A composite image of Conservative MP Mark Warawa (Andre Forget/QMI Agency) and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (REUTERS/Chris Wattie).
Margaret Wente in The Globe and Mail notes this characteristic in the efforts of some Conservative MPs being denied by Harper the chance to raise (re-raise, really) issues such as abortion, selective-sex abortion, late-term abortion, even gay marriage.
By Harper curbing his MPs from speaking on these controversial issues, Wente notes the Toronto Star feels "Parliament stands diminished." Other media outlets deplored the "muzzling" of MPs, and devoted special praise to a pro-life backbench Tory MP (Mark Warawa) who denounced sex-selective abortion and sought to reopen the whole debate around abortion.
Harper cut off the issue before it started, thus once again invoking the accusation that he was dictatorial and hostile to views that didn't jibe with his own.
However, Wente is sympathetic with Harper, recognizing that OKing rhetoric from the pro-abortion claque would hurt Conservatives in the next election.
Which brings me to my point: Why are issues revolving around abortion and same-sex marriage considered damaging to conservatives?
Put another way, what have social and cultural issues like abortion, gay marriage, union membership, etc., got to do with conservative ideology?
What most distinguishes "conservatism," in a political sense, is fiscal responsibility, accountability, national security, maintaining an adequate military.
Whether someone is a right-to-life advocate, or favours freedom of choice, should in no way indicate whether that person is conservative or liberal. These are social issues that reflect individual outlook, and perhaps background.
Surely the essence of being a conservative is the almost pathological fixation of not living beyond one's means. In a political sense that means balancing the budget, avoiding horrendous deficits, making tough choices to ensure future generations will not be hampered by impossible debt. Conservatism is almost as simple as that.
The liberal (and even more so, the socialist) attitude is that spending now is fine because there is no predicting tomorrow. Future generations can solve their own problems.
There's a "world owes me a living" attitude among socialists, who invariably blame someone else when things go wrong. Socialist governments usually evolve into tyrannies that disguise reality with slogans: "Socialist paradise ... People's Democracy ... workers equality."
What we have in today's federal conservative government is an administration that seems to be doing what it can to ensure the unique prosperity that exists in Canada today continues when the rest of the world is in economic and financial malaise.
Hence the Harper trade missions that scour the world, hoping to drum up new business opportunities and create a diverse economy.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is part of the future planning. During his election campaign, U.S. President Barack Obama put the kibosh on pipelining Alberta oilsands crude to Texas. He doesn't like the idea, and he is committed to "greens" who oppose pipelines on grounds that they disrupt nature.
Still, time is on the side of Canada: Our oil is needed, and already is slated to be shipped from the west coast.
Conservatives are likely to be practising environmentalists - often more than armchair liberals who frown on hunters and tend not to adventure into the wilderness. Urban (liberal) or rural (conservative) - none wish to see our natural environment permanently damaged. Except conservatives are more inclined to compromise.
Harper is not quashing debate on abortion because he fears the topic, but because the issue has already been settled. On to other matters.