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Inside the Tory think tank

Conservatives at last weekend's Manning Networking Conference took swipes at environmentalists, First Nations and public child care.

In light of criticism in Vancouver this week for describing First Nations communities as “socially dysfunctional,” other comments by natural resources minister Joe Oliver this week have come to light in which he accused critics of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline of a “naive ideology that opposes any major initiative” in Canada's interests.

 The controversial comments are buried deep in Oliver's speech to the Canadian right at the Manning Networking Conference last Friday, which also saw defence minister Peter Mackay say that soldiers - “those who carry the gun” - are “our greatest citizens.”

“When we circle our Conservative wagons, we need to fire outwards, not inwards,” Mackay added, speaking about uniting the country's right-wing movement.

A glance through years past at the famous gathering of conservatives from across the country reveals some other interesting gems, notably a speech by BC Premier Christy Clark's new chief of staff, in 2009, in which he praised Prime Minister Stephen Harper – his boss at the time – for rebranding the national anthem and the entire Arctic region in a Conservative mould, and defeating “politically correct” proposals like national public child care, the Kyoto climate change accord, and a historic First Nations agreement.

The Vancouver Observer brings you some key points from those three speeches:


National resources minister Joe Oliver (March 16)

  • At the outset, it's essential to recognize the key role that natural resources play in the Canadian economy. There is no longer the old tendency to see mining, oil and gas, and forestry as remnants of some distant economic past, and Canadians as hewers of wood and drawers of water. Now, most people understand that the opposite is true, Canada's resource industries are more than ever a cornerstone of a modern economy.
  • We have the resources, and we have the opportunities to make the most of them. In fact we have more than opportunity, we have an imperative. It's not news to close observers that we are witnesses a major shift in the global economic balance, with geopolitical implications.
  • When discussing the oil sands, it's important we deal in facts. Too often, this is a subject distorted by excessive rhetoric and scare tactics. The fact is, oil sands represent 0.1 per cent, or about one one-thousandth, global (greenhouse gas) emissions.
  • To put it plainly, the impact of the oil sand on global warming is miniscule, and to say the oil sands will destroy the planet is preposterous, and any person making that statement is at the minimum misinformed . . . Those are the facts we need before we can have a rational public policy discussion about the oil sands.
  • Projects that are environmentally benign and safe, thousands of new jobs, and access to new markets, cannot be allowed to die off because they are needlessly stuck in the review process.
  • Meeting our economic objectives – jobs, growth and prosperity – does not mean lowering our environmental standards, and despite what some high-profile voices are telling us, this is not an either-or proposition. Canadians see these arguments for what they are: arguments based on a naive ideology, that opposes any major initiative, however important for the country, and however obvious the need. As I've said on a number of occasions, we can do this – Canadians have proven themselves to be a pretty clever bunch.


National defence minister Peter McKay (March 14)

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