Through public campaigns, news interviews, published editorials, commentaries, official submissions to the government, group networking, correspondence, and a host of other activities, Freedom Party efforts to make room for freedom in the "Common Sense" revolution have been under way since the day of the election.
With a firm commitment to carrying out its agenda, the question of whether the new government is listening to ANY groups across the political spectrum has become a legitimate concern.
For example, a multitude of groups, including Freedom Party, were turned away when they applied to address the government's committee on Bill 26 (the Omnibus Bill). Past governments normally accommodated all input at public hearings by structuring hearings accordingly. But the process of selection for the Bill 26 hearings left the government wide open to charges of being a closed "doctrinaire" party unconcerned with the social effects of its policies. (See related coverage elsewhere in this issue.)
The PCs certainly must be listening to the public via the polls. Until the Bill 26 hearings, polls showed the PCs at an all-time high (52%) in popular support, giving them the courage to forge ahead quickly with their agenda. However, many of their policies were bound to decrease PC popularity, as the beneficiaries of government spending and legislation would increasingly make their opposition to cuts in these areas loudly known. Thus, the recent drop in PC popularity since the Bill 26 hearings is not surprising.
What the Harris government's ultimate political vision is remains to be seen. While spending cuts, the passage of Bill 7, and other similar initiatives were publicly praised and defended by Freedom Party representatives, the PC's continued commitment to concepts such as equal pay, universality, government-monopolized health care and education, and policies of official multiculturalism are clear evidence of commonality with a socialist agenda, not a freedom one.
However, even on issues where Fp and the PCs might disagree, we often, nevertheless, continue to share with the PCs common opponents and adversaries on those same issues. From a Freedom Party perspective, most of the criticism levied against the PCs from labour and left-wing interest groups is out of context, detached from any fundamental understanding of government or economics, or embarrassingly self-serving.
Thus, we can find ourselves both criticizing a particular PC policy AND criticizing other opponents to that same policy. Or vice-versa.
In the given Ontario environment, the PCs' resolute determination to follow through on their agenda --- which was clearly presented to the public IN ADVANCE of their election --- must be commended. At the same time, the disgraceful and uncivilized behaviour of organized labour groups, poverty marchers, angry university students, and others must be equally condemned. Their actions speak louder than words.
How Freedom Party is positioning itself against the PCs' 'Common Sense' agenda is illustrated by the reproduced media coverage throughout this issue of Freedom Flyer. Both praise and criticism - but at this stage mostly praise - have been directed towards the new government through Fp activities and media coverage.
But when the media has opened its doors, the process of commenting on the current government's performance has presented Freedom Party with a simultaneous opportunity to identify and promote Fp's philosophy and platform.
Within this context, media coverage of Fp's perspective has ranged from generally sympathetic to perceptions of the party as extremist.
Adherence to principle has often been associated with "fanaticism," and rightly so, when the principle has been completely detached from reality. But in the absence of any specific criticisms of Fp's philosophy or platform which would support that, it is more likely the author may simply regard all devotees to any principles as "fanatic," under the incorrect assumption, shared by so many "philosophically disarmed" individuals, that there are no consistent and workable principles in reality.
The misled perception that Fp is "pro-business" is caused by that term's confusion with our "pro-free enterprise" platform, which is an entirety different concept. Whereas "free enterprise" simply refers to a market free from government intervention and control, a "pro-business" platform suggests a government-monopolized and/or controlled market to the unfair advantage of certain existing business interests, or tax subsidies to business. Neither of these policies would be supported by Freedom Party, yet both have been supported by all three of the major parties in Ontario.
While the label "pro-capitalist" is certainly applicable to Freedom Party, we must not forget that many people's perception of capitalism is based upon definitions written by capitalism's enemies. For others, the term is not much different from "pro-business," as described above. It is only among economically and politically literate individuals that the concept of capitalism as a social system which protects the institution of private property, and thus individual freedom, is usually understood. For these reasons, 'FREEDOM' is by far the best word with which to market Fp's political ideal.
last updated on April 28, 2002