Friday, April 29, 2011

Hell or Heaven

Canada has an election on Monday.

"Yes, America, There Is A Canada"  Surprisingly good analysis for an American source - Americans are usually about as accurate on the politics of Canada as they are on analysis of North Korean politics - with the exceptions that the Conservatives certainly will dismantle the Canadian health care system if they get a majority government (doing so is Harper's lifelong obsession, one he has to keep quiet about until he wins), and the current 'Conservatives' have nothing in common with the conservatives involved in the early history of Canada (except for stealing the name).

The big surprise of the campaign has been the reported rise in support for the NDP, nominally a socialist party, but made much less scary under the leadership of Jack Layton, so much so that it had moved clearly to the right of the Liberals when the Liberals were led by Dion (after Dion had the knives put in his back by the Montreal-Toronto Liberal establishment, and Ignatieff was allowed to crown himself leader, à la Napoleon, the Liberals moved to the right thus allowing the NDP to take back its normal left position).  I wonder about this, particularly as the media likes to use the trick of talking up the NDP in order to weaken the Liberals and thus ensure Conservative success.  Telephone polling in the era of cell phones can politely be described as 'artistic'.

The worst possible outcome is a Conservative majority government, one which would end Canada as we know it, and send it on the same route back to third world country status that the Americans are on.  The best possible outcome is a NDP-Liberal minority government.  Hell or Heaven.  A big loss for the Liberals relative to the NDP would also ensure that Ignatieff is mailed off in a box back to that organized crime gang known as Harvard University, where he really, truly, belongs (a 'humanitarian intervention' for all Canadians).

I'm getting sick and tired of these elections fought by the left on the basis of promising to take you on the road to hell, but a little slower than the other guys.  This is killing the Liberals in the current campaign, as they have nothing positive to offer but that they are not the utter hopelessness of Harper.  Layton, in contrast, sounds and looks like Jesus H. Christ with a cane.

If nothing else, it would be nice to see a left minority government start to generate some positive policy plans.  There's lots of money around (just cut the military back to Trudeau-era levels and pour all the money back into health care - with every general fired, hire a doctor; with every fighter jet not bought, build a health care clinic or hospital).  They need to bring back the Liberal deal with Aboriginals (which, of course, the Conservatives canned).  They need to bring back a deal better than the Liberals had on universal child care (which, of course, the Conservatives canned).  Dental care and drug expenses should be funded under the health care system.  Canada has to stop fighting in other people's wars.  Canada needs to get out of the lousy American War On Drugs (yeah, and completely legalize marijuana use), and the lousy Islamophobic War On Terror.  Of course, the oil sands pollution problem has to be dealt with.  Science funding.  Infrastructure building.  Eliminating child poverty (are we still in the 19th century for fuck's sake?).

None of this is impossible.  In fact, it all easy and long overdue.  I don't need to hear any more rich guys saying: 'can't do it, or it will take me an extra year to fund my yacht'.  We need to see governments actually doing something positive again.  The hopeless government paradigm of not being able to do anything builds on itself.  The hopeful government paradigm of being able to do anything also builds on itself.  I hate to see countries spending all their time arguing about how to destroy progressive institutions and policies that have taken decades or centuries to build, when they should be spending their time debating what has to be built for the future (of course, the evil people want us to understand that progress is utterly impossible).

On the other hand, if Harper wins a majority, we're well and truly fucked, just like the Americans and British.  It is even worse than that - for some magical reason, the world seems to need a progressive Canada.
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