To dismiss climate change as a liberal conspiracy is a radical position that has no place in public discourse.
Unfortunately, the moderate right is not speaking out against such magical thinking, which keeps it alive in otherwise respectable media outlets. That, in turn, prevents discussion on issues which reasonable people can legitimately disagree: how to mitigate the effects of climate change, for instance.
The question is why we don’t see climate change deniers denounced loudly and frequently by the moderate right. Maybe some feel it is beneath them to address fringe elements of their ideology. Perhaps others see them as a useful deflection. Discussion of mitigating the effects of climate change will not arise so long as the evidence supposedly remains suspect.
The motive for shielding the far right is clear among those who still consider themselves in the mainstream: oil and gas companies benefit from maintaining the status quo. The status quo is especially favoured by wealthy corporate leaders and the party with which they most closely align - the Conservative Party of Canada.
However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the moderate and far right. The former, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper likes to position himself, are actively involved in attacking facts and scientific evidence that all reasonable people have access to when constructing arguments. Last year it was putting an end to the long form census. The latest example is diverting tax dollars away from scientific research.
That is radical.
Harper would argue the government needs to spend less, hence the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a research station that produced critical evidence to help stop acid rain, no longer qualifies for $20 million in funding. Yet the ELA’s funding pales in comparison to the Harper’s spending on military equipment and pet projects such as law and order (during a time of decreasing crime rates).
Scientists who recently gathered on Parliament Hill to protest a litany of government attacks upon them aren’t fooled by his obfuscation. Neither are a growing number of other Canadians, if polls showing the Conservatives’ decline are accurate.
The so-called moderate right is entitled to remain silent as fringe elements attack mainstream ideas. But it loses moral credibility when it begins to attack those same ideas. That is because the only logical outcome is clear: take away facts and evidence and the void will be filled by superstition beliefs. Those beliefs can only be defended by narrowly self-interested power elites. In which case we would have a return to what Plato warned against: justice as nothing more than serving the interests of the stronger.
The return to a feudal state would then be complete. A new Dark Ages would arise. And the majority of people - including one-time moderate right-wingers - would suffer immeasurably.
Harper’s overt disrespect for facts and scientific evidence means Canada is faced with its first truly radical prime minister. How Canadians are to respond won’t be dealt with here. At the moment it is enough for reasonable citizens to acknowledge this new reality.