A shadow from the right.

On behalf of the Right Honourable Clarence Decatur Howe, I object. There were many assumptions made about the man when he was alive and many more after his passing. My problem is with what the C.D. Howe Institute does in his name. He does not deserve the presentations of the political right wing that bear his name today.

Howe was never a true politician. He was a man of his times. He was from neither the left or right of the political spectrum. In many ways, he failed as a politician and achieved as a great Canadian.

C.D., as he was known, came into politics in the Great Depression as he needed a job and the country needed a businessman to help correct the problems the depression had created. He was a bull in a china shop in parliament. He just got the job done.

This is the man who got Canadian National Railways back on track. He established the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC-Radio Canada). This is the guy who gave the country a national airline, Air Canada (as Trans-Canada Airlines at the time).

Where C.D. really proved his worth to Canada was in the Second World War. They called him ‘Minister of Everything.’ He put the country on a war footing and never looked back. He organized business people who knew production into dollar-per-year volunteers in the war effort. He might have tread on a few toes during the war but he and the Mackenzie King government did the job required and changed Canada forever.

But there was also the assumption that C.D. was doing this as a businessman. That is a misconception. At no time, in the years C.D. served his adopted country, did he do it for just business reasons. He did it for the country. He always acknowledged the supremacy of parliament. He was a liberal of his day. He was probably more of a neoliberal than we would tolerate today

C.D. Howe was talented and tenacious, tough and thorough. I hardly think he would be pleased that his shadow of effectiveness lives on in the hands of the right wing in the institute named after him. Reading the recent shadow budget for Canada produced for the Institute, it reads as though written by careless conservative ideologues. It lacks compassion, it lacks vision and it is a disservice to a great Canadian.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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