We now pause for a brief political announcement…
As many of you are aware, Canadians are having a national election on the 23rd. Yes, we just had one 18 months ago, but apparently the voters were mistaken and the opposition parties want to give us another chance to get it right. They also had to bring down the government before the independent judicial commission looking into the sponsorship scandal could exonerate the government (for the second time) in its final report, since without being able to utter the word “scandal” every five minutes the opposition would have nothing to complain about. To wit:
In his first speech out of the chute, Harper reached for the word “change” more than 20 times. The use of this term is meant to have a conventional meaning agreed upon by pollsters and punditti, and understood by the public: since the present government has been in office for a dozen years and a quartet of elections, therefore the people allegedly/must/should (choose one) want a change.
What gets lost in the Change Mantra is that almost no one asks, “What, exactly, do we want to change?” It’s worth asking. On the face of it, it doesn’t look like we need a big change, apart from making sure that we don’t have another Sponsorship Scandal (and that supposedly is being taken care of by the Martin-appointed Gomery Commission, even if the opposition parties were too impatient to wait for the judge’s final report). The country is at peace; terrorism is minimal (it’s mainly confined to ethnic gang members who shoot each other — what one wag calls “niche terrorism”); we have the lowest unemployment in 30 years; there have been balanced budgets and big surpluses for about ten years in a row now; plus we have a raft of policies and lots of cash in the pipe for health care, environmental cleanup through the Kyoto Accord, urban infrastructure renewal, day care, equal rights, post-secondary education and all the rest. What, exactly, needs to be changed? Most citizens of thriving democracies elsewhere would say, Not much.
If it wasn’t for the Liberals (Pearson and Trudeau in particular), I wouldn’t be in Canada, I wouldn’t have equal rights as a woman and a minority, I wouldn’t speak French (which got me my first real job), I wouldn’t have a university degree (which got me my current job), I wouldn’t have control over my uterus, and I (and my parents) would be bankrupt from paying private doctors.
I’m certainly not a “what have they done for me lately” kind of voter, and I personally prefer the NDP and the Greens, but I’d be pretty ungrateful if I didn’t recognize the party that gave me the prosperous and free life that I have, and I’d be pretty stupid not to vote strategically. Remember November 2000? (Damn Nader!! I’m still not over that either.)
There’s a reason the Liberal Party has dominated Canadian politics for decades. It’s because they most accurately reflect Canada’s values. Obviously politicians should be watched, and there is always room for improvement, but let’s not mess up a good thing just for the sake of “change.”