The Canadian Crossroads

So… here we are in 2011, and us Canadians are faced with a dilemma that couldn’t have been foreseen even 3 months ago.

Great swaths of Liberal voters – who had never even thought it possible – are heading to the polls in the early summer heat of May… ready to vote for more Stephen Harper.

How the hell did this happen?

Where did the Liberal party go so wrong that those who had vowed to die fighting the Blue Meanies would willingly put an ‘X’ next to the name of their local Conservative candidate – desperately trying not to vomit while doing so?

In a word? Iggy.

Michael Ignatieff has turned out to be a blunder of almost Biblical proportions… a goddamn Greek tragedy in motion.

You see… the Liberal body of voters (especially the card-carrying party members that attended the last Grit leadership convention) were duped into thinking Iggy was the next Great White Hope – someone who could embody the intellect and flare of great Prime Ministers of times past, and to be more specific, Pierre Trudeau.

On paper, Ignatieff had a lot going for him: international experience, academic fortitude, and lots of time doing public speaking engagements – which are all good ingredients when you want to promote yourself as being the central figure of Canadian politics.

However, the Iggy Experiment has failed.

Despite endless opportunities provided by the Harper Regime, and chances to interact directly with the Canadian people through much ballyhooed Liberal Express road trips, Michael Ignatieff has never come across as anything other than a stiff, awkward presence that seemed more apt to be a university professor than a man who would be king.

Worst of all to the Liberal faithful – and much to the delight of Conservative election engineers – Iggy has settled into a routine filled with arbitrary whining, pompous airbaggery, and snide opportunism… none of which are pleasant to behold and all are contrary to endearing yourself to a Canadian public who are just getting used to more prominent place in the global community after years of mismanagement by previous Harper rosters.

As much as the recent recession sucked for the world’s citizens on the whole, the economic meltdown played exactly to the Conservative’s business acumen: spend yourself out of it wisely (by surging money to public infrastructure projects that both put people to work and took financial stresses off municipalities), and then make Canada a very attractive place to set up your business by lowering corporate taxes to a rate that’s extremely appetizing when compared to other jurisdictions.

Also, the governmental officials that were responsible made sure they kept their hands firmly on the rudder… steering our economy in the opposite direction of many of our G8 neighbors who ended up drowning in boiling red ink.

The final part of the public’s redefinition of Conservative cronies is that Harper & Co. have been much more reactive to the concerns of the electorate: intervening in headline-making business deals like the Potash debacle… enabling Canadians to have more choice in the cellphone market by allowing Wind Mobile to set up shop in spite of questionable ownership… and taking the CRTC on directly over the ‘usage based billing’ decision that would have drastically altered the Canadian internet experience for the worse.

All of these things look very good for Harper & Co. when you string them together… portraying them as people who care about Canadian national identity issues, and what we feel like as citizens that are being raped at every juncture by money-hungry corporations that could honestly not care less about us.

Yes, it’s true that the Conservative Party Of Canada feels entitled to do whatever the hell it likes – regardless of rules, regulations, and political mandates.

If the Harper government doesn’t fall on the 2011 Budget text alone, it definitely will fall on the current Contempt Of Parliament issue that it can not shake… because, honestly, the opposition parties are practically foaming at the mouth in their hurry to throw an election party – even as non-governmental polling suggests that the Conservatives could possibly squeak by into majority-rule territory.

Why Iggy and Layton are so eager to get egg in the face is beyond me.

Well, maybe I can understand Jack Layton’s view: the floundering Liberals could mean a bolstering of NDP seats come the May election since they could position themselves as the least whiny alternative – providing that Layton can shake his socialist image (and it wouldn’t take the greatest Photoshop artist to manipulate Layton’s head back and forth with Lenin’s).

Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Quebecois never really need a reason to support a federal election as they’re Canada’s more civilized answer to the IRA (minus the bombings of course – at least not in 30 or 40 years) and whose sole function is to break apart federalism at the seams so Quebec can go it’s own way to whatever future they’re deluded into thinking exists.

But… this all rolls back to Iggy.

He’s the one who aches to be the guy standing before the world leaders gathered at the United Nations… to be the Prime Minister who puts the gallery to sleep by finding 1,000 ways to iterate how civilized Canadians are (it’s true – not saying otherwise), and how we disagree with violence and want to give half our clothes to strangers on the streets.

Sure, Iggy, those are all nice things to say about us… and we wish somebody who had actual lectern presence could get up and reaffirm our place in the world… but that’s not and never will be you.

We’ve all had time to watch you flop around, flailing at just about any issue you think you might be able to get some traction on – going on long-winded diatribes about things that, in all honesty, aren’t on the average Canadian citizen’s radar.

In fact, the biggest issue that Michael Ignatieff has been able to attach himself to is the future purchase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – which is somewhat an issue due to the $16,000,000,000 – $30,000,000,000 price tag – to replace our 30-year-old batch of CF-18 fighters that are starting to fall out of the sky for no particular reason other than they’re quickly reaching their Best Before dates.

To counter any argument that the Liberals might make on the F-35 purchase program, let me put forward two things:

1. The F-35 Lightning II is the most technologically advanced fighter available to the open market i.e. not limited to purchase by the U.S. military like the F-22 Raptor – and is designed for multiple roles in the combat and patrol missions that our Armed Forces take on (please see current mission over Libya, or semi-frequent intercepts of Russian bombers that test our defenses periodically).

2. The last time the Liberals canceled a military aviation purchase, it took nearly 20 years to find another suitable aircraft: in fact, the replacement of  50-year-old Sea King helicopters aboard our navy ships is still ongoing – leaving Canadian sailor-aviators at the mercy of 700 worn-thin spare parts flying in unison. WE DO NOT HAVE 20 YEARS TO REPLACE THE CF-18.

In the end, the Liberal election platform is going to be based on the notion that we’re sick and tired of paying so much money to the government in taxes when Big Business pays so little.

It would be a good platform in the 80’s or 90’s – maybe even in the 2000’s – but this is more and more a society that deals with information in a point-blank fashion: the internet and other forms of media has made the average Canadian more insightful (you’re reading a blog after all) as to what is working and not working from coast to coast.

And, right now, we’re all very aware of basic facts: our dollar is strong enough to top the mighty U.S. greenback… our banking system is the healthiest among all G8 (maybe even G20) nations… our employers are healthy enough to generate jobs at a rate higher than our southern neighbors… and however cynical it may be by design, our federal government seems to be interested in helping us in the face of Big Business.

Those things are all tangible indications of progress (but not of progressiveness, naturally – they are Conservatives) that has made our lives a bit better when compared to peoples in other countries, and even to ourselves when compared to a few years ago.

I fear that we as Canadians have no other option than to give Harper & Co. another mandate since they are doing what’s in our overall best interests… while overlooking their institutional inclination to be dicks.

The best we can hope for is another minority government that will be held in check by the Opposition – an Opposition that will finally wise up and take care of their Iggy problem after a trouncing.

So… sit back for the next 45 days or so and watch the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP duke it out over our airwaves in endless TV attack ads and televised debates.

It should at least be entertaining.

Me?

I might actually vote Green… as I can’t stand the local Conservative candidate.

How The Canadian Population Just Got Raped

…And we’re not even allowed to feel dirty about it.

The Canadian Radio and Television Commission today ruled against the tax paying public in favor of the Canada’s two privately-held national broadcasters.

Assuming that the Federal Court of Appeals doesn’t rule against the CRTC in the coming  months, each and every Canadian citizen that has to subscribe to a cable or satellite television service will now have to pay the long discussed ‘TV Tax’ come 2011.

Why does that matter?

$10 may not seem like a lot of money when it’s going to support Canadian networks – but it really is when you consider most Canadians already pay approx. $80 a month for their service – meaning they’ll be paying $90 come January.

In Ontario, this is doubly worrisome.

Come July 2010, all of Ontario’s cable/satellite subscribers will have  to pay an additional 8% on their subscription bills due to the blended HST kicking in – bringing that bill closer to $97 in January.

Getting back to the ‘TV Tax’, some of you are saying it’s okay because that $10 per person is going to go towards more local and Canadian content.

Nope.

On the same day as announcing the TV Tax, the CRTC also dropped the minimum requirement for Canadian Content hours to zero and mandating that the total CanCon percentage drop from 60% to 55% – meaning your local TV station can carry 5% more episodes of C.S.I.

The only good thing – and I say ‘good’ loosely – is that the CRTC declared that CanWest Global and CTVGlobemedia (CTV) must spend 30% of the money they take in on Canadian produced material such as news programs, public interest programming, etcetera.

An additional 5% of the network revenue must be spent on programs of ‘national interest’ – which translates to Canadian-based dramas, telefilms, and documentaries.

So in some ways, Canadians have made gains in the things they watch, but are being penalized for that privilege.

The glaring issue here is that the CRTC has once again sided with Big Canadian Media without at all listening to Little Canadian Taxpayer – which is a hallmark of the party currently controlling the CRTC’s strings: the Stephen Harper Conservatives (and I made that distinction on purpose).

Steve Harper and the assorted cronies that he’s put in charge of the plethora of Canadian governmental institutions have all come from business backgrounds and are more than happy to sell the country out to private interests.

Never in the history of Canada has Big Business had such an advantage over Small Taxpayer – especially in the media sector.

From the signing on to ACTA behind closed blast doors, to letting the networks rape our pocketbooks – there is no company or industry’s ‘special interest’ lobbyist that Harper won’t invite into the Prime Minister’s Office in that most vaunted of buildings in Ottawa.

With Harper seeing that the Liberals are polling neck and neck with the Conservatives, Steve has to know that the next election – which is going to be sooner than later – is probably not gonna work out for him and his associates.

Which means that now is the time that he needs to sell out the country before it’s too late

It’s a FIRE SALE, folks!

Everything must go!

…Must go to the country’s billionaires, that is.

What can you do, John Q. Public – other than vote the bastards out of office next election?

Nothing, really.

You know… other than bend over, grab your ankles, and let Big Canadian Media sodomize you without the courtesy of lubricating first.

Did you really expect anything else from this guy?

The Smell Of Election Is In The Air

I love the smell of ballots in the morning… it smells like victory.

Yes, ladies and germs, it’s time to heave Steve!

It’s been time to heave Steve for… I dunno… four years?

This may sound petty and small, but the guy has the personality of an empty refrigerator box – looks useful on the outside, but completely empty on the inside… fit for vagrants and the homeless to use as shelter.

Wait.

No.

Harper has no time or compassion for the homeless and destitute, so scratch that last portion.

All Stephen Harper has time for is big business and ways that he and his cronies can help making fat cat C.E.O.’s lives easier.

What else do you expect of a U.S. Republican who was born in a Canadian body?

Ever so long ago, before the years of bad hair and horrible sweaters, I had some hope for Steve because he made some good sounding promises to the body of our military – promising to get them better tools and weapons so that they could go out into the world and spread Canada’s image and values into the global theater through quality peace keeping.

In four years, what has Steve done on this front?

Honestly, the Conservatives have made good in that one area for the most part: new planes, new guns, new jeeps, and new soldiers.

But…

Why is it that as a peacekeeping force, we don’t even rank in the top ten on a global scale anymore?

We used to be THE country people turned to when they needed help…  but now our spot in the big ol’ United Nations Rolodex has been shifted more towards the middle – and that really kind of smarts in the national pride department.

I mean… for crying out loud… the United Nations was pretty much Lester B. Pearson’s (Canadian prime minister from 1963 to 1968) idea to begin with – and they don’t even call? WTF?

Yes, I do realize that for a long while, we were the ones doing all the grunt work in Afghanistan while the Yanks were busy trying to set up Exxon in Iraq – and that’s something to be proud of (and yes, I understand other Commonwealth military outfits were there as well).

However, that’s pretty much the only place we are.

Why?

The reason why is this: Stephen Harper sees peacekeeping as a function of budget i.e. if there isn’t money in the budget for sending our men and women to to far-flung places around the globe, then he can’t really justify having the Department Of Defense issue the order.

This… this I find completely intolerable.

Peacekeeping is a means of projecting compassion around the globe, and showing those in need of help that Canadians as a people care about the situation.

It’s the Canadian way… but not the way of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives – which some would say makes the lot of them un-Canadian (but I’ll refrain from that chorus as it sounds a lot like American politics).

The longer Harper stays in office, the more xenophobic Canada seems – xenophobia being a fear of peoples and cultures different than your own.

Stephen Harper is mostly against trade missions to other countries who’s names don’t rhyme with Texaco or ‘lopsided plates’ – since the majority of Canadian businesses are either owned by or export a lot of Canadian jobs to places that rhyme with those two things.

He’s also pro-Christian, anti-women’s rights, anti-homosexual, and all-around anti-reality- well, any reality that doesn’t precisely match his own beliefs.

In fact, the Conservatives are the kings of being out of touch with reality.

Their membership is chock full o’ cronies that just make shit up.

Take for example the local Conservative goon… err… M.P., Dean Del Mastro – who, aside from looking like he belongs in a movie about organized crime, is best known for making shit up to make himself and his party look good in the eyes of the electorate.

Pretty much the day before the last election was called, he randomly blurted out that he and an anonymous developer had a plan for Peterborough that would brings jobs and tourists to the area – despite not putting anything forward or hinting at this proposal to ANY OTHER LIVING SOUL at any time prior.

The nature of this project? Doing away with green space owned by Parks Canada so a hotel/convention center/amusement park/IMAX theater could be installed just meters from the historic Peterborough Lift Lock.

When confronted about this harebrained scheme, the Honorable Member had very few details to share – saying that he wished to respect the anonymous developer’s privacy.

Right.

The buffoon even wasted tax-payer money on a mail-in ballot over whether the Peterborough electorate would support such a development – to which he received both resounding apathy and ‘no’ votes.

When Global National came to town last fall during election fever to do a broadcast live-on-location, Del Mastro suited up his own squad of goons in hockey jerseys adorned with the Conservative logo and tried to invade the crowd of spectators that were watching Kevin Newman do his broadcast thing (note: this blogger appeared on air in an ‘ask the electorate’ segment).

Needless to say, the Global producers turned back this goon squad and completely ignored them for the most part.

That sort of spectacle is the party signature.

Just show up randomly and spout party beliefs.

Do any of my fellow Canadians remember the random political attack ads (example) trashing the Liberals that Stephen Harper directs the party’s media arm to run at completely random times – regardless of whether there’s an election afoot or any other sane reason to do so… squandering taxpayer’s money in the process?

I do.

Let’s face it, folks.

The Conservatives are not on your side unless you’re male, white, rich, Christian, running a business empire, hate gays and lesbians, believe that laws and regulations exist purely to benefit those in power, that the needy and disabled are only trying to milk the public coffers, the environment can fend for itself (stupid polar bears!), and of the firm belief that the tax burden should be shouldered by only individual citizens.

If that’s you, please disregard everything I just wrote and vote for your local Conservative candidate.

HarperConsWP

Me… I’m voting Iggy and the Liberals.