10.29.2011 08:54 AM


Regulars will recall my suggestion that, if Stephen Harper’s Reformatories achieved a majority, you wouldn’t recognize Canada by the time he was done with it.

That process, I think, is well underway. The thing that has assisted the Reformatories, more than anything else, is declining participation in democracy. The Con voter base is smaller, but more motivated; if you can suppress the progressive vote – and/or keep it divided – you’ll keep winning.

The Occupy movement, in a very real sense, is the embodiment of Harper’s dream: one, they’re a group of mainly-young people who have given up on democracy. Two, they’re a group of mainly-progressive young people who lack leadership, and are divided on what should be their strategy and tactics.

Thus, we’re Harperized. It’ll be thus for years to come, if the progressive side of the spectrum doesn’t get its proverbial head out of its proverbial ass.

(And people wonder why guys like me chose provincial politics over federal. Wonder no more.)


  1. Finn says:

    Unite the NDP & LPC & GRN and work for mandatory voting.

    • Raymond says:

      Because ‘mandatory’ voting will make us a free(r) society?

      If people were genuinely upset, they’d be voting in droves.

  2. Brammer says:

    Agree that a united left is needed, but we need a leader who can articulate a vision that will both resonate and be strong enough to withstand the inevitable attack ads.

    Can the Liberal party do it alone? Maybe, but not with Rae. He lost me with his “meh” stand on Afghanistan.

    Mandatory voting is not a bad idea and it seems to work for Australia. In fact, we should adopt a lot more of Australia’s programs IMO. They are so much more progressive when it comes to work life balance, sabbaticals, pensions, and the like.

  3. Pedro says:

    It seems to me that political clout comes with economic clout.
    Solution – stop using the economic marketplace that feeds the Nokias, the Samsungs, the Apples, need I go on?
    Stop using debit cards that make it possible to follow each and every transaction that you make.
    Stop paying tuition. Do you know that you can sit in on most first year lectures and get the reading list from any paying student beside you?
    Buy at pennies on the dollar previous years textbooks from foolish paying students who can’t sell ’em if they try.
    Is the education about learning or about the testing and achieving a credential?
    There are so many ways for the Occupy Blank to marginalize the current economy but unfortunately they have paid for a bogus education.
    If they were really smart they would take Wall Street out of the equation.
    But they continue to ask for government intervention while they don’t understand that the global banking system feeds the education trough!
    Cut up your debit cards and get rid of the cellphones.
    Use cash for every transaction and begin to see the Wall Street hegemony shrink.
    Do it soon because some jurisdictions are already banning cash transactions

  4. kit says:

    Well let’s get rid of Harper and then he won’t recognize the Canada he tried to destroy.

  5. frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

    Its easy to get a cadre of voters out when the word is spread from on high from the fundamentalist Christian(the real power behind the CPOC today) pulpits across the land.
    If you want to be a RefoormaTory candidate in BC, at least in the bible belt, you’d better be a fundy.

    Im a little gun shy of mergers(for obvious reasons), but quite frankly, its the only way we are going to defeat those who would like to return Canada to circa 1950’s….

    Then after the dragon is slain, bring in mandatory voting, and proportional representation as well.

    • pomojen says:

      I so totally agree. I’ve been voting NDP for a long time now, mostly because I love our local MP and feel like the Libs weren’t really “left of centre” enough. I’ve wanted to vote for something in between for a long time. I have never been a fan of the superleft wing in the NDP…the tails in the curve always represent the ideologues. I am the kind of voter who will enthusiastically vote for the “Green Liberal Democrats”. Let the tail drift away to form the far left of left party that won’t get serious tread anywhere. The broad spectrum progressives coming together would be a serious force to be reckoned with,

      Maybe we need to rethink the notion of “merger”. Dismantle them both and reconstitute entirely. What would happen if we erased everyone’s memory of being aligned with one party or another, put them in a room together and said “hammer out a plan. one that you can all swallow that takes us a few steps ahead of where we are now and closer to where we want to be. that’s the bar.” An interesting social experiment maybe, more than a serious plan for party building. But hey, I wonder.

      And yes to mandatory voting and prop rep. You can always mess up a ballot if your choice is “none of the above”. But asking us to make a little mark in a box once every 4 years is not a tall order.

      • Danny says:

        Having the government force people to do ANYTHING is not freedom. That includes forcing people to vote.
        Less government is good government. Every atrocity in history has been commited by Governments, usually governments that believe they are doing the right thing.
        And a Majority voting to do something does not make it right. Two wolves voting to each a sheep et al. Or the self labelled 99% voting to steal the property of the 1%.

    • Dan says:

      You just convinced me that proportional representation (and maybe even mandatory voting) would take this country away from its hard-right bend.

      So thank you for that.

    • Cam Prymak says:

      OK, so Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott by your reasoning must be an outlier within the CPC.

      ‘”It’s still not too late to stop this $6-million misappropriation of Canadian taxpayer funds, because IPPF does not meet the criteria of our commendable maternal and child health care initiative. IPPF will be doing abortions by another name,” he said.’


      Or wait, it must just be Vellacott and fellow Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost as the only ones holding the CPC to an anti-abortion agenda.


      Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    • bugzy says:

      YES!!! here as well. Follow Harper’s and McKay’s plan.If not for the merger between McKay Progressive conservatives and Harper’s Reform/Alliance- western party, they would likely have been history by now. I agree that a merger to get rid of the senseless Cons are a priority and is crucial in order to save our country and the uneducated so called adults who have been easily brain washed and turned into Zombies with not a functioning live brain cell in their wee skulls. I really feel sorry for their generation of children who will have to live with these dough heads.

      And a good morning to you all. Cheers

  6. Michael Bussiere says:

    Time for online democracy as a means of neutering megalomaniacs like this guy. How would he argue against a new process whereby the people would have been able to deny him prorogation?

    • Andrew says:

      Mr. Tulk may be onto something with the indelibly inked fingers. The day after the election, look at your friends / relatives / co-workers fingers to determine if they voted. If there is no ink, ask them why they didn’t vote. Maybe shame might increase voter turn-out.

  7. D.W. says:

    To have “given up” on democracy implies that one put down the XBox once in a while and actually bothered going to vote. I doubt that’s the case with the vast, vast majority of these people.

    • TheSilentObserver says:

      This seems baseless. “Hey, what’s this, young people mad about some issues? Well, not as if they have any real political clout! Let’s throw in an xbox reference! Har har har!” Really, same crap you hear each time anybody under the age of 30 registers interest in the political process. It’s the same ageist pap that the libs and cons threw at the likes of Pierre-Luc Dusseault and co. because they couldn’t get their heads around the fact that once people gain voting rights at the age of 18, they might, you know, actually use them, or god forbid even run for office. I’m 19 and have voted in three different elections over the past year, as have many of my friends currently offering some modicum of support for the occupy movements

      • lance says:

        Congratulations on doing your duty. Next up, allowance for taking out the garbage.

        • TheSilentObserver says:

          Bite me dinosaur. How about you use your ballots to take out the garbage the boomers and Gen X voted into office?

          • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

            I thought social media would be influential in getting your generation out to vote…..it wasnt……I have come to the conclusion the majority of your generation, not all, dont give a shit…..
            I work with a number of young people under the age of thirty…..and ask them an opinion on anything other than tunes, sports, fashion, or the latest iphone, and their eyes glaze over…..

            Having said this, it is my generation(boomer) that is responsible for this sad state of affairs….We got everything handed to us on a platter, unlike my parents who suffered through the Depression of the Thirties and a World War, and unlike my grandmothers who had to fight for the right to vote….and who saw that democracy was hard won, and the franchise was not to be taken lightly.

            Weve simply passed on our lackadaisical attitude to your generation…..

  8. Great article. It seems to me that strategically the best way to beat Harper is to do the opposite of what he so desperately wants. We should support the Liberal Party.

  9. Steve T says:

    I am not convinced the Harper and the CPC are running amok or doing anything they didn’t make abundantly clear in their election campaign and/or their time during the 5-year minority government. Their positions on a whole host of issues was well known. Furthermore, voter turnout numbers have been steadily declinining for years. There is no more “suppression” of the left today than there was suppression of the right during the 1990s.

    Rather than painting the left as disorganized, fractionated, or suppressed, let me propose an alternative: there wasn’t anything in the CPC campaign that was so catalyzing as to bring them out in sufficient numbers. Perhaps that speaks volumes as to how unobjectionable (to the majority) that the CPC policies are. The things making headlines today (Canadian Wheat Board; gun registry; etc) are only issues to a small niche of people. Note how the issue with the broadest resonance – the omnibus crime bill – isn’t getting much coverage. Perhaps that is because it finally achieves what most Canadians want. This was a key platform in the federal election, and somehow it wasn’t particularly motivating to the “progressives” to have them prevent a CPC majority.

    Methinks there is more diversity to the centre-left than some would have you believe. There is a large core centre that will NEVER vote for the NDP, or any party with whom the NDP merges. We may just happen to live in a 3-party country after all.

    • George says:

      good post Steve T. and it’s also fair to anoint Ontario as being Daltonized seeing as though McGuinty seems to like mirroring Harper and/or riding the Harper express when it helps him. What’s good for Canada is good for Ontario – monkey see, monkey do.

  10. Cynical says:

    Why do I keep unravelling PMSH as Prime Minister S**t Head. I don’t mean to, really, Is this a common short form within the Conservative Party?
    Just asking.
    BTW Thanks for the postings Mr. Tulk. I think mostly you are wrong, but you care enough to debate. Good on you.

  11. Cam Prymak says:


    Amongst other things you said, ‘The nonsense that the CPC is trying to suppress democracy is from the same conspiratorial vein that the CPC had a hidden agenda.’

    The following example is just one story that gives people cause to disagree with you and what could have been an interesting submission on your part will ultimately be downgraded to spin, which is a shame.

    ‘When the opposition asked the committee to reopen the study the Auditor-General’s reports, the Conservatives forced the meeting to go behind closed doors. The move, Mr. Caron told the House of Commons during Question Period in the House of Commons, amounts to “an assault on transparency and accountability.” ‘


    How is it that the people that railed against financial improprieties can themselves shut down debate in the House of Commons on an alleged misuse of funds by one of their own? It’s this Holier than Thou approach and politician’s public confessional of another’s mistake, real or imagined, that turns off voters.

    In this case the Right fails to hold itself to the same standard they unilaterally impose on the Left. In so doing you’ve enabled the very same disrepute of our democratic system from which voters turn away in the first place.

  12. Steve says:

    This i ridiculous, Warren. THe OCCUPY protest started in the United States. Does that mean that young, mostly progressive Americans who have given up on democracy have been “Obama-ized”?

  13. Danny says:

    I am sort of liking this Conservative Government. In their campaign they said they would kill the Wheat board, now they are doing it. They said they would address the imbalance of seats in BC, Alberta and Ontario, and now they are doing it. They said they would kill the Long gun registry, now they are doing it. They have brought it a $30B contract to build up our navy & coast guard, delivered the contract with no cries of foul, and no objections from the opposition.
    I think Canadians are not used to Federal Governments that do what they campaigned on. This is a change I like. Honesty. That IS something we have not recognized from Ottawa in a long , long time.

    • TheSilentObserver says:

      Let’s take a stab at the seat redistribution issue. Ontario and BC are actually getting less seats than initially promised, while Quebec is getting seats it is not proportionally entitled to in order to shut up the surviving BQ remanants, and interestingly, Alberta gets one more seat than promised. I wonder who arranged that?

  14. VH says:

    Warren, with all due respect (and congrats again on the McGuinty victory), but the kids are all right. At least we know where they stand.

    Say, what’s the philosophy of Bob Rae again? As you surely know, nobody trusts a political party that’s neither fish nor fowl.

    If there’s any group that “lacks leadership” or has “given up on democracy” that would be the group of left leaning cohorts from the over 50s. And for Liberals that means especially the next generation of folks that came after the Chretien years. Who runs for PM after allowing one’s self to be flattered by courtiers who whisper “sure you haven’t lived here in 20+ years but we like you and so, using our considerable backroom power, we’ll manipulate events and rules to make you leader”. Not anyone who believes in real democracy that’s who. And ditto for Paul Martin, sore loser – 1990 edition.

    These breakdowns are owned by the over 50s crowd not by the kids protesting down near Bay Street.

    Like I say, the kids, they don’t represent a Harper wet dream, they are the electric shock currents being administered to revive the near death body politic that we call left wing leadership. The sooner the current so-called progressive “leaders” leave the stage and vacate the host – “demon be gone, praise the lord!” – the sooner Harper will get what’s coming to him.

    And, as you know, “we all got it coming, kid”.

    • TheSilentObserver says:

      I certainly felt like i recieved the shaft from Iggy and Apps, though i certainly can’t speak for all Canadian youth. The Liberals have unapolagetically abdicated any notion of being a centre-left party, hence my own recent shift towards the NDP

    • Dan says:

      The things that the Liberal party campaigns on are so *small*.

      I’m thrilled to bits that Hudak melted down in Ontario. But why did it happen? “Foreign workers”. “Chain gangs”. Stuff that is offensive, no doubt. But really amounts to two things: jack and shit.

      And that’s the state of the Liberal party leadership. It’s no longer the internationalism of Pearson, or the generous rights of Trudeau. It’s strategery and tactics. Floor crossings. War rooms. Focus tested platforms. Patronage. Careerism. (And those are supposedly the GOOD qualities of the Liberal leadership. Haven’t even mentioned the scandals and poor decision making.)

      So the kids protesting bay street (including myself) aren’t leaderless. They know exactly who provides the leadership (and funding) for their political parties. They work on Bay street.

      I agree with VH. Most of the insiders are un-democratic idiots. I’d keep Warren around to run the war room. But for every person I’d keep there’s about 10 hacks who need to be kicked out.

  15. W.B. says:

    We’ve been badly let down by the opposition who for some reason are afraid of Harper and afraid to fight for Canadian values. The Liberals allowed Harper to freely destroy two leaders, using mass media techniques to strip them of all integrity, ability, and achievement.
    Now the NDP seems ill prepared to defend its turf even with Mulcair as leader, as he tries to distance himself from labour.

    There was an insightful column by Lawrence Martin on iPolitics outlining Harper’s plan to battle the emergence of the NDP by launching a tactical and ideological campaign to crush the labour movement, and render it weak and inconsequential.

    Do Canadians believe labour rights are part of our fundamental rights? Are freedom of speech and assembly essential to a free society and democracy itself? Well if the Liberals and NDP don’t start fighting back and showing leadership we stand to lose the core values Canadians used to believe in.
    We’re becoming more punitive, militaristic, and authoritarian. Fight back Liberals and NDP; attack Harper and his plans for a new Canada.

    • Dan says:

      For some reason Labor is hugely unpopular. When they get involved in elections, they’re seen as manipulative and corrupt. Between elections, they’re greedy and short-sighted.

      Someone forgot that Labor values are progressive values. The 40 hour, 5 day work week. Social security. Universal health care. Anti-discrimination. Minimum wage.

      If we had more unions in this country, we’d already have universal child care. The credit card companies and banks wouldn’t even consider some of the fees they’ve imposed on us. We’d have taxed the rich to pay for another 50 years of health care and social security.

      The labor movement fights for stuff that benefits the average Canadian. When they vote, they skew heavily towards progressive candidates. Labor rights are Canadian rights.

      Funny. Among people my age, 1 in 5 are unemployed. But on the other side of the coin, I have friends with jobs who wouldn’t dare complain about a 60-80 hour work week, with no overtime pay. Some have no jobs, and some are basically working two jobs for the price of one. If we rediscovered the 40 hour work week, those companies might actually be forced to hire more people to work those extra hours.

      Except that those companies would probably just close up shop and move to China.

      And people wonder why young people don’t care about National politics. Canadian politicians surrendered their power to the global economy a long time ago. Not that the older generation cares.

      • Steve T says:

        And, in your single post, you have described the key reasons that people are afraid of the left. Universal child care = everyone gets to pay for me to raise my kids, no matter how many I choose to have. “Tax the rich” = a nebulous axe that can be swung arbitrarily by the government whenever it has a pet project for some special-interest group that it wants to fund.

        As for the 40-hour work week and the other alleged victories of Labour, this is a common refrain that is beginning to ring hollow. First, many of these things were only tangentally related to unions, yet over time labour has claimed them as their own. Second, there is a bit of “what have you done for me lately?”. All of these gains occured 20 or more years ago.

        Finally, when making its case, Labour conveniently leaves out the reasons that many people are less-than-enamoured with them. Strikes by unions whose members already have far better pay and benefits than the vast majority of people. Union leaders who seem more interested in creating friction, to preserve their own jobs, than in any real evaluation of “fairness” to employees. Nasty and sometimes violent actions during strikes, including harassment of union members who have a work ethic and want to continue working (and the lovely “scab” moniker that unions have foisted upon these people). And the list goes on…

        Unions are a product of a bygone era, when they were needed. They aren’t anymore, and now they just represent a detached reality that most of the population is tired of hearing whine.

      • W.B. says:

        So I guess you don’t agree that people have a right to assemble together, decide by majority vote on a future course of action, and bargain with employers collectively? I don’t think there is any doubt Harper take away all of the rights labour has achieved in the past 100 years if he can.

        Of course nowadays corporate owners and managers are enlightened and would never treat their workers unfairly by stripping away pensions, selling shifts to the lowest bidder, imposing 10, 12 hour days and 6, 7 day work weeks, creating unsafe working and environmental conditions, and hiring goons to beat up workers who might try to defy Harper organize a union and go on strike for a decent wage.

        What a wonderful era of christian charity and universal kindness and caring awaits us.

        • Dan says:

          I’m not even gonna bother reading the conservative tracts against unions. I get why the wealthiest people would be against policies that work against them, and I get why conservatives would be against a group that usually votes against them.

          But no one else should be against unions. Wherever you find high amounts of union membership and/or power, you usually find a European social democracy where the middle class is better off than their American (or even Canadian) counterparts.

        • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

          Mr. Tulk would have us chained to the workbench if he could……his party is already working on barefoot and pregnant…….

  16. Jan says:

    Where in the platform is this Orwellian surveillance legislation that makes internet providers agents of the state and enables the police to snoop on us without judicial supervision?

  17. Sean says:

    can’t agree more Warren!

  18. Pete says:

    How about his legislation on accountability. He breaks that promise every day with coverups, in camera hearings and sledge hammer closures in the house.

    Gord, Is that your idea of keeping ALL his promises.

  19. ben burd says:

    “Unions and collective bargaining in the private sector is fine as long as membership is optional” I can’t agree more but only if the Parasites that piggy-back on the CBA didn’t get the benefits.

  20. Mike says:

    Harper wasn’t voted in by the majority of Canadians. Our political system allowed him to gain his majority. For a person who trumpets democracy surely you must recognize Harper speaks for only at best 40% of Canadians. Without changes to our first past the post system we may be doomed to successive governments that reflect only the biggest minority- regardless of political stripe, and we are definitely opposites, I see this as the major problem in Canadian politics. Far more so than Quebec sovereignty, economic recovery, and the gun registry. Fix the system should be a rallying cry for all Canadians. Elect the senate as a regional balance to a rep by pop legislature and use a system that ensures popular vote is reflected in that house.

  21. Steve T says:

    In reply to Dan, above, on unions – see WK’s post in today’s Sun, regarding the issues with “European social democracy”. This approach has nearly bankrupted the EU. And this is something we want to emulate?

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