Opinion

The Conservative Convention that Wasn't

What policies will Tories come up with next? Due to floods, we'll have to wait and see.

By Steve Burgess 28 Jun 2013 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess is a freelance writer and the author of Who Killed Mom? published in 2011 by Greystone Books.

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'Spoke with @premier_redford and @nenshi to receive updates on conditions in Southern Alberta.' Photo via Stephen Harper's Twitter account.

Oh Calgary, how you have suffered.

Massive flooding putting people out of house and home, power outages, Stampede organizers scrambling to add dolphin roping to the schedule. And on top of it all the Conservative Party policy convention scheduled for Calgary this weekend has been cancelled. As any good Conservative can tell you, this is God's punishment for electing Mayor Nenshi -- who incidentally has come out of it all more popular than ever. There would have been some top-notch conspiracy theories hatched in Calgary hotel hallways this weekend. Alas, what might have been.

It would have been a full agenda with delegates discussing how to make immigration reform sexier than Justin Trudeau, and whether the Book of Revelations explicitly connects the Anti-Christ with curly hair, good teeth, and Montreal. All washed away with the flood waters. Among the grieving: Calgary's sex trade workers who would have been ready to welcome delegates fresh from voting on a motion to keep prostitution illegal.

Another motion on the now-cancelled agenda dealt with "Harassing Telephone Calls," to wit: "That the harassing telephone calls Section 372 (3) of the Criminal Code be amended to include digital communications (e.g. text messages)."

It's unclear whether the Conservatives wanted action against harassing text messages or whether they were simply reminding their campaign team that they have more options than just robo-calling. Now we'll never know.

All eyes on Calgary

Frankly though the official agenda did not feature a lot of red meat for the Conservative barbecue. One policy resolution dealt with the question of medical isotopes, as follows: "The Conservative Party supports the Canadian production of medical isotopes."

That would have had the convention floor roiling all right. But really, there's only so much the Conservatives can get away with without handing ammunition to their political foes. And although Calgary may not exactly be Greenwich Village, the country would have been watching. The Conservative rank-and-file must sometimes dream of what they might get away with in some other jurisdiction, some greener pasture where the call for liberty from tyranny and government-funded hospitals might ring out loud and clear. If there had only been time they could have re-scheduled the convention in, say, Texas.

Ah, sweet Texas; the land where school textbooks treat the Theory of Evolution as somewhat less credible than phrenology, and where Governor Rick Perry intends to call another special legislative session to close nearly all of the state's abortion clinics. In Texas the current Conservative platform would likely be filed alongside the policy positions of Hugo Chavez.

Moscow, anyone?

Or perhaps Conservative die-hards might have chosen Oklahoma. Tourists do visit the state, sometimes even on purpose. Conservatives would have felt right at home there. Oklahoma Republican senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn refused to support disaster relief after Hurricane Sandy, with Inhofe calling FEMA disaster relief a "slush fund." There must be Conservative conventioneers who would have yearned to stand above Calgary's receding flood waters and proclaim that the Lord helps those that help themselves.

Unfortunately Senators Inhofe and Coburn lost the courage of their convictions after tornadoes ravaged their state, and supported all the disaster relief they could get. So maybe not Oklahoma then. Another option? I'll bet a few Conservatives quietly wish they were in Moscow.

Heretical though it may seem there has got to be some Putin envy in Conservative ranks these days. True, he's ex-KGB. But the Russian president knows how to stick it to President Obama, surely a much-admired quality on the Canadian right. Unlike Stockwell Day, nobody laughs when Putin wears a wetsuit. And by giving at least temporary safe haven to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Putin has managed the neat trick of appearing to stand up for liberty even as he makes sure his political enemies end up in jail, exile, or worse. Imagine if Stephen Harper could make himself a hero on college campuses and still have Justin Trudeau in leg irons, mining salt.

But there's no point in dreaming. Convention or no, the most important thing to remember is that the Conservatives support Canadian production of medical isotopes. And probably some other stuff -– but we'll just have to wait.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Environment

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