Tuesday, October 14, 2008

National Post endorses Stephen Harper; backed George W. Bush for U.S. president, Mike Harris as Ontario premier and illegal wars in Afghanistan & Iraq

Like clockwork the National Post has endorsed Stephen Harper for prime minister – for the third straight election. This is no surprise. Since the first issue on Oct. 27, 1998, the Post has been staunchly pro-conservative.

Former media magnate Conrad Black launched the National Post in Toronto to combat what he saw as an ‘over-liberalizing’ of editorial policy in Canadian newspapers. Black built the new paper around the existing Financial Post, an established business-oriented newspaper. [Conrad Black: The rise and fall of a media mogul (CTV News, Mar. 12, 2007)]

The Post’s earliest election endorsement appears to be June 3, 1999, when it said Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Mike Harris deserved a second term as premier; in fact, the newspaper said “in delivering unprecedented economic growth and in putting Toronto and Ontario back on the national stage, Mr. Harris has earned the right to return as premier.”

The Post applauded Harris for “his bold tax-cutting policies” and despite “outrage from the political left” he “peeled back red tape and ended corporate subsidies” and was “the first Ontario premier to embrace free trade.”

The Post was disappointed with Harris because he refused “to consider any form of school choice” and “his “guarantee” to increase health-care spending 20% over the next mandate… will impede further reform.”

“But while we may disagree with the scope of some of Mr. Harris’ policies, his legacy and future prospects remain overwhelmingly positive,” the Post said. [Harris deserves a second term (National Post, June 3, 1999)]

Harris’s Common Sense Revolution introduced the draconian forced labour “workfare” program and saw welfare rates brutally slashed by 21.5 per cent and the level of assets a welfare recipient could keep reduced. The province’s poor have never recovered. Harris’s finance minister was Jim Flaherty, who is now Stephen Harper’s.

The Harris government repealed the Employment Equity Act in its entirety and enacted Bill 7, a package of anti-union and anti-worker labour legislation, permitting the use of replacement workers during a strike and requiring a secret ballot be held in every certification application.

There was the Walkerton tainted water tragedy caused in part by government budget cuts and Environment Ministry ineptitude and the ugly Ipperwash standoff between natives and police.

Harris’s popularity plummeted to 33 per cent and on October 16, 2001 he announced his plan to resign.

On October 2, 2003, the Tories won just 24 of the 103 seats in the Ontario Legislature and according to a report by former Ontario Provincial Auditor Erik Peters left a $5.6 billion deficit behind.

In Nov. 2000, the National Post endorsed Republican presidential nominee Texas Gov. George W. Bush for president of the United States.

The Post liked Bush’s plan to “roll back taxes US$1.3-trillion over the next 10 years” because “Canada’s government would be put under that much more pressure to lower tax rates here.”

The Post also liked Bush’s plan to “divert a portion of existing social security taxes into individual accounts” because “the effect would be to put reform of the Canada Pension Plan… on the Canadian agenda.”

On the environment and the Kyoto accord the Post said “Mr. Bush, during one of the debates, offered the sound comment that it is still not clear what is the best way to combat global warming.”

On foreign policy the Post was against Vice-President Al Gore’s “human security” approach which implied support “for an activist United Nations and an eager willingness to deploy troops overseas in the name of human rights.” Bush’s pledge, on the other hand, “to restrict U.S. deployments to conflicts that must be fought in the United States’ national interest” is “one Canada would do well to adopt.”

“When the votes are counted [on Nov. 7, 2000], we expect -- and hope -- Mr. Bush’s vision of government prevails,” the Post said. [Their election, and ours (National Post, Nov. 7, 2000)]

In an editorial the following day the Post said “At 2:20 a.m. today, U.S. media announced that George W. Bush had been elected the country's 43rd President. Assuming that this result stands, and is not reversed by yet another swing following a night of extraordinary ups and downs, then this newspaper welcomes the Republican triumph.”

“Mr. Bush has a wondrous opportunity: to maintain America’s current level of prosperity while restoring a dignity to the executive branch that it has long been lacking. We congratulate him on his victory and wish him good luck.” [A fresh start (National Post, Nov. 8, 2000)]

In 2000, Bush’s last year as governor, Texas put to death 40 people, an all-time record for any state since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty. In total, Bush has presided over more executions – 152 – than any governor. During his term Bush issued fewer pardons than any Texas Governor since the 1940s.

Bush was opposed to a national health care plan and in 2000 there were 1.4 million children in Texas who did not have health insurance, the most in the nation. The state also had the highest uninsured rate among low-income adults, with more than half – 51 percent – of those earning less than $28,300 a year going without medical insurance.

In the 2000 Canadian federal election the Post resigned itself to the fact that the Liberal’s were on their way to winning a possible third majority and weren’t happy.

“The Liberals under Jean Chretien have treated Parliament with casual, habitual contempt,” the Post said. It complained about the government’s lack of transparency and accountability on issues such as the HRDC $1 billion boondoggle.

“We find it difficult to understand why voters would support the Grits today, unless they are certain the party will soon have a new leader. But if that is the case, why not hurry the process along? Strong support for the Canadian Alliance today will produce a minority government and effectively end Mr. Chretien’s leadership,” the Post said.

“This is not an unequivocal endorsement of the Canadian Alliance under Stockwell Day. His party has not proven itself ready for government… But the Alliance under Mr. Day remains much the next best hope for Canada.”

The Post had little time for the opposition alternatives saying the Tories “have no sense of purpose, no fresh ideas -- they would do Canada a favour by getting out of the way. The NDP should lose their official party status tonight, and one hopes their will to survive might go with it.”

As for the Bloc Quebecois the Post hoped that “either the CA or the Liberals under new leadership can bury the separatists for good in the next federal election.”

“A Liberal minority with a strong Alliance party as the official opposition, and the decks cleared of the NDP and Tory nuisances, would be the best possible outcome tonight.” [Vote for Parliament (National Post, Nov. 27, 2000)]

In Oct. 2001, the Post endorsed the American and British invasion of Afghanistan, which was illegal under international law and had not received Security Council approval.

“[T]he battle must not stop until the terrorist enemy, wherever it may lurk, has been eliminated,” the Post said.

“The terrorist camps in Afghanistan must be destroyed and a new regime must be established - - one that can guarantee Afghanistan will not remain a rogue state and a haven for terrorists.”

The Post supported Canada’s participation in the war of aggression saying “our government must make it plain that we will offer everything in our power to the war effort. Even if all we can do is send a token force, then that is what we should send. It is important for the world to know that Canada stands squarely on the side of the United States in this, the conflict that now defines our world.”

“As Mr. Bush has made plain, it is Afghanistan’s Taleban regime that is our enemy, not the people of that country, who have been beaten into quiescence by decades of war.” [Doing our part (National Post, Oct. 8, 2001)]

As of early Oct. 2008, 98 Canadian soldiers have died in the war and a new report has revealed that Canada’s Afghan mission will have cost Canadians as much as $18.1 billion – $1,500 per household – by the time it ends in 2011. [Afghan mission cost: up to $18B (Toronto Star, Oct. 9, 2008)]

A recent draft report by American intelligence agencies concludes that Afghanistan is in a “downward spiral” and Britain’s commander in Afghanistan and the UN special envoy to the country is saying that the war cannot be won militarily. [Afghanistan in a ‘downward spiral’ (Toronto Star, Oct. 9, 2008)]

Eric S. Margolis, an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist, summed things up in a way that most people aren’t willing to consider: “The current war in Afghanistan is not really about al-Qaida and ‘terrorism,’ but about opening a secure corridor through Pashtun tribal territory to export the oil and gas riches of the Caspian Basin of Central Asia to the West. The US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are essentially pipeline protection troops fighting off the hostile natives.” [Time To Face The Facts On Afghanistan (Oct. 6, 2008)]

In March 2003, the Post endorsed yet another illegal war of aggression – the invasion, overthrow and continued occupation of Iraq. It also complained bitterly about Canada’s non-participation.

“We are glad the inspections farce is over. The sight of a tinpot dictator like Saddam giving UN inspectors the run around while Old Europe’s foreign ministers composed high-flown paeans to their effort did more damage to the dignity of the United Nations than any act of alleged U.S. “unilateralism” ever could,” the Post said.

“[On Mar. 17, 2003] Jean Chretien announced Canada would not participate in the military campaign against Iraq unless the UN Security Council passes yet another resolution. The Security Council won’t. So the Prime Minister was effectively signalling that Canada will sit out the fighting along with the rest of the French-led Coalition of the Unwilling. That this should be so while similarly situated nations such as Australia and Britain fight shoulder to shoulder with the United States brings shame to this country.” [On to war (National Post, Mar. 18, 2003)]

Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper backed the war 100 per cent.

Under the ridiculous headline More of the leadership we wish we had the Post published an abridged transcript of Harper’s address delivered in Parliament on Mar. 20, 2003: “We in the Canadian Alliance support the American position because we share their worries about Iraq,” Harper said.

“We will not be neutral. We will be with our allies and our friends. We will not be with our government. For this government, in taking the position it has taken, has betrayed Canada’s history and its values.” [More of the leadership we wish we had (National Post, Mar 22, 2003)]

The case for war in Iraq was based on lies and deception. Since the war began there have been nearly 4,200 American military casualties and over 30,000 officially wounded. The cost of the war has surpassed $562 billion.

In his memoir The Age of Turbulence, Alan Greenspan, a Republican whose 18-year tenure as head of the US Federal Reserve was widely admired, noted “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Enough said.

Next up for the Post was the Oct. 2003 Ontario election. The newspaper did not support Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty, but recognized that he was set to win the Oct. 2 vote by a commanding margin.

“Barring a sudden reversal of fortune, Mr. McGuinty will be Ontario’s next premier. The important task now is to ensure Mr. McGuinty’s reign is less dismal than… observers fear,” said the Post, which had little confidence in the Conservative alternative.

“[Mike] Harris’s successor, Tory incumbent Ernie Eves, gives the impression of being an indecisive leader with scant regard for truly conservative principles. An Eves defeat would at least have the virtue of forcing his party to retool.”

The Post was concerned that McGuinty’s “tax-and-spend agenda that could threaten the gains in prosperity made under former premier Mike Harris.” It was also worried that his plan called “for corporate taxes to be increased from 12.5% to 14%” and “would scrap Mr. Eves’ scheduled cuts to personal income taxes, and has pledged to repeal the Tories’ sensible tax credit for parents who choose to send their children to independent schools.”

The Post called on McGuinty to “resist the urge to kill the Conservatives’ fledgling efforts at health-care innovation.” These included outsourcing “diagnostic services to private clinics, which are reimbursed by the government under a single-payer scheme” and “steps toward a new financing model for hospitals called “public private partnerships” (PPP), according to which a for-profit company builds and operates a new hospital and then leases it back to a non-profit hospital board.”

Eliminating these “would be disastrous for Ontario, and might even discourage reform efforts in other provinces,” said the Post. It seems clear that when the Post says “innovation” and “reform” it really means privatize.

“Assuming the Tories lose, as expected, there might be an upside for Conservatives in Canada. Many Ontario Tory activists have stood on the sidelines throughout the war of attrition between the federal PCs and the Canadian Alliance; maybe an Eves defeat would lead them to get more involved federally and help push for a single conservative party. Best of all, perhaps some of the Tory MPPs who lose their seats Thursday will decide to run federally in the next election, helping to break the Liberal stranglehold in the province,” said the Post dreaming of Canada where only Conservatives ruled. [Making the best of McGuinty (National Post, Sept. 30, 2003)]

June 2004 marked the first National Post endorsement of Stephen Harper for prime minister.

“Unlike most career politicians, who file their ideological edges down to blunt stumps early in their careers, Mr. Harper is clearly a man grounded in conviction, and has rarely repented his more controversial views,” said the Post.

“Last month, when the federal election was called, we outlined the policy areas that we hoped to see addressed over the course of the campaign. In particular, we urged an agenda that would include giving the provinces more freedom in how they deliver universal health care, ending Ottawa’s various corporate and regional welfare programs, lowering taxes, empowering MPs, improving Canada-U.S. relations, strengthening our rusted-out military, dismantling the gun registry and rescinding the gag law. In all these areas, the Conservatives have staked out intelligent positions.”

The Post was especially pleased that the Conservatives “properly rejected intrusive, big-ticket items” like a “national child care program” and instead are seeking to improve “the business climate” with broad-based corporate tax cuts.

In Harper the Post seemed to have found its Holy Grail.

“We feel comfortable with the prospect of Mr. Harper as prime minister. That’s why we believe that, for voters seeking positive change, the Conservative party is the only sensible option.” [On June 28, vote Conservative (National Post, June 23, 2004)]

In Nov. 2004 the Post’s support for George W. Bush’s re-election as president of the United States was unmistakable.

“Four out of five Canadians told pollsters they preferred Democratic challenger John Kerry over incumbent Republican President George W. Bush. But Canadians should probably be thankful that Mr. Bush prevailed in Tuesday’s election, if only for our own selfish economic interests,” the Post said on Nov. 4.

The Post said Bush’s election will pay “tangible dividends” in the area of trade. “[B]efore he became President… the former Texas governor was a passionate free-trader. Now that Mr. Bush has been safely returned to the White House, there is some hope he will return to his free trade roots.”

“Mr. Bush may not be Canada’s best friend… But where our country’s export-dependent economy is concerned, he is far better than the alternative. In his second term, moreover, Mr. Bush will not be burdened with the task of winning re-election, and so will be able to eschew populist protectionism. For the sake of our cattle farmers and loggers, one hopes that he will instead act on the free trade principles he brought with him to the White House in 2001.”

As for Bush’s challenger, Senator John Kerry, the Post described him as a “multilateralism- minded Democrat” who “pandered to rust-belt industries during the campaign” and “likely would have steered his country down a protectionist road.”

On softwood “Mr. Kerry would have done Canada no favours. Being in the thrall of big labour, including the timbering unions, he likely would have done all he could to block Canadian lumber imports.”

On cattle shipment restrictions the Post said “we can only be glad that Mr. Kerry will not be the one managing this file come January. Last spring, he was one of 10 U.S. senators who signed a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to maintain the existing restrictions.” [A second chance on free trade (National Post, Nov. 4, 2004)]

With friends like that who needs enemies?

According to the New Hampshire-based American Research Group, Bush’s overall job approval rating as of Sept. 22, 2008, was 19 per cent. When it comes to Bush’s handling of the economy 78 per cent disapprove.

On October 24, 2000, CNN reported that the federal government posted a record $237 billion surplus for the budget year that ended in September. It marked the third straight year of surpluses, something that hasn't happened since the late 1940s. [Administration announces record annual budget surplus (CNN News, Oct. 24, 2000)]

According to a new Bush administration estimate released in July 2008 the next president will inherit a record budget deficit of $482 billion. [U.S. Headed For Record Deficit In 2009 (CBS News, July 28, 2008)]

On Aug. 29, 2007, the Washington Post reported that according to annual census figures the number of Americans without health insurance rose to a record 47 million. [U.S. Poverty Rate Drops; Ranks of Uninsured Grow (Washington Post, Aug. 29, 2007)]

Bush leaves office with a legacy that could very well include being the worst president in history.

In January 2006, the Post again supported Stephen Harper for prime minister.

“On June 23, 2004, five days before the last federal election, we endorsed the Conservative Party of Canada,” the Post said.

“Having watched Mr. Harper mature in office as Leader of the Opposition over the last 18 months, we feel all the more comfortable repeating our endorsement. This country needs new leadership, and Mr. Harper is the man to provide it.”

“We should emphasize that, despite this newspaper’s generally conservative stance, our endorsement of Mr. Harper was not a foregone conclusion. We have sometimes been critical of Mr. Harper in this space. And when Mr. Martin first became prime minister, we positively gushed about his potential,” the Post said.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Martin failed to fulfill that potential. On so many issues, where a single gesture of true leadership might have made a real difference, he failed to act decisively,” the Post noted citing missile defence, marijuana decriminalization, democratic reform, health-care liberalization and gay marriage as examples.

“For the Conservatives to govern successfully, best that they not have to bargain for support either from the separatist Bloc or from New Democrats on the far-left of the country’s political spectrum. Neither party represents a natural ally for a government with an ambitious agenda of conservative reform. For that reason, we hope the Conservative Party of Canada receives a majority mandate.” [Stephen Harper for prime minister (National Post, Jan. 19, 2006)]

Upholding the “newspaper’s generally conservative stance” the Post endorsed Progressive Conservative leader John Tory for Ontario premier in October 2007.

The Post liked Tory because of his “superior positions” on things like being “open to contracting with private companies that serve patients within the single-payer public health system.”

On taxation Tory “has the better plan” because he “is pledging to eliminate” the health surtax.

The Post supported Tory’s pledge “to end what he calls Ontario’s “catch-and-release” system of justice, whereby high-risk offenders are arrested, then allowed back on the street under lenient bail conditions.” It also backed his plan “to appoint more justices of the peace, and to use special prosecutors to keep dangerous offenders behind bars.”

Tory’s proposal to provide public funding to faith-based schools “does not go far enough” the Post said. “We would like to see the current public-school funding model replaced root-and-branch with a universal voucher system that would cover all schools, religious and secular alike. But Mr. Tory is to be praised for at least attempting to remedy the unfair status quo in this area.”

According to the Post, Tory is “an accomplished businessman with a strong track record of corporate success and community engagement” and he’s also “a charismatic, engaging politician who projects a sense of honesty and integrity.” The Post knows this to be true because Tory apparently demonstrated it “at a recent editorial-board meeting.”

“[I]t is arguable that the entire country, not just Ontario, has a stake in the Oct. 10 election… Given the manner in which premiers’ meetings have descended into unsightly orgies of interprovincial money-grubbing in recent years, it would be nice to see Canada’s largest province put forward a leader who could draw these squabbling men into something like common purpose. It is hard to imagine anyone in this country better able to do that than John Tory.” [John Tory for Ontario premier (National Post, Oct. 5, 2007)]

This brings us to Oct. 8, 2008, and the Post’s third endorsement of Stephen Harper for prime minister.

“Next week’s vote will determine whether Canada’s tax system is overhauled through the imposition of a massive levy on carbon-based fuels; the nature of our continuing presence in Afghanistan; and how our government will respond to the historic meltdown unfolding in financial markets. Faced with these high stakes, we believe, Canada would be best served if Stephen Harper’s Conservative government were to receive a second mandate, this time in majority form,” the Post said clearly trying to scare voters with the alternative.

“Mr. Harper’s government has been perfect,” the Post said citing only a tiny handful of areas of concern. These include its decision to tax income trusts, failure to act on the gun registry, the gag law, Section 13 of the Human Rights Act, continual spending increases and flouting its own fixed date election law.

“But given the huge range of other activities undertaken in the course of leading Canada, it must be said that Mr. Harper has governed the country well overall. He has stuck by Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, provided sound stewardship for the economy… managed the Quebec file well, returned Canada-U. S. relations to their normal level of amity, lowered taxes, and implemented a number of welcome tweaks to our criminal justice system,” the Post said.

“Most importantly of all, Mr. Harper has avoided the temptation to impose any large-scale Trudeauvian social-engineering schemes on the country,” the Post saying “Canadians should be thankful” that the Conservative’s 2008 election platform does not contain a pharacare or national child care program.

“Like all elections, this one presents Canadians with a choice between imperfect options. But on balance, the Conservatives are clearly the best choice for this country. We urge our readers to vote accordingly on Oct. 14.” [A Conservative majority serves Canada’s needs (National Post, Oct. 8, 2008)]

Examples of Harper’s broken promises and questionable policies could fill a book. Oh, it did! It’s called The Harper Record and was released for free download by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on Sept. 23, 2008.

“Contrary to the general perception that this has been a moderate government, this book reveals that it, in fact, has taken significant steps to transform Canada in a very short time. Harper's very conservative vision has been advanced across a broad range of policies. It is a deeply troubling prelude of things to come,” says Teresa Healy, who edited the book, in a news release.

On Sept. 30, 2008, the Toronto Star reported that when Harper took power he inherited a $12 billion federal budget surplus. A couple of weeks earlier on Sept. 18, 2008, the CBC said the Tories are projecting a $2.3-billion surplus this fiscal year and only $1.3 billion for the next, down from the $10.2-billion surplus for the 2007-08 fiscal year. A deficit is not that far off.

Stephen Harper headed into Election Day with public opinion polls saying the Conservatives were sitting at 34.2 per cent, down from the 36.3 per cent it had going into the Jan. 2006 election. It seems clear that Canadians simply don’t trust this man as prime minister.


At 1:43 AM, Blogger nickysam said...

The National Post started a new "eco-page" , which is pretty funny when the lead story on the front page is an admiring portrait of "eco-Judas" Patrick Moore. The energy industry has always taken its moderate toll on wildlife, from the days of whale oil to California’s raptor-shredding wind turbines, it would certainly be something if a few hundred more ducks, martyred in the name of in the name of industrial progress, made all that much of a difference.

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