5.19.2006

still not worried

Canadians love to deride Americans' lack of knowledge of the world outside their borders, and much of that ridicule is duly earned. Many Canadians, however, know less about the US than they think they do. Maybe it's impossible to really know a place you haven't lived in. Maybe news sources, including blogs, are so biased that real knowledge is all but impossible. I don't know.

Many progressive Canadians are worried about Stephen Harper emulating W, about Canada "becoming the United States". According to this strain of thought, same-sex marriage will soon be abandoned, a vote on abortion rights is imminent, and the health care system is teetering on the brink of a complete, two-tier makeover. Stephen Harper is supposedly going to return with a powerful majority, and after that, Canada is the 51st state.

Fear of being swallowed up by the US, and a parallel desire to become more like it, are dual strains of Canadian thought and history. I'm sure some of what I'm encountering is down to that.

Vigilance is important. It's essential to maintaining a healthy democracy. And there's always more work to be done. I pay close attention to political situation here, whether or not I blog about it. And I still think much of the fear about this government is unwarranted.

Some people on the far right of Canada's political spectrum oppose abortion rights? Sure, and they're allowed to. That's a far cry from actual anti-abortion legislation being passed - or even discussed. The same-sex marriage free vote? A bone to Harper's right-wing supporters, not an actual threat. I've heard Canadian lefties slam Harper for "being religious". That, I think, is bigotry. We shouldn't care if Stephen Harper is religious any more than we care that he didn't hug his son for the photo op. Harper's personal life is irrelevant. As long as he keeps his religious views out of his government, it's no concern of mine.

Fears of privatization of the health care system are justified. I understand that. We'd have to watch for that under a Liberal government, too. We have to watch for it provincially. I also believe we have to examine all the choices and options, and not just reject changes off-hand by labeling them "American".

It's that label that led to this post. Many people I've spoken with, both in person and online, don't seem to realize how very far from the US Canada is, despite the current Conservative minority government. They don't seem to fully grasp what's happening in the US. Like I said, maybe that's impossible. (Or maybe not.) Two fraudulent presidential elections, an incredibly corrupt campaign and election system, mainstream media controlled by the government, the government spying on ordinary citizens, health care out of reach for tens of millions of citizens, fundmentalists controlling courts and legislatures all over the country... should I go on? And, as Basil Fawlty would say, Whatever you do, don't mention the war. The country is snowballing into collapse.

I never thought Canada was perfect. I never imagined it was utopia. But how this minority government is going to turn it into the United States defies my imagination.

If that's merely the limits of my poor imagination, you're all invited to say I told you so. I know how to fight the good fight and I'll get right to it.

* * * *

I was disappointed, though not surprised, at the results of last night's vote to extend Canada's presence in Afghanistan. Note that it took 30 Liberal MPs to squeak by.

4 comments:

M@ said...

You're right of course -- although it's easy to get carried away with rhetoric, and I'm guilty of comparing worst-case Harper scenarios to the USA myself.

In fact, I find is that I tend to be horrified by the stuff I hear out of the USA -- I literally can't believe what goes on there sometimes. And the people aren't rioting in the streets, and the pundits and politicians rearrange the deck chairs on the Hindenberg (have you guys caught up with Colbert's performance since your return?). It's astounding.

As for the Afghanistan vote, the Liberals had to allow this to pass. If they didn't, Harper would have made this an election issue next year, and you don't want to hand him an issue like that. The real danger is that the CPC will be smearing its opponents in the same way Murtha is being smeared down south. Frankly, I have little faith in the other parties' canniness in responding to that kind of politicking.

Welcome home by the way!

James said...

Fear of being swallowed up by the US, and a parallel desire to become more like it, are dual strains of Canadian thought and history. I'm sure some of what I'm encountering is down to that.

"Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.." -- Pierre Elliot Trudeau

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, and in Canada that vigilance manifests itself in the form of perpetual worry about being annexed by the US. :)

L-girl said...

Good points, guys.

It's a terrible shame that something as serious and wasteful as war, something that will cost people their lives, must take a back seat to politics.

Everyone is mentioning Colbert! It must be fantastic. I will soon take a look.

M@ said...

Oh, the Colbert clip should be easy to find... just go to CNN... um, Fox News?... um...

Yeah, according to the MSM it didn't happen. But Bush, oh, he had a GREAT bit with this lookalike who kept fumbling words, and OH! it was so funny.

I wonder if next year he'll reprise his hilarious "looking around the stage for WMDs" sketch, except this time he'll be looking under the corpses of soldiers. Yeah. That would be awesome.