Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 6: A concise guide to the federal election

Since the Moncton Times has said close to nothing of any intelligence about the election, here's a short guide to your choices.

To begin, forget the words liberal, conservative, socialist, left, and right. Very few people have the faintest idea what those words mean - with the result that they are used as a sort of shorthand for various prejudices. The Conservatave party isn't conservative. The Liberal party isn't liberal. And the NDP isn't socialist. Those labels are used to build hatreds or fears and confusion; and to conjure up cartoon figures for political bigots.. But they really don't mean anything to most people who use them or to most people who hear them.

As well, people who claim to be capitalist and anti-welfare state can actually be very pro-welfare state when it comes to get government grants, easing of regulations, cutting of their taxes. You soon learn that they are against welfare only when it doesn't go to them. In that sense, some of the biggest welfare families in Canada come from New Brunswick.

The two biggest parties in this election are really both the big business party. Both the so-called Liberals and Conservatives disguise the reality of who funds them and who they work for. But they may disguise it in various ways. For years, the Liberals disguised who they worked for by introducing social programmes, but doing as little as possible and a slowly as possible. (That technique was actually first introduced by a Conservative prime minister, R.B. Bennett, in the election of 1935.

Another way is to appeal to special interest groups and by appealing to fears. Harper is appealing to fears by promisiing more jails and longer sentences. (If that worked, then the US with the world's largest prison population would also be the world's most crime-free country.) He also works to satisfy evangelical Chistians and Zionists because these are highly organized groups that can get their voters to the polls.

It's the same with his promise to end gun registration. In the range of serious problems that face us, whether guns should be registered is a piddling issue. But Harper knows there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians who are foolish enough to vote for him on the basis of that one issue alone.

For at least twenty years, the Liberals have lost any sense of what even their phony appeal would be. Mackenzie King, who delayed social legislation for years in this country, was a smart enough politician to pretend he was leading the way. In reality, King was always a servant of big business while pretending to be for the "common people".  Ignatieff's problem is that doesn't even know how to fake having principles.

The NDP is not a socialist party. There was a time when it was moderately socialist. That was when it was called the CCF. But those days ended when the unions became its major source of funding. Unions, generally, are not enthusiastic about socialism. In fact, their general outlook is more like that of big business than they are prepared to admit. But it is not until we arrive at the NDP that we come to a party that is not owned by big business.

The Bloc Quebecois is less dependent than the liberals and conservatives on big business for its financing. But it is a party that has no interest even in the existence of Canada. It also relies heavily for support on bigotry in Quebec. (I am not, by the way, at all anti-French. I am anti-bigot. I am, therefore, equally anti those bigots in New Brunswick who speak English.)

The Green Party has, by its nature, a very narrow platform. However, they don't really need a broader one because they know they aren't going to form a government.  They are also the party big business is least likely to contribute to because big business doesn't give a damn for the environment.. As a result, Canada is notorious for having done the least in the whole, developed world to improve the environment. A vote for the Green Party has mixed results. It may do something to get Canada to move a little bit on environmental issues. But the certainty is that a vote for it is one that probably splits the riding vote enough to improve the chances for Liberals (or maybe Conservatives) to win.

And don't rely on The Moncton Times for any helpful information. I don't think they have yet published the information, from excellent sources, that the new fighter plane Harper intends to buy will not cost $39 billion for a squadron, but something approaching 150 billion. It is also the opinion of military experts in Canada and the US that it is, even by the standards of today, not a very good aircraft - and this is something we would have to use for twenty years and more.

So - what will happen if the Conservatives win? Big business will be popping champagne corks as its taxes get cut, and the middle class and poor are made to pay the price of the recession. We will also continue to be so subservient to the US we can expect to spend at least a generation - if the world lasts that long - fighting American wars.

What will happen in the Liberals win? Not a whole lot different. We would try, at least, to get out of that disastrous fighter plane deal. And we probably wouldn't be spending billions on prisons that would create even more crime. Otherwise - hey, it will still be the same bosses.

In either case, our democracy will continue to decline - and it barely exists, now.

Any majority government could be only Liberal or Conservative. Either one would be immensely destructive of Canadian society.

Some people complain at the idea of a coalition. In fact, some of our best governments of the last fifty years have been near-coalitions. A coalition has the virtue of disarming the extremists on both sides.

Given the current choices, we would be wise to pray for a coalition. Our situation is very dangerous. I don't think we begin to understand the forces that are so rapidly changing the world. Democracy is in serious danger. The concept of societies organized in nation states is on shaky ground. (Globalism has aspects to it that we have not even begun to understand; and it has crippling features to it that endanger the existence of even the concept of democratic and/or national government.

 A coalition would buy us time to realize just how dangerous our position is. A majority government would almost certainly put an end to anything we know as Canada.

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