5 Dec 2008

Ugh Canada

Warning: Long and rather un-funny political post follows.

Not long ago, I blogged about how I wanted to become more passionate and active in local and national politics. I said this while basking in the glow of the Obama victory and the outpouring of everyday citizens who believed they could make a difference to better their nation. When I imagined myself becoming ga-ga for government, it was with a naïve vision of making myself heard in order to help push through important legislation, stop a great injustice or promote an inspiring leader. Instead, I am muttering about the crappiness of our elected officials and doubts that Canadians have little say over what’s going to happen next.

Before I continue, I’ll let my biases be known: I’m a socially left and fiscally right-ish individual. I don’t belong to any party and view each election as open season when it comes to my vote. In past federal elections, I’ve voted Conservative, Liberal and most recently, Green (dare to dream, little vote!). I’m by-and-large not optimistic about the people we elect and tend to presume that they’re all just a bunch of egomaniacs who will likely do and say anything to get what they want. I don’t, however, “hate” anyone – not even the people who are least likely to ever get my vote. I don’t think anyone or any party is evil – but I don’t think any one party is particularly awesome – they’re all as fully capable of corruption as they are at doing good. My vote in every election is done so that I can retain the right to take part in Canada’s favourite pastime: complaining.

This is how I see the events of late:

Prime Minister Harper, leader of the party with the most votes, has been described as the type of guy who only likes to be in the company of Yes Men. Where Obama hopes to surround himself with diverse thinkers, Harper prefers to hear one unified voice. It’s this trait – not his much heckled cold Syberian Husky-esque eyes or Lego Man inspired hairdo – that seems most defining. Anyhoo … a lack of dissenting opinion has a history of producing the risky environment of group-think and like nearly all occasions of when group-think has been festering, a false set of realities sink in (like, oh say, acting as if you have a majority) and crap that would normally be flagged as dicey or unwise gets the green light. Add into this mix that these group-thinkers are also all politicians (a.k.a. self-interested pigs) and you can actually see shit clearing space to create clear runways toward fans. So, when the Conservatives presented their Challenger Shuttle of a budget, the Tory Fantasy World burst.

Now, the elements within the budget that have people up in arms are actually worthy of debate. Not everyone supports public funding of parties. Not everyone stands behind strikers. And not everyone thinks pay equity suits should go beyond a union to solve. But according to some, these hot-ish button issues were tossed into the budget as a bully move and peeps don’t like getting bullied.

Especially Stéphane Dion, chronic victim and lame duck leader of the Liberals. He had his share of bullying in the last election, largely at the hands of the Tories, partially at the hands of the media that loved photographing him with his backpack. So rather than hand over his lunch money once again, Dion threw down the abacus. Harper got the big remind-o that numbers are everything and a new election isn’t the only trick up the constitutional sleeve in the case of non-confidence. Harper flinched and the Conservatives pulled the plug on several budget bloopers and pledged to make changes before representing the budget.

This is where Stéphane should have said “You better – because we’ll be watching, Tabernak!” and then sauntered off into the sunset. He would have gotten one hell of a high-five from the countless Canadians who were less than thrilled with Harper-style decision making but still needed to keep our country moving. And it would have been about as positive of a note Dion could have hoped for to wrap his already finished career with, short of having another Dion-kin serenade him with a song from the hit film, Titanic.

But, no, this isn’t what happened. Remember, we are talking about petty, petty politicians whose decisions are completely personal. Instead, we get The Coalition: a merry band of power-hungry white hairs who proclaim to represent most Canadians. You know, because a vote for the Liberals is the same thing as voting for the Bloc. Or the NDP. Or vice versa. Totally the same thing. Where the coalition passes the math test, they flunk the one about ideologies.

Cue idiotic mud-slinging. Conservatives transform themselves into Sarah Palin and shriek that Dion is “pallin’ around” with communists and unity terrorists. They refer to the coalition as traitors who are attempting to perform a coup d’etat (apparently some Tories believe that the world is their Wikipedia and this term can now be edited to describe a legal shift in power that occurs without military force). They stupidly poke the dormant separatist beast. It quickly gets fugly.

The coalition, on the other hand, likens Harper to a certain dictator who had a fondness for goose-stepping. They act incredibly dismissive of people who actually DID vote Conservative, provoking that other dormant beast, western alienation. They also become more entrenched in their resolve to gain control of the government and perform a vote of non-confidence, even if the Conservatives delivered a new budget that contained seeds for trees that grew money. The fug worsens. For the first time ever, America - with its lack of health care and an insane love of guns in the hands of everyday chump citizens - looks like a tempting place to live.

So, rather than being instantly voted out, Harper did the obvious thing – request the suspension of parliament for nearly two months. If anyone thinks that the Liberals or NDP would have done differently if in the same position, you are either lying to yourself or a monumental idiot.

So now we are where we are.

In my opinion, this small break presents an opportunity to right wrongs:

  • The Conservatives need to create a budget that is chiefly focused on benefiting Canadians – not sucker punching their foes.
  • Harper needs to learn to play nice or take a hike.
  • The coalition needs to wipe their shit-eating grins off their faces, start thinking about Canadians and work with our government to pass a good budget.
  • Dion and Layton: Enough. We know this is about $1.95 and your own blind ambitions.
  • Jean Charest. Jean Charest. Jean Charest.
  • We ALL need to demand more from our elected officials. Make your voice heard today.
  • Finally, for fuck's sake, show up to vote. Even if it is only a few months after the last one.

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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