Letters to the Editor – Feb. 3, 2010

Tories Do Bluegrass, Greens Twist and Shout

I am pleased to read the responses from the Campus Green members and supporters detailing their tribulations against the Conservative Government during their spontaneous, grass-roots protest in December and I am delighted to see their passionate interest in the environment. While no specifics on environmental policy will be discussed in the following response, nonetheless a few points must be made.

While it made my day to see two comment pieces from Mr. Beddome and Ms. Beaudette in the last volume of The Manitoban, along with another letter to the editor from Mr. Weinberg published online, it is surprising they chose to submit a total of three responses to one article. Given their stance on the environment one may have thought they would have taken a conservationist approach and consolidated their opinions in a single response.

Allow me to congratulate Ms. Beaudette for demonstrating the unique ability to contradict herself in her own article. She states “I agree with Fernando that ‘the respectful exchange of ideas is important and empowering’” yet concludes her article by saying one would be correct in assuming “I have absolutely no respect for a conservative point of view.” Need I say more?

On the issues of proroguing, I would like to add that this does not directly affect the Green Party at all. While I am not shrugging off prorogation entirely – that discussion will, and has, taken place in a different discourse – prorogation does not have an impact on the Green Party debating their ideas in Parliament as they have not been chosen by the Canadian people to do so. If anything, it has given Ms. May the opportunity to be particularly emphatic about the failings of Canada’s democratic system- namely that her party has yet to win a seat in an election. I wish their party leader luck as she attempts to win a seat in the next election in whatever province she chooses this time around.

On that topic, I draw attention to Mr. Weinberg’s comments on democracy and allegations that the Conservative government is “out of step” with Canadians. I congratulate him on taking the moral high ground. In a democratic society the hallmark is that the citizens may cast a vote for whichever representative they choose. It is the votes that truly matter. On this front, in the 2008 election the Green Party received only 6.78 per cent, less than 1 million of all votes across Canada. Compare this with 37.65 per cent and 5.2 million votes for the Conservative Party and I will let the reader come to a conclusion, based on the facts and numbers, which party is more out of step with Canadians. Remember, it is a democracy.

The Campus Conservatives just wrapped up a successful “Campus Conservative Week” which hosted numerous speakers, including Mr. James Bezan, Member of Parliament and the Chair of the Standing on Environment and Sustainable Development, speak to students free of charge and bring the Conservative message on the environment on campus. Yet despite the Campus Greens’ efforts in organizing off campus protests and writing multiple letters to The Manitoban, none of their members were present for Mr. Bezan’s presentation. There, the Campus Greens could have heard Mr. Bezan speak, perhaps surprisingly to them, that Conservatives are conservationists and are taking action for the preservation of rural land.

Although the Campus Greens are decrying the prorogation of Parliament in Ottawa – in which they have no representation – they simultaneously pass up the opportunity to hear, ask questions of, and represent themselves to a Member of Parliament and Chair of the Standing Committee on the Environment right here at the University. This is indifference to environmental issues at its finest, and to once again quote Ms. Beaudette, “certainly indifference doesn’t qualify as commitment either.”

Having just wrapped up a successful Campus Conservative Week, which saw ours and the governments’ side of the environmental debate presented here on campus, the Campus Conservatives now turn their attentions to other events and their studies. It is a shame Campus Greens do not take as much of an interest in the environment as one might think. The Campus Conservatives take no interest in a further debate with those who are indifferent, not respectful of, and do not care to listen to the other side of the argument. After all, these are three prerequisites needed in order to have a meaningful debate in the first place.

Blake Hamm is president of the Campus Conservatives and has respect for opposing points of view, even when unreciprocated.