Saturday, January 14, 2006

Whose values are these, anyway?

Paul Martin has framed this election as question of vision and values, which begs the question -- what are Canadian values?

A nation displays its values most specifically and most obviously through its laws. The things we ask our governors to enshrine in legislation are the things we believe are important. Our national character doesn't grow from legislation, legislation is derived from our national character.

Paul Martin says the 'fundamental difference' between him and Stephen Harper is that Stephen Harper's values coincide more closely with the 'far right' in the US than anyone in Canada. Martin believes that there is but one vision of Canada, and he is the arbiter.

"“I don't believe that Canada was built on American conservative values,"” said the Prime Minister. "“It was built on compassion, on generosity, on sharing and understanding."
The implication is, of course, that compassion, generosity, sharing and understanding are antipathic to American values, to conservative values and to Canadians who share their values -- particularly when a Christian Republican lives in the White House.

The first negative ad in this election campaign aired on December 2nd. Bardish Chagger, Liberal, said:

"(the Liberals) allow Canadians to express their voices and they provide rights to people and to minorities that otherwise would not be granted rights."
The governing party of Canada believes and promotes the idea that they are responsible for its citizens having rights -- which implies that these rights don't exist outside the framework of their governance. The Liberals argue that they doubt the Conservatives would preserve, protect, or recognise our rights, but that is both ignorance and arrogance. Conservatives have a long history preferringing smaller, less intrusive government and of valuing individual over collective rights.

When the power structure of society believes it has endowed 'people and minorities' with rights, it seems unlikely that the actions of those in power will reflect the values of the people they supposedly represent. More accurately, they see themselves as the purveyors of Canadian values, and maybe as they have anticipated, public opinion has actually followed their lead.

The following is a sampling of Canadian values as defined by the Liberal hierarchy:

  • Marriage is a legal recognition of commitment of people who copulate and are financially inter-dependentant. Number and gender, irrelevant.
  • Human life begins when a full-term baby takes its first breath outside the womb, or when a pre-term fetus is wanted by its host.
Whose values are these, anyway?


I have changed one word. 'displays' used to be 'defines'. A commenter questioned the statement's original form, and he was right. We don't define ourself through the constraints we put on our society, but legislation is an outward indication of our priorities or values. I've changed the word to clarify the thought --canadianna


The Arabian Knight said...

Explain to me how come no one in the CPC has given you a job yet.

Jonathan said...

I think your analysis of the values of the Liberal Party is excellent. I just have one concern over a statement I don't think is consistent with the rest of the post: "A nation defines its values most specifically and most obviously through its laws. The things we ask our governors to enshrine in legislation are the things we believe are important."

To the contrary, laws are made to constrain things we think are bad. I would say most of our values are not enshrined in legislation; things like hard work, trust in family, loyalty to friends, and kindness to strangers... those things are not in any laws.

It's dangerous when a people derive their identity and from the state. The people must see that government has a tendency to restrict freedom. In fact you recognize this idea, when you write that "Our national character doesn't grow from legislation, legislation is derived from our national character."

So other than those two sentences, I'm with you 100%.

Canadi-anna said...

jonathan -- You raise an interesting point. What I meant and maybe I should have put it more clearly, is that if we legislate about it, it's important to us. We believe certain species are important, we legislate when and by whom they can be hunted. Yes, we are legislating a constraint, but the law indicates something we value.
Obviously there are a lot of other things that go into creating and defining a national character -- but I guess what I meant, was things that are concrete.
Canadians pride ourselves on being tolerant. It hasn't been enough that we just do it, legislation resassures our tolerance, and the state enforces that. In a way, I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Mike said...

Another great post. I'll be coming back for more!!

Joe said...

We must also root out those in the movement that enjoy porn. Porn is a liberal invention that leads to homosexual acts, which leads to gay marriage, which leads to beastially, which leads to a man marrying his pet, which leads to a man wearing a condom while having sex with his pet, which leads to a dead baby stephen harper.

Nicol DuMoulin said...

Another excellent post!

I just hope the conservatives do not get too complacent in the next week. Some seem to already be popping the cork on the champagne when this thing is far from over.

Anonymous said...

I think we also need to remember Aquinas's Summa Theologica (sorry, I'm a poli sci student and recently read it). Laws are derived from the natural laws which guide every individual. Laws do not need be followed if a person judges them to be of incorrect translation from natural law into written law. Thus, if a person deems healthcare necessary to protect human security, we are entitled to seek healthcare in any means possible, even if there is legislation against access for it.

Fortunately in Canada, we have universal access to health care. I've never used the healthcare system but have heard nothing but bad things about it: long wait times, as much as 1.5 years, is just one of many plaguing issues. The legislation in place giving Canadians equal access to healthcare also causes one of the root problems of the healthcare system, and jeopardizing Canadians human security.

One more note: if the Prime Minister dies while in office, the leader of the senate takes over. Canadians could be subject to a non-elected leader. Something else to think about.

Debris Trail said...

Laws do not just constrain things. It's all a matter of where you come from on each issue. Laws free things as well.

For example, if you believe in polygamy, then a law allowing marriage among multiple partners is a freeing up, not a constraint. It may be viewed as a constraint by most people who want to prohibit it, but for those involved in polygamy, it is freeing.

I agree with Canadianna that "Canadian Values" are expressed in law, but I only agree in the general sentiment. The problem I have with all of this is that I don't believe anyone is qualified to speak for me, nor is anyone qualified in a secular society to speak of values. In as diverse a country as Canada, values are so diverse as to be null.

Essentially, Canada covers the spectrum of values. Worse yet, regions have unique values that are not shared across the country.

So, to have truly "Canadian Values" you'd have to have a free-for-all. Personally, I think there is no such entity as "Canadian Values"; unless you are willing to admit that Canadian values are essentially "everything goes".

Let's get off the "values" crap, and simply get down to governing in a pragmatic way, but never losing sight of the fact that Canada is a fractured country when it comes down to something as ellusive as values. Eventualy you've got to put a lid on "rights", and piss off some fringe group. So be it.

Take me for an example: I am very rightwing geopolitically; I am an agnostic; I am socially Conservative and Libertarian depending on the issue; I'd lock up 14 year old criminals in jail; but I'd legalize prostitution and most street drugs. I'd cut off most welfare payments yet greatly expand it in some cases; I'm against capital punishment, but only because I don't trust the courts to get it right. etc etc etc. And, I am Canadian.

Don't talk to me about lofty ideals like values... I'm an agnostic, and with that comes a great dose of skepticism. And finally, coming from pragmatic power mongers like the Liberals, talk of "values" makes the skeptic in me laugh. It is truly a good joke.

Save the values for people who rule their lives by ideals; a group that as far as my experience in life, is a shrinking minority.

I'm not against anything in your post Canadianna, but I think that the talking point about "values" is a Liberal diversion. If we don't spend hours and hours in our personal lives talking and hand-wringing about values, then why do it now. If it's not the topic around the water cooler; then it's simply not an issue for Canadians.

TrustOnlyMulder said...

Canadianna, I think your original use of the word "defines" was accurate.

When one is torted, they petition their local judicial hierarchy. This may be the local chieftain, the old wise sages, the community as a whole (referendum), or any other replacement for a judicial arm of the collective group.

That judicial arm then sets a precedent by their decision.

ex. John steals Fred's cow before there were laws. Fred's outcry to the collective (through whatever form), creates enough ruckus for people to know that stealing is wrong. After all, we wouldn't want our cows stolen. So we can display our agreement with Fred.

The judgement against John to repay Fred for the value of the cow or return it, and then pay some added penalty (hard time or add a chicken to the repayment for lost milk, etc). This is where the chieftains, old wise men, sages, judges, etc come into play. They define what the penalty is, what the judgment is, etc. With the support of the collective, Fred is punished. (stoned, fined, jailed, etc)

Thus the laws of the land are slowly defined by outcry. The display of people may be a strong factor in how the judicial arm reacts, but the definition is, indeed, there.

I can live with "display", but agree 100% with your use of "define".

And this essay is truly a great piece of work. Well thought out, well researched, and worthy of an A+ from any composition professeur who graded my work over the years.

Canadi-anna said...

Debris Trail -- funnily enough I agree with much of what you said, but where we differ is where you believe the talk of values should stop -- I believe the government is trying to impose their values on me and my family, and if I don't speak up, they will become the values of my children by osmosis.

Honesty, trust, fairplay, freedom are all values I believe to be almost universal -- but how we as a society demonstrate them, becomes our identity. Our identity helps determine our course for the future.
For example, and I hesitate to bring up abortion because it evokes a lot emotion and I tend to come down somewhere in the middle on the issue. That said, in Canada, we have no abortion law. To me it says that we don't place any value on a pre-born baby. This is a value judgement. It is not held by all Canadians; it is not even held by most Canadians, but it becomes who 'we' are. It is rooted in the national psyche because we have allowed it to be this way. A radical element in our society has decided that even the debate is 'unCanadian'. Fine. But it becomes part of who we are as a nation.
By not allowing full and proper debate of the moral and social issues, or by pretending they are resolved because we daren't speak openly about our feelings lest we risk not being elected, or being ridiculed or being shut up, our government has closed off discourse and imposed its morality on us. The stifling of reasonable debate becomes part of our value system.
There is but one way to view the world and the Liberals have told us what it is.
Several of the things I chose to list for my post are the main things the Liberals have chosen to make 'scary' issues. Others are the glaring betrayals of democracy perpetrated by the Liberals.
Left unchecked, these thing become part of our collective value system. I think the only way to avoid becoming part of it is to make your voice heard and, in my case, say that the Liberal Party of Canada does not speak for me.

Mark In Bowmanville said...

Libreal values are the only ones Paul Martin considers Canadian. If you believe in free speech, free votes in Parliament, elected Senators, criminals actually being punished, and a military that can actually stand up and be counted on the world stage for being more than just a joke, then you are a pro-American right wing wacko. Values of what Canadians really believe in often are closer to the Conservative platform than most Canadians realize.

I just love how you defined "Libreal-Canadian" Values. If you put that in a print ad, I guarntee it would give people some thoughts...

My only worry is after the Trudeau era of brainwashing the public into this leftwing induced trance, our kids and future will forever influenced by people who think the government is everything. There needs to be more than this Conservative victory, we need an education to explain to people that their rights are to come from the bottom up, not the top down, and the last people you want to trust with them are the Government. Not to mention have to teach people that contrary to popular belief, this country doesn't owe you a thing, you owe it to yourself to make yourself a better citizen. RIght now, this country often sounds like a thousand whining special interests...all with a hand out

Debris Trail said...

Canadianna: Hmmm... I completely agree with all of your sentiments. I guess that my response to anyone shoving their view of "Canadian Values" down my throat, hence speaking for me, is just different than yours. Rather than speaking of "values", I'd like people to just look at things rationally and what the "long term" fallout will be. In otherwords, I'd encourage open discussion on where "values" lead in the end. But, value based discussions tend to be emotional and full of hyperbole.

Abortion Law for instance, or the lack thereof, should not be discussed in the emotional terms of "values" or religion. Why not just discuss the "facts" about abortion.

Rationally, there have to be some limits put on the medical procedure. But, if we approach this from an ideological point of view, like "values", then we get clobbered by the "woman's right to chose" garbage, which when looked at in this case in entirely irrational. Why not just discuss at what point within a pregnancy is it cruel to kill an unborn child from a strictly scientific point of view. Nobody would condone sucking the brains out of a kitten, so why do so to a 6 month term unborn child? But you see, "values" based discussions prevent us from ever getting to the science of it.

Values discussions breed nothing but sweeping rhetoric that keeps the facts from ever being talked about. As an agnostic, I have an advantage here, because nobody can throw the religion arguement at me... nor the rights arguement. I'd rather deal with issues in a blunt fact based manner.

For example, allowing swinger's clubs is going to have repercussions. Personally, I couldn't care less about the practice. But, the reasoning behind the SSC ruling is what I find disturbing. Regional norms and the general norms of society are no longer to be considered, as they once were. Now it is general societal harm that determines what is right and wrong... now take that and extend it to beastiality, polygamy, drug use, public nudity, sex with kids, etc... where does this all lead?

In order for the right to Gay Marriage to pass any SCC challenge, the SCC had to rule in this way on swingers clubs. This ruling means that eventually the SCC will be insulting the true values of 99.99 percent of Canadians as more "values" based cases come before it. So, am I to believe, that it is a Canadian value to insult all Canadian values? The Liberals and SCC seem to think so.

Mitch said...

Another aspect is that most of the values that PMPM is is giving the haliographic treatment to do not coincide necessarily with the human tradition and are in some ways revolutionary. As conservatives, we recognize that hisory is "democracy of the dead" - centuries of trial and error of civilizations and human nature. Institutions that have taken centuries to build up can be destroyed overnight, and can often never be replaced. Some of these changes, as espoused by Martin, embody nihlism - which will only lead to decline.

Linda said...

You've done it again C. - excellent post. I particularly like your comment:

By not allowing full and proper debate of the moral and social issues, or by pretending they are resolved because we daren't speak openly about our feelings lest we risk not being elected, or being ridiculed or being shut up, our government has closed off discourse and imposed its morality on us. The stifling of reasonable debate becomes part of our value system.

When will Canadians wake up to the Orwellian reality of their lives?

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?… Has it ever occurred to your, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?…The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness." —Syme, Chapter 5, 1984

Should be required reading in all schools.

Cyrano said...

I second what Linda said about not being able to even debate issues like abortion. In fact, I just dropped a post at Bound By Gravity to that effect. The government is the one that's hamstrung ordinary Canadians from debating and finding workable solutions to issues. Even if it takes us a generation to do it, that's far preferable to having one vision imposed on us for the sake of 'social peace' (Chretien's words).

NL-ExPatriate said...

It's kinda like Common Sense.

There is no such thing as common sense. The first thing you do if your teaching a class is determin the classes knowledge on a subject. If someone is from toronto he may have neer seen a Chain Saw where as if someone is from NL he probably grew up with one in his back pocket.

Common sense is only relative if you are of a common back ground and with Canada being a nation of Immigrants one and all whether it be first generation or fifth generation we all come from different back grounds places in society levels of society and backgrounds experiences.

What exactly do the majority of Canadians have in Common with Paul MArtin? and he thinks his values represent the values of all Canadians.

The fact is out electoral system is a system of Extremism with the First past the Post our values are being represented by extremist parties by default. Now Proportional Representation where evey bodies vote counts would be more in line with Canadian Values where every bodies vote gets represented by the party that they feel they have most in common with.
We wouldn't need to vote strategically because of Peer Pressure as if we were back in junior high school yard on recess.

The Supreme court is supposed to be non partizan and represent the values of Canadians. So why is it Newfoundland and Labrador has neer had representation on the supreme court in it's entire time in Confederation and Quebec has a guaranteed three positions?

The same could be said for the Supreme court not having equal representation.
In my mind it is because of Quebec and Ontario not wanting to be apart of a nation but rather wanting to be the capital and use the rest of the provinces as colonies. It is because of Quebec and Ontarios resistance to making this a true and equal country that it is doomed.

What other country in the world has a government where over 1/3, one third of the elected representatives are from one one area of the country especially a country as large and diverse as Canada.
Ontario has 106 seats out of 308?
Quebec has 75

No harm in saying Quebec is the tail that wags the dog. While the rest of us are doggy DO DO!

Snookie said...

Well done C! Do we have any "Canadian values" left? At the present rate, the Lieberals will have our Canadian values and culture effectively neutered. Apparently someone forgot to remind them that laws are supposed to be made by Parliament, and enforced by the courts, NOT the other way round. Nothing will change until government as the Lieberals know it is neutered. Wot a lovely thought! *WEG*

Les Mackenzie said...

Explain to me how come no one in the CPC has given you a job yet.

C is really Stephen Harper in disguise - don't you all just love the intermanet?

Anonymous said...

The Liberal appointees of the Supreme Court say that I can masturbate in a window while children watch, I can rent a store to start a club where 14 year olds can participate in orgies. And soon they will approve polygamy too - I will be able to marry as many females as I can purchase in the mid-east - and they're all coming here! This is the Canada Liberals choose, not that you'll be able to recognize it soon...

W.L. Mackenzie Redux said...

If you want to know where commissar-monoplist Martin got such twisted "values" check out the trail of deceit and corruption of his business mentor and policy advisor (and unelected Canadian privy council member under investigation by the US congress for the oil-for-food fraud) Moe Strong: