This is my second attempt to write this article. I had thought I could write it as a humorous piece. but there's really nothing funny about it. I regret that I have to name Mr. Cunningham. I really do. I had thought it possible he was one of the few intelligent and ethical people working for The Moncton Times. I'm sorry I have to say what I do. But I don't apologize for it.
Mr. Cunningham's smears of whole groups of people, and his bias amounting to bigotry make it justifiable and necessary to name him. As I recall it, this is also the editor who accused the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc of acting illegally when they considered forming a coalition. I thought then it was either a stunning ingorance of Canadian parliamentary practice and Canadian history or a lie. I think I can now elimimate one of those possibilities.
Headed "Looking for something that's fresh, with a vision for Canada", the commentary begins well with a criticism of the failure of the Liberals to come up with a vision for Canada. All too true. The Liberal party needs to go back to the 1940s when opinion polls and the rise of the old CCF forced Mackenzie-King to recognize that the nineteenth century was over.
He could have mentioned that the federal Conservatives don't seem to have a vision, either. Instead, they rely heavily on the advice of the Canadian Council of CEOs to develop a relationship with the US that is very similar to our old, colonial relationship to Britain. Well, I guess one could say Harper does have a policy. He wants to be governor of the colony of Canada, one with the need for democratic practices reduced to zero.
Then, Cunningham rants at the "knee-jerk ideological devotion to expensive nanny social programmes backed primarily by special interest groups." (Good thing he doesn't seem to know that this knee jerk ideological devotion began with a Prime Minister from New Brunswick, a Conservative named R.B.Bennett, way back in the federal election of 1935. The Liberals didn't get into the game until 1945.
As for the speical insterest groups who supported these "nanny" state solutions, the only speccial interest group that supported them was the voters of Canada. Do you have a problem with that, Norbert?
The ones we would usually call special interest groups were things like insurance companies, major employers, etc. And they did not support social programmes. In fact, heavily opposed social spending.
As well, the word "ideology" is not only used incorrectly but, like "nanny", is used as a loaded word to suggest denigration. Does one have to be an ideologue to believe people should help each other? So far as I know, mutual compassion and help is a principle of every major religion in the world. That's one reason why democracies are formed in the first place. Democracy is a way of a society coming together to help each other.
"Nanny" social programmes are expensive? Yep. So are "nanny" giveaways of crown timberland, and "nanny" spending of $84,000,000 for a hockey rink. So are "nanny" tax cuts to the rich. I would feel somewhat less contempt for Mr. Cunningham if he were occasionally to write in such a derogatory manner of his masters. There are few things so distasteful and so dishonest as the sneer of a Uriah Heep.
He also says there are lots of good approaches and ideas to be found in "solid, non-partisan expert studies". But he doesn't name even one of these experts. I would dearly like to know what such a partisan editor would think is non-partisan, and what is expert.
Note, by the way, he scorns wasting money on arenas for NHL franchises - but does not seem to see any problem with spending it on minor league hockey or CFL franchises. I wonder why.
Then he has the gall to say to we should copy those right wingers who say we should not subsidize private business. I agree we shouldn't. But I haven't ever seen anybody on the right who has conducted any serious campaign against such happenings. Perhaps Mr. Cunningham could get the debate rolling with, say, an example of a company getting reduced rates for electricity. Perhaps he could even find one in New Brunswick.
Following that, he has the nerve to denounce any criticism of the US as "silly anti-Americanism". Do you approve of torture, Mr. Cunningham? Do you approve of mass killing of civilians? Do you approve of imprisonment without trial or even charge? Do you approve of the US consistently ignoring Canadian claims to the Arctic? Gee. I must be a silly anti-American. Perhaps I need to listen to O Canada till I turn blue so I can be a good Canadian like Mr. Cunningham, and approve of everything the US does.
Then - get this - he accuses people who want to control or in any way limit competition in Canada as "fraidy cats". Right on, kid. Now, write an editorial on how New Brunsick newspapers need competition; and call on the owners to break up their monopoly on the English speaking part of the population. I don't accuse Mr. Cunningham of being a hypocrite, though. I don't think he sees any contradiction is advising more competition in every business except his own.
Anyway, he'll never write such a column. The only "fraidy cat" I see is Mr. Cunningham.
Oh, yes, he also slurs environmental activists who parrot the latest fad "solutions" for the environment. His big suggestion, undoubtedly from "non-partisan experts"? Well, we could have bicycle paths, safe walking routes. Boy, that'll fix everything in a few days. The mind boggles.
And we gotta beat down the national debt. Yep. And if Mr. Cunningham knew any history, he would know that the big spenders in Canada and the US have been Conservatives and Republicans at every level of government. It's true. Check it out. The current world economic crisis began with the policies of Ronald Reagan - a very conservative Republican. And it came crashing in on us with the neo-conservative George Bush.
Oh, and of course, Mr. Cunningham sees the real fat and waste in the public service. If he meant by this Harper going into the hole for 29 billion for fighter planes of no possible Canadian use, then he would be right. But he doesn't mean that. He means those stupid social workers who want to "nanny" unsafe families. He means those regulators who interfere with honest billionaires to make sure they don't pollute. He means those do gooders who think all families should have food.
Fat and waste mean money taken from us in excess of what is needed. If Mr. Cunningham takes the trouble to look at the shameful distribution of wealth in Canada and the US, he will see that most of the waste and fat are part of the wealth of the 100 or so wealthiest families in North America. Private business when it has few controls or regulations and when it can buy governments is a great producer of wealth. But it is a lousy distributor of it. The inevitable result of that sort of fat and wasteis what we are watching in the middle east and Africa - and possibly in the US this summer.
Cunningham concludes by saying that all we see in our political system is power lust and mud. Well, there is a lot of that going around and, in New Brunswick, it's encouraged by Brunswick Media. People are not well informed by most media of the issues. They are not only uninformed but fed with a constant diet of propaganda bolstered, I now realize, by an almost complete ignorance of politics encouraged by the newspapers.
In the recent provincial election, neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives had anything that could be called a platform. The Conservatives won simply because the Liberals were unpopular and Alward said he would listen to the people. Nobody at The Moncton Times had the honesty - or perhaps the wit - to point out that the great democratic leaders of the past century have been great not because they listened (you can rent a recording device to do that). The great leaders like Churchill and Roosevelt were elected because they said what they were goingn to do, people liked what they heard. A democracy does not vote for a "nanny" listener. It votes for a person of principles and vision and a vision that sounds sensible. But they can't do that in New Brunswick because the newspapers keep people in ignorance of what the issues are.
New Brunswick, thanks largely to its English newspapers, can only barely be called a democracy. Mr. Cunningham's column is a good illustration of how that has happened.