by Robert Metz – January 1988

The following article originally appeared in the Fall 1983 edition of the London MetroBulletin. Though many Ontarians may already have forgotten about BILL DAVIS, the past leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party which held the reins of power for 42 consecutive years, it will not be as easy to forget or ignore the consequences and effects of his party’s political philosophy.

That’s because the philosophy of the Progressive Conservatives has been adopted in its entirety by DAVID PETERSON and the Liberal Party of Ontario, whose electoral victory in September 1987 virtually knocked the Conservatives off the political map.

Has anything changed? Not really. Here’s why:

Being a conservative Liberal like David Peterson is the same as being a liberal Conservative like Bill Davis. Both are really socialists in disguise.

Bob Rae, on the other hand, isn’t in disguise.

It’s not that I’m trying to imply that our three provincial party leaders are in some basic agreement on how to resolve basic socio-economic or political problems. Hardly. It seems that they can only agree on how to get us into these problems. But whether they are consciously aware of it or not, there is a single common denominator to all of their philosophies that makes them politically the same: it is their contempt towards the word capitalism and the principles of individual rights that the word represents.

Bob Rae, of course, makes no bones about it. He’s proud to be a socialist. His major complaint has been that it’s the Conservatives and Liberals who are implementing socialism, and not his party. But it’s something you might never guess in listening to Bill Davis or David Peterson publicly speak. They wear their socialist disguises so well.

“I believe in the risk-reward system and I believe in private enterprise,” David Peterson told his Ontario Liberals at an annual heritage dinner. But despite the fact that the “risk-reward, private enterprise” system is known only as capitalism, Peterson qualified his support for such a system by saying “This is not an age of unbridled capitalism where wealth can be earned at the expense of one class or group in society. What we must achieve, we can only achieve together.”

One minute it’s private enterprise and in the next it’s back to doing things together. Collectivist.

Another person who believes in “private enterprise” is Bill Davis. He believes in it so much that sometimes his socialist disguise slips off, like it did when his government invested $650 million of our tax dollars in a “private enterprise” known as Suncor.

When his critics condemned his action as being “outright socialist”, he toured the province boasting that “We’re not a doctrinaire party like the socialists (NDP).” And anyone who would even apply the principles of any other brand of conservatism to Ontario’s Tories, said Davis, “is hung up on a matter of theology.”

If principles are only a “hang up” to Davis, he has made if glaringly obvious that his party’s single “principle” is that of political expediency — anything to stay in power. And while accusing the Liberals of “following whatever policy meets popular approval on a given day,” Davis defended the actions of his party by claiming that they discuss “each issue as it comes.”

What he sees as the difference between these two approaches to government is anybody’s guess. Whether a conservative government steals my money to invest in “privately” owned Suncor, or whether a (federal) liberal government steals my money to set up a “publicly” owned Petrocan, the fact remains that my pockets are still empty and that I was given no choice in the matter.

Canadians have grown to believe that the ultimate struggle between capitalism (individual rights) and socialism (collective rule) is somehow being fought along political party lines. But such is not the case. The eternal folly in being forced to vote for “the lesser of three evils” (voting against instead of for) lies in the admission that one is still voting for “evil”.

It is frightening to realize that, when David Peterson uses the term “unbridled capitalism”, it is really the recognition of individual rights that both he and his political (not philosophical) adversaries mutually fear. This also explains why they use the term “private enterprise” in place of “free enterprise”. After all, a society in which individuals were free (from government!) to determine their own destinies would be an obvious threat to those who hold collectivist premises.

And the saddest part of it all is when all of their collectivist fantasies invariably fail, the public comes to assume that their failure is, in fact, a failure of capitalism. With all their talk about “private enterprise” and “risk-reward” systems, it’s a small wonder.

Unfortunately, our political alternatives will remain in short supply as long as politicians and the public continue to share their mutual contempt and ignorance towards the concepts (capitalism, free enterprise, private property) necessary to implement any real change in the direction of modern-day governments.

Until then, we’ll have socialism, socialism, and even more socialism. {end}

– Robert Metz    Consent #1     January-February 1988