARF* would fund the creation of the new policy direction. Columnist Don Sellar in the Calgary Herald on 21 July 1967, described the NPARF as "a somewhat secretive, staunchly right-wing, lobby group funded by several prominent businessmen, including R.A. Brown, president of Home Oil, Cyrus McLean, chairman of B.C. Telephone, Renault St Laurent, lawyer and son of the former prime minister, Ronald Clarke, an Edmonton architect, R.J. Burns, a Calgary lawyer, and A.M. Shoults, president of James Lovick Ltd. of Toronto, all of whom were close friends of the elder Manning." (6)

Preston Manning had become a fan of John Wesley (1703-1791), who had led the Methodists to 'Christian Perfection', tackling many social issues of the day. Those driving the social conservative agenda were concerned that Tommy Douglas, a follower of the social gospel, would lead many Christians into his fold, so they needed to have policy worded in such a way, that it appeared to be a holy endeavour.

Young Manning, a master of calculated ambiguity, drafted policy that looked liked FDR's New Deal, but smelled like a corporate takeover of vital social services.

His star was rising.

The Young Turks or "Whiz Kids"

Besides attempting a national takeover of the PC Party, Manning was also given the task of uniting the aging Social Credit Party of Alberta with the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, under its new leader, Peter Lougheed. Erick Schmidt, another young man employed by NPARF, and Preston Manning, met with Lougheed's group, represented by Joe Clark and Merv Leitch (later energy minister in the Lougheed cabinet), on several occasions, "and eventually produced a draft plan for amalgamating the two parties under the banner of the Social Conservative party. The idea was quickly rejected, however, by officials both within the Manning government and the Lougheed camp." (6)

Undaunted, Preston and his friend Erick Schmidt, attended the 1967 national Conservative leadership Convention, to present their plans, and even put forward the idea of Ernest Manning as the leader of a new merged party.

However, Ernest Manning had over estimated his importance, and the idea was soundly rejected. Besides, with Stanfield being named the new leader, beating out Diefenbaker 271 votes to 519 on the first ballot (7), they knew the time wasn't right. Robert Stanfield was a Red Tory and the Mannings hated Red Tories as much as they hated Liberals. When Stephen Harper joined the movement decades later, he would call Red Tories 'Pink Liberals' and set about eradicating them from his Reform-Alliance caucus.

Preston Manning's young activists, known as the "Whiz Kids" or "Young Turks", may have failed in the 1960s to bring about the Republican style conservative party they were mandated to create, but he never lost hope.

He would just have to wait for that big wave of anger.


Many believe that the National Citizens Coalition was a spin-off of NPARF, though former president, David Somerville denied it.  However, given that Ernest Manning was an advisor to the NCC, the two share many of the same ideals. (8)


1. 30+5 I know, I was There, A first-hand account of the workings and history of the Social Credit Government in Alberta, Canada 1935-68, by Alfred J Hooke, Douglas Social Credit Secretariat

2. Texas of the North, Time Magazine, September 24, 1951

3. ibid

4. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing 1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, p. 21-22

5. Political Realignment: Challenge to Thoughtful Canadians, By Hon, E. C. Manning, McClelland & Stewart Limited, 1967, Kingston Public Library call no. 320.971 M31

6. Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada, By Trevor Harrison, University of Toronto Press, 1995. ISBN: 0-8020-7204-6, p. 33-38

7. Flora MacDonald, By Alvin Armstrong, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1976, ISBN: 0-460-91698-X. p. 102-104

8. Storming Babylon: Preston Manning and the Rise of the Reform Party, By Sydney Sharpe & Don Braid, Key Porter, 1992, ISBN: 1550134124, p. 65 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

From Bad Boys to Worse Men

******************** Still to Edit ***********************

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole my Country

In the early 1980's, a grade thirteen student from Etobicoke, while at home on Christmas break, was listening to the radio, tuned into the upstart Toronto station: CKEY. On that day, the guest on their popular talk show was right-wing journalist Peter Worthington.

Listening to the exchange, this young man found that he could identify with Worthington, one of the staunchest critics of then Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

So he called into the station and on air suggested that the Liberals had turned into socialists, to which Worthington replied: "That young man speaks for millions of Canadians." (1) According to John Ibbitson it was at that moment when Guy Giorno's political thought took a sharp right turn. (2)

However, I think that may have oversimplified things. Though his father had been a delegate at the Liberal convention that named Trudeau as leader, Guy was probably drifting to the right before this.
"I had become increasingly disenchanted with Trudeau's arrogance. At the time the Liberals had railroaded metric down our throats, and I wondered what next? In the summer between grade twelve and thirteen, I had won a four day holiday at Camp Enterprise, a pro-business initiative sponsored by the Rotary Club. Up until then I had bought the Liberal idea that big business is bad. My attitude was starting to change." (1)
According to the Camp Enterprise literature, they " ... believe in the private enterprise system as a critical element of strength in the broadest, soundest governmental structure yet developed by man. It is on this foundation that Camp Enterprise was founded ..."

This now right-wing ideologically driven young man would go on to attend St. Michael's College, where according to Ted Schmidt, his name was bandied about, as a contributor to the right-wing Catholic Digest: "... a veritable house organ for the then Cardinal Carter*, mixed as it was with Cold War politics, slavish pro-Rome obeisance and one-note social activism - the anti-abortion movement." (1)
Reading Giorno's neo-con rants I used to wince - 'Nelson Mandela was espousing violence, unions have too much power, doctors should have the right to double bill', the list goes on. "How could they give a guy like this space in a Catholic paper?" I remember thinking ... [now] Giorno is one of the most powerful insiders in the Ontario Tory government. (1)
That was written in 1997. Schmidt continues:
Most Ontarians have never heard Giorno's name, but every one's life is going to be irrevocably changed by what he has in his head. Slowly, journalists are twigging to his favoured place in the Tory Constellation. (1)
In fact many in Queen's Park, though they knew of him and his unprecedented power, could not have picked him out in a crowd.
Guy Giorno himself continued to play a crucial role as policy director of strategic planning. Viewed by ministerial aides as a "true believer" who toiled at the centre of the web, he could be rigidly inflexible if departmental initiatives failed to conform to his expectations ... After three years at Queen's Park, the man ... described as the "intellectual heart" of the Harris government was still unknown to many**, including Liberal House Leader Jim Bradley, who allegedly asked to have him pointed out at a Queen's Park Christmas reception. (3)
And with Giorno's ideology and power, came an authoritarianism that was quite alien to what was supposed to be a democratic government. And every one's life is still being irrevocably changed "... by what he has in his head."

Another Young Head Gets Filled

The notion that Guy Giorno or Stephen Harper could have been thought of as "bad boys", would no doubt make their former classmates laugh out loud.

But it was not booze, drugs or rock and roll that directed their fall from society, but hard right politics. Introduced to William F. Buckley by his friend John Weissenberger, Harper's neo-Liberal views began to form while a student at the University of Calgary.

He was already a member of the National Citizens Coalition, when Preston Manning, with a lot of corporate money, set out to start the Reform Party. And at the opening assembly, the powers that be, arranged for Harper and his friend Weissenberger, to sit at a table with David Somerville, then president of the National Citizens Coalition.

The NCC was started by Colin Brown to fight against Tommy Douglas and Medicare. Initially Brown only placed full page ads in major newspapers, condemning public health care until he read a little book, called Political Realignment, written in 1967 by Ernest Manning, with the help of his son Preston. Brown immediately arranged to meet the Mannings and it was Ernest who encouraged him, instead of just paying for ads which could be forgotten, to instead set up a non-profit "free enterprise" advocacy group.

Ernest Manning also opposed Tommy Douglas, stating that "Giving to the individual societal benefits such as free medical care ... breeds idleness... causing a break down in his relationship with God ... where the state imposed a monopoly on a service ... the sinful philosophy of state collectivism scored a victory." (4)

Brown hand picked David Somerville, who was a columnist with the Toronto Sun, when Peter Worthington, the man who made Giorno "see the light" (by pushing him into the darkness), was editor.

However, the National Citizens Coalition was only a stepping stone for Harper. It was another group that he became involved with, that was far more disturbing.

The Northern Foundation:

"... the Northern Foundation was the creation of a number of generally extreme right-wing conservatives, including Anne Hartmann (a director of REAL Women), ... author Peter Brimelow, Link Byfield (son of Ted Byfield and himself publisher/president of Alberta Report), and Stephen Harper." (5)

"‘The Northern Foundation was established in 1989, originally as a pro-South Africa group . . . lists among the founding members of the Foundation both William Gairdner and Stephen Harper ... " (6)
Their first order of business was to fight for the continuation of apartheid in South Africa, but they took up many causes of the right-wing movement, including the fight against gay rights.

The foundation's magazine carries a half-page ad in every issue for The Phoenix, a pro-white South Africa magazine, and regularly solicits support from members on special causes, from property rights to English language rights. Attacks on homosexuals and homosexual rights are frequent, including a call in the Winter, 1990 edition for "No Special Privileges for Homosexuals," which carried a special financial appeal for the fight against "tax dollars going to homosexual activists."

In its Spring, 1991 edition, it lists "thinkers and activists who are working for freedom." Among them are: David Somerville, of the NCC; Judy Anderson, of REAL Women; Ted Byfield; Link Byfield; Richard Pearman, who led the fight to have Sault Ste. Marie city council declare the city "English only"; Kenneth Hilborn of the NCC and pro-South Africa groups; columnist Barbara Amiel (
Conrad Black's wife); and Michael Walker of the Fraser Institute. (6)
According to Dr. Debra Chin in the Canadian National Newspaper, "Toronto: Sun columnist Peter Worthington [has] been affiliated with the Northern Foundation." She also states that:

Corporate mass-media owners would seek to remake Mr. Harper and the Conservative Party from being ultra right, into a fabricated image of a non-threatening "moderately conservative" party ... “He [Mr. Harper] had little trouble doing so, as the media had been largely muffled by one fact: press baron Conrad Black, then reaching the height of his powers was also a member of the Northern Foundation and equally shy about having it publicly known ... Journalists feared incurring his wrath as he employed many of them at the time, and was a potential employer for those whom he didn’t employ. Had they made the membership list public, Mr. Black would have been exposed." (7)

Now apparently, according to Stephen Harper, he was kicked out of the group for not being right-wing enough and would refer to them as "Quasi-Fascists". (8) Fair enough.

However, I'm not sure that I believe him, and I'll tell you why in two words:

Civitas Society:

According to their own website:

Founding President: William Gairdner

Other Past Presidents: Tom Flanagan, William Robson, and Lorne Gunter

Founding Directors: Janet Ajzenstat, Ted Byfield, Michel Coren, Jacques Dufresne, Tom Flanagan, David Frum, William Gairdner, Jason Kenney, Gwen Landolt, Ezra Levant, Tom Long, Mark Magner, William Robson, David E. Somerville, Michael Walker

Let's break it down a bit:

William Gairdner - was a founding member of the Northern Foundation

Tom Flanagan - was the Man Behind Stephen Harper

Lorne Gunter - was with Ted Byfield's Alberta Report that helped to launch the Reform Party

Ted Byfield - helped to found the Reform Party and was the father of Link Byfield, a founding member of the Northern Foundation

Michael Coren - Is a notorious homophobe. Quotes of Coren's include: "While everything human must be done to find a cure for this plague [Aids], it is hard to deny that the majority of sufferers in North America contracted the disease through perverse sex ... Nobody cared very much about these men and women before AIDS was brought to North America and, frankly, nobody cares very much now."

David Frum - former George Bush speech writer who coined the term "axis of evil". He was also behind uniting the right and is a longtime associate of Jason Kenney and Stockwell Day. His sister Linda was one of Harper's patronage senate appointments and his father-in-law is Peter Worthington.

Gwen Landolt - is the president of REAL Women of Canada, and spoke regularly at Northern Foundation functions.

Tom Long - was a member of the Mike Harris government and one of the authors of the horrible Common Sense Revolution. He was also a member of what was referred to as the "Little Shits", along with Guy Giorno, Deb Hutton (Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak's wife) and Tony Clement. (1)

Mark Magner - was a member of the Canadian Alliance National Council, (The Alliance Party of Canada board) that included Jason Kenney and Stockwell Day.

David Somerville - Ex-president of the National Citizens Coalition.

Guy Giorno is also a member and in 2003 at their national conference, gave a presentation entitled "Transplanting Provincial Successes to Ottawa".

They are almost the same group as the original Northern Foundation. And if Stephen Harper wasn't right-wing enough for them, why did they invite Republican Pollster Frank Lutz, to instruct him on how to win a majority? And why is he a regular speaker at their "private" functions?

Now personally I don't care who belonged to what group. What I do care about is the fact that Guy Girono and Stephen Harper, were both indoctrinated when young into the neoconservative philosophy, which Harper himself described as "quasi-fascism', and are running this country with the help of the Civitas Society, the "new" vanguard group of the extreme right.
Guy Giorno-- or Double G, as he's known in government circles -- is probably the most powerful man you've never heard of. The 44-year-old former lawyer is the Prime Minister's [Stephen Harper's] chief of staff, a position he also used to fill for former Ontario premier Mike Harris. He is closer to the Prime Minister than any other individual in government and his counsel is sought on decisions that affect millions of people and billions of dollars. (10)
Both men are driven by pure ideology. And as warned by Ted Schmidt in 1998, when speaking of Guy Giorno: "... every one's life is going to be irrevocably changed by what he has in his head." (1)

This is not your parent's Conservative Party. Harper has already suggested at the G20 that nations must adopt a neo-Liberal (neoconservative) platform. When speaking at the Reform Party assembly in 1991 he stated that Canada should drop the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, and had no business providing what was then called unemployment insurance (now EI). He also told the NCC that "It's high time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act."

He bailed out our banks to the tune of 200 billion dollars so that they could provide their execs with an 8 billion dollar bonus. This is the party of big business, while the rest of us just get in their way.

I for one am not ready to be "irrevocably changed" by what is in their heads. Are you?


*Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter (1912-2003) was a key player in the pro-life movement during the Trudeau years when the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was being drafted.

**"When Guy Giorno, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, made a rare public appearance recently to testify before a House committee looking into government secrecy, even some veteran Parliament Hill news photographers needed to have him pointed out so they would know which way to aim their lenses."(6)


1. The Man Behind Mike, by Ted Schmidt, NOW Magazine, January 8-14, 1998

2. Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution, By John Ibbitson, Prentice Hall, 1997, ISBN: 0136738648, Pg. 76

3. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 170

4. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin, Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, Pg. 9

5. Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada, By Trevor Harrison, University of Toronto Press, 1995, ISBN: 0-8020-7204-6, Pg. 121

6. Dobbin, 1992, Pg. 100-101

7. Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper demonstrates continued ultra right wing affiliations by blocking pro social justice Toronto candidate, by Dr. Debra Chin, Canadian National

8. Jeffrey, 1999, Pg. 430

9. Judging Giorno, By John Ivison, National Post, February 20, 2010

10. Guy Giorno: national man of mystery, by John Geddes, MacLeans, May 31, 2010

Tory Youth and Right-Wing Politics

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole my Country

When Anthony Panayi entered the University of Toronto, he had reinvented himself as Tony Clement, and was ready to inflict his Reagan/Thatcher adoration on the University's Tory Youth.

What he lacked in physical stature, he made up for with enthusiasm, and through aggressive marketing and the help of cohorts, he accomplished his goal, building up the campus Tories to almost 500 members.

With strength in numbers they were ready to take on the world of federal politics, and the timing couldn't be better.

Brian Mulroney was in the process of trying to reinvent himself as a man of the people. During the 1976 leadership convention, he had aligned himself with people like Conrad Black and Paul Desmaris of the Power Corporation, running a glitzy, in your face, campaign. His opposition was able to paint him as an "elitist" and he lost the race as a result.

But by 1983, he had learned his lesson, and gone were the Cadillacs and lavish posters. He was going to be a man of the people, opting to travel around in an old Plymouth, fly economy, and dress down his campaign office.

His campaign manager, Peter White, also saw the potential in veering away from the progressive side of the party and tapping into the vote rich right-wing. So Mulroney's rhetoric had already changed to reflect things like lower taxes, balanced budgets and a free market economy.(1)

But White had also discovered a gold mine in a group of neoconservative youth from the University of Toronto, led by Anthony Panayi Clement.

The campus radicals were also instrumental in the defeat of federal Conservative leader Joe Clark by corporate lawyer Brian Mulroney. "In 1981 to '83 there was a guerrilla campaign against the leadership of Joe Clark orchestrated by Brian Mulroney and the people who backed Mulroney," says Campbell. "In Ontario, the PC campus and youth associations were all hotbeds of anti-Clark activity and we were all on the anti-Clark side." The success of the right young Tories in helping force a leadership convention and in electing Mulroney over Clark strengthened their confidence. (2)
The Young Conservatives had also claimed a victory in 1982, at the Ontario Policy Convention.

They had been upset with the expansion of the Ontario Human Rights Code, under premier William Davis, seeing it as an intrusion of the state. So, led by Tom Long, who had cut his political teeth campaigning for Ronald Reagan (3), "... the young Tories tried to force a debate on the issue at a party policy convention. The senior guard warned the young rebels to tone it down; policy conventions were no place to debate policy. But the campaign continued, and faced with the prospect of an ugly public fight, the leadership compromised. Representatives of the youth wing were allowed to help draft the wording of the final resolution on amending the code at the convention. "It wasn't perfect," says Clement, "but it was something we could live with." (2)

But their work for Brian Mulroney would turn out to be perfect, as he had a landslide victory in 1984, winning the largest majority government in Canadian history.

Another Young Conservative Goes to Ottawa

At the time there was another Young Conservative who was helping to boost the fortunes of Brian Mulroney. Then going by the name Steve, he and his girlfriend, Cynthia Williams, volunteered in the offices of Jim Hawkes, Progressive Conservative MP for Calgary West.

Already a member of the National Citizens Coalition, he too had begun to adopt radical right-wing views and a zeal to see them put into practice.
"At the [town hall] meeting they were among the few young people in attendance ... Steve in particular was disgusted with the Liberal government ... My recall is that he did not know very much about the organized political party aspect of politics ... he had concerns about the policy part of politics. They [Steve and Cynthia] joined the association. Then the next thing I knew, they were working within my riding association as volunteers, and members of the executive." (4)
Harper and his girlfriend would help out with Jim Hawke's campaign and recruited many young members from the University of Calgary, where he was studying economics. One of those was a young man named John Weissenberger, who introduced him to the neo-conservative policies of William F. Buckley.

When Harper joined Jim Hawkes in Ottawa as his legislative assistant, Weissenberger looked after things on the local front. However, after working with Hawkes on UI reform (UI, Unemployment Insurance was the forerunner to EI), that never materialized, he became disillusioned and returned to school in Calgary. In a later speech at the founding of the Reform Party, Harper would call for end to "... government financial involvement in the unemployment insurance system..." (5)

But this would not mean the end of politics for Steve Harper. After leaving Jim Hawke's office in 1986, he enrolled in the University of Calgary's master's program, and came to the attention of Robert Mansell with the school of economics. Mansell had been an opponent of Pierre Trudeau's National Energy Program, and saw in young Steve, an ally. So he encourage him to come to an assembly where there was going to be the discussion of creating a new national party, centred in the West, that would be dedicated to advancing western policies.

The keynote speaker was a man by the name of Preston Manning. After they met, Steve caught the bug and began to ...
... network with some of the conservative think-tanks, such as the National Citizens Coalition and the Fraser Institute, trying to mobilize some of the conservative resources, and also helped to establish a right-wing organization, the Northern Foundation." (6)

The wheels were in motion for a right-wing revolution.

Tony Panyi Continued: A Shake Up in the Legislature


1. Mulroney: The Politics of Ambition, By John Sawatsky, MacFarlane, Walter & Ross, 1991, ISBN: 0-921912-06-04, Pg. 471-472

2. Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution, By John Ibbitson, 1997, ISBN: 0136738648, Pg. 33

3. Tom Long: Dead wrong for PCs: CCRAP hopeful "Callow, shallow, glib", By Scott Piatkowski, Winnipeg Free Press, 2000

4. Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada, by William Johnson, McClelland & Stewart, 2005, ISBN 0-7710 4350-3, 2005, Pg. 14

5. Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada, By Trevor Harrison, University of Toronto Press, 1995, ISBN: 0-8020-7204-6 3, Pg. 116

6. Harrison, 1995, Pg. 110

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Invisible Hand of the National Citizens Coalition

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

Ernest Manning always had a fear that Communism would take hold in Canada, and declared war on the perceived evils, with as much determination as the Social Credit had taken up the fight against banks and the notion of a Jewish conspiracy.

It consumed him, and he often spoke of the need to intensify a right-wing front against an attack from the left.

Because of this, a group of people from the corporate world, seeing an ally, approached Manning about creating just such a party. According to one of his cabinet minsters, Alfe Hooke:

"On at least two occasions Mr. Manning told me in his office that he had been approached by several very influential and wealthy Canadians and that they wanted him to head up a party of the right with a view to preventing the onslaught of socialism these men could see developing in Canada. They had apparently indicated to him that money was no object and they were prepared to spend any amount of money to stop the socialist tide ... "Mr. Manning indicated to me that he was also working on a book which he would hope to publish ... In which he would endeavour to outline the views these men represented and recommendations he would make in keeping with their views." (1)

The book he was referring to, was written with Preston, and called Political Realignment. It became the framework for a party of the right-wing, that would be based on pure ideology and the 'will of God'. It spoke of individual freedoms, and the need for a two party system, with clearly laid out and completely opposite, ideologies. Only then would Canadians be given a clear choice at election time. (2)
"The Mannings' free-market ideology was not rooted in any expressed community sentiment or shared vision: it was inspired by an imagined threat of a left-wing conspiracy and supported almost exclusively by corporate interests whose principal goal was less government interference. Their aspiration to govern was not driven by new ideas about how government could be more responsive to its citizens but by a negative view of government; a vision of dismantling government, not reforming it." (3)
The Mannings' little book also caught the attention of another wealthy Canadian, Colin Brown. Brown had read Political Realignment and arranged a meeting with the Mannings. They soon learned that they had a shared enemy: Tommy Douglas.

When Douglas was pushing for free health care, Manning stated that; "Giving to the individual societal benefits such as free medical care ... breeds idleness... causing a break down in his relationship with God ... where the state imposed a monopoly on a service ... the sinful philosophy of state collectivism scored a victory." (4)

Fortunately for Canadians, not everyone saw it that way, and with the collective efforts of Tommy Douglas, John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson, Canadians were given Medicare in 1966. As founder of London Life, Colin Brown saw this as a direct threat on his business, and took out full page ads to denounce such a measure.

However, what Ernest Manning suggested was something more permanent. Why not establish an organization that could draw in financial support from the corporate world, and act as an advocacy group that would stop the spread of government intervention into 'socialist schemes'. Hence, the National Citizens Coalition* was born, and Ernest would be given a position on their advisory board.
"The connections between the National Citizens Coalition and the Reform party go back a long way. Their political agendas are virtually identical: deficit reduction, restriction of immigration, ending universal social programs, lowering taxes for corporations and high-income earners, and ending national medicare. Colin Brown, the founder of the NCC, began his conservative crusade in 1967with a full page ad in the Globe and Mail, attacking the federal Liberal government's plan for a national medicare scheme.

"At the same time, Ernest Manning and his son were launching Ernest's book, Political Realignment, calling for a social conservative party. According to Norm Ovenden of the Edmonton Journal, Ernest was one of the 'moving forces behind the creation of the NCC ..." (5)
However, despite the fact that they now had a behind the scenes corporate network that would solicit funds and act as a 'grassroots' voice for change, Manning still felt that the idea of a new party was a bit too risky. So instead, he suggested merging the current conservative party with his social credit, thereby establishing a single right-wing offense.

So he showed up at the conservative national convention, hoping to use his influence to create such a merger, but he had overestimated his importance. The people who knew him, knew exactly what the Social Credit Party stood for and wanted none of it. Besides, Robert Stanfield had been named the new federal Conservative leader, and Stanfield was a Red Tory! Just one step away from a communist in Manning's mind.

His next strategy was to have his best man, Robert Thompson, run as a PC for the next election, hoping to influence the Conservative party from the inside. Thompson won, but was unable to do much to sell social credit, even though Manning had just been named senator.

So they put the idea on the back burner, and waited for the next wave.


*Stephen Harper would join the NCC in 1980, just as they were launching their anti 'Boat People' campaign. He said he liked what they stood for. He would later go on to become their vice-president and then president. In 2004, he was awarded their 'Medal of Freedom', which means freedom from government interference. The medal is given each year to the person who has best been able to tear down Canada's social safety net. The holy grail is scrapping the Canada Health Act.(6)


1. 30+5 I know, I was There, A first-hand account of the workings and history of the Social Credit Government in Alberta, Canada 1935-68, by Alfred J Hooke, Douglas Social Credit Secretariat.

2. Political Realignment: Challenge to Thoughtful Canadians, By Hon, E. C. Manning, McClelland & Stewart Limited, 1967, Kingston Public Library call no. 320.971 M31

3. Preston Manning and the Reform Party. Author: Murray Dobbin Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing 1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, Pg. 66

4. Dobbin, 1992, Pg. 9

5. Dobbin, 1992, Pg. 95

6. The National Citizens' Coalition loves you - ha! ha! ha!, 35 years of fighting for fat cats while posing as ordinary citizens, NUPGE: November 8, 2002

Adam Smith and the State-Corporate Complex

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

In a videotaped address to the crowd at the Fraser Institute's 30th-anniversary celebration, Stephen Harper showed off his $45 Fraser Institute silk Adam Smith tie, and confirmed he was a big fan of the institute.  In fact, he is such a fan, that he often plucks staff and candidates directly from the conservative think-tank.

The Fraser also had reason to show their appreciation to the prime minister.  Buried in his first budget, was a provision to exempt tax donations of stock to charity, from capital gains. (1)  Believe it or not, the Fraser is a registered charity, as are most of the think-tanks and Astro turf groups working in the shadows of the Conservative Movement.  This new exemption means that the donor pays only 40 percent of the dollars they donate. Taxpayers pick up the rest.

Wall Street uses the same tactics when negotiating salaries for their executives, keeping below any board restrictions, by offering stock instead of salary as part of their remuneration.

The father of modern economics and capitalism, Adam Smith is the patron saint of neoconservatives and his Wealth of Nations, the Bible for the "religion of market knows best".

The Sovereignty of the Consumer

Adam Smith (1723-1790) created the philosophy of the sovereignty of the consumer, believing that the butcher and baker needed no central planning to engage in commerce, since consumers set the price.  In many ways that is true, however, many of the government regulations that are anathema to neoconservatives, came about because the business world sought the government's help in protecting their investments.

Trade marks, copyrights, grants for expansion or research, employee training.  All paid for from the public purse.  Other things like public education and healthcare, also benefit companies by providing an intelligent and healthy labour force.

A perfect example of this, though there are many, is the case of Knott's Berry Farm.

In 1932, the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry, received a letter reporting a rumor of a new berry being developed by a Mr. Boysen of Orange County, California.  Using taxpayer money, representatives of the Department of Agriculture, made their way to California, to investigate the possibility of a new product for their growers.

They met with Mr. Rudolph Boysen, then working as a park superintendent in Anaheim, who confirmed that he had indeed been experimenting with a hybrid: the cross between a raspberry, loganberry and blackberry, but was having difficulty with the cultivation.

Intrigued, Walter Knott, whose family sold berries, berry preserves and pies from a roadside stand, asked if he could tag along, when the men made the visit to Boysen's farm.  The abandoned vines were found in the weeds, and since Boysen no longer had any interest in the pursuit, he gave Knott permission to try to cultivate the berry for profit.  He did, made a fortune, and opened his Knott's Berry Farm theme park, which had it not been for the taxpayer funded Department of Agriculture, would have never existed.

Yet Knott added a "Freedom Center" to the grounds, where a former college president and a former minister, toiled full-time spreading the free-market gospel. Knott called it the "One Man's Crusade for Everybody's Freedom." (2) He became a staunch supporter of Barry Goldwater, who was preaching a similar sermon.

Goldwater, the multi-millionaire, who also reaped benefits from taxpayer funded programs, that helped to develop Arizona, and provide consumers for his family's department store chain.

They just don't get it.  "Self -made" men and women, rarely succeed without the "invisible hand" of government and taxpayers.

Actors like Michael Cain and Bruce Willis, are now bemoaning the amount of income tax they pay on their enormous salaries.  But would they get those kind of movie deals without taxpayers protecting them against pirating?  What if there were no government regulations in place, that forbid us from simply copying the film and selling it at a roadside stand?

Consumers determine the price but "big government" tells consumers where they can purchase their ticket or video of the movie.

Masters of Mankind

Did you ever wonder why headlines of a weak economy, run concurrently with headlines of strong profits, often "record profits"?  High unemployment and "record profits"?  Runaway deficit and "record profits"?

It is part of Adam Smith's warning against "the vile maxim of the masters of mankind".  In his day they were the  "merchants and manufacturers," who were the "principal architects" of state policy, using their power to bring "dreadful misfortunes" to the vast realms they subjugated.

Smith was then referring to imperialism and colonialism, especially in India, but today those being subjugated are the 99% of taxpayers propping up the fortunes of the top 1%.  The neoconservatives love to refer to Western nations an "nanny states" because of "generous" social programs, but the current nanny state rocks the cradles of the corporate elite.  Our growth is being stunted because corporations are getting all of the nourishment.

Noam Chomsky refers to this as the state-corporate complex and he says:  "Today the masters of mankind are multinational corporations and financial institutions, but the lesson still applies and it helps explain why the state-corporate complex is indeed a threat to freedom"  (3) and in fact threaten our very survival by not allowing governments to fight against climate change because it could affect their profits.  Even war is now a form of corporate welfare, as it has become so profitable that the corporate sector will never allow peace, especially in the Middle East. 

The most recent economic crisis that has allowed governments to table "austerity" budgets, was created by the state-corporate complex.  The crash was the result of deregulation that allowed Wall Street to gamble with our financial future, yet when the whole thing came tumbling down, the perpetrators were rewarded with taxpayer funded bailouts, while the victims of the crime continue to suffer.

Expect policy to be even further geared toward helping the wealthiest citizens.  On January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government may not ban corporations from political spending on elections.  The New York Times said that the ruling “strikes at the heart of democracy” by having “paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.”

It wasn't enough that corporate executives and lobbyists had been moved into the halls of power.  They can now legally buy politicians.

In 2004, in a Supreme Court case fittingly named Harper vs Canada, Stephen Harper challenged the restrictions on third party advertising.  In fact, in 1993, the National Citizens Coalition donated $50,000 to his campaign in Calgary West, on a promise that he would put an end to what they called "gag laws". (4)

The first step toward that accomplishment since being named prime minister, was ending the voter subsidies.  These were put in place by Jean Chretien, to replace corporate donations, making for a fairer system.  It meant less than $2.00 being given to the party of your choice, as reward for upholding our democracy by getting out to vote.

We can expect this term, Harper will make sure that corporations can again buy political favours, and given that the NDP will have trouble getting corporate sponsorship, it will be attempt to create a one-party system.  Another reason why we must rebuild the middle.

The Sovereignty of the Nation

The Fraser Institute is not the only conservative think-tank espousing the theories of Adam Smith.  Many others share the adoration, forgetting that Smith also claimed that "No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable."

One of those think tanks is the Montreal Institute, once headed up by Conservative MP Maxime Bernier.  In a speech he gave just before stepping down to run for the Conservative Party of Canada (Reform-Alliance), he said that "Individual sovereignty is what is important – not sovereignty of the state. Indeed, the sovereign state is, by its very nature, a steam-roller of the individual ... " (5)

And from the Globe and Mail in 2006:
... since being named to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet in February, the rookie 43-year-old MP from Quebec's rural Beauce riding has demonstrated a stern resolve to get government out of the way of business. It is a perhaps an unusual stance for an industry minister.  The holder of that post is commonly seen as the champion of government programs aimed at helping Canadian companies compete with global titans and foster innovation at home. (6)
He would also ask of the interviewer, who expressed concern with foreign takeovers of Canadian companies, especially in the area of telecommunications:  "With economic globalization, is nationality important?", and claimed  "That is the question I'm asking myself now regarding telecommunications."

Stephen Harper shares Bernier's beliefs.  At the G-20 summit in Canada, he claimed that there was no longer any such thing as a Canadian economy, only a global economy. And yet during the last election campaign he said that all party leaders should be focusing on the Canadian economy, and suggested that he alone could preserve it.  In other words, he is the best to handle something that he himself claims not to exist.

At the same summit, when speaking of surrendering our economy to global interests, he said "I know some people don't like it.  It is a loss of national sovereignty."

David Ricardo (1772-1823), another leading founder of modern economics, worried about loss of sovereignty in a global market, hoping that “men of property [would] be satisfied with the low rate of profits in their own country rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations. These are feelings that I would be sorry to see weakened.”  Even Adam Smith said that "if business turned abroad, England would suffer."

Politicians and captains of interest are losing their commitment to their own countries, in their bid to maximise profits.  They will do nothing to address climate change, despite the fact that it will have a devastating impact on their own children and grandchildren.  They are not stupid, but instead have allowed greed to come before anything and everything else.


1.  Harperstein, By Donald Gutstein,, July 6, 2006

2. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, By Rick Perlstein, Nation Books, 2001, ISBN: 0-8090-2858-1, p. 127-128

3. The State-Corporate Complex: A Threat to Freedom and Survival, Noam Chomsky, Text of lecture given at the University of Toronto, April 7, 2011

4. Loyal to the Core: Stephen Harper Me and the NCC, By: Gerry Nicholls, Freedom Press, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-9732757-8-0

5.  The Growth of Government in the 20th Century and the importance of debating ideas, By Maxime Bernier, Bishop’s University, December 3, 2005

6. How Far Will This Free Marketeer Go:  Telecom sector is Bernier's next target for reform? By Konrad Yakabuski, Globe and Mail, September 26, 2006