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VIBERT: Freedom rings from Tory halls

Jim Vibert
Jim Vibert - SaltWire Network

Apparently, some Canadian Conservatives are sick and tired of apologizing for being conservative.

It’s unclear exactly why they feel the need to do that, but the man who made the popular declaration at the party’s Halifax convention over the weekend was adamant that he intends to stop. Good on him.

It was suggested here last week that Conservatives are hard to define. The convention offered some hints to help with that.

For example, Conservatives don’t ban stuff (like pornography) because they don’t like it, and on the same topic, they are certain that the state has no business looking at their browser histories. That sounds right.

“Big government should stay the hell out of people’s lives,” was a sentiment much appreciated by Conservatives, although an invitation to “go join the NDP... if you want a party that discriminates based on income,” wasn’t as well received, perhaps because it came during debate on a motion to offer senior citizens a break on the cost of future conventions. The motion was defeated.

The last big national Conservative get-together before next year’s election was an eye-opening – and occasionally, eye-popping – three days of freedom. Free trade, free speech, free enterprise, free association, freedom of thought and religion in a free society, where resources flow freely across the land and provinces are free to fight climate change, or not.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer warmed to the theme in his keynote speech.

“We are not strong and free because we are diverse, we are diverse because we are strong and free,” said Scheer, recasting the age-old chicken-or-egg question.

There were times during the Halifax event when one couldn’t help but ponder why these people want so badly to be the government, when they seem to thoroughly dislike government.

The answer is self-evident: To make it smaller, less intrusive, and a whole lot less expensive.

Conservatives hate taxes almost as much as they love freedom.

And the tax they love to hate most is the Liberal government’s carbon tax, regardless of whether it’s a direct tax or disguised as cap and trade.

“We believe that there should be no federally imposed carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems on either the provinces or on the citizens of Canada. The provinces should be free to develop their own climate change policies, without federal interference or federal penalties or incentives,” stated a resolution that passed with ease.

The Conservatives believe they have a political winner in their opposition to the Liberals’ carbon tax plan, and that the issue that distinguishes them from “the other guys” is taxes.

Scheer understands his opposition to a carbon tax requires that Conservatives find a different answer to the greenhouse gas-climate change problem, and he’s landed on one.

“The best way to reduce global (CO2) emissions is not to shut down Canadian industry. It’s to grow it,” Scheer told delegates.

It seems that by making more aluminum, Canada can make a more meaningful contribution to the survival of the planet, despite the fact that producing one ton of aluminum also produces two tonnes of CO2.

But that’s only half the story.

In China, manufacturing a ton of aluminum produces 17 tons of CO2, ergo, making the stuff here is a win for the environment – a logical leap of Olympian proportions.

Policy resolutions adopted by the party are not binding on the leader and caucus and will not necessarily become part of the Conservatives’ election platform in the fall of 2019, but it’s a safe bet that a prime plank in that platform will be to axe whatever carbon tax is in place or pending near you.

The extension of an oil pipeline from Alberta to the East Coast, another popular policy resolution, is also likely to find its way into the Tory platform, over virulent opposition in Quebec, where Conservatives say they expect to make major gains in 2019.

That Quebec-based opposition helped convince the Trudeau government to kill the Energy East project that would have piped oil from Alberta to Saint John.

Delegates also passed a resolution that one of its advocates promoted as Canada sticking with “people who agree with us” in an outfit he called the “Anglosphere.” Time will tell how well that plays in la belle province.

Conservatives will no doubt revert to the more acceptable if less descriptive, ‘CANZUK,’ which stands for Canada-Australia-New Zealand-United Kingdom, sort of the cream of the old Empire, with notable exceptions.

Jim Vibert, a journalist and writer for longer than he cares to admit, consulted or worked for five Nova Scotia governments. He now keeps a close and critical eye on provincial and regional powers.

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