An ongoing conversation between “Gabe” a seasoned islander and a political junkie, and “Youth” a young, hesitant newcomer to the weird, whacky and often disturbing world of Canadian politics. Gabe attempts to explain the current situation with the federal government and other political disorders.
Youth: So the Prime Minister has just finished his annual trip to the Arctic. He’s really got a love affair with the place, hasn’t he?
Gabe: Hmm … the words “Harper” and “love” in the same sentence – just don’t make sense to me.
Youth: But he’s expressing his deep affection for the North and the potential for developing their resources.
Gabe: Well the developing resource thing I can accept, but I’m still having trouble with him having affection – unless it’s affection for one more natural resource that he can imagine being shipped to China.
This guy pops into small northern communities for a day or so and then tries to parlay that into some political points. This all has to do with two things – photo opportunities, and getting as far away from Ottawa as he can and still be in the country.
Youth: Now why would he want to get away from Ottawa? Don’t you claim that he seems to be the kind of guy who has to be in control all the time? Wouldn’t he want to stay there to make sure everything is running his way?
Gabe: C’mon kid, I’m sure the guy has constant communication with his minions in Bytown. He likely has a blackberry, an iphone, a cell phone, and 5,000 kilometres of puppet string at his disposal.
Anyways, he now wants to gain brownie points by committing $275,000 in an attempt to discover Sir John Franklin’s ships that were lost 160 years ago while trying to find the Northwest Passage. Now, I have nothing against re-discovering these historic items, but I do compare this with the PM’s earlier decision to cut funding to the Polar Environmental Atmospheric Research Lab a few months ago. But then again, that had to do with discovering stuff about the environment – something Harper seems to not want to discover too much about!
And on top of all that, he’s way up north playing big daddy while his hand-puppets in Ottawa are quietly giving the RCMP and the federal border agency the authority to share and use information likely extracted through torture. Nice touch.
Youth: So you’re saying he’s up there for a few good photo ops and the chance of some good press?
Gabe: Yup. I can’t figure he’s there to discuss the unbelievably fast melting of the ice in the Northwest Passage. That would mean he might have to actually answer a question about climate change and that’s an issue he seems to avoid like the plague.
He’s also really good at announcing things like the deep water naval port for Nanisivik in 2007 and the Radarstat Constellation Mission satellite project he announced in 2010. Neither one of these has even begun, but he was all proud and chest-thumping when he announced them a few years ago.
Youth: Were you always this cynical?
Gabe: Nope, just since I began to read and listen to the news. Before that I was just skeptical and before that just distrustful. I guess you could say I’ve evolved!
Youth: So if you have so many insights and you were Prime Minister (God forbid), what would you do differently than Mr. Harper?
Gabe: Well, first of all I’d institute representational voting so that the current situation with 24.3 per cent of Canadians electing a majority government would never happen again. Then I’d reinstate all the environmental controls that these guys have destroyed and I’d install David Suzuki as Environment Minister and ship Peter Kent back to the CTV archives.
I’d take external affairs back to the time when Canada was actually seen as a keeper of the peace and a broker of fair deals, not a blind, radical, pro-Israel advocate in every situation.
I’d structure our economy so that we focused on developing renewable sources of energy and I’d put an end date on the tar sands.
Harper was so excited to announce a new national park in the NWT. I’d be just as happy to announce the creation of the Tar Sands Memorial National Park after all the mess had been cleaned up by the major oil companies and the pipeline consortium. Now wouldn’t that be a great announcement?
Youth: So you’ve actually put some thought into this?
Gabe: Well not really. I’d just have to consider what Harper and the Cons have done and just do the opposite. Simple, actually.
Youth: Why do I even spend time with you?
Gabe: To gain wisdom and honour your elders?
Steve admits to a skewed fascination with the politics of the Borg and a strong inclination to explore the detours travelled to avoid the risk of consciousness. Steve can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opinions expressed in this column will usually be those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Shingle.
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