I have a confession to make. When I see a new column penned by none other than Tom Flanagan, a slight smile comes across my face. Obviously this is not the smile of a fan, but rather my bemusement at the potential of gaining, yet again, a little insight into what Harper so often obfuscates.
Now what the good professor writes are his own thoughts of course, but given the relationship between the two men it's difficult to imagine, that in general, their views on these issues would be terribly far apart. With that in mind, I read his column today and realised that once again an issue that had long been resolved is resurfacing for debate and that is due to who is in power. By that I mean, that by having a Conservative in power, Conservatives across the country are feeling empowered to make everything old, new again.
Today we were treated to Tom's view of the Human Rights Commissions in this country. Now I'm well aware of the Levant, Steyn sagas, so I know that Tom isn't leading this band wagon, but he jumped on it in such a clumsy way, that I just couldn't help reacting.
Tom of course thinks that these commissions are foolish and in fact unnecessary. Though he seems to mock Levant and Steyn by using the term media gadflies to describe them, he does take up their cause.
...we should remember that the existence of the commissions is itself an abuse. They have little to do with genuine human rights such as freedom of speech and worship, security of the person and ownership of property. They are specialized agencies to enforce anti-discrimination legislation, and issues of prejudice and discrimination are far too complex to be resolved by human-rights sloganeering.
Notice how he has defined human rights and separated that from discrimination and prejudice legislation. He rights himself a bit by claiming these issues are too 'complex' for these commissions, but you quickly get a sense what his belief system is.
Call me crazy, but being discriminated against because of your sexual orientation, your religion, your race, etc. and bringing that to a commission because you lack the resources to go through the judicial system, doesn't seem all that complicated to me. Granted, some of these issues are difficult to find on, but that doesn't negate the value of having a system that provides an avenue for those who have no alternative.
So what's his answer? Like all good conservative, (or in this case I'd go so far as to say libertarian) thinkers....let the markets handle it! That's right folks. Let's allow discrimination to occur and you know, eventually, in time, that is unless a lot of people think like you do, your competitors will put you out of business.
In Tom's world, a landlord that refuses to rent to homosexuals will have to put up with the market taking away his business and sadly have to exist only on the trade of all of the other bigots in the area that share his or her view. How about a business that refuses to hire Muslims? Oh, they'll soon have a bad rep because you know, there just isn't any backlash against that community at all these days.
There is discrimination in the private sector, but it is self-liquidating over time because of the costs it imposes on discriminators.
The opposite argument of course can be made. His solution once again gives the discriminators a right to promote their cause and grow it. Just look at all the crazy causes being resurrected and promoted at the moment. Creationism? Really? That's back in the arena of debate? Have you seen the legislation that they are trying to pass in Alberta?
I won't go on. You get the picture. In Flanagan's world the answer to everything is to let the markets handle it. He ignores history, though he selectively pulls it in and he ignores why we have come to where we are in establishing such commissions. Forget the commissions, his view is astonishing to behold given our current ecomonic circumstances. That anyone would have the gall to say out loud that the free market is the answer, well I guess that's what makes me smile when I read his columns. That and gems like this:
I'll never forget the experience of owning rental property in the recession of the 1980s; I would have rented to Martians if they had showed up with a damage deposit.
I suppose he's trying to be funny, but my take away? ...I was doing so badly that my normal standards would have been kicked to the curb. I wonder who he rented to in boom times?
His complete and utter disconnect with reality further reinforces what I see in the Harper government. Were they to be given a free hand, believe me, this country would be a very different and unpleasant place.