Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Hysteria of the Canadian left

I want to apologize in advance for using a gender-loaded term to describe the writings of a woman, but the fact is that the same words have been written by any number of Canadian men about Canadian politics since Harper was elected:
On every issue, from abortion rights to rendition for torture to fair treatment of non-white citizens who had the temerity to take a holiday and can't come home because they lost weight and don't quite look like their passport photo, Harper is determined to turn Canada into America-lite. He doesn't mean the America of Obama. He means the America of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, with its private affluence and public squalor.

American travellers used to shove a Canadian flag on their backpack for better treatment overseas. I'm sorry that the reverse has happened and Canadians now switch the conversation to Obama as quickly as possibly before the subject of clubbing seals arises.

We have shamed our better natures. But we Canadians will rid ourselves of Harper and rise again to be the decent and intelligent nation you Brits once patronised with such delight.
On any number of issues (hey, Afghanistan was Martin's war before it was Harper's!) it would be nice to pretend that all that is bad in this country started with Prime Minister Harper. But on the Tar Sands in particular, this is pretty galling. The Liberals spent just as much time and energy subsidizing the tar sands in their forlorn efforts to win seats outside of Edmonton. Honest Liberals (like their current leader) were once able to say "we didn't get it done" on the climate change front.

Meanwhile, if Michael Ignatieff is made Prime Minister some day, we already know how the debate around the tar sands is going to go: don't say anything too nasty about Canada's supreme environmental sin, else you risk "national unity". Those flinty, rough-hewn Albertans are so delicate that if we even criticize their main industry, they'll apparently check out of the country -- this according to the guy who wants their votes!

But even more broadly, the whole attitude of "Harper has changed this country in to something unrecognizable, and we need to change it back" is silly. In one sense, any government changes the way the country runs -- that's what governments do. But in a more fundamental sense, it's offensive. The only thing that's really happened in the last 4 years is that the Liberals haven't been able to win an election. You'll pardon me if I don't leap to associate the basic freedoms of my home with the political fortunes of the Liberal Party.

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