One must have patience to hear out any of the brilliant theories put forth by Stephane Dion; invariably what he has to say becomes mangled, somewhat incomprehensible as it issues from his mouth, a victim of syntax gone awry, an incapacity to communicate in plain English. But he certainly extends the effort.
He is spurred on by his ambition to unseat the current prime minister of Canada, to himself take his place.
And for that purpose, and to cast doubt on the agenda, the abilities, the sincerity and intelligent purpose of the current government, his message to the voting public is clear enough; the Conservatives has no business in the highest seat of governance, to administer this country's fortunes.
It is the Liberals who represent the party whose agenda is most suited to reflecting Canadian values.
Stephen Harper is disinterested in bringing the country any closer to even a partial solution on Canada's place in the global strategy to fight environment degradation. It is Stephane Dion and the Liberal party that owns the strategy that will haul Canada into international compliance with Kyoto.
The latest accusation is that the ruling Conservatives are soft on crime.
All this will come as news to Canadians who, while they will agree there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm, more bordering on pragmatism on the part of the current government with respect to carbon dioxide befouling out atmosphere - flummoxed by the country's reach to produce an energy source the world is clamouring for - in the process besmirching our environment even more through the tar sands' development.
But soft on crime? Not likely, my good fellow. Furthermore, Canadians' collective memory does go back the scant few years to when, under a Liberal government, that very same Stephane Dion, then responsible for the environment, accomplished exactly nothing on Kyoto compliance. That having been said, a recent revelation may explain much.
The professorial Liberal Leader of the Opposition, contesting Prime Minister Harper's fitness to lead the country, portraying himself as a saviour of Canada through his battles with Quebec separatists, author of the Clarity Act, ardent nationalist that he is, owed many of his ideas and statements to the talent of a speechwriter, name of Christopher Flavelle who writes for Salon.com.
Which is to say, this proud Canadian, self-portrayed as a suitable leader for the country, articulated his sincere vision through the auspices of an American speech writer. Gag me with a ladle of petroleum. Wot? No equally-knowledgeable Canadian speech writers? Granted, someone of the ilk of David Frum mightn't fit the bill exactly, but surely there are gifted Canadian speech writers?
Who actually have some well grounded knowledge of the country, having grown to adulthood there, experienced life there in all its permutations, witnessed events of historical occasions, taken due note of political situations, to avail themselves of the requisite knowledge and background to draw upon in writing speeches for our politicians aspiring to govern the country?
The thing of it is, this same Christopher Flavelle has revealed himself as lacking an in-depth knowledge of Canada and its political and social culture. Obvious in a know-it-all sweeping statement of disdain titled "Northern basket case", for Slate.com, and re-published in Canada's National Post of September 16. Setting out, through his thumbnail sketch, Canada's unfortunate loss of its traditional consensus.
We have, he claims the 'Italy-Israel disease' of frequent elections and constant political eruptions, the obvious sign of a dysfunctional state. The traditional political consensus of which he writes qualifies as a rejection of the Liberal right-to-govern, abandoned as a result of the too-oft-governing-party succumbing to rampant corruption and abandonment of principles, comfortable in its habitual perch.
Canada's politics, this expert claims, is in turmoil, the result of a succession of minority governments. "...brutalizing Canada's once-broad political consensus and producing a series of policies at odds with the country's socially liberal, fiscally conservative identity." Oh? as compared to what, exactly? Last time I checked, Canada's values were still reflective of those signposts, an observation confirmed by the current prime minister's personal affirmation of same.
Mr. Flavelle makes reference to Canada enviable presentation as a fiscal model of its peer countries in the G8, having posted a succession of budget surpluses. Those cushy surpluses, he should know, represent the result of over-taxation. And the "reckless cut to the national sales tax" represented the current government's approach to leavening the situation through several truly modest GST cuts.
He's right in one of his observations, Canada having cut its foreign aid spending, and that's truly regrettable, but the previous Liberal governments which had pushed in the UN for a universal aid target by industrialized countries to .7% of gross national income was never, ever, realized by the previous Liberal governments. Nor has the U.S.
This guru of Canadian politics describes the Liberal Party of Canada as "Canada's left-wing standard bearers since the country's independence in 1867". Now there's a zinger of monumental proportions. Whatever happened to the ideology of the New Democratic Party? It was the NDP's determinedly-persistent nagging of the Liberals that brought left-leaning policies into law; definitely not Liberal-led initiatives, but results of minority governments bowing to the demands of their NDP support, demanding social justice.
It is only latterly that the left side of the political spectrum in Canada has become so crowded - the Liberal Party edging closer to the NDP, and the nascent Green Party picking up some of the NDP's traditional values, along with the Quebec-first Bloc Quebecois now in a state of separatist rigor mortis, while the combined conservative parties under a single banner now sits fairly firmly on the centrist ground once held by the Liberals.
The "draconian" policies referred to in Mr. Flavelle's spite-filled little screed are difficult to recognize; one wonders what he might possibly be referring to, in speaking of a minority Conservative government that has ventured carefully to enact legislation expressive of the mind-set of the average Canadian. In the process, going great lengths to allay the fears of Canadians who did indeed harbour a fear of extreme right-wing bias from the minority government.
What does this man know that Canadians do not? He speaks of the dire consequences of parties "fighting for the left-wing vote, the Conservatives might win simply by sliding up the middle", so what exactly is his point? Either the maligned Conservatives are, as he claims, draconian in their right-wing excess, or they're centrist, as he also claims, in 'sliding up the middle'.
Bearing in mind that when comparing Canadian politics to that of their American brethren, the Conservative Party in Canada expresses similar values to the Democrats in the U.S. Canada has no true right-wing party roughly analogous to the Republican agenda in the United States. Again, exactly why is this man so aggrieved for poor old Canada?
His parting shot in expressing disgust at the electioneering parties resorting to dirty tactics, character assassination and the like, pointing out the "nasty kind of personal attack campaign" that the Conservatives are indulging in, "...releasing an ad that showed a bird defecating on the leader of the Liberal party", merely illustrates how amusing we can be in our awkward attempts at political commentary.
Think about it, a cute little puffin, of all the creatures of the avian variety, lingering a trifle over-long in comfort on the broad shoulders of a determined Leader of the Opposition, leaving a little love-pat. It happens to the best of us. We Canadians shrug it off, apply a little aqueous solution, and go on our way.
For dirty tactics Mr. Flavelle should indulge in an in-depth evaluation of the current U.S. presidential campaign and the mud-slinging, absurd accusations and feverish media search for closet skeletons. But then, as the saying goes, all's fair in the despair of political ambition.
Labels: Canada, Inconvenient Politics