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Stephen J. Harper, the 22nd Canadian Prime Minister, helped form the new Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. He has this controlling nature that has seen him go public with his intention to make the Conservatives a mainstream government. He is currently the acting Canadian Prime Minister. The Conservative Party is guided by the principle of doing things in a traditionally established manner in spite of changes in social, foreign and economic policy. (Sunic, 1990).
The party has had to face several issues that challenge the very principle for which it stands. This article is going to explore two issues that are of immediate concern and their implications for the future of Canadian politics.
The term “new right” refers to political agendas or groups together with their policies that are right wing. The term in this context refers to Stephen Harper’s attempts to have the law that forbids lying on broadcast news repealed. Also, the term refers to the attempts by the members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to have them recognized in Canada, a right especially being championed by the liberal party and its eventual defeat by the Conservative Party being headed by Harper (Marcus, 1995).
These two issues will be dealt with separately in this paper for clarity purposes. Of much particular concern is the broadcasting issue followed by the LGBT issue.
The success of efforts by the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to have the law forbidding lying on broadcast news would have seen the American broadcaster Fox News move into Canada. His efforts were hampered by Canadian regulators who forbade its entry citing its non-compliance with the Canada’s Radio Act which requires broadcasters to refrain from broadcasting any false or misleading news.
General public opinion holds that the defeat of Stephen Harper’s bill meant that Canada would be able to enjoy more liberal democratic space and freedom. News coverage is expected to be of high quality due to reliable investigative journalism and reliable foreign affairs. Canadians opposed the enactment of the bill for fear of losing credible non-partisan news. Fox News is thought to air dishonest, partisan and biased news to American citizens making it difficult to distinguish facts from propaganda (Rosenbluth, 1992).
Harper’s proposal was met with emphatic rejection due to the feeling that there was an intention of launching a new TV channel supporting right-wing politicians whose main purpose would be to use propaganda as a tool to manipulate public debates. This, it was felt, would be tantamount to legalizing lies which is not healthy for a democratic society.
It was felt that the intention behind the need to propagate lies was to win people’s support easily as opposed to corporate profit making approach. The defeat of the proposal came as a relief to Canadians. Harper’s intention was felt as a motive to cover up for his negligence for issues touching on health care, poverty and the economy.
Same Sex Marriage
The Liberal Democratic Party has always tried to defend the rights of the minority population and especially the LGBT community; nonetheless, this was met with stark opposition from Harper who during 2006 elections tried to stamp out same-sex marriages but did not succeed due to lack of support. Furthermore, a much worse blow to this community came after he censored violence and homosexuality in Canadian films.
In justifying his actions, he expressed concerns that legitimizing LGBT would be tantamount to launching an attack on multicultural aspects of the Canadian society together with practices exercised by them. He felt that the definition of marriage in Canada depended on the political goodwill aimed at preserving Canada’s traditional norms as opposed to the complications of the definition brought about by liberals who harbor the ulterior motive of wanting to legitimize LGBT through the parliament.
Stephen Harper stated clearly his position on same-sex marriage. He neither recognized its special legal status nor provision for marital benefits for members of this community.
The liberals feel there is a conservative revolution taking place spearheaded by Hamper and this sentiment is mainly due to the continued LGBT rejection by Harper. Christian Nadeau expresses concerns about the stance taken by the conservative party against this minority group. He feels that Hamper’s refusal to acknowledge this group is mainly due to his homophobic inclinations and not a proper judgment operating on sound scales of logic. Christian feels that Hamper’s opinion does not represent the will of the people, an opinion that bears with it some exaggerations (Sunic, 1990).
Traditional Canadian conservatism ensures stability when faced with change. It is this notion that has led liberals to coin the term “conservative revolution” in their attack against Harper. Mr. Harper is viewed by some as a driving force behind the conservative right that seeks to rid the people of Canada of changes that are not coherent with its traditions, such as same sex marriage.
The right wing movement headed by Harper pursues principles based on moral conservatism and libertarianism. Juxtaposition of these two ideologies brings about a bone of contention that cuts across the political divide. Moral conservatism goes hand in hand with Christian values which are certainly not compatible with same sex marriage. On the other hand, libertarianism which upholds liberty above anything else is sure to accommodate views of sexual diversity giving grounds for argument for those advocating for reinforcement of rights in favor of same sex marriag (Michael, 1997). The liberals have further argued against Harper by pointing out other inconsistencies that are to be found in the new right which is deeply integrated in the right wings ideology.
The new right-wing party represented by the Canadian Alliance has had a different approach to social citizenship which has been a major factor in shaping public opinion regarding the welfare state reform, need for tax reduction and state intervention in economic affairs. The beliefs of the Canadian Alliance are those of the new right.
He is especially unpopular with gay rights activists due to his increased opposition to legislation seeking to extend the right to marry same sex. His intentions are to limit the definition of marriage to opposite sex couples only. This has not been easy, however, due to the challenges from the liberals who claim it is a move which is unconstitutional.
The failure of the law repeal bill notwithstanding, he has had several success stories, such as significant tax cuts for working families, improved security due to tougher sentences and more police, family support that includes the Universal Child Care Benefit and Disability Tax Credit, reduction of greenhouse gases and a vigorous advancement and defense of Canada’s sovereignty and world interests.