Friday, March 25, 2011

A Larry David Election

For the fourth time since 2004, Canadians are headed to the election booths to vote on which federal party should lead our nation.

This, sadly, is an election about nothing but egos; a pointless $300-million plus expenditure of taxpayers money that is almost certain to end - barring some extreme public relations stumble by one of the four parties - with almost the exact same make up of Parliament we have today - a Conservative minority government roundly hated by the three remaining federal parties likely to win seats.

Canada has reached a point of political stalemate. This is largely due to the Bloc Quebecois, a separatist party that runs in only about 25 per cent of Canada's ridings (all of them in Quebec, obviously) and wins about 15 per cent of the seats. Canada is one of the few countries in the world - if not the only one - where the taxpayers fund the sitting members and operations of a party whose only goal is to extricate itself and its province from the federation. Failing actual separation - which Quebecers aren't really that interested in anymore, according to polls - they settle for wringing as much money out of the federal machinery as possible and whining to the heavens when they don't get everything they want. Quebecers may not want separation all that much but they do want as many dollars from the rest of the country as they can possibly get their hands on.

The Liberal Party is an utter mess, led by a colourless, professorial policy wonk who might actually have something to say if it were possible to stay awake long enough to hear it. Michael Ignatieff might be a nice guy with a big brain but he's not a politician. He couldn't make a decision if he were faced with the choice of eating a bowl of ice cream or a bowl of arsenic. And, while it should be true that his public image should not disqualify him from the position, he'd be fodder on the world stage. The Liberals have no real campaign platform, apparently choosing to fight the election on economic grounds where the ruling party has a clear edge. There second option is to fight on ethical grounds except for the fact that a "sponsorship scandal" under the previous Liberal regime cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions more than all the mini-Tory scandals combined. The Tories stretch the law - the Liberals last run in office saw them actively break it. Canadians have not forgotten this.

The Tories have bumbled and stumbled a bit. Their leader, and current PM, Stephen Harper also projects a rather drab public image. He's also somewhat autocratic, keeping a tight rein on information coming from the government and repeatedly frustrating the opposition by keeping them fighting for every scrap of paper they can get. This could be easily changed if Harper exhaled every now and again but he's wound tighter than the inside of a golf ball. He is, however, a leader who's been relatively honest. Tagged with having a "hidden agenda" based on his conservative and religious views, he has kept his word and refused to even consider any legislation that would affect societal norms such as legalized abortion and a continued ban on the death penalty. He has kept his personal views entirely separate from his political agenda.

Lastly, we have the New Democrat Party, led by the one leader on the federal scene who has some flair. Unfortunately, for Jack Layton that's all he has - the NDP's platform is one of promising everything without being specific about where the money will come from and of acting like euroweenies on every international issue. Maybe worse, actually, some of the European countries have vastly changed their tune in recent years, admitting that multiculturalism is an abject failure; the NDP has no problem putting and keeping the cult in multiculturalism. They still believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that these kind of policies make a country such as Canada strong rather than facing the truth that weakening our western democracies in the name of "fairness" and "equality" makes us all losers, including immigrants. Layton is also plagued by a recent hip operation and a bout with colon cancer so maybe he forced this vote hoping to get a few sympathy seats. It's not going to happen. The NDP is ridiculously outdated, clinging to an us (socialist/union/labour) vs. them (business) philosophy that is economically ruinous. When given the opportunity in two of Canada's three most populous provinces (BC and Ontario), the NDP was as corrupt as any other party and more destructive.

I vote Conservative because they are a much more moral party when it comes to foreign affairs, often eschewing pragmatism for an actual stance on human rights and freedoms. Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and a couple of his cabinet ministers are among the few politicians in the world who will criticize China, raise the spectre of Iran's nuclear program in a solid way and support Israel in its fight against islamic terror. These are examples - in general the Tories have brilliantly remade Canada's image in the world.

Still, like most Canadians, I was relatively accepting of the status quo. Sure, the opposition parties forced the Tories to spend more on "stimulus" than was needed (by billions and billions) and we'll have to pay that back some day. On the other hand, they have also kept some of the government's nastier ideas from becoming law - for instance, the Tories "law and order" agenda is a complete loser; A US-style approach to the justice system predicated on throwing more and more people in jails thereby justifying the expense of building more jails which thereby justifies throwing more people in jails, etc. Very rarely is throwing someone in jail an actual answer to a problem unless the problem is keeping those within the legal system employed.

Regardless, I do hope the Tories win this election and with a majority. It will allow them to try to balance our books without the constant hindrance of being a minority government one non-confidence vote away from another election. And, the alternative is ghastly. Because the Tories will almost assuredly win the most seats, the only way another party can form the government is by entering a coalition and said coalition would almost certainly have to involve the Bloc Quebecois. In other words: a government either supported or partly run by a party whose platform is essentially treason.

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