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Conservative Religious Office gets love letter from National Post

Sean in Ottawa
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Joined: Jun 3 2003

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/02/19/michael-den-tandt-harper-...

The following is what I posted on the National Post site in reply:

Nice propaganda puff piece. How about some real questions: Why ditch the Court Challenges program that cost $3 million dollars for this program that costs $5 million? Let's consider the differences between the programs. The Court Challenges program supported the protection of human rights for Canadians, cost just over half as much, could make a real difference in Canadian jurisdiction. It was also broadly based not only supporting religious freedoms but anti-racism and gender equity as well as other rights. It was equity seeking giving people who had a real claim access to the legal system even if they lacked the financial resources. The Religious office monitors human rights issues related only to religion globally doing what many other organizations around the world already do. On the ground it cannot do a single thing but serve a propaganda purpose as nobody seriously thinks that this office will be listened to outside Canada. But it is a good fit for a government that wants no domestic opposition and seeks to pander to various voting groups without doing anything real to support human rights. In the meantime the government has stated its intention to not let human rights get in the way of trade-- to engage constructively is the words they use, to make money is the objective But still a nicely done bit of propaganda from a friend of the government.


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Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Fuck Harper and whatever religions he seeks to protect. He will march people into concentration camps based on their religion or race when appropriate. If there were any opposition parties, they would condemn this instead of asking shitty questions like, "what about other human rights? Huh??". He is far smarter and more determined than they could ever be. The opposition to Harper will have to come from outside the halls of the privileged parliamentarians.

 


Boom Boom
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This new office is all about Harper pissing taxpayer money on his conservative base.


Slumberjack
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Unionist wrote:
Fuck Harper and whatever religions he seeks to protect. He will march people into concentration camps based on their religion or race when appropriate. If there were any opposition parties, they would condemn this instead of asking shitty questions like, "what about other human rights? Huh??". He is far smarter and more determined than they could ever be. The opposition to Harper will have to come from outside the halls of the privileged parliamentarians. 

Have to agree with everything here.  The last point is made more evident by the day, the arrogance of which is not to be overly complained about if privilege insists on continuing the way it has; as it undoubtedly will; because of the hope that everyone will finally understand.  The street is the opposition, and if it doesn't exist, then we have none.  The only thing I would add here is that traditional movements who see the street as a last resort shouldn't be too choosey at this point in what the street consists of, nor in the resolve of its respective elements.


lagatta
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It is really important to point out the shaky academic credentials of the fundie clown the Harpites found to chair this piece of shit.

It's not a proper college at all: http://scathinglywrongrightwingnutz.blogspot.ca/2013/02/acids-of-moderni... Dammit Janet has a lot of good dirt on the place: deBeauxOs lives in Ottawa. I'd never heard of the place.

We have to get this out to more mainstream media as well. I wonder if rabble's Karl on Parl is covering the story?

And how about freedom FROM religion?


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005
This isn't about religion. It's about preparing pretexts for invasion and war. Talking about religion or atheism or diversity in this connection is to walk into a not very well disguised trap.

lagatta
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Well, I think it is both. It is a religious-draped offensive, but it is also an electoral play to the Cons' fundie base. The latter have long thought Harper gave short shrift to "values" issues.


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

Slumberjack wrote:

The street is the opposition, and if it doesn't exist, then we have none.  The only thing I would add here is that traditional movements who see the street as a last resort shouldn't be too choosey at this point in what the street consists of, nor in the resolve of its respective elements.

That's funny. Didn't take too long to go off on this tangent, even if I don't get the connection.

And other than that, yes I agree - pretext for overseas interference, playing to his base. The fact that it is under foreign affairs is partucularly brazen. This is Harper trying to build an American right-style alternative reality. Anyone outside that constituency probably sees this for what it is.


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

6079_Smith_W wrote:
That's funny. Didn't take too long to go off on this tangent, even if I don't get the connection.

Begs the question of which one of us is being more consistent.


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

I'm not surprised SJ, it's just that it is a bit of a leap from the topic.


autoworker
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I'd feel less anxious if Harper wasn't also muzzling science.

Sean in Ottawa
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Joined: Jun 3 2003

I don't think this is a pretext for war-- they would not need this "office" for that.

I do think it is pandering to the religious right voters here.

I suspect this may be amnother backdoor offer to social conservatives-- it is a clear value judgement placing religious rights above gender rights and other human rights including LGBT-- It would not surprise me to see the existence of this office show up in a legal case regarding a showdown between LGBT rights and some religious bigot's idea of his right to withhold equal treatment for others. The existence of this office and its stated mandate is itself a strong statement of this government's priorities and government legislative priorities can be used in a court. Of course they cannot be used to override the Charter directly but where there is room to interpret there is a point here.

The religious right in Canada have not been successful directly in getting Harper to promote their agenda -- not because he doesn't want to so much as politically he realizes it is too risky. This on the other hand is something he can do that does not directly cause damage to him politically (those offended by this would not be people who were potential Conservative supporters).


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I don't think this is a pretext for war-- they would not need this "office" for that.

You don't think having this office actively defending some "religious" minority in Iran or Syria et al would be of any use to Harper?

Quote:
I do think it is pandering to the religious right voters here.

I have some questions about that, for anyone that has the information or cares to venture a response:

1. How numerous is this voting bloc?

2. Where is it (geographically)?

3. What religion(s) does it comprise?

4. What's the precise risk to Harper if he doesn't pander to this bloc? Will their votes go elsewhere? Will they start another "Reform" party? Will fundraising be less enthusiastic?

 


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

@ Sean

Then why foreign affairs? It may not be an immediate excuse for war, but I'd be greatly surprised if it did not ultimately play a role in some conflict.

 


Bacchus
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Joined: Dec 8 2003

Thats what I have always wondered Unionist.

 

If Harper ignores them, where would their votes go? It wouldnt get them anywhere with the NDP or the Bloc. The Liberals would be the same or less than they get now with Harper. So politically they are stuck with him. Anything else goes backwards for their aims.

 

And their numbers would have to be legion in every region to affect the election results overall or at a minimum be legion in a few regions where getting a specific seat could be the key to power

 

 


Boom Boom
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kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

This is a fundraising initiative.  The Conservative religious base is one of their most generous contribution bases and this is red meat for them.


Policywonk
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Joined: Feb 6 2005

kropotkin1951 wrote:

This is a fundraising initiative.  The Conservative religious base is one of their most generous contribution bases and this is red meat for them.

I think it's also intended to appeal to new immigrants, and not necessarily those that are Christians. If the point is human rights rather than politics then there are other ways to address these concerns which don't appeal to fundamentalists of whatever religious stripe and address other human rights issues at the same time. And of course the whole idea misses the point that attacks on religious freedom usually come from powerful religious interests or those aligned with them.


Sean in Ottawa
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Joined: Jun 3 2003

The Conservatives have declared that they want to replace the Liberals as the party for immigrants-- Jason Kenny has been working on this with taxpayer funded initiatives for years. This is a policy that can link this group to the Conservative Christian base.

How numerous is the Bloc-- very but it is not just about numbers but who. The Harper government also believes that many voters vote the way their parents do. Getting a chunk of new voters who could vote for them (as opposed to the alienated and seldom voting 18-24 crowd) makes sense. The objective is to replace the Liberals for all time as the natural governing party.

Where are they? They are in suburbs and some urban places the Cons need to have a majority. These are places with narrow margins and even a small movement can make the difference as these are the ridings typically won by only a couple percent.

The religions themselves don't matter-- the Cons are appealing to any conservative faith-based communities.

What they are talking about is moving a small number of votes in many tight ridings.

As an excuse for war an office like this is not needed. But connecting it to foreign affairs is one way to blunt the new directions in Canada's foreign policy: that we will trade with anyone no matter their human rights record. This is something to point to in the window when the Cons are concerned that some people will say they are selling out their principles. I think this is more about saying they have done something with countries like China than seeking to engage or be seen to engage Iran.

I think it will serve to please immigrant voters concerned that Canada take a position (without actually doing anything) but I agree with Kropotkin-- this will motivate some donors whose most important issue is the perception that the faithful are persecuted (Persecution is deeply intrenched in the Christian beliefs and quite motivating for some).

While the Cons certainly have a war fetish, and war affects a good proportion of what they do-- electoral politics are behind almost EVERYTHING they do. It is not a hard stretch to lay out the rationale that could drive this from a political point of view. Plus I think that such an office won't add much to a case for war but would be useful for politics.

 


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005
Suburban voters who are concerned about persecution of religions abroad, and will donate or vote federally on that basis? Really, Sean? I honestly don't get it. Maybe I'm too far away from the suburbs in question. I feel the main explanation lies elsewhere.

Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

This is a five million dollar bone for their loyal pets on the religious right, which is not to say that the pets will avoid creating mischief instead of going off into some corner on their own to gnaw away at it.


lagatta
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Joined: Apr 17 2002

Cartoon in the Toronto Star today, about this "Office" and a hypothetical one of "Scientific Freedom":

www.thestar.com/opinion/editorial_cartoon/2013/02/25/editorial_cartoon_f...


Sean in Ottawa
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Joined: Jun 3 2003

Hi Unionist- I think you are looking at this practically -- directly -- it is not about that at all.

The thinking is:

1) people who have come from more conservative societies and see a government supporting issues that they understand-- not that they would get direct benefit but can relate more to this government than the rest of a more "liberal" society.

2) people who are in the burbs thinking "their" country is changing too fast and feel theya re loosing their freedoms (think right wing visions of freedom ala USA). These people often are Christians who feel that they are being limited in their religious expression. Again it is a perception of values.

3) This is an issue right wing conservatives have been talking up (their regret about the place and support for religion) and this stimulates the base voters of the party. These are the people who may need that when the party is not delivering on other things they want. Good move for them.

So-- good politically for three groups:

1 Right wing conservatives

2 Christian Canadians

3 New Immigrants who have more conservative values

And even for opposition-- it is useful as it is a distraction from issues that are affecting people-- good now when we have

Aboriginal policy screw ups

A persistently weak economy

Attacks on democracy and transparency

Attacks on the environment

Scandals in the Senate and elsewhere

A tired government that is more and more unpopular

So, with all that it makes a lot of sense to have people talking about this issue that will get the opposition all riled up but won't lose support among their own supporters.

Yes-- I feel certain this is for domestic politics.

 

 


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005
Thanks, Sean. I guess my problem is that such pandering would be meaningless in Québec, so it seems alien to me. Also, I do feel uncomfortable with your generalization about new immigrants "values". Another thought: I'm not sure I want to be part of a society/country where such pandering actually wins support. Good luck with countering it.

socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

I heard there's no pandering on Mars, but I can't be sure.


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

I think that immigrants are not all the same but unlike refugees they mostly have the same middle to upper class sensibilities.  Canada, almost exclusively, allows well educated individuals with capitalist ambitions to become immigrants.  No one else need apply. I for one am not surprised that they tend to vote for capitalist parties because they moved here to get into the game.

In Burnaby we have one of the highest refugee populations in the country and as a group they are very different politically from regular immigrants especially the "business" class immigrants who basically bought their citizenship.


socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

I wouldn't put it in those ideological terms... but a lot of immigrants are motivated to move to new country because of opportunity. Namely, access to good schools and good jobs, and so on. Not sure that gives them any sensibility or ideology. I tend to think of equality of opportunity as a goal of social democracy -- equal access to those schools/jobs, regardless of race, religion, or class. But truthfully, almost everyone in Western politics uses the rhetoric of opportunity to sell their policies. It's really a question of which policies actually get us there.


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

We don't let working class people immigrate to Canada. There does that explain it clearer for you?  It is a class thing.  We exploit working class people from other countries by bringing them in as semi-indentured temporary workers.

Of course not all immigrants are really right wing but they have all bought into our system of capitalism or they would not have gone through the arduous process that we inflict on people.


Sean in Ottawa
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Joined: Jun 3 2003

Okay. Wow. That's sad.

When I said this: "New Immigrants who have more conservative values"

I did not mean that New Immigrants all have conservative values. I was referring to all those who do as opposed to those who don't. The Conservatives are wooing those who do and likely have no interest in those who don't.

I don't believe all immigrants have common values and that was why I was distinguishing between those whose values are Conservative and those whose values are not.

I am sorry that I wrote it in an ambiguous way. It never occurred to me that it would be read that way so I did not think about it. Knowing so many people from all over, I don't think in monolithic terms.

Now I see others agreed with what you thought I was saying -- that I really wasn't. That's unfortunate.

I think the government is indeed encouraging people who are more Conservative to come here. But I don't agree that is happening exclusively. In some cases the immigrant experience itself cannot allow that to happen not everyone has a smooth landing-- unemployment is high; opportunities are hard to find when so many are based on connections; education credentials are often not accepted; working minimum wage gets you a certain perspective. I know many immigrants-- my house is a majority immigrant. Those I live with are not right wing or conservative. However, there is among immigrants a conservative constituency (as there is among other Canadians) and the government is targeting them.  My personal circle includes very few who were born in Canada at this moment and no conservatives at all. I guess me and conservatives don't have much to talk about.

I also do not think those close to me are representative -- but they do show there is no monolithic opinion.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Oh geez, Sean, you party pooper. Here we were getting ready to deport all these immigrants who are the base of neoconservative politics in Canada!

As I said above (though SDM didn't seem to grasp my point), "pandering" to social conservative pro-Christian evangelical "values" would be unheard of in Québec. That's why I'm still scratching my head as to which "suburbanites" and "immigrants" are the villains in this piece.

 


Brachina
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Joined: Feb 15 2012
What assurances do we have that non Christian faiths will be defended equally by this office? Will the defend a Ralians right to cloning research in Quebec or even thier right to have unusual beliefs? What about if the Church of Satan complains of prosecution, will they stand up for them.

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