Friday, December 12, 2008

Looking Toward the End of January

Good Morning! And for those of you still waiting for your coffee machine to finish it's task - good morning. I sit, laptop definitively where it is designed to be, on the couch in the living room - and yes, my coffee mug is full and steaming, placed on a forest green marble coaster on the table before me. The cat is behind, perched over my shoulder on the back of said couch and I have CNN on the TV for background noise. I even lit up two of the darker corners of the room with candles. One, a square pillar, sits atop a bookcase. The other is a tea light inside a true alabaster votive holder aside a dark leather chair on a table. Their glow is very pleasant. Eric has gone to work and before he kissed me goodbye I learned that we are attending a Martini party on this fair Friday eve.

Last Saturday I went with two new friends to a rally for the Liberal/NDP coalition at Toronto's Nathan Phillip Square to see party leaders Jack Layton (NDP) and Stephan Dion (Liberals) speak. In a most ridiculous move, a decided not to bring or wear any gloves. Hello Dorothy, you are not in California any longer. I was uncomfortable but it didn't turn into a crisis. And despite the cold and the lack of gloves, the trip downtown was completely worth it. I enjoyed hearing the two Canadian politicians speak at the rally. 

Attending the rally seemed a rare opportunity. It is technically possible to see a U.S. politician speak, though doing so usually means paying a tidy sum to receive an invitation to some event with limited space that an excessive number of the people desire. Attempt to attend such an event in San Francisco where said politicians only come to extract campaign money from the venture capitalists and Silicon Valley power players - those who have the connections to get and can afford the hefty price of a ticket. And I write only about Democrats. Republicans do not or rarely visit the S.F. bay area. Arguably the most liberal area of the U.S., there is very little money and few votes to be had for them. So they ignore it. But back to the rally...and my cold hands...

It's not every day that the sitting Canadian Prime Minister makes such egregious political mistakes while leading a minority government that the three opposing parties decide to shelve their differences, create a coalition and attempt to unseat said PM and his party from power. It was all very dramatic. Perhaps I should say it is all very dramatic because there has been no conclusion. Yet. In any case, there were rallies for the coalition in several cities across Canada and the three of us attended the one in Toronto.

Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is a bully. His leadership is more Conservative than Canadian. He seems more interested in how his decisions further his Conservative party and not how they might benefit the Canadian people, it's culture and ultimately, the country. It is disturbing that increasing his Conservative party's power seems more important to Harper than what properly used political power can achieve - a more stable and prosperous nation. During the world economic crisis he is focusing on power politics and not properly managing the Canadian nation. Harper's answer to "strengthen" Canada's economy? He declared to take away the right of civil servants to strike for three years. He attacked pay equity laws. And, just as importantly, to end governmental political subsidies. All questionable responses to an economic crisis. What was he thinking? Even some conservatives wondered. What followed was a lack of confidence with him by all those in Parliament except his Conservatives. He managed to have Parliament suspended, or Prorogued - the only way to avoid losing on a vote of confidence and, ultimately his job and government mandate. Shrewd politics to be sure. But to what end? To successfully lead a minority government through cooperation with opposing parties? To confidently lead Canada through a world crisis? NO. Parliament will resume at the end of January, when, unless something changes drastically, one assumes the vote of confidence will be taken. He will surely lose and he understands this. So instead of addressing the nation with a plan and strategy to weather the economic storm, he concerns himself with filling 18 Senate seats with Conservatives. And while this is politically understandable, the timing is amazing. While I expect these partisan antics during the best of times, during an obvious crisis I insist in strong leadership benefiting the people. That is the elected job. What do Canadians get from Harper during a crisis? Politics before Country. It's truly shameful. Again, back to the rally...

I was astounded by the diversity of those who attended. I was with a true cross section of the population. Both Jack Layton and Stephan Dion spoke well. I have no doubt that they are taking advantage of a political opportunity. Who can blame them? But they also speak to the opportunity to focus again on the Canadian people, the country and the crisis at hand. They are proactively and aggressively acknowledging the current economic situation and the concerns of the people of Canada. This I find a stark contrast with the tepid response the Conservatives give when pressed. With the time he has left, Harper will continue to play partisan power politics at the expense of the world economic crisis and the true concerns of the Canadian people.  This is why I continue to support unseating Harper and the Conservative minority government at the end of January. 


Tom said...

Very nice post Adam. Thank you for explaining the situation so eloquently.

Gordie Canuk said...

Interesting reading the perspective of those more accustomed to American politics. I myself grew up in the US (NY/NJ and OR) but I've grown accumstomed to bland Canadian politics...nice to see some drama finally.

Harper isn't dead yet, the one thing about the Religious Right...whether in the US or Canada, they're dedicated and tireless. When the next election comes (probably sooner than later) those of us opposed to the Harper and his small minded followers had better get very busy.

I'm working on a blog entry myself, saying the campaign starts now.