how conservatives can make abolishing Human Rights Commissions a winning issue.
Kate Macmillian and Kathy Shaidle are among my favorite bloggers. When I disagee with them it is usually because they have thrown out decency with political correctness and I would rather they do that than allow that albatross to hang on their minds. One of my burrs when I was thinking of writing this blog was some of their views, but ever since the free-speech attack was launched on them I have been reading almost exclusively the blogs and writing of the people under fire. And my attitude of sometime disapproval is about gone. I must break it to the anti-haters that they have made heroes out their targets – too bad they aren’t the type to beleive in the unintended consequences of government action!
The fringe progressives in our country have established themselves in “Human Rights” commissions where they prosecute heresy against Immaculate Homosexuality, infringe on religious expression, harrass what they see as the leftovers of our bigoted past, outlaw blasphemy on the behalf of the “other”, and bend reality to their will. There is a lot in this – an inherent Machiavellian aspect, a belief in their ability to recreate reality by speaking the Word of their ideology through commission and legislation, and what I can only understand as a suicidal instinct – largely focussed on the “likely to expose” article that I will post more on and that anyone with a head on their shoulders will take issue with.
But repealing Article 13 is not all that should be done. The Human Rights Commissions should be repealed outright, for the very reason the man who helped establish them still defends them.
Alan Borovoy never believed that the commissions would one day infringe on free speech. (George Jonas knew. ) To quote from Jonas’ column, Borovoy continues to make the case for the commissions, sans Article 13, on these grounds:
“We who campaigned for human rights laws and commissions were prepared to encroach on the free choice of those with power in order to prevent unfair harm to those without power…”
Ah, but Alan, what these kind of punitive commissions and laws do is hurt those without power.
In its very essence, a system with the power to punish an employer for dismissing a person if it is supposed to have been done for discriminatory reasons damages the employment prospects of the very people it is supposed to protect. This dynamic is plainly demonstrated by the high unemployment rate in economies such as France where restrictive firing laws force employers to be very careful in whom they hire. This kind of system, “progressive” in intent, forces employers to discriminate against young and inexperienced people – and has a severe effect on new immigrant groups. Sarkozy’s government attempted to pass a law making it easier to fire young employees in order to increase the ability of employers to hire them. Imagine the consequense if French politicians passed laws to make it harder still to fire young people and immigrants instead. Yet this is exactly what our Human Rights Commisions are doing – in Canada the only people we discriminate against in this way are those named in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The liberal project for the past several decades has been to empower the underpriviledged through the welfare state and legislation. What they have accomplished is the empowerment of bureaucrats and lawyers. This is a passage from a column by John Stossel about an American analogue to the commisions called the American Disabilities Act:
“One poll found that since the ADA was passed, the percentage of disabled men who were employed dropped. “Once you hire them, you can never fire them. They are lawsuit bombs,” one employer said. “So we just tell them the job has been filled.”…
Politicians bragged that the ADA “fixed the discrimination problem.” But what really happened is that lawyers got richer, and the disabled got fewer opportunities.”
Anti-discrimination laws actually make it dangerous for renters to rent to and employers to hire those who are “protected”. This is what our commissions are doing. In its latest ludicrous caprice, a woman who was unable to wash her hands was fired from MacDonalds after her doctor stated that she couldn’t work in a restaraunt and the restaraunt got fined 55,000 dollars. This is described on the blog Nothern Exposure (I don’t remember who to hat tip for finding that post, sorry), which writes about the Canadian employment environment for American companies – concluding: “It can be argued that Canadian human rights tribunals are insensitive to the practicalities of operating a business and accommodating members of a workforce who may or may not have realistic expectations of how their unique situations might be handled.” One of the comments regarding the post’s recommendations (among several vowing to never come to Canada): “Here is a better idea. Avoid hiring the disabled altogether.” (although in this case she became disabled in this way after a 20 year employment, it certainly holds true otherwise)
The liberal conviction that they can regulate Canada into utopia is making our country worse. Their campaigns to empower the disadvantaged actually harm them. This is two things: an outrage, and a conservative wedge issue. There is a basic difference between liberals and conservatives on this – that liberals beleive in using force to punish the wrongdoers (real and imagined) and conservatives beleive in actually helping the individuals themselves.
This is not a risky issue mined with hidden agenda baggage. This is our opportunity to transcend that image by outdoing Stephane Dion and Alan Borovoy and replacing the punitive and counterproductive commissions with a conservative solution that will actually promote the welfare of the underpriviledged in Canada. It has long been a theme of conservatives that conservatives and liberals have the same goals, only with different solutions. Its time to show the country that not only does Canada’s New Government share the value of helping the underpriviledged, it can do so more effectively than liberals and without undermining our freedoms. The image of conservatives as hostile to the poor and disadvantaged is enduring. And it is wrong. The truth is that liberals are too concerned with an aggrandizing crusade against priviledge to effectively promote those they claim to champion. They beleive in punitive taxes – which hurt the poor too, because the poor are not the point. They beleive in a welfare state – which sucks people into a dependent attitude. Their answer to life’s injustice is to empower panels of themselves to ajudicate it. Liberals empower themselves, not the underpriviledged, and the twin pillars of Liberal electoral success are people who beleive that liberals are helping them and the people who beleive that voting Liberal means that they are the good champions of the unpriviledged.
In a world where old prejudices fade it may be impossible to know whether Canada’s Human Rights Commissions have been on the balance damaging to the prospects of those it is meant to help, but it is certain that by replacing the Commissions with some kind of incentive to hire those we consider to be “without power” or disadvantaged by nature we will do far more more for them completely aside from the goal of ending the illiberal effects of the rights tribunals.
The truth about the liberals is that they will not abandon the tribunals easily – even if they realize that the conservative solution is more effective. They will 1) refuse to believe that the Conservative party could be a better advocate of the disadvantaged because their worldview is premised on their own heroic struggle against dark conservative forces, and 2) refuse to give up the power they have invested in themselves because it is more important to them to punish “the bigots” than empower the disadvantaged.
In other words, this is a wedge issue that can make inroads on both of their electoral pillars and show conservatives to be who really cares. Breaking out of the uncaring stereotype means breaking out of the primary source of media bias. It will not fully happen, but the almost fond attitude expressed by Paul Wells in his book on the last election – that the Harper team believes that too much government hurts human happiness more than it promotes it – is the key to real electablility in a country with a large urban population… and Toronto.
By backing off of this issue, the federal government reinforces in the most powerful way the belief that it has baggage and it demoralizes – and betrays – its most ardent supporters. By destroying the government’s reputation for idealism by blatantly sacrificing the freedom of speech for electoral considerations any chance of a subdued media is lost. This kind of caution is the hamstring of conservative success. By making a postive case for replacing the commissions with a system of incentives to promote the disabled in particular the government will break out of left-right politics into up-down politics which conservatives, as people with a firmer grasp on reality, will have the advantage in. Hope and Change are the electoral strengths of liberals – the belief that good intentions bring goodness – and we must outflank them on this while also practicalizing peoples attitudes so that the question becomes not “who supports the underpriviledged?” but “who supports the underpriviledged more effectively?” The Canadian public will never treat a Conservative government as more than a corruption break from the truly Canadian party unless the government is seen as almost pious – as something promoting “da Canadian values”. We have to shock them with the thought: “anything Liberals can do, Conservatives can do better?” As conservatives, we can do this without heroizing ourselves and therefore with better results for average Canadians.
Conservatives must not be mere curmudeons. (to quote former American Senator Rick Santorum) Its time to shed the attitude of an opposition in government. Its time to make an appeal to the big city Zoeys described in Paul Well’s book “Right Side Up” as single city women well represented in the Conservative campaign staff but written off as a source of actual votes. A movement who’s party has the greatest proportion of minorities, independent women, and a better way of doing what liberalism defines itself as can sell itself to people who will hardly beleive what they’re doing when they drop the ballot in the box.
In summary, two words: Harper Zoeys. Its time for a rendezvous with Canadian destiny.