Dr. Dawg

Conservatism: not a politics--a diagnosis

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Sadopolitics cheering PCs.jpg

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. The photo above is of the Doug Ford Progressive Conservative government of Ontario cheering and applauding as they repeal an increase in the minimum wage slated for next year, junk two days of paid sick leave for Ontario workers, and do away with salary equity for part-time, temporary and casual employees.

This is clearly a high moment for these people—they just can’t contain themselves. Their sheer pleasure at punishing our lowest-paid, most vulnerable workers is on full display.

Some are connecting this outburst with the times we live in, when normal behavioural restraints and common decency are being squeezed out of politics. I beg to differ. Conservative sado-political tendencies have always been easy to detect.

On December 3, 1998, widows, terminally-ill workers and cancer survivors from “Chemical Valley” in Sarnia, Ontario, attended the Visitors Gallery in the Ontario Legislature, when Mike Harris was in charge. Asbestos dust in Sarnia used to be so thick that traffic would sometimes be halted. Holmes Insulation and Caposite, both Sarnia companies, created a massive death toll of workers from rare cancers such as mesothelioma, by refusing to clean up their sites. Even families of the workers, affected by the poisons in their clothing, suffered abnormally high rates of various cancers.

In 1995, the Harris government had slashed inspectors, closed down occupational health and safety labs, and abolished a committee about to issue regulations on workplace toxins.

The NDP labour critic introduced the widows and dying workers to the Legislature. Immediately, the Conservatives jeered them, cracking jokes and laughing, catcalling and mocking them. One of the worst hecklers was Janet Ecker, then the Minister responsible for Community and Social Services, and presently a Senior Fellow of the C.D. Howe Institute. One widow wrote to Mike Harris conveying her anguish at her husband’s death being found funny by the Tories. The letter was never answered.

Yes, fascism is on a roll these days, there are cheerleaders aplenty, and Trump has set the tone from on high. But the sheer joy in human suffering that emotionally-ill conservatives are now emboldened to share with the world on an everyday basis didn’t start with #45, and it will not end with him. Cruelty for its own sake is baked into the current conservative/neoliberal ideology. Our best instincts must be invoked to rise up and resist the people, the institutions and the governments that celebrate it.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on October 24, 2018 10:43 AM.

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