Thursday, December 04, 2008

Crazy Canucks

I summed up my feelings on the current political events and last night's speeches in an email in response to a friend this morning...


I know it's overt cynicism but a pox on all of them.

It's in the best Mercutionan vein, but remember, he died right after he said that. :)

I was, myself, a bit put-off when the proposed coalition became formal on Monday. But there's a good reason for it. Several, really, even without taking into account my personal dislike for the Tories. To condemn MPs for wanting power makes about as much sense as condemning firemen for being wicked, because they only live for fires. In this case, it makes even less sense, because we have one fire company that's sitting on its ass while something important burns down, and a bunch of others are saying, "for God's sake, then, give us the hose!" That's what they're there for. That's their job. That's why we send them to Ottawa. I too enjoy lending my voice to the Choir Cynical — but this is important. This is about what happens to this country in the next couple of years, and may have ramifications for a generation.

I don't dispute it's ugly. But then, that's the point. It should never have gotten to this in the first place. The government has allowed — even forced — things to move in this direction, and I sincerely question Harper's judgment as a result. Someone else — even another Tory — needs to be in that seat now. That's established.

However, to amass a coalition, we are faced with a chimera worthy of Douglas Adam's comic imagination.

That's the nature of coalition governments. We've been spared that realization thanks to the "blessings" of a first-past-the-post electoral system that gives the representatives of roughly 40% of the people on average 100% of the power. In most parliamentary democracies, what we're facing now is not a "constitutional crisis" that has everyone plastering the papers with their dire predictions of doom and woe... it's par for the course every couple of years. We sit back and pat ourselves on the back for our stable, five-year-long benign dictatorships. Well, the only blessing is that they HAVE been so benign. Someone said to me that she hoped this would be the chance for Parliament to put in some sort of proportional representation system, and I'm ready to agree. I'm tired of the arrogance both the Tories and the Grits show when they've had a couple of back-to-back majorities, and I'd like to see a House of Commons where they always always always have to work together to get things done. The last couple of years weren't so bad, till Harper lost his mind last week. Who can ever trust him again?

It'll be interesting to see what happens today. Apparently, Ed Schreyer himself has advised the current GG not to allow the PM to prorogue Parliament, because there's no emergency that would warrant it, and the only reason he's doing it is to avoid submitting to the will of Parliament, which could have negative ramifications for the future if it sets a precedent. I strongly agree with him. I've asked myself would I be feeling this way if the Tories were doing this to the Grits... as they would have liked to have done just a few years ago. In all honesty, I know I'd be pretty sore about it, but I wouldn't be arguing it was damaging to democracy, or illegal, or extraordinary. I know it's none of those things in our system — only rare, in Canada. And to be honest, if it keeps future minority governments in line, if it sinks in for the next Harper, so much the better.

I watched the three speeches last night, and I honestly tried to be objective (you know, I didn't shout rebuttals at the TV like the old man I've been since I was 17). I noticed that Harper made his pitch to the West. He came close to lying about the nature of what was going on he certainly put an "oh, shit, this is a coup!" spin on things in the first half of his speech. Then he threw a handful of pennies into the crowd about the economy too little, too late and then went out on a note SURE to piss off Quebec. Blah blah blah separatists, blah blah blah separatism, blah horns, pitchforks, and fire in Chibougamau, with naked moonlight dances and blood... And I thought, ohh, boy, are you cutting off votre nez to spite your face, Prime Minister. Apparently he used "separatists" in English and softened it to "sovereigntists" in French... but if he thinks Quebec's not going to hear about that this morning, and won't take offense at the idea he's bad-mouthing them to les anglais behind their backs, well, then he's just made another stupid mistake. If he HAD to lie about the Bloc being party to the coalition, instead of agreeing to support it on confidence motions only, he might at least have had the good sense to settle on "sovereigntists" in both languages. Or maybe he's decided to cut Quebec loose and appeal strictly to Cowboy Hat Land from now on.

I'm biased, I know, but I thought Dion made a sensible, unemotional plea for what has to be done. He kept hitting those two notes that resonate right now... jobs, jobs, economy, jobs, economy, economy, jobs... the reasons for action (that, yes, and Harper trying to drown the other parties in the bag of the next election). I thought it was REALLY smart of him to emphasize, a couple of times, that he's on his way out — but that he'll do his best while he's here.

Of the three, I thought Layton was the least polished and slick, and the most sincere. Short of sprinkling his speech with a few "shits" and "fucks", language doesn't get much plainer. The PM screwed up, refused to move on the economy, and used his first mini-budget to attack his opponents. Plain and simple. I have to hand it to him; of all three, I found him the most persuasive, and in his plainness, the most eloquent. He didn't speak TO me, he spoke FOR me.

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