What Do You Say To Your Relatives?
It always amazes me to watch our "leaders" at "work": these people are a pretty good indicator of how far we’ve strayed from the idea of living together in society. There’s no secret that I’m a lefty, but not for doctrinal reasons. My one fundamental political belief is really a social belief, and that is that there must be equity in all aspects of life or there will, in the long run, be no life. There are hints of this embodied in the platform of the NDP, but their provincial régimes belie their rhetoric in almost the same measure as that of the Liberals, who pretty much admit to campaigning from the left and governing from the right. Harper has hidden behind a screen of religious righteousness and what he calls sound fiscal policy, but he has continued to take tax revenue from individual citizens and use it to support programs for monied corporations, about as far as one can get from being a Christian, and his stand on the continuation of the mission in Afghanistan is proof positive that his Christian posturing is hypocrisy personified: we are, as a nation, sanctioning killing and maiming for the interests of the oil lobby and any building being done is at the behest of the military to improve combat effectiveness, despite whatever bleatings have come from the mouth of Rick Hillier or Walter Natynczyk about humanitarian aid, meaning that we are contravening some of the most basic tenets of Christianity, little things like, "Thou shalt not kill," or, "Thou shalt not bear false witness," or, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods." As Garrison Keiler said, "Going to church no more makes you a Christian than sleeping in your garage makes you a car."
Of course Dion and crew might have led Harper to believe that he could carry on as though he had a majority government by supporting the government through regressive budgets, trade negotiations, and the extension of the mission to Afghanistan all through the spring. Then, as now, they are poor and have little stomach to tangle with the Conservatives with their huge war chest and media connections, but where once there is no principle, it is unlikely that any will develop.
It would be comforting to think that Dion and crew had grown a conscience since the spring, but it seems more likely that this coalition is based more on political opportunism than it is on a sense that a revised government of Canada will be able to assist Canadian citizens through a time of great stress and rework our economic structures to avoid recurrences of the dishonesty, greed, pillage and short-tern thinking that has landed us in our present pass. Still, one side of me says that we are more likely to muddle through with the little compassion and sense that the coalition represents than we are with the outright hostility that Harper and his crew have shown toward any measure that contains a whiff of redress for the abovementioned sack of the economy and the social structures that have made Canada a fine place to inhabit. Of course, the other side of me says that we ought to let Harper pull the whole house of cards down, especially with him under the wreckage, and start all over under some new assumptions.
A couple of other thoughts about coalitions versus elections: first, I don’t find elections onerous, and I suspect that the media wouldn’t be playing this angle so frequently and strenuously were a coalition in power. Elections don’t have to cost $300 million, and only do so because they are paid for out of contributions, and lavishly funded so that parties can trot out broadsides of not-particularly honest advertising that ends up being a bonanza for print and broadcast media. Were it not for this expense and the sickening circus of half-truths and vicious attacks that have nothing to do with the substance of governing, there is a possibility that Canadians would feel differently about being consulted about their preferences, choices that are, by the nature of politics, very limited and most often ignored once a party gets elected.