Practical Politics for the CPC 
The Shotgun is a nice blog - might win best group blog.

Recently there has been a bit of a debate over conservative or Conservative politics/policy. Norman Spector has used the term practical politics a few times in response to Kathy Shaidle's 'social conservative' views - basically saying that by being firm in her beliefs on a variety of issues she is withdrawing from practical politics.

The sides have become somewhat formed with the person's like Jay Currie saying that if an issue like abortion legislation becomes part of the CPC platform then he would 'remain' politically homeless.

It's interesting to think about. The CPC is going to have the national policy convention in less than three months and we could possibly see an election in 2005.

As part of the process leading into the convention each riding association had, or had the option of holding, a policy amendment meeting. I briefly attended the Ottawa-Centre meeting. I joined the party in January - and this was my first political meeting other than the nomination meeting for the local candidate last election.

There was about 30 people there I would guess and it was pretty much an open forum. A person would propose an amendment to the current party policy statement and the others would debate it. During the time I was there (1.5 of 4 hrs), there was about 4 votes with one very subtle amendment passing.

The biggest thing that I noticed was even in that room of local Conservatives there was the fear of electibility that was so thick - the practical politics that Spector talks of was a spoken and unspoken veto on thought and discussion. During a debate on health care there was much discussion over the need for 'weasel' words when describing funding or implementation. I said that I found it strange that in the large section of health care the word private was not to found (the word public appeared numerous times) yet that is what people want to know about our platform - what is your stance on privatization? I didn't plan to say anything at the meeting and had done no real research or else I would have pointed to the Maclean's poll that showed 53% of Canadians support "allowing government to contract out delivery of publicly covered services to private clinics". I concluded by proposing an amendment that would add that the Conservative party believes that the Canada Health Act does not prevent provinces from using services provided by private business. It was narrowly voted down.

I'm getting to my point.

The party must be receptive to differing opinions - it needs all conservatives. The problem arises on a couple of free vote issues - if the party doesn't have a firm position then those debates are going to be public. I think those issues must be settled - a screaming match in Montreal in March - and then something to compare to the other parties.

Here are my top policy amendments that are 'politically practical' in my opinion.

1. My local proposal - worded more clearly perhaps but whatever: The Conservative Party believes that the Canada Health Act does not prevent provinces from using services provided by private business. It's meaningless in actuality since the other parties believe the same thing - might as well come out and say it though. You might force the other two parties to fight for a position.

2. Let's get the biggies out of the way - the Conservative Party would introduce abortion legislation similar to that which is found in Europe with a gestational limit between 14 and 22 weeks to be determined by a national panel. This abortion legislation would be consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Conservative party will ensure that women have timely access to abortions during the legal timeframe throughout the country.
Look - what are the Liberals going to do with this? - would the Liberals actually campaign for no limit? If you say they did in the last election you would be partially right - they got away with it because the Tories had no real policy to compare.

3. The Conservative Party will move to remove marriage from federal and provincial jurisdiction by a proposed constitutional amendment and will leave the definition of marriage to religious institutions to develop as they see fit. Civil unions will be required for the determination of spousal rights and legal whatevers.

4. The Conservative Party will not implement a taxpayer funded national daycare program. The Conservative Party will eliminate the spousal tax credit and instead will provide create child tax credits. The Party will increase child support payments for low income Canadians.

5. The Conservative Party will decrease the size of the political pork barrel - yes, those words will be used - for regional development programs, industrial subsidies. Reductions in those programs will be directed to increased funding for post secondary research and development.

That's enough for tonight....

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