[T]here is no language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy. --H.P. Lovecraft
The morning began quietly enough, with a report by Irving Gerstein, chair of "Conservative Fund Canada," the party's war chest. He presented a disturbing picture of a solvent, well-heeled organization, with sound and prudent financial management.
This was followed by consideration of the ten constitution resolutions that made it to the plenary. There wasn't much debate on most of them: the chair frequently pleaded for people to speak in the negative.
Then, in the afternoon, the policy resolutions came to the floor. And Cthulhu broke free from his foul undersea cave.
The pragmatists won a battle or two. P-106, which would have enshrined health care privatization, went down because, as Stephen Fletcher said at the mic, passing it would "bring fodder to our enemies." Noting that many medical services are already private, he asked delegates to "let the invisible hand of Adam Smith" take care of medicare. Another opposition speaker asked, "Why feed the press this all-day sucker?"
But the creature soon began to stir. P-113, the "three strikes and yer out" resolution, passed with a substantial majority. One intrepid delegate spoke against it, asking "How many more jails are we going to have to build," and urging rehabilitation as an option. He was roundly booed. Repealing the "faint hope clause" (P-114) is now policy: "Let's make a life sentence a real life sentence," said one delegate, to considerable applause. Another described the CPC as "the party of security."
P-202, which seemed to have been re-written to affirm the entire Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was intended simply to affirm the notwithstanding clause. That was made clear during the debate. Some opposed the resolution because it supported the Charter. That document, in fact, is not well-loved in this crowd. Frequent SDA commenter Gord Tulk referred to it as "a deeply flawed document," and another speaker simply said "Support Trudeau's legacy? Wow."
Gutting Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act is now CPC policy: it passed nearly unanimously. No surprise there. One speaker, to thunderous applause, claimed that this section penalized people for "expressing an opinion or telling the truth." Edmonton-Centre MP Laurie Hawn said the section had been abused "by activist groups" to punish "legitimate if controversial views."
Readers might want to remind themselves of just who have had complaints against them upheld: a squalid collection of neo-Nazis and vicious homophobes, whose sick slobbers of hatred have now been magically transformed into "truth" and "legitimate...views." The bald-head beer-halls will be drunk dry tonight.
It became pretty obvious that the "protecting pregnant women" resolution (P-207) was all fetuses all the time. "There are two victims," said the opening speaker. "We want the law to recognize that." One brave woman went to the mic to express concern about freedom of choice on abortion, and was roundly booed. Another opponent urged, well, pragmatism: the party caucus was working on some "aggravating factors" legislation, he said, and passing this would give opposition parties ammunition. He may as well have tried to hold Cthulhu's head underwater. The motion passed with ease.
Opposition to women's right to equal pay for work of equal value (P-213) is now CPC policy. There was, however, opposition. One woman delegate didn't like the wording change that replaced "gender equality through all policy and legislative considerations" with more specific language. She thought it narrowed the scope of the original. And a male delegate opposed the resolution--because it mentioned women only!
P-218, which wags a finger at immigrants, also passed overwhelmingly. One delegate, speaking in opposition, thought that the language of the resolution created "static values" and replaced the notion of a Canadian mosaic with that of a melting-pot. I suspect this went over most delegates' heads.
Resolution P-233, to audit the First Nations to death, is in the Conservative policy-book now as well. An Aboriginal woman went to the mic to oppose it, but was only able to express her opposition, leaving without making an argument. She sounded deeply hurt.
Making union participation a voluntary matter is also official Conservative policy as of today. The cant-phrase "right to work" was used by the first speaker. The pragmatists argued, in vain, that this was a "redundant, needlessly provocative" resolution. One speaker who ran in this past election said it would "kneecap us as candidates" in various ridings. But the Conservative Party is now, effectively, committed to repealing the Rand Formula.
I am in need of some serious drinkage tonight. First the Mondragon with some progressive comrades, and then some Indian food nearby--I don't do Vegan. Tomorrow, some closing ruminations.