Thursday, December 04, 2008

A house divided, northern edition.

I am certain that there's nothing I can say that will change anyone's mind about anything. Certainly not about Canada's Parliamentary cockfight. You can find a constitutional expert (or someone who claims to be) to support your opinion, no matter what it is. And even if you recognize that the coalition is perfectly legal, you may not recognize its legitimacy. There are a buch of reasons for this, but the two I've seen the most are that the coalition is a bunch of sore losers, trying to steal power without earning it, or that they are traitors for entering into an agreement with the Bloc.

You may support the coalition for reasons that have nothing to do with the constitution or the whimsy of parliamentary democracy. My gut reaction was to support the coalition simply because Harper's an asshole. Since then, after a great deal of consideration, I've found other reasons to support them. Listing them here adds nothing to the discussion. You can find them all over the place.

What I do know is this. Six weeks will not help. It will help the CPC get a budget together, but it seems unlikely to me that the budget will pass. It will give the CPC caucus a chance to choose a new leader, but they are unlikely to do that. Harper only owns short leashes. It might give the coalition time to fall apart, but that seems unlikely to me as well. They planned to hang together for 18 months. Six weeks isn't that long.

It gives both sides time to launch the campaign for the hearts and minds of Canadians. The CPC has a lot more money, so they'll be running TV ads using words like traitor, power grab, and democracy. They might say coup. They'll probably rerun some stuff saying how goofy Dion is. They will issue talking points to the bloggers. The MSM editorial pages will be full of invective against those nasty socialists and separatists. It'll be ugly.

The coalition has a lot less money. What have they got? The majority, tradition and law. Any ads they can muster will contain words like democracy, Bush, confidence and economy.

Ads on neither side will contain any substantive evidence for their position. And rightly so. It won't make a damn bit of difference. The trenches are deep and the positions are entrenched.

What bothers me most is division that this is exacerbating. In the US, things have gotten ugly in the afteremath of a contentious and tight presidential election. Old rivalries and prejudices have taken off their hoods. New prejudices have come to the fore, highlighting the culture war. The religious right scrambles desperately to prove Obama's illegitimacy as president, while gloating and screeching in fear about gay marriage (I don't know how they do it.)

Up here, the debate feeds on Canada's own boogeymen. First is the GOP-like behaviour of the CPC. The CPC aren't your father's Tories. They're neocons. Then there's the separatists. We thought that spectre was safely exorcised, and the Bloc now supports a different government (the govenment has included the Bloc for years, but now they might be allied with someone). There's also the vaguely socialist-like stance of the NDP. Accurate or not, the image is there, and we're being blugeoned with it. And finally, there's the meme which has been swiped from Rove's playbook. We're being told that Dion isn't a "leader". Whatever that means.

The divisions are real, though essentially superficial. These issues should be taking a backseat to other, more pressing issues, like the environment, poverty, and our fatally flawed economy. But this is what's shaping debate.

This will get worse before it gets better. I can promise you that. And the Canada that emerges will likely be very different from this one. I can't say whether it'll be better or worse. The CPC might make overtures to the others and patch things up. The coalition may or may not survive. The GG may just prorogue the government again next year because the CPC will fall. We may have another election as the Libs choose a new leader (and probably the CPC, if the government falls).

This is ugly. I know my wine and turkey-fuelled discussions will be interesting over Christmas.


Gord H. said...

your line "The trenches are deep and the positions are entrenched" is very true indeed and we're in for a bitter struggle.

meanwhile, as you also correctly say, more important matters are neglected.

excellent post.

enjoy your wine, turkey and discussions.

g. harrison

Father Shaggy said...

Thanks, Gord, but now that I see the phrase, while it may be apt, it's kinda repetitive.

Enjoy your holiday, too.