The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Friday, December 02, 2005

If you tell a Canadian he's apathetic, he'll answer, 'Who cares?'

On the second day of Elexmas Stephen Harper gave to me
tougher drug-control laws
and one percent off the GST.
Paul Martin received an early Christmas present -- and it was not coal -- when the latest unemployment numbers were released by Statistics Canada (Labour Force Survey): the November unemployment numbers decreased from 6.6% to 6.4%. Although the manufacturing sector actually rose in this time period, most of the new jobs are still service sector and temporary, although at least more of them are full-time. Even the average real wage of working Canadians (measured against the Consumer Price Index) seems to be improving. Just over a million willing and able Canadians are still without jobs, however; and the Canadian dollar (as a petrocurrency) still continues to rise relative to the USD. Sooner or later, this rise will cut deeply into export.

Faced with the prospect of yet another almost inevitable Liberal minority government, Canadians continue to search desperately for a viable alternative ... or maybe apathetically, the choices are not what one might term stellar. Paul Martin and the Liberals: well, at this point everyone knows what they are getting, no major surprises there -- although raising the unity issue at this point not only smacks of a stage magician's patter, but starts hammering in a wedge we don't need, at this point or ever. It would be nice if we could all start playing like adults here, squabbling over the potential transfer of power if we must, but at least not placing the country at risk to do so.

The major albatross around the Conservatives' neck -- besides the all-too-obvious rift left over from the earlier merger of the two right-wing parties -- continues to be Stephen Harper. It doesn't matter as much as maybe it should that the Conservative platform is finally being presented as something constructive, rather than just tearing down the other guys. The current Conservative amalgamation just is not a structure that brings anyone who has not already bought into their views to convert: and its leader personifies its actuality maybe just a little too accurately. (German readers, having just experienced the coming into power of die Merkel, will understand completely.)

Once again, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe, neither reasonably likely to form a government under the singularly non-cooperative Canadian political structure, will nevertheless hold the balance of power ... by default. How typically Canadian.

Depending on the exact results, at least one and maybe all three of the major non-Bloc party leaders will lose his job after this election.

The spectre of strategic voting raised its head when Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, called upon NDP voters to vote Liberal instead in tight ridings. In the previous election the tactic has backfired at least as often as it has succeeded: a Conservative was elected over a New Democrat by a tight margin in New Westminster-Coquitlam, and in Regina-Qu'Appelle an incumbent NDP member of parliament lost his seat to a Conservative. In other ridings such as Toronto's multi-ethnic Trinity-Spadina, traditionally fought out between the Liberals and the NDP (with the Conservatives a distant third), a belief in strategic voting may make the difference between a Liberal and an NDP candidate being elected.

When everyone else is plunging into a not-so-educated gamble, why not follow the lemmings? Only catch is, unlike the politicos, you have to spend your own money to play this game. Las Vegas' Pinnacle Sports favours the Liberals to win by 13.5 seats. Elections Canada has just released the total spending limit per registered political party with a candidate nominated in every riding: $18,225,260.75: and again, that is total across the country. They say nothing about investing in Las Vegas.

United States residents will recognise the name "Ralph Reed". The senior advisor to President Bush was the invited speaker for the Canadian Values - Embrace Democracy conference in Toronto last week, organised by the socially conservative Institute for Canadian Values. The topic, surely, can be extrapolated?

It's beginning to look a lot like an election
Ev'rywhere you go;
Turn the radio on and hear as the candidates appear
With flutt'ring lawn signs sprouting through the snow.

It's beginning to look a lot like an election
With goodies in every speech,
Spending freely one and all from the public wherewithal
Our votes to beseech.

The end of funds misused and a GST reduced
Is the true blue Tory scheme;
Debt reduction above all, social spending to forestall,
Says the Liberal regime;
And the rest of us know all too well: it's just another pipe dream.

It's beginning to look a lot like an election
From sea to shining sea (to sea!);
There's a debate in Montreal, another down the hall,
And rising earplug shares, I foresee.

It's beginning to look a lot like an election
Soon the polls will close,
And the thing that will give relief as we turn another leaf
Is January 2-4.


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