Thursday, December 04, 2008

Once a Colony, always a Colony...

There's a nutty political crisis happening up here in Canada, and I really don't know who reads my blog, but if any of you non-Canadians want a good look into the Canadian psyche, this poll does a pretty good job.

For those of you who don't know, Canada's political/constitutional/moral/federal/provincial/regional crisis began last Thursday when the man 59 per cent of Canadians believe would "best be able to manage Canada's economy during these troubling times" and his Finance minister presented an economic statement just over a month after their re-election as a minority government.

Here's the problem. Everyone agrees (except perhaps a majority of Canadians) that the economic statement completely sucked, given the current economic situation.

Oh, and it was incredibly partisan.

And before any of you trolls come out, I feel pretty secure in saying that the Conservative economic statement completely sucked and was partisan because even the Conservative government has completely backed down from it.

And what's this? Since the economic statement and the political intrigues support for the Tories might have actually increased?

Despite my somewhat baffled countenance, I am not here to talk politics, but to wonder aloud why it is my country is the way it is.

I have had my suspicions over the years, but think it is safe to say that alot of Canadians don't really care for democracy. I say that because all the polling that has happened since the crisis started gives one a good sense of the level of political disengagement Canadians are engaged in right now.

This active, studied disengagement leads many Canadians to be quite bent out of shape about having to think about politics or civics.

You hear people talking about it on the street all the time right now, and what I've heard, even here in "liberal" Toronto is "Harper was just made PM" and "I don't want another expensive election" and "how can anyone work with those separatists?" and "they all just need to grow up".
I have friends who support the coalition that the other 3 political parties have proposed, but when I listen to people I don't know, the hearsay is clear - we do not want to think about this. Government, why are you bothering us? We elected you to some kind of chamber in Ottawa, and now you go and do stuff and we get to complain about all the stuff you do. This is how it works here.

I remember sitting on a streetcar during the 2005-06 election, the one which elected the current government to power. Behind me sat a Canadian and a Finn who, if I recall said he had been here for 5-10 years.

They spoke about the upcoming election. The conversation went something as follows:

"Yeah, I'm not sure who to vote for, they're all crooked. The current PM wants to tax us more."

"I do not think so. I read their platform and they have pledged to cut income taxes by 2 per cent next year."

"Huh, well yeah, but it's better than the socialists, they just want to tax everything."

"Not so. I read their platform and they said that they intend to not raise income taxes, although they have pledged to raise taxes on large corporations."

"Really? Is that what it says? Well, you can't trust those politicians to do what they will say, can you?" (chuckles)

I will be honest with you. I cannot remember what it is they actually said, but what was truly striking was that the Canadian sounded resolutely so - he spouted vaguely right-wing talking points, although on further reflection was probably more moderate, meaning, he was probably a Liberal, while the Finn actually knew what every party had pledged.

Again, I know this is anecdotal, but look again at the statistics - does this look like a country that has any idea as to what's going on right now? Or is all of this stuff in Ottawa just kind of a kink in the Christmas shopping season? But more importantly - what do the Americans think??

It seems a good time to mention that the government which 3 out of 5 Canadians believe is best able to manage Canada's economy, only released their economic plan to Canadian voters on October 7. Election day was on October 14. The election was called on September 7. So with a week left in the election, they let Canadians know how they would manage the economy.

I guess Canadians just knew that, "in their hearts", like the guy on the streetcar, they were best. After all, they're Conservatives, right, and Conservatives are good with the economy, right?

I can only imagine how that poor Finn felt, on October 6, sitting there with all the other political party policy platforms, wondering what he was going to do come election day if the governing party doesn't release a platform...

Looking at the data, Canadians do not care about government. Not only do they not care, they begin to get downright hostile at the possibility that the going's on in government might actually be serious enough that they have to pay attention. That's what government's are for, so the people don't have to worry.

My countrymen and countrywomen are fine and friendly people. And yet, the statistics seem to show that for all our strengths, one of them isn't engaging in a democracy.