|Montréal, 19 février 2000 / No 56||
by Ralph Maddocks
Imagine that a federal election is just about to begin this month. No, this isn't wishful thinking, just an exercise. We could expect to hear the usual claptrap about living in the best country in the world, presumably the result of our paying more taxes than most. Statements about how our taxes are being carefully and well spent will ring out throughout the land. There will be the usual protestations from the NDP about the Liberals taking notes at the conferences of the Canadian Council of Business. The Progressive Conservatives, who no longer hold their caucus meetings in a telephone booth, would talk about tax reduction and propose the establishment of debt to GDP ratios and so on.
A new party, let's call it the Canadian Freedom Party, making its first
appearance might talk about the need to reduce taxes, about a free market
economy, it may speak about having Supreme Court judges no longer appointed
by political parties. There might be proposals to change political campaign
financing methods and proposals to abolish the pension scheme which provides
lavish pensions to MPs and Cabinet Ministers after a short time. There
might be calls for revising the country's immigration policies with a view
to making it harder for the criminals to get in, etc. There would be calls
for a crackdown on crime and proposals to promote high-tech industry. All
the kinds of proposals espoused by many free-market think tanks; policies
which readers of this journal might find unexceptional and unobjectionable,
and perhaps even to find some of them to be a welcome breath of fresh air.
Imagine again, that this new party receives about a quarter of the vote and elects some members to Ottawa. Then, because there was no overall majority for the other barely right of centre parties, they are invited to join with the PCs, Reform (or the Canadian Alliance if it got off the ground in time) to form the next government, Would this accession to power be greeted with cries of
It happened in Austria
Yet a couple of weeks ago, we were all invited to view the spectacle of just about all of the above taking place. All of it triggered by the election of the Austrian Freedom Party by some 27% of the electorate. It is true that the leader of the AFP, the ambitious, opportunistic and coldly calculating
This previously little known Governor of the Province of Carinthia in southern Austria, a province with a population of a something over half a million, has made some statements allegedly claiming that the SS veterans were
Statements which seem in some cases to have been selected out of context. When Haider proposed cutting welfare benefits to encourage recipients to find jobs in the private sector, there was an immediate outburst by the left wing. The socialists claimed that this would be returning to the policies of the Third Reich. Haider replied, perhaps unwisely, pointing out that, unlike the Social Democrats, Hitler had actually increased employment.
Dr Haider is not himself a member of the new government, although six members of his party are. Prior to their taking office, Dr Haider was obliged to sign a document renouncing Austria's Nazi past. This document which can be found on the Austrian government's own web site contained the following phrase:
Astonishing enough was the reaction of the Israeli government who demanded international action against the Austrian government, alleging
What about Castro, Putin, Fini...?
These same people from the radical left who are denouncing Haider are keeping remarkably quiet on the subject of other renowned democrats such as Fidel Castro or Vladimir Putin. Both of them men who seem to repress dissidence quite forcefully. In 1994 there was a coalition government in Italy that included Gianfranco Fini's Alleanza Nazionale. Fini is on record as having said that Mussolini was
Confirmation of a sort came on the floor of the European Parliament from certain British Labour MEPs a week or so ago. In response to a question by Jeffrey Titford MEP [United Kingdom Independence Party], they claimed that they would not hesitate to overturn a legal, democratic vote in Britain if it opposed the creation or continuance of the political system they are trying to create throughout the EU. Very interesting. Could this be the much vaunted
On British television, a lady MP said that Austria should be forced to hold another election. Interesting, in view of the fact that this same UK government seems happy to hand over power in Northern Ireland to an assembly of rather
After the initial flurry of outrage at the election of Haider's party had died down, slowly a few tentative voices began to express less hysterical views. One read of suggestions that the EU reaction was designed to draw attention away from the developing Kohl scandal in Germany. The real reason seems to be more likely to be fears that Haider's anti-immigration views may lead to calls by other EU countries for a refusal to admit the next batch of economically weak Eastern European countries. Countries such as Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are being considered for admission to the EU and Austria may well fear that the entrance of these low-wage immigrants flooding into their country may drive down wages.
Perhaps the best way to conclude this article is to quote the words of Rabbi Morton H. Pomerantz who said a few days ago.
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