Some years ago I found myself in conversation with a man in Ontario's cottage country, and the topic turned to politics. It was an amiable chat, no heated tempers flaring up, nothing like that, which often does happen when you bring that subject up. Then he mentioned that he was a party campaign officer for the Conservative party, and suggested I ought to consider going into politics. I politely declined, citing that I really didn't have much time on my hands, which was true, though it wasn't the only reason.
I'm convinced that whatever it is we do for a living, we should be able to look ourselves in the mirror once or twice a day and not hate the person looking back at us. If I'd ever gone into politics, I'd end up hating myself. It's a cruel fact: the sort of people who can be trusted with power want nothing to do with politics, and the people who are in politics should never be trusted with any position of responsibility.
Full disclosure time: where do I stand politically? I would say that I'm conservative, though that's a bit of a loaded question these days. I cannot in good conscience vote Conservative, federally or provincially. I'm what's called a red Tory. That means these days, I have no party. Both wings of the Conservative Party, federal and in Ontario, here have been taken over by neo-conservatives and religious right fanatics. Think the Tea Party, without the overt racism. It's going to take many years before that taint is finally gone from those parties. So I'm forced to vote elsewhere.
Since first getting elected in 2006, the Conservatives have been spending their time playing political games, constantly in election threat mode, instead of, oh, running the country. They came in on promises of respect, accountability, and doing their best to make Parliament work. Instead, their record consists of secrecy, obstruction, sheer contempt for Parliamentary democracy, power games, and photo ops. Little wonder. The inner cabal running the show consists of hard right partisans who place ideology above fact. They seek to tear this country and its institutions down, to change it to a point where we won't recognize it. It'll take us decades to repair the damage they'll do with a majority government.
And right at the center of it all is Stephen Harper, current occupant of the Prime Minister's Office. I've long been convinced this man wants to crown himself Emperor Stephen the First. How would I define this man? Arrogant. Vindictive. Heartless. A screamer. Schoolyard bully. I suspect he was a bully as a kid, and no one ever gave him the kick in the ass he deserved. It's a shame. He might have learned a lesson, and turned out a halfway decent human being if they had. And his inner cabal is just like him. Right wing nutbars, determined to hold onto power at all costs like a dog with a bone, rabidly mean spirited. If there are still people in the Conservative party, who, like me, are red Tories... why don't they stand up and speak out? Why are they allowing this to continue?
And, lest we forget, he spent a billion dollars and change on a two day photo op called the G8 and G20 conferences last year, despite the fact that similar conferences last year cost much less. So, for the sake of an arrogant ideologue who wanted to show off last summer, the core of our largest city (a city he despises) was shut down. Protesters and bystanders were beaten and arrested by police, illegally. Civil rights were tossed out the window. It was a disgrace, and during that incident, and many times since then, I've felt ashamed to be a Canadian.
I know, this isn't the usual sort of thing you're used to from me. The next blog will be funny, I promise. You'll just have to make do with the editorial cartoons for a laugh. For the moment, there's a month of electoral garbage coming towards every single Canadian, and a decision to make (for those who actually give a damn about the state of their country). I certainly can't vote Conservative, obviously. Voting for the New Democrats (at least federally) doesn't appeal to me (sorry, Jack Layton, move to the center a bit, and ditch the porn star mustache and we'll talk). I'm not in Quebec, so I can't vote for the crazy separatists. So I'm stuck voting Liberal. And Michael Ignatieff isn't the sort of leader who inspires.
There was a time, not long ago, that our country was thought of as having a conscience. Americans sewed our flag on their backpacks when they went off to Europe. We were the moderators, the peacekeepers. We were known for our sense of compassion, for fair play, for being a force for good in the world. Now? Our government is vindictive, mean spirited, and partisan above all. They've become the sort who keeps enemy lists. It's enough to make me relate to the manning the barricades mentality of 1789 in the streets of Paris.
I love my country. I hate what this right wing thug is doing to it.