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 Stephen Harper was honoured with the “World Statesman Award” by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation at New York’s Waldorf Astoria on Sept. 27. That must stick in your craw eh, old man?
Gabe: Yup. Directly in my craw. By the way, where’s my craw? Is it near my butt?
Youth: Nope. It’s your throat. Means it’s hard to swallow.
Gabe: Well, when you figure that one of the other winners of the “World Statesman Award” was Henry Kissinger, that kind of explains the whole thing, doesn’t it? I mean good ol’ Hank was the architect of Nixon’s delightful romp in Cambodia and other first-run stupidities.
Youth: You can’t give the guy a break, can you?
Gabe: Nope. This sketchy foundation is actually co-chaired by such freedom loving people as George Bush Jr., George Schultz, Madeline Albright, James Baker, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. Such a group of upstanding democracy supporters! It’s kind of like the three pigs voting for the best sausage of the week award! Harper will eat this up and we’ll be subjected to fallout from this crap for at least a month or two. Makes a guy nauseous! It is nothing but fodder for a Rick Mercer rant.
Youth: But you have to admit, it’s interesting that this group actually sees Mr. Harper as a “a leader of integrity who has earned the respect of his people for his commitment to democracy, freedom, human rights, and peace in the service of humanity”.
Gabe: Yeah, Harper’s committed to democracy like I’m a columnist for the New York Times. The guy is an arrogant ideologue who couldn’t give a flying crap about democracy. He’s about as democratic as China. Where else would you ever see a whack of legislative changes hidden and buried in another omnibus budget bill? Like Mercer said, even North Korea is only subjected to one omnibus bill a year. We’ve had to suffer through two!
Youth: But this group must see something in him that you don’t.
Gabe: Yup. Blind and stupid obeisance to the idea of supporting Israel even when they’re wrong. The whole Appeal of Conscience Foundation was founded by Rabbi Arthur Schneier to promote religious freedom and human rights throughout the world. Harper has somehow become an unapologetic supporter of Israel’s government even when they are blowing up Palestinians. Very tacky, and likely not seen as terribly supportive of human rights by the Palestinians.
Youth: You just can’t give our Prime Minister a break, can you?
Gabe: Why should I? The guy exudes arrogance like oil from a dirty engine. He’s a first rate puppet master who doesn’t even believe in the right of elected members to speak in the House. If he had his way, he’d forego the entire annoyance of having to answer questions in the House of Commons.
Actually, as I think of it, he never has answered a question in the House. He just makes rude remarks and tries to make the questioner look stupid. He and his cadre of talking heads – John Baird and Tony Clement and Joe Oliver – stand up on their hind legs and mouth platitudes while the rest of us just sit back and wonder where the hell democracy disappeared to.
Youth: Are you saying that we’re not living in a real democracy?
Gabe: Yup. You catch on fast for a newcomer to the wild world of Canadian politics!
Youth: So if our democracy is in danger as you suggest, how come more people aren’t complaining or making their views known? Why aren’t people rallying in the streets?
Gabe: Because, as Mercer says, most Canadians “don’t necessarily have the time or the inclination to come across like mad people who are constantly barking about waste, corruption, and lack of transparency in three different levels of government”. He also said that “if we as a nation don’t rant, then the powers that be will use that complacency against us”.
Youth: So you’re saying that the Harper government is counting on the fact that most Canadians are just not going to stand up and tell them that what they’re doing is wrong.
Gabe: Yup. That, and we need to remind our politicians that they work for us and that they are accountable to us. And to tell the truth, right now it just doesn’t seem that way.
Effective democracy demands attention and involvement. As Plato said a long time ago, “the price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men”.
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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