04.10.2011 07:13 AM

In today’s Sun: John Diefenbaker has left the building

This being a country currently run by Conservatives, I figured I’d write this one for them. I’m a liberal, and a Liberal, but I thought I’d give it a shot. Here goes.

I define a liberal as someone who believes in protection of citizens by government. A conservative, on the other hand, is someone who wants citizens to be protected from government. Conservatives believe in liberty and in freedom.

They don’t believe those things come from governments. They believe those things are taken away by governments.

I have a slightly more benign view of government. But, since I wanted to write for a conservative audience, I looked around and I found some pretty good quotes. They were about what a conservative is and what freedom is, and they were words spoken by former prime minister John Diefenbaker.

Around my house, we held Dief in pretty high regard. When he died in 1979, in fact, I remember my dad crying — even though he was a Liberal like me. Here’s what the giant of Canadian conservatism said:

“Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong.”


  1. Supernaut says:

    Someone pointed me towards this – thought the people here would enjoy it. WARNING: NSFW Language: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qItqs4HO6hc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  2. Michael Behiels says:

    Freedom is the right to live and work outside Canada without being called a traitor to your country. Many thousands of Canadians do so and for long periods of time.

    Freedom is the right to applying for citizenship so you can one day vote in the country of your adoption.

    Freedom is the right not be denounced as a rabid secularlist because you believe in the separation of Church and State.

  3. Michael Behiels says:

    Freedom is the right to live and work outside Canada without being called a traitor to your country. Many thousands of Canadians do so and for long periods of time.

    Freedom is the right to apply for citizenship so you can one day vote in the country of your adoption.

    Freedom is the right not be denounced as a rabid secularlist because you believe in the separation of Church and State.

    Yes John George Diefenbaker was and remains a great Canadian. After all he gave us the Bill of Rights, 1960 that served as a springboard to the Charter of rights and freedoms in 1982.

  4. MH says:

    We have too much government in Canada!! 1 in 5 employees are working for government in one way or another. We have become a nation of “takers rather than makers”. It cant continue this way with an aging population; it is unsustainable, just like healthcare!!

    • catherine says:

      Do you disagree with Diefenbaker’s words about freedom? Because if those are your beliefs, don’t you want a leader who can articulate them to Canadians? Instead, Harper tells us he can find $11B in cuts that will not affect anyone. Either Harper disagrees with you about the role of government and healthcare or he is lying to Canadians about what he believes in, which would mean he is on the wrong side of freedom.

    • Craig Chamberlain says:

      At least we have the ability to test how we are doing with our spending and know what is worth continuing and what should be discontinued with the good data we have from Stats Canada.


      • Craig Chamberlain says:

        … It seems that conservatism at least at the federal level today is more about manufacturing realities through fear, than freedom. Why aren’t conservative-minded Canadians troubled by that?

      • Namesake says:

        Well, you’d have to ask Tony Clement & Gary Ritz about that, because:

        a) the short-form census is still mandatory for ALL the households of the land, and it starts on election day for the general populace;

        b) the Labour Force Survey is still mandatory for about 50,000 households every month;

        c) quite a number of agricultural surveys are still mandatory, including not only the Agricultural Census every 5 years, but a whole bunch of others at several intervals every year on crop & seeding intentions & harvests & livestock & more (ask an actual old timer farmer what they think about that, and whether any thing’s changed in the last 5 years since you alleged liberty lovers took over Ottawa).

        But I don’t think anyone has every actually been imprisoned, BTW. But of course, you Cons knew that but can’t resist the urge to mislead & fear-monger & misinform.

        • Namesake says:

          More spinnerama, as Tulk does a CPC-approved whirling dervish routine.

          Farmers get special tax treatment, so it’s only fair that they have to do surveys, as a quid pro quo?

          (And ample gov’t subsidies, too, which capital but not small ‘c’ conservatives also apparently approve of, since that’s, um, where the votes are: http://urlm.in/hmqa (and check out the photo where it looks like Harper’s relieving himself))

          But, um, so do lots of people with the CPC’s boutique tax credits: parents with children under 6; seniors who income split, public transit users; parents who pay for their kids sports leagues, etc…

          So, does that give the CPC license to enable StatCan to do mandatory surveys on all of them, too, then? Oh goody, flexible liberty’s fun.

          And, gee, it’s not just the farmers who have to do various kinds of (non-Census) business surveys: other sorts of businesses do, too. (Lots of lots of them: StatsCan maintains stats on virtually every industry in Canada, and some of that involves additional mandatory surveys of the businesses’ operators, not just the paperwork they’re already submitting to the gov’t).

          So, merely doing business in Canada means: having to submit info. to the gov’t — incl. the Conservative gov’t.

          And here’s Liberty Lovin’ Tony laying down the law to explain why:

          “The Statistics Act specifically requires Statistics Canada to conduct a Census of Population and a Census of Agriculture in 1971 and every fifth year thereafter (national censuses became quinquennial in 1956). The Act also confers substantial powers on this agency to request information for statistical purposes through surveys of Canadian businesses and households. By default, response to Statistics Canada’s surveys is mandatory under the Act, with refusal to participate subject to legal penalties. The Act includes provisions to make participation in some surveys voluntary, and Statistics Canada has generally done so with respect to household surveys other than the Census of Population and the Labour Force Survey, which produces critical economic data. Surveys of businesses, including agricultural businesses, are conducted on a mandatory basis.”



          As for the personal nature of the q’s on the census:

          a) there are still some on the sort form, which is still mandatory for every household (incl. on sexual orientation & rel’ns, re: specifying the householders’ rel’n to one another); and,

          b) it’s the CPC gov’t who approved the q’s they later decided were too intrusive — but are, um, still asking in the replacement survey which is being sent to 50% MORE households; they could have just vetoed them if they thought the various stakeholders’ need for the information wasn’t worth the alleged intrusion.

      • kitt says:

        You mean like threats when you don’t fill out and pay your income taxes?

        • J.G. Love says:

          Gord is owned by kitt!!

        • Namesake says:

          What, so it’s not an infringement of liberty if EVERYONE has to do it?

          Um, o…kay, oh, Mr. Situational Ethics Spinnerama:

          But the LFS & nearly all those different seasonal agricultural production & stock-on-hand surveys I mentioned also do what the Long Form Census did:

          “single people out,” as you misleadingly put it, by only taking a random sample of the relevant population to reduce costs & respondent burden

          …and both Ritz & Clement indicated that they — their government, that is — will, um, continue to do so, since, um, the information is so gosh darn important to the economy.

          Any other rakes you want to step on?

      • To paraphrase Mark Twain, ‘Get your facts first – then you can distort the truth as much as you like.”

        How many Canadians complained about the long-form census? Maxime Bernier said he got something like hundreds or thousands of complaints a year on the subject, but then the CBC reported the total was more like 30 for that entire year, based on government emails.

        A reasonable response would have been to remove the penalty, as was proposed by the Liberals.

    • smelter rat says:

      I’m sure you have data to back that claim up, right? Conservatives still belive in data dont’t they? Oh wait…

  5. Patrick says:

    If by “wrong” Diefenbaker meant “harm to others”, there is nothing revealing nor supportive of your apparent implication that he is contradicting present day conservative ideology.

    The irony is that Conservatives are actually liberal and the Liberals are conservative in the classic sense. Of course it’s silly to draw the line that clearly. But government can’t protect you without you first surrendering your freedoms. It is obviously desirable to do so in some cases, but
    Liberals never cease to desire more “protection”.

    As US supreme court justice Louis Brandeis remarked:
    “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding”

    Two can play the quote game 🙂

    • Namesake says:

      but your Brandeis quotation is in the same spirit as Dief’s: it highlights what’s wrong with the CPC —

      — they’re overzealous about protecting their leader from even the potential of a minor embarrassment at an ostensibly public meeting: even the CPC and certainly the RCMP have acknowledged this, now;

      — they’re overzealous about protecting themselves from the possibility of more serious embarrassments on their negligent or reckless economic management and their possible violation of the international rules of law, by refusing to release information to Parliament about the true costs of their crime & prison & F35 & corporate tax cuts and what & when they knew about the strong likelihood that the detainees they were handing over to the Afghan gov’t were going to be tortured — which led to two contempt of Parliament rulings and the fall of the gov’t.

      — and they’ve also got overzealous staffers actively intervening in an access to information requests by the free press to protect a Minister — which one is already being investigated on, by the RCMP, and with more to follow.

      Don’t tell me what the CPC stands for in theory; the issue before us is their practices, of squelching dissent and the right to know what the government is doing, and why.

  6. Craig Chamberlain says:

    How about,
    “Freedom comes with knowing you haven’t been maligned just because someone doesn’t agree with you.”

  7. Steve T says:

    OK, mostly good points, but can you please explain what Aslam’s race and mode of dress has to do with this? It was never identified by anyone as a reason for her ejection from the CPC rally.

    I’ve seen this kind of thing before from Liberals and NDP. A subconscious knee-jerk reaction to cry “racism” when it is totally off-base, just as an attempt to score political points even when it clearly is not accurate.

    Given all the moaning by Liberals about integrity this campaign, perhaps we can stick to the topic at hand (which does have it’s own merit), rather than heading elsewhere.

    • Warren says:

      Sensitive, aren’t we? Nobody has alleged racism. If I had wanted to, I would have. I didn’t.

      • Cath says:

        you didn’t actually say it Warren but your word lead us in that direction, leaving each of us to come to our own conclusions. A pretty good column actually but honestly not the game changer in this campaign I don’t think.

        By the way, I think it’s very risky, from an Ontario perspective for Ignatieff to start beating the healthcare drum too loudly, what with e-health and the nice payout fresh in our minds.

        • Namesake says:

          Cat’s got her h…iss back.

        • pomo says:

          He also mentioned that she would not weigh very much “soaking wet”…which no one seems to think implies weight-bias in the Con camp. Warren may have been attempting to describe her – and demonstrate through that description how utterly non-threatening she was – vs. imply anything about the Cons reasons for ejecting her from the rally, beyond the obvious facebook picture with MI.

          I don’t disagree that descriptions of people that include references to their skin colour, dress, gender, weight tend to bring up “stuff” for people (and in this case, lead us in a particular direction). But effect doesn’t always indicate a clear intent. Sometimes, but not always.

          I think it’s safe to say that regardless of our personal colour, gender, size etc., these descriptors often provoke some automatic reactions that might include biases, judgments, assumptions about the intentions of the writer, of the subject being described…we are all products of the culture and we have all had our thinking twisted to some degree by it. That having been said, many of us are aware that our thinking reflects cultural learning and so many of us seem to want to sincerely interrogate those ideas when they pop up in our own heads uninvited or in the expressed ideas/ behaviour of others.

          Anyway…I just find this stuff fascinating. Not really making any point beyond that.

          • Cath says:

            good points pomo. That we should all come away from reading this column or any other with the same picture is pretty naive. You make that point nicely, unlike the namesake who provides occasional background noise but little else.

  8. MontrealElite says:

    Conservatives have been cons in name only for some time. This latest attack on freedom is just another symptom.

    Since when was running massive deficits a tenet of fiscal conservatism?

    Or buying car companies an example of the “free market competition”? Harpo showed his true colours then.

    Or annually expanding the size of the PMO a sign of smaller government?

    This has become the party of “Do as I say, not as I do”

    Then again, most cons don’t even get that the US DEMS are to the right of them.

  9. Cath says:

    make that “…but your words lead us……” (more coffee needed)

  10. MontrealElite says:

    Harper accusing Trudeau of being a big spender has to be the most ironic comment of the day.

  11. Annie says:

    He was both wrong and he did wrong, when he got rid of the Arrow, worst mistake ever done, by Dief!

  12. dave says:

    Conservs, Libs and ND’s…

    In old USSR all economic and political discourse took place within the parameters of ‘communism.’ Any thoughts and ideas outside those parameters were treated as marginal anomaly, sign of mental strain, or treason.

    In North America all economic and political discourse takes place within the parameters of ‘capititalism.’ Any thoughts and ideas outside those parameters are treated as silly, insane, or treasonous.

    Capitalism is a system the main goal of which is accumulation of wealth. In a capitalist system wealth is artificially redistributed from the the common wealth and people who actually produce the wealth, to those at the top.
    Conservatives believe that this artificial redistribution is the way of creation. When in power, they do things to accelerate this artificial redistribution. They tend to see ‘freedom’ as the freedom to maintain this system, and ‘new ideas’ as ideas to maintain this system. Any thoughts or ideas outside their parameters are regarded as unworthy(for example, their disdain for ND thinking).

    ND’s think that more wealth should remain in the common, and with the people who create the wealth. They see such social justice as possible within a capitalist system. When in power they try to slow the artificial redistribution of wealth to the top.They see ‘freedom’ as advocating openly for their version of social justice.

    Liberals see a mix of some social justice and the maintaining of the lofty position of those who benefit most from capitalism. They have more regard for the contribution of ‘Capital’ to the economy than do the ND’s. They see ‘freedom’ somewhat the way that Conservatives do, although, whereas Conservatives are fundamentalists in their worship of their deity, “Unseen Hand of the Marketplace,” Liberals are more skeptical in their belief in “Unseen Hand,” more like casual church goers.
    Liberals have a fairly broad definition of freedom so as to cover any areas from which they might take ideas for their own use. In a way, Liberals practice a ‘capitalism of ideas’ in that ideas from all kinds of areas can end up being a part of a Liberal platform, – if they will win votes.

  13. Stephen Williams says:

    Hi Warren

    I read your column headlined ‘Are these conservative values?’ published in this morning’s Sunday Ottawa Sun and provided to me by McDonalds.

    If Awish and her friend believe one or more laws were violated and that their case has legal merit then she should file suit against the perpetrators.

    If Awish and her friend were to do so then their major problem will become that the evidence suggests the perpetrators are closely aligned to elements of society that most of us would recognize as government. History has shown that those who choose to fight city hall will need many best wishes so let may say that I extend to them my best wishes in their possible upcoming legal endeavour.

    Libertarians know that the real danger is government regardless if it is perceived as benign or otherwise. This is because government has the legitimate role of coercion in society and, since coercion should be minimized, the best government is limited government.

    What is sad is that Awish and her friend are apparently one with those who believe that voting for parties that want an even less limited federal government will somehow provide guarantees of protection from benign elephant stompings.

    Stephen Williams

  14. Mulletaur says:

    The fundamental truth about Harper is that his basic instincts are not democratic and certainly not libertarian, quite the opposite.

    Conservatives are in deep denial about this. They want so much to believe in Harper, to believe that Harper believes in the same things they believe in. This is an extreme form of self-delusion.

    Harper believes in one thing only : the pursuit of power at any price, including at the price of our democracy and democratic institutions. He has systematically undermined our democracy since he took power, even without a majority.

    Using an only too willing RCMP to keep out somebody who is vaguely associated with a rival political party is something straight out of the pages of Eastern European history before the Wall fell. I hope the scales finally drop from Conservative eyes on this.

  15. Katherine says:

    Except the Liberal promises never materialize, do they Warren? No GST. National day care. No tax increases. National drug program for seniors. Kyoto compliance. No merger with the NDP Bloc. And the list goes on, as you know only too well. This party doesn’t protect taxpayers it treats them with distain by lying to get into power and using taxmoney to increase its numbers and buy off its friends.
    You can’t criticize Harper’s solid 5-year record of peace, order and good government – acting first and foremost in the in interest of Canada – so you ask us Conservatives to judge him on the actions of a misguided RCMP officer who, as you know, is accountable to the privy council, not Stephen Harper. (By the way, not being one to leave something unspun, congratulations on being the first journalist to play the race/religion card).
    Something you might want to start appreciating about Conservatives is we’re not that dumb, we follow federal politics much more closely and with a more balanced eye than Liberals, and as proof of that, we are steadily growing in numbers. We feel well quite well protected by Stephen Harper, and we’re smart enough to know that if we have a problem with health, education and other social services we should write to our provincial government. Were you a proud Liberal, on the side of Canadian families when Paul Martin gutted the provinces resources for health and education? Do you think Canadian families benefited more from paying the 7% consumption tax the Liberals promised to remove in order to trick Canadians into giving them a majority – or from a 2% reduction in it as promised by the Conservatives.
    Lets talk record not facebook scandal – that’s what informed Canadians are interested in.
    Harper systematically mopped up behind the previous Liberal government – finally dealing with the softwood lumber debacle, the residential school appology, clamping down on immigration fraud, laying out for the first time in clear language (opposed by the Justin Trudeau) that the rights of men and women in this country are equal, settling aboriginal land claims, properly equipping the military, etc, etc Harper has also managed to implement his own agenda for developing and defending Canada’s north – something the Liberals appear to have no policy on, and bolstering trade relations with India and the US, to name a only a couple. He has represented Canada with distinction on the international level, going toe-to-toe with other world leaders and dignitaries, at various summits – and has represented Canada honourably in his response to Haiti and other global crises.
    This is one of the most productive governments in our history and the most productive minority government. Astounding isn’t is when you consider the relentless scandalmongering from the opposition. Cadmangate, isotopes-are-sexy-gate, chesty hookers and cocaine-gate, 10%ergate blah blah blah. All culminating in the carefully orchestrated and completely bogus finding of contempt.
    Harper increased funding to the CBC, which not only fails to show pride and respect for the highest office in our land but actively works to perpetuate the prejudice and ignorance that is holding this country back from true democracy, all on the taxpayers dime.
    The Liberals can’t pick a leader that more than half of them approve of, but they want to start making decisions for the rest of us and they want to put that man in charge. What would Dief have to say about that? I have a couple of little quotes for you, Warren, and your Liberal friends out there. “Grow up.” “Get over yourselves.” “You disgust me.”
    If the Conservatives can withstand the kind of unprecedented scrutiny by the media and still have the solid support of 40% of us – much higher if you disregard Bloc voters, which you should – they must being doing something right by us.

    If the Liberals could survive on the bare facts, the truth and their own record they would have no need for people like you, whose only purpose is to “spin” a different version of things for the public.

  16. J.G. Love says:

    Why would there be need for extra security just because steve-o supports Israel?

  17. Namesake says:

    the only ones taking down names are you Islamaphobes.

    BTW, for those so concerned about the citizenship of the Opp. leader’s wife — which is in a long queue controlled by the Gov’t Immigration Minister

    how is it, um, kosher for the PM to be getting a celebrity endorsement & a humanizing photo op from Akshay Kumar, a Bollywood star who can’t even vote in this country?

    It was covered in all the press & is featured on the CPC site itself: http://urlm.in/hmpn


    What would you conbots be saying if Ignatieff brought in, I don’t know, Jackie Chan?

    Or what would Sarah Palin say if, snicker, Celine Dion or Bryan Adams came out in favour of Obama?

    • Namesake says:

      funny you should mention Bono, whose endorsement PM Martin sought on the topic of increasing our country’s commitment to international aid — an initiative which Bono was very visible in spearheading at the time — and that, “The issue of having foreign supporters has to do with what that supporters politics says about the party or person they are supporting”

      Because even though the Chancellor of Germany and President Bush found the time to meet with him on the topic of combatting AIDS at the 2007 G8 meeting, Harper… did not, saying,

      “Meeting celebrities isn’t my shtick… That was the shtick of the previous guy.”


      And yet, lately, he’s been shticking it people all over the nightly news with the leas singer of Nickelback, mini-Lady Gaga, and now a Bollywood star: two of whom can’t even vote in Canada, and none of which are known for their political views. (Unless you count Chad Nickelback, who favours legalizing marijuana, I think, which, um, runs contrary to that ‘3 Years in the Clink for Everything’ omnibus bill you guys have on tap.)

  18. Namesake says:

    Tulking Point’s referring to the belated discovery that one of the other people ejected or turned away from a Guelph CPC rally despite having registered for it was belatedly discovered to have a post on his Facebook page or something complaining about how Harper has been such a huge international disappointment & embarrassment on climate change & pollution issues, and made the careless comment that he’d like to take him out.

    But that was only discovered AFTER the ejection, and after his name surfaced in the press for daring to speak out about that.

    The ejection was because he’d been spotted as part of the flash mob outside, a spontaneous gathering of students of various party support whose sole intention was to — gasp — try to take advantage of the media presence to encourage young people to vote.

    And that’s the REAL threat the CPC is worried about… young people… voting.

    If it HAD BEEN because of that clumsy not really a threat muttering on his own webpage, he wouldn’t have been allowed onto the invitee list in the first place (which he was); or he would have been frisked &/or arrested (which he wasn’t), rather than just being asked to leave; and the RCMP would have said something about him being a bona fide security risk (which they didn’t), instead of saying that they’ve made a mistake and they’re not going to act as bouncers anymore over party affiliations… they’re just going to stick to being bodyguards, like they’re supposed to.

  19. Santos says:

    “Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong.”

    Well said.

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