Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas tag

Gee, thanks, Chimera.

OK, three things I want for Christmas, three things I don't want, and tag five others, who I am sure have nothing better to do.

As regular readers will know, this is not an easy time for me. Of the three things I want, one is painfully obvious, but I can't roll back time and make it unfold differently. I will, however, name two other things that I'd like to have, if I had my druthers:

2) I want a daily attempt by those across the political spectrum to dig a little deeper when we debate and discuss issues with each other. It seems to take a crisis, like the one in my own life for the past few months, to bring out the common decency to be found amid all of the warring factions in the blogosphere.

Political culture in Canada is, frankly speaking, impoverished. Public politics is carried out by sound bite: woe betide any politician who thinks out loud or tries to inject nuance. Take Michael Ignatieff (please--I'm no fan). I read his New York Times article on torture twice. He's agin' it, period. But his sic et non style of musing that academics love to engage in provides plenty of handholds for those who are prone to rush to judgement. There are plenty of reasons to dislike this patrician expatriate. But his being in favour of torture is not one of them

Or take Elizabeth May, again someone I'd be unlikely to vote for. She made the mistake of expressing personal misgivings about abortion recently, and her words could have been a whole lot better chosen--no woman, for example, chooses abortion "frivolously." But she's clearly not anti-choice on the issue.
May wants safe, legal abortion and improved access to it.

On choice, there really are only two ways to go--you're for the right to choose, or you're not. But on abortion per se, there exists an entire spectrum of opinion, and indeed there is a moral dimension. Why shouldn't this be discussed in all of its nuances? Why should it be a risk for a politician to venture beyond the one-liner or prepared and well-vetted speech?

3) This is probably a continuation of the last. Why do we insist on looking at Canadian politics through the peep-hole lens of individual political leaders? Every time a new one comes along, a messianic aura is bestowed upon him or her by the media. I know that Stephane Dion is a bookish, thoughtful sort of guy with his heart in the right place on the environment. So what? He's one person, heading up a party that did not transform itself from top to bottom in a flash as the convention winner was announced, despite the subtle and not-so-subtle messages to that effect. It's still a party of regional fiefdoms, petty bickering, no clear policies on anything, and scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours business as usual.

I want politics as it should be in this country: our emphasis should be on an engaged citizenry, with far less focus on leadership, razzle-dazzle and relatively infrequent E-days. We need a quotidian kind of politics, in which policy gets made by people, not backroom committees and conventions of the faithful. We need to debate ideas on the ground, make new alliances, encourage new thinking from the bottom up. More on this later, perhaps.

Now, three things I don't want:

1) A Conservative majority. What you've seen so far is Harper lite. He is a bitter, shallow ideologue, but the real problem is that he's surrounded by a host of others, simply because he can't tolerate anyone who questions his rule. So--just to avoid any charges of contradicting what I said above--my concern is precisely with the party as a whole, and its policies, and its lock-step brass, and what this relatively disciplined outfit intends for Canada. Hint: we are looking at transformation, all right, and it won't be very nice.

Just a few examples that adumbrate the Conservative revolution, which I sincerely hope will not come to pass, may be found here. A few more: a public employee is disciplined at NRCAN for objecting to instructions to refer to the current regime, in correspondence, as "Canada's new government." Our Maximum Leader tends to lash out in all directions at imagined slights.

And all of this is happening while he has a tenuous minority government. Whew. Don't let it happen. Please.

2) A Liberal majority. Dion brought in Jean Chrétien to advise on transition. Yikes. Need I say more? Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose....

3) More foreign adventures using Canadian troops. I support our troops, and so should you. Let's show it by bringing 'em home. We have the Northwest Passage to defend, after all.

Five tags:

Buckdog, Kate McMillan, Cerberus, Zerb and James Bow.

Should be fun.

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