Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Monday, March 28, 2011

Once More Unto The Breach Of Elections

"If war is too serious to leave to generals, then surely democracy is too important to delegate to politicians." - Jim Travers, Toronto Star

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.

Here in Canada we're back into election mode. Again, for the fourth time in seven years. A succession of minority governments, politicians squabbling like temper tantrum throwing brats incapable of working together reasonably, brings us yet again to an election in early May. For the next month and a bit, there are signs going up, calls being made to voters without end, politicians and campaign staff running around everywhere, trying to get voted in again. I'm already sick of it. And what will the result likely be? The same, a minority government run by the Conservatives, not really getting anything done. If we have any luck, both the Conservatives and the Liberals will lose a few seats a piece, forcing their leaders to quit. I'm not crossing my fingers though. I doubt we'll be that lucky.

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?

During his tenure as Prime Minister, he has twice prorogued Parliament, fearful of losing power. He's consistently lied and obstructed time and time again. He's had our census altered to fit his ideological point of view. He's politicizing the bureaucracy. He's demanding information on academics who have been critical of him. He's pursuing a law and order build the prisons agenda, despite the fact that crime continues to be on the decline. He's now made it an official policy that all government letterheads should be marked as The Harper Government. Not the Canadian government.  There's a big difference. He's quite literally buying into the l'etat c'est moi mindset of Louis XIV.

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.


  1. It sounds like you sort of dislike the PM....

    This is an excellent blog, William, one with passion. Bravo, partner!

    (I love the toons, especially the first one.)

  2. Sort of is an understatement.

    Thank you!

  3. What a shame. I was totally planning to take refuge in Canada if Americans destroyed my faith in humanity and elected Sarah Palin president. Maybe I'll move to Europe instead. With a Canadian flag sewn onto my backpack, for good measure.

  4. William, I'm with you...I don't know who to vote for. Of course, leave it to my ridings, Bev Oda, to start this whole mess with her lies! Of course, when your boss says not to worry about it, well, of course she's running again.

    I don't want to vote for Harper, but I'll say a resounding no to Ignatiff (He doesn't know if he's American or Canadian) and of course, no to Jack...He's just looney-tunes...and I'm not from Quebec either, although, hubby wishes that he could vote for the, that leaves Harper...I'm not sure, but who's left to vote for?

    Sorry for the possible name spelling thing is for sure...they're all assholes!

  5. I forgot to add...great blog!!!

    And, Nicole, we're not that bad...just our lousy politicians...but, I think you get that anywhere, though...

  6. I admit, I don't vote. Politics is something that plainly confuses me. This is a great blog, William. Different from your usual, yes, but well-done.

  7. Vote Green, Beth, if you have to. With me, it's not a matter of wanting to vote Liberal, it's a matter of voting against.

  8. So, how do you really feel?

    I'm a bit disappointed and also relieved. We Americans sometimes idolize the Canadian who seem to "have it together" so much better than us in many ways. So it's nice to hear a Canadian, instead of an American, complaining about politicians for a change, although my bubble may have burst.

  9. "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."

    Man, I couldn't have said it nearly as well. Enjoyed your thoughts, as always, William.

  10. So is the guy who actually cares about his country and his constituents a good politician or a bad politician?

  11. Oh yeah, what E.J. quoted...that is a great line.
    Technically I guess I'm a liberal conservative. I used to be so passionate about politics. I'm ashamed to say that I've become so discouraged in the entire process that I've turned a blind eye to all of it, especially being close to D.C. and being a military wife. But I don't care what those dumbass politicians do or say, I'll always be a 100% all-american patriot.

  12. What about the green party? ;)
    I need one of those radiation suits to protect me from campaigning politicians. I got a call from the Conservative Party the other day asking if Mr. Harper could count on my vote... after the guy referred to me as "the wife". Ha!

  13. I am missing my political gene- but I appreciate your candor, your inflamed passion and your knowledge. Thanks for making me realize that all politicians are cut from the same bolt of burlap.

  14. It is a great post and much in keeping with my views. However, I should point out that I've investigated the Tea Party for a column and never found a trace of racism in their groups, overt or covert, except for one or two unclaimed fringe nutjobs and a few times when it was manufactured by their opposition.

  15. It is strangely comforting to learn that Canadians worry over politics and power grabs. Thank you William. I no longer live under the illusion that my neighbors to the north are contented socialists.

    Right on Mark. The Tea Party stands for freedom for all and is the least racist group out there.

  16. I feel for you. Politicis are for ego-maniacs. They're all a bunch of pretty faces with mouths that ooze like diarrhea. Here in America, all partys suck and most lay people are STUPID. Hope I didn't insult anyone but if you're on My FB page then you all know I'm cynical.

  17. As long as Iggy and Harper don't get in...and neither of us can vote for the frenchman...I guess we'll have to vote green...

    God, William...this is the worst election ever!

  18. I had written a comment and it was way too long...
    all I can say after seeing what is happening in Washington... Good Luck trying to find someone to vote for.

    cheers, parsnip

  19. I'm SO with you. I do not like the PM! Gah.

  20. I knew I should have gone with "The Tea Party without all the guns!"

    Politics is one of those things that can be risky to bring up in open conversation. Particularly if you're talking to a member of the Yoga Flyers Party.


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