Friday, December 05, 2008

What's going on in Canada?

Holy Moses! Something's happening in Canada!

The Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has suspended Parliament until the end of January. It's crazy- everyone showed up at the House of Commons and found they were locked out. You'll remember that this is exactly how the French Revolution started. They now cannot meet to discuss the budget or figure out what to do about the Canadian economy, which is supposedly in trouble like every other economy. But, more importantly for Stephen Harper, they can't have a no-confidence vote to get rid of him, which was surely going to happen. So, he has brought the entire government to a halt in order to avoid getting ousted. Next week, he's going to declare himself Dictator for Life. He's currently shopping for epaulets.

This doesn't happen very often here. Actually, nobody can remember it ever happening before. Harper was inspired to pull this shit by the opposition parties, who recently formed a coalition government, something else that very rarely happens around here. In fact, they tried this unpopular and unnecessary power grab after they had all promised not to form a coalition government. They did this because the Tories' proposed budget wasn't very good, and there was a clause cutting all public funding to their parties. Imagine Obama trying to pass a law that Republicans could no longer accept any public funds, included in a budget that nobody really liked. It didn't go over well. The other big problem with the budget is that it will include deficit spending, a huge taboo in Canada. Can you imagine living in a nation sane enough to make deficits a taboo?

Anyway, this coalition is freaking a lot of Canadians out, especially in the plains, because it includes the dreaded Bloc Québécois, who officially want more sovereignty for Quebec, but probably want to separate. Having a country that includes Quebec is a bit like having a really beautiful girlfriend who is incredibly insecure and needs constant reassurance that you really love her. It's worth the trouble though because Montreal really is more fun than any other Canadian city.

Putting pressure on a Canadian fault-line in order to rile up his base, Harper has responded to the coalition with a bunch of adverts demonizing the party that ''wants to tear Canada apart'' and the entire province for good measure. They don't vote for him anyway, and I guess this gets Alberta united behind him. But it's not clear how long playing American-style politics will work. He recently accused the other parties of not having enough Canadian flags in their commercials. The saddest thing is that Harper has always struck me as taking all of this crap seriously.

As for the Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc Québécois, they're still pretty much a mess, and at least Harper has some sort of vision. So, most Canadians prefer the Tories, or at least, don't want to see Stéphane Dion and the Liberals in power right now. I'm skeptical that they're really more conservative though. It's like when you date some really nice person only because your true love can't get over their personal problems. If the Liberals straighten themselves out, the Tories are in trouble. When it sinks into the Canadian mind just how stupid Harper is acting right now, they're in trouble anyway.

So, everyone's acting bad here. Currently, the divide-and-conquer crap seems to be working for Harper because the other parties really are a mess, and he's got the advertising budget to accuse an entire province of being traitors. If he comes back in January with a brilliant budget, he might be able to pull this scam off. The Liberals are willing to cooperate, although at this point, it's a long-shot.

But don't bet on it. A lot can happen in seven weeks.


Brian Dunbar said...

If I can use a poor analogy ..

It's like having a brother who rags you for years about minor lapses - things like forgetting to put the new tags on your license plate.

And then one day he gets stopped by the police and issued a hefty citation for being months and months out of expiration on his own tags.

You feel for him but .. still.

rufus said...

Well, sure, in terms of the US/Canada relationship it's a bit like a brother who rags you too much. On the other hand, if you've looked at the NAFTA provisions, we do keep raiding his fridge.

But, I'd say the grudging love of brothers pretty much captures it. Canadians love America- and they also love to complain about America.