"Stop complaining and taste what's on the political menu!" says the header on today's op ed page of The Moncton Time and Transcript. Lynda McGibbon, the writer, is a good writer. I wish I could agree with her this time. I really do. but I can't.
She compares an election to a sort of smorgasbord of tasty delights. I wish it were. I wish I could urge people to read the menu. I wish I could say I'm proud of Canadian democracy. But none of that is possible.
The smorgasbord has some tasty delights, I'm sure. It also has some fatal poisons. And the menu (our news media), give us no indication which is which.
For example, Harper intends to cut subisidies for political parties. Sound like a sensible measure? It's not. Putting parties on their own to raise all their money is a guarantee that the only parties ever to win another Canadian election will be parties financed as agents of corporations. They will be the only source, and we shall forever be governed by a Liberal Pary which is not Liberal, or a Conservative Party which is not conservative.
American democracy ceased to exist in any real sense years ago. President Obama is pretty much like President Bush because both have been finannced by the same billionaires. The same is true of the whole congress. There's a reason why the US government spent perhaps a trillion dollars to bail out bankers and other investors who pulled a monster scam by deliberately creating a housing bubble. There's a reason why they are not showing no rush to help the people who lost their homes, or the unemployed. There's a reason why the poverty gap in the US, growing for years, is now the biggest in the developed world.
Canada is going the same way. We don't elect governments. It's partly because we don't have enough information to do so. We just had a provincial election with no serious debate. The big parties didn't even have something that looked like a platform. One of them one, anyway. Of course. They're the only ones who have money. Guess where they get it. Guess who they really represent.
The same is true for most of Canada. The Conservatives are rolling in money. Guess where it comes from. Guess who the Conservatives govern for. (Hint -the same people the liberals government for.) Guess how much easier it will all be if we stop giving third parties at least a chance to get their message out. '
Who do you think will tell us about new parties or about parties that don't have enough money to buy the PR needed for a showing in an election? The Moncton Times and Tribune? Get real. Indeed, you won't find it in private newspapers, radio or TV anywhere in Canada. You might catch a bit on CBC; but it's pretty much muzzled by fear of Harper doing away with the system.
There are issues, very serious ones, that should be issues in this campaign. The severe limitations and the decline of Canadian democracy are serious issues. The dramatic crash in Canada's reputation around the world over the past decade or so has been stunning. From our international role to our human rights record to our very humble servitude to US policies, we have almost no international respect left. Nor do we deserve it. The gap between rich an poor in Canada is growing almost as fast as the one in the US.
Our military has been rebuilt to be nothing more than an auxiliary to the American military - which is now almost equally made up of serving Americans, and hired mercenaries from all over the gutters of the world.
When, recently, an American murdered two Pakistanis in public, the US paid a large sum of money and put on other pressure to get him out - though there was no legal basis to let him return to the US. When the US captures or kidnaps Canadian citizens, Canada doesn't say a word. In fact, the federal police assist the US in the kidnapping and, when the Canadian is sent to a foreign country for torture, the CSIS goes along to help out the torturers. When a Canadian juvenile was captured and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay (illegally), Canada said nothing. It continued to say nothing through years of torture and they trial by an illegally military court, illegally using testimoney obtained by torture. Canada has the shame of being the only country with a national captured in Afghanistan to do nothing whatever for its own citizen. (Oh, I know. You think the kid should rot in jail. let me know when it's your turn.)
Yeah. I'm real proud to be a Canadian.
If we're going to be a democracy, we need to know what's going on. We need honest news media. Media with brains would be a big help, too. We need to develop politicians, real ones, not just the hired hacks of corporations. It's never been easy to get political ideas off the ground without having big money. Harper plans to make it impossible.
Why did 40% of Canadians not vote the last time around? It's probably largely because of what I wrote above. And it's a pattern you can see in most western democracies. When George Bush first got elected president, he did it with the votes of something like 30% of the total American electorate.
I'm sorry to say it. But a Canadian election is not a smorgasbord of taste treats. It's a pig's wallow. We don't have the luxury of a democracy. Who will win elections in this country is decided by a handful of multimillionaires and billionaires, and by the newspapers and radio and TV stations they own.
You can make kids in school sing O Canada till they turn blue. It won't stop the cancers of our servility to big business and the US. It won't stop the steady growth of poverty we're watching, or the looting of both Canada and the US by a few hundred families.
I'll be happy someday to sing about a true north strong and free. But I'll wait until I see it.
P.S. Once again, Harper is in town on a campaign swing. Ever notice he never says it's mice to be back in the province his parents came from? Ever notice the news media never mention it? Ever notice we never hear of him visiting his parent's old home in Port Elgin, or perhaps drop in on the development called Harper Heights? (actually, there are no heights. it's dead flat - something like the Liberal and Conservative parties.)
Why doesn't he mention somethiing that could be worth more than a few votes in NB?
One possibility seems obvious. He's an arrogant snob. He doesn't want it generally known where his family comes from.