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Five values for conservatives to embrace
Monday, 11 January 2016 - 10:30am
A wave of politicians have taken hold in this country – at all three levels of government – who want higher taxes, deficit spending and more unsustainable social programs.
And it’s not just the election of “big government” politicians that is troubling, it’s that they’ve openly won with platforms committing to rack up more debt and grow the size of government. Those of us who want a limited role for government and fiscal responsibility need to recognize our side is losing. That’s not to say we’re losing everywhere (B.C. and Saskatchewan are a couple of good exceptions) but overall we need to rethink our strategies, contemporary conservative values and how they apply to various government policy issues.
That’s why the theme for the 2016 Manning Centre Conference (the largest annual gathering of small ‘c’ conservatives in Canada each year) is “Recharging the Right.” At the conference we’ll be discussing conservative values and how they apply to important policies. Here are five values that I believe Canada’s conservative movement should embrace:
Let the people choose – governments should stick to important issues like policing, fixing roads and health care. Instead of funding non-essentials, the government should leave more money in your pocket and let you decide what to do with it. Simply put, governments should stop giving your money to large companies like Bombardier and General Motors, pro sports teams and other special interest groups.
At the same time, governments should involve the public more in important decisions through referendums. Significant advances in technology and transportation have made it easy for the public to study issues and travel to voting locations.
Hand up, not a hand out – The popular belief should be applied to government services like social assistance. Instead of giving people handouts, recipients (who are able-bodied and able-minded) should be required to give back one way or another – perhaps by picking up garbage in a local park a couple times each week or volunteering at a school library.
Be open and accountable – Governments should not be able to stonewall the release of unflattering information, nor should they be able to use tax dollars for rhetoric-filled government advertising. At the same time, bureaucrats should be held accountable when projects come in over budget and elected officials should be subject to recall. There’s a deep frustration in Canada with unaccountable officials in government; conservatives should act on that feeling.
Fiscal responsibility – Plain and simple, there’s nothing ethical about governments paying for services provided today by racking up debt and letting the next generation pay the bill. Small “c” conservatives should oppose deficit spending except during times of war or natural disaster (yes, that means no more ‘stimulus’).
Fairness for taxpayers – As many government services as possible should be opened up for tender so that everyone has a fair shot. In cases where governments have to provide the service in-house, employees should be paid a reasonable sum. In other words, government employee compensation needs to be brought back down to more reasonable levels.
Those are my thoughts on values that should guide conservatives. What are yours?
- Colin Craig works is the Manning Centre's Director of Strategic Communications in Calgary and is the author of The Government Wears Prada
This column ran in Sun Newspapers (Edmonton Sun, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun, Ottawa Sun and Toronto Sun) on January 11, 2016