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.