Tag Archives: Harper

A Polarized Canadian Electorate

The polls for the current election are showing something that is quite surprising, but somehow at the same time, something that makes sense.  Canada is divided again.  It wasn’t that many years ago that Canadians divided over the notion of two nations within one nation – a Québecois Nation and a Canadian Nation.  Today the divide is based on ideology, or so it seems.  Canadians are either holding fast to ultra conservativism (CPC) or racing to jump on an ultra left bandwagon (NDP).  The Liberals, a centrist political party, has almost been abandoned.

How does this make any sense politically?  Canadians aren’t extremists by nature.  Canadians are a people who steadily work and live a life on the middle road, caring for their families and neighbours while working hard to pay their bills.  I will try to find sense by looking at the phenomenon through the lens of human psychology, particularly that of the personal and collective unconscious.  But first, some background.

The Liberals, the centrist party of Canada, lost its way because of being too long in power.  Canadians trusted the Liberals and that trust became taken for granted.  And the abuses, the scams became bigger.  Along came the PC under the leadership of Brian Mulroney to avenge the Canadian voters.  Mulroney quickly showed Canadians that they had placed their trust in the wrong man and the wrong party and the Liberals were returned to power.  The old Liberal ways returned telling Canadians that the Liberals had not learned their lessons and again needed punishment.  A new version of the conservative party, the CPC held a hope for real change, after all its leader Steven Harper had promised transparency, accountability and honesty – values that seemed to have disappeared in the Canadian political world.

Five years later, and Canada is in shock.  Not only did the CPC not deliver its promises, it took abuse to a new level and added a new element, contempt.  The electorate was pummeled by attack ad after attack ad that sought to redefine the political world in black and white terms.  Invoking an evangelical template, the CPC placed themselves on the right hand of God in battle with the evil forces of darkness which they defined as any who opposed the CPC.  Most Canadians are believing Christians though not evangelical.  The constant bombardment of this war of good versus evil disturbed and shook the worldview of the average Canadian.  Fear began to appear, but not a fear that was easy to define, just a vague fear of the darkness, the instability of the place called home, Canada.

Steven Harper, knows what he is doing, he knows the power and value of fear as he tries to con Canadians to vote for him to be the leader of Canada.  There is no pretense that Canadians are voting for local candidates.  It is all about voting for Stephen Harper or against Stephen Harper.  I don’t believe that the Steven Harper that goes home each night to his family is an evil man, but the man we see as the leader of the CPC is a man possessed.  His hubris feeds on the collective unconscious.  And that, is what has come to scare most Canadians who have unconsciously known they couldn’t trust the man completely.  In this election, the stakes are higher.

And Canadians are in a panic.  Anyone But Harper! Anyone but conservative (ABC) has resulted in a fleeing from the extreme right – a fight or flight reaction – not a reasoned response.  Reason would tell Canadians to go back to the middle.  But the wounds inflicted by past Liberal governments, betrayed trust, have Canadians frantically scanning the political spectrum for a new safe place, as far away from Harper as they can get.  And the NDP are there, waiting for them with open arms trying to assure these Canadians that they can provide accountable, transparent and honest government.

Can the NDP deliver?  Personally, I don’t think so.  They aren’t a party of the centre and they will end up acting out of their extreme, non-centrist nature.  But, perhaps . . .

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How Did We Lose an Honourable Canada?

I have to admit it has been a long time since I wrote on this blog site.  I have been more focused my Jungian Psychology site as far as blogging goes and have been using Twitter for my  #cdnpoli and #elxn41 daily fixes while working at a university in China.  Yes, I am writing this from China where I am finding some meaningful work in my retirement from teaching and educational administration.  Obviously, I am not a hot-headed youngster, but a fairly quiet senior with a head of gray hair which is worn as a badge of honour for my decades of paying taxes in a country I love.  I am proud of being a Canadian.  But, I am sad at what is happening to my country.

When I was a teenager in Ottawa in the 1960s, great things were happening under the leadership of Pearson – a new flag, national pride, UN peace-keeping, international respect and a relatively respectful battle of parties in politics.  Things got interesting with Trudeau and there was definitely a lot of passion.  At one point, I joined the Liberal Youth, the NDP youth and the Conservative youth groups – experimenting.

Life changed for me and for Canada.  I got a job teaching and began raising a family in Saskatchewan, teaching French.  A lot of years later it was time to retire and enjoy being a grandparent in my country.  But, something had changed – in rode a Torontonian masquerading as an Albertan.  As far as I could tell, he was “just visiting” the west as he was in an awful hurry to change his home address back to Ontario.  His name, Steve Harper.

I’ve lived and worked with western rednecks for more forty years and find them to be humorous and passionate about many different things.  Forty years living with them I am still an easterner in spite of my children being born and raised in Saskatchewan.  In spite of being an easterner, these people are my friends that I can trust, honest people though we often don’t agree on many things, especially political things.  I know they have my back as. I have their’s.

So, it is with confusion that I see them voting for this city-kid from Toronto and claiming him as their “home boy.”  He makes the right sounds, for my friends who are hunters or like to think of themselves as hunters (most of them don’t hunt though I did for quite a few years – LOL).  As “their man” in Ottawa, he will set those easterners in their place and put an end to pork-barrel politics in Québec.  It wasn’t long before Harper began betraying them.  My neighbours see themselves under attack with regards to the CWB.  They feel aggrieved that Ontario and Québec got so much of the CAP money, money that they felt should have gone to them for hockey arenas that needed replacement- after all, he was their man.

Curiously, the continue to forgive him though he lies to them.  Harper told them he’d never appoint a senator, that he would only have an elected senate.  Twenty-seven appointed senators later, they forgive him his lies in hopes that next time he will keep his promise.  One promise broken after another, Harper is forgiven – he is their man and that is all that counts.  They forgive his meanness and his disregard for them.  They forgive him though the lineups for doctors is getting longer and it is getting harder to find a bed in a senior home for elderly parents and grandparents.  Somehow, all these broken promises are lain on the doorstep of the other parties.  They can’t blame their man, so they blame those damned easterners.  And in the process, my neighbours are becoming angry with anyone who dares to tell them the truth of this man they have adopted as their man.

Reason has flown out the window when Harper is seen as a westerner (born, raised, educated and living in the east) while a true Albertan running in Calgary as a Liberal is vilified as “just visiting” and told to “go back to Toronto.”  The last session of government saw Harper and his party fall in a vote of non-confidence due to contempt of Parliament.  Yet, my neighbours believe Harper as he tells them, the government fell on the budget.  When I point out the reality, the response is “Well, those damned Liberals, commies and separatists would have voted out the government on the budget, so what’s your point?”

Denial.  We lost our country to denial, to lies, to broken promises, to anger, to tactics of divisiveness and the most blatant levels of disrespect ever seen in the history of this country (and that is saying something).  My Chinese hosts can’t understand why our country puts up with this mean and angry man, this rude man.  They don’t hold Harper against me or other Canadians working here.  They know that he is not the country, that Canada is a great country with good people.

Canada has been seriously wounded and is suffering.  It is a county divided because one man saw tactics of division as a way to personal power, a man so arrogant that he renamed the Government of Canada so that it would be officially called The Harper Government.  We let it happen.  When does this masochism end?  When do we say enough, we want our Canada back?

PS If you want to follow me on Twitter, I am at @rgl_LPC

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Reforming Drug and Gun Laws … Not!

I am back from Mexico and have heard enough local “news” that it is making me want to scream with how dumb politicians and corporate citizens are taking care of my province and my country.

Well, it is a surprise to see our adoring western press printing articles about gun and drug policy reforms.  Even more surprising is the fact that the Saskatoon Star Phoenix suggests that our PM is only about ten years behind the rest of the pack of world leaders and is standing out alone like a sore thumb.  Well, the last fact is something that isn’t a surprise to me.  That was most evident during last summer’s Summer Olympics when Harper was a no-show in Beijing.  It’s hard to have a positive effect on the world scene when one is pouting in a corner.

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This is economic war!

A couple of things to mention before I get to the heart of this post.  First, who cares?  Palin is a grandmother.  That is nice for her, but it is definitely not “news” in the big picture.  I am a grandfather, five times.  The only people who care about this are my children and grandchildren and a smattering of my extended family and friends – as it should be.  Another brief mention, continuing activity in Gaza with both sides still stubbornly fighting on – this is far from over.  And, there still isn’t a hope of pointing out bad guys and good guys in this.  I get the feeling it is more like a bar scene where two drunk and belligerent patrons take offense with each other for the simple reason that they have always hated each other and decide to once again attempt to beat the crap out of each other.  Only this scene has frightening global ripples.

The Financial Post had an interview with Stephen Jarislowsky: ‘This is economic war!’, which was definitely worth a read and consideration.  It was refreshing to hear an economist type stand up and say:

I never underestimate the stupidity of mankind, which is based on greed and fear and what they do when they are afraid or too greedy. When the emotions rule, you can be sure it will lead to some form of stupidity of one form or another. The idea of saving GM [General Motors Corp.] is the dumbest thing in the world. Let it go bankrupt, let it go renegotiate its wages and put them on the comparable level paid by its competitors.

Needless to say, this fits my point of view.  I don’t believe that bailouts are going to do anything to actually save an industry that has consistently refused to do its own work.   Like any caught in a welfare cycle, there is little incentive to do the hard work when some outside agency will continually bail you out.  To find a future, GM and likely Chrysler as well, will have to go under.  If there is a will, then out of their ashes a new and improved version will arise like some Phoenix. 

Jarislowsky goes on to say:

What we need is common sense, logic, rationality, putting aside politics and fighting the common enemy. What worries me is the proroguing of Parliament and losing two months to tackle the problems. I’ve been trying to tell the politicians for Christ’s sake, don’t do something politically stupid. This is economic war!

He goes on to say:

I would not have prorogued Parliament because I am democratically inclined. Having said that, I believe we need a coalition of all the parties, just like in wartime, to get at it. We need to stop this bitter infighting, put politics and ideology aside and hopefully do the right thing, rather than experiment with the wrong things like what they are doing in the United States, where they are panicking. This is a total emergency situation that has to be handled correctly.

This is one of the best arguments for a coalition government that I have yet heard.  I hope Ignatieff reads this article.  There isn’t any time to play games with Harper.  Toss him out and then invite him to join in the real work of wrestling with changing world.

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