Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The dangerous Mr. Scheer

[The Run is The Tyee's election newsletter - you can subscribe here. I wrote this for a recent edition.]

Andrew Scheer’s harmless schtick has worked for 15 years as he’s avoided doing doing anything notable while climbing the political ladder. Now he wants to be prime minister. And his policies would be dangerous.

My long career has included stints writing newspaper editorials, a form with its own clichés. A favourite is the anguished cry “How many more must die before…” followed by whatever the writer wants to see happen, from a neighbourhood stop sign to global disarmament.

It works because politicians do make life-and-death decisions, from sending troops to war to raising speed limits. It’s part of the job.

But Scheer’s campaign promises, despite his genial blandness, seems particularly deadly.

Consider Scheer's response to the opioid crisis, which killed 4,588 people last year. It ignores evidence, and apes the Harper government’s wilful blindness to reality. Scheer promises to invest in treatment and recovery, yet another education campaign “highlighting the benefits to young Canadians of staying drug free” and promises money to cities to pick up needles.

All good. But not a word about keeping people alive, from safe consumption sites to expanded access to poison-free drugs to wide distribution of naxolone kits to reverse the effects of overdoses.

Which means more people will die as a result of government policy. In B.C., research has shown that without those measures more than twice as many would be dying of overdoses.

Overdoses killed 4,588 Canadians last year. Scheer’s policies would condemn more people to preventable deaths. (The other parties’ positions have their own huge flaws, but none are quite so indifferent to the human toll of the opioid crisis.)

Scheer has pledged to cut Canada’s foreign aid budget by 25 per cent, claiming falsely that he could find the $1.5-billion savings by ending aid toward relatively well-off countries “like Italy, Brazil, Turkey and hostile governments like Iran.” That’s not true, as John D. Cameron and Robert Huish pointed out. Aid to those four countries totals just $13 million. Cutting $1.5 billion would require ending development aid for desperately poor countries, which means deaths, decline and deteriorating world security. (After three years in Honduras, I left impressed by our contribution and convinced most Canadians would be proud of the work being done on their behalf.)

Do we even need to talk about the climate crisis? Scheer’s phoney climate plan was, I wrote in The Tyee, an attempt to pretend to care about the issue, with no goals, no commitments, no real actions. It’s a climate plan for people who don’t believe climate change is an issue.

Which again means more preventable deaths in Canada and around the world.

Finally, a brief warning about Scheer and women. He claims access to abortion would not change if the Conservatives take over. Anti-abortion groups don’t believe him — they helped Scheer win the leadership and are staging a national campaign to elect Conservatives in swing ridings. Scheer, one major group says, is “arguably the most pro-life leader the Conservative Party of Canada has seen since John Diefenbaker.”

But even if you accept Scheer’s claims, you should be worried that he’s the choice of people who want to limit women’s rights. An August poll in the U.S. dug into attitudes around abortion. It included 10 questions on attitudes on various aspects of women’s equality. Things like “are women too easily offended,” “does access to birth control affect women’s equality,” “is the way women are treated in society an important issue”

And across the board, people who favoured limiting access to abortion also rejected the idea that gender equality is an issue that needs to be addressed. And those people — or their Canadian counterparts — are cheering for a Scheer victory.

I’ve been involved in covering about a dozen federal elections. Often, the differences between parties aren’t really that great.

Not this time. 


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e.a.f. said...

I'm reading this long after the election and we've had the Budget. My take on Scheer's attitude towards drugs, is its not that he doesn't care, but he may well believe, if they die, they will go to a "better place". People frequently forget some of these Conservatives belong to some "weird" religious organizations. Harper belonged to a church which believed, "the bible was inerrant and the end of days was immient." then people wondered why he didn't care about climate change. Well why would you when you believe the world is going to end and "the true believers" will go to heaven. Many in these religious organizations aren't interested in the here and now, but the "there after". Some believe the world needs to be "cleansed" of these "sinners". Drug addicts form no place in his world or his mind, hence the lack of anything real to deal with the issue. Thankfully he did not become P.M.

when it comes to the right to choose and women's rights, never did believe anything Scheer or Harper said. It was my opinion, had Harper been re elected he would have abolished the right to choose or placed severe restrictions on it. He might have also re instituted the death penalty. Some of those Conservatives are bat shit crazy when it comes to the rights of women. They do not see women as equal to men. We would have seen roll backs on maternity leave, paid and non paid, etc.

Many people have only lived with the right to an abortion. they don't remember the times when it was illegal. I do. Women died. children were born with diseases/conditions which they ought not to have. their parents ought to have choices. The Conservatives believe they are the chosen ones, they're Christians and only they know the way.

I am so relieved they were not re elected. People might do well to remember if they ever come to office, with the current bunch, we too will begin to be just like the U.S.A. and guys like Ford, Scheer, Kenney are simply dtrump light.

You column was a good cautionary tale for voters.

the other thing Scheer would have eliminated is the child benefit cheques putting families back into a life of poverty and pain.

Its fun for those idiots to think they can solve the world problems by reducing or eliminating foreign aid. If we do not provide for other countries, they will sink into further poverty, war, etc. Eventually it will spill over into ours. The sooner the world is rid of these populist, right wing thugs, the better.

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