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.

Anchors (Put) Away!

FACT: There are a few countries who regularly help themselves to Canadian waters without permission – the United States of America being the most egregious offender as they refuse to acknowledge Canada’s claim to its most northern reaches and the water that flows through those arctic islands.

With this is mind, we must really look hard at the Harper Conservative’s plan to put HALF of our coastal patrol fleet in mothballs – essentially becoming the Canadian Ghost Fleet.

Remember how it used to be that Stephen Harper campaigned on boosting Canada’s military spending?

What happened?

Did the military piss Steve off too many times?

Is he taking out his frustrations over the Afghanistan document kerfuffle on the Department Of Defense?

Come to think of it, that wouldn’t really surprise me at all – and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, either.

To me, it seems like this is a case of  ‘the nail that sticks out gets hammered’.

In the past 6 months or so, there’s been a plethora of stories involving the Canadian military establishment – and none of them have painted the Canadian Forces in a good light.

On one hand, you have a situation where it seems like Canadian generals were okay with captured combatants being handed off to Afghan personnel to be tortured.

On the other hand, you have our dead sons and daughters taking that long ride to Toronto from CFB Trenton along the ‘Highway Of Heroes’ – covered each and every time by Canadian (and sometimes American) media.

Also in the mix is the former commanding officer of CFB Trenton, Col. Russell Williams, who could turn out to be a serial killer/rapist.

Day in, day out – the Defense portfolio and it’s associated ministers are dumping paper on the prime minister’s desk.

Some time last week, Steve finally pitched a hissy fit and roared to his secretary to get someone into his office that could lead a strategic offensive against the Canadian military – ASAP!

In sauntered the guy who controlled the military’s purse strings, Jim Flaherty, who declares that there isn’t enough money to fund the Canadian Forces Maritime Command.

‘Perhaps they should have a bake sale,’ Mr. Harper snickers while tugging down on his sweater vest.

Well… okay… I’m not certain whether that happened or not.

All I know is that somehow, some idiot has decided we have too many ships monitoring our coastal waters, protecting Canadian interests and maintaining our sovereignty.

12 ships is far too many to patrol 243,042 kilometers of Canadian coastline.

Apparently, 6 ships can do that job more efficiently and effectively – 3 ships on the west coast, and 3 ships on the east coast.

Two hundred and forty-three thousand kilometers.

Six Kingston-class ships – each one being only 55 meters long.

Let me say it slower so you can understand: six… freakin’… ships.

That means that each ship has 40, 507 kilometers to patrol every day.

For comparison, the earth is only 12,756.1 kilometers in diameter at the equator.

What the hell?

You know what? In military parlance, this is a SNAFU.

Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.

We might as well send out invitations to all those people who would breach our territory for their own gain – smugglers can just help themselves to our beaches, dropping off drugs and selling illegal immigrants into slavery.

Oh… and those Polar-class ships that Steve ordered for the patrolling Canada’s arctic waters?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for them if you look at the $4.3 billion price tag.

2014 my ass.

Gah.

Six ships!

No wonder the U.S. Navy laughs at us.

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?