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Industry Minister James Moore wins the Scrooge 2013 Award for Honesty by being frank about his, and presumably his party's, utter lack of social compassion. When the MP for the B.C. riding of Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam appeared on a Vancouver talk show this week and was asked about alarming rates of child poverty in Canada, he denied the reality of millions of poor Canadians.
"We've never been wealthier as a country than we are right now," he boasted. "Never been wealthier. Certainly, we want to make sure that kids go to school full-bellied, but is that always the government's job to be there to serve people their breakfast?"
"Is it my job to feed my neighbour's child? I don't think so. Ha ha ha." No kidding. Listen to the recording. He really laughs at this point.
No, it's not the industry minister's job to serve breakfast. But his government has been entrusted by the people of Canada to look out for everyone's well-being. At Christmastime, with severe winter weather pounding us from sea to sea to sea, and one in seven children living in poverty -- and one in five in B.C., where Moore is from -- it's a callous thing to say, reflecting the views of a government set up by Big Money to serve Big Money.
Troubling as these comments are on their own, they represent another fault in the bedrock on which Conservative support is built, especially in rural and small-town constituencies. Religion, and particularly Christianity, play a big role in these places, which have tended to vote Conservative since the long-gun registry. One of the most important tenets of Christianity is the imperative to love your neighbour and indeed feed their kids if need be.
The Harperites are messing with too many important sins to maintain the loyalty of their famous base. In this case, Moore admits to gluttony. Then there's the greed and sloth displayed by famous senators. There's the culture of lying, as displayed by virtually everyone around the Prime Minister and, presumably, Harper himself.
The PM has been a textbook case of deadly sins, including wrath -- he'll throw anyone under a bus -- lust (for power) and pride. These sins are already coming back to haunt him, with the Conservatives losing 10,000 political donors this year. The base doesn't care for deadly sins.
Politics is about moral issues and always has been. The question is how to speak to people about morality that doesn't sermonize. There are many Conservatives who will agree with James Moore, but his Yuletide admission that he really doesn't love his neighbour will help fracture a base already badly damaged by scandals, lies and cover-ups.
Enjoy your lump of coal, kid. Best of the season, everyone!
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Ish Theilheimer has been a journalist and political communicator, and founded Straight Goods News, the progressive online news service that joined forced with rabble.ca in October, 2013. His column "Seen from the hinterlands" appears occasionally on rabble.
Photo: Montreal metropole culturelle/flickr
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