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Separtism vs Unity

I was going to write a book review today but this is more important. Thanks, Stephen Harper, for raising the hoary head of separatism yet again. Wasn’t it enough that it’s almost torn the country apart twice in the past?

Stephen Harper is like Gordon Campbell. They both have this smooth plasticky look that I’ve never trusted. And Gordon Campbell’s adamant voice this last week against a coalition partially formed of his party (albeit at a federal level) really cements that he is a Conservative in Liberal clothing. BC Liberals are the same as Alberta Conservatives.

Anyway, I wouldn’t trust either as far as I could throw them. But back to Harper who in his arrogance not just poked at the sleeping lion of separatism, but prodded it with a red hot poker. He has single handedly guaranteed that the Conservatives will not win in Quebec’s provincial election that’s coming up.

Although I do not like what the Bloc stands for and there is a huge problem in having a federal party that is only concerned with one geographic area (I don’t think it should be allowed at all but how do you word something like that?), they are a valid party in the current parameters and have to be respected in that aspect.

When Harper said, “The highest principle of Canadian democracy is that if one wants to be prime minister, one gets one’s mandate from the Canadian people and not from Quebec separatists,” he pried open the lid on the issue that will not die and now has another chance to suck the lifeblood from Canada. Somehow, he neglected to understand that Quebec is part of Canada.  He pitted anglophone Canada against francophone.

But of course, he isn’t the only one who sees Quebec as separate. Jacques Parizeau, a former Quebec premier, was quoted as saying, “The fact that the Bloc got Stéphane Dion to sign a political accord in which it is explicitly written that he undertakes  ‘to act in partnership with Canadians and the Québécois should bring a smile to the face of many sovereigntists.’ ” Here again we see Québécois as separate or other from Canadians when in fact they are Canadians.

The separatist (or soverignist if you want the word that muddies the connotations) movement has surged like a tide in the past. A good French-Canadian friend has told me that the provincial government often keeps the Québécois insulated from the rest of the goings on in Canada. We’re a bilingual country but truly it’s Quebec and New Brunswicks and some of the other areas in eastern Canada that speak French and that right is protected. Western Canada predominantly speaks English. There is a law that public signage has to be in both languages, especially official and government signs, yet in Montreal when I was there, there was a lack of English

The Québécois have received many rights protecting their culture, which is absolutely fine but they don’t always realize that they sometimes have more rights than the rest of Canada. And then on top of that, there are those who foment views that they’re hard done by, they’re picked on, they’re whatever. Canada is a large country with not an overly large population when you compare it to smaller countries. But Quebec is about a third of Canada’s population. There are unique areas and cultures throughout this country.

Any split of Quebec from Canada would sever Canada as a nation. We wouldn’t survive. You can’t take a chunk out of the middle and expect it to continue. Of course the Québécois wouldn’t want to take one-third of the deficit and other costs that have been spent to maintain the provinces. And the US would be waiting like a hungry shark to get the little provinces that couldn’t survive on their own. The maritimes may be the first to go. BC and Alberta (especially) would most likely survive as their own little nations.

But more than the geo-political aspects, there are those of nationality, of identity. I very much feel that I’m Canadian, so much so that when I thought of moving to Seattle to work I just couldn’t do it. Only love could make me move. I love my country in a way that’s not stand-up-and-wave-the-flag, hand-on-my-heart patriotic. But it is a deep and visceral love of this land and way of life.

It makes me furious whenever someone stirs the pot and makes people think they’re disenfranchised. Stephen Harper gave in to base prejudices and let his arrogance get the better of him. He’s been accused of showing little respect and it is damaging the nation, just as the Bloc would if they ran this country for it wouldn’t be a country for long. But saying that a government can’t work with the Bloc is thumbing one’s nose in their faces. We have a government and it is made up of several parties, including the Bloc. The governing includes all parties coming to decisions.

Unfortunately people often vote with their hearts and not their heads. I just hope that the Quebec people realize that there are many people in Canada and that we’re not all Stephen Harper. I’ve been to Montreal and it is beautiful and intriquing and full of artistic life and unique culturer. I don’t want it to be somewhere else. I want it part of Canada. Just as I want all the idiosyncratic pieces and cultures and diversity.

And I just wish that we could see more effort in the political parties (all of them) at working together and finding solutions, rather than finding the flaws in each other and name calling. I’d rather see a party saying what they’re going to do and do it, than pointing fingers at others and saying what they’re doing. Some integrity in politics again would really be nice. So let’s stay united.

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Politics: The Lemmings of Canada

Here we are chugging along through another election campaign full of pointing out what the others won’t do. Although from what I’ve heard, some of the parties are actually saying what they plan to do while saying what they others aren’t doing. Although Dion’s carbon tax (it’s become the newest catchphrase in the world) is not popular he does seem to have a better plan for various environmental aspects. Whether it would work, whether the Liberals would actually do it, who knows.

Unfortunately, there is so much of the usual rhetoric that it’s hard to even listen. Inflated promises that deflate soon after any party gets into power. In Alberta, it won’t really matter much what anyone says. Like lemmings, Albertans have voted Conservative forever, or at least since 1971. The chance of change is pretty much nil. Even when Ralph Klein raped their healthcare system and laid off numerous people, Albertans still jumped into the sea after the Conservatives. I think the Reform party (now melded back into calling themselves Conservatives) gained a few seats in the conservatively redneck lands of Alberta.

But that’s the provincial government. How Albertans vote for federal politicians may be different but I’m betting the majority goes Conservative. BC, on the other hand, has always been a pendulum province, going through a string of political parties one after the other.

When “Fundamental Bill” Vander Zalm’s Socred party got caught in too many scams, they were voted out so forcefully that they ceased to exist. The NDP came in strong and yet when they were caught in a scandal(some of it media generated) they dropped to two seats and the Liberals came in.  The current Liberals match closer to the Socreds of long ago, being more right-wing, and closer to the federal Conservatives. It looks a bit like Campbell and his goons will continue to rape the province like Klein did. Voters forget the numerous jobs that were lost, the lowered standards in our health care and hospitals which have caused many deaths due to rampant infections. The Liberals ripped up and dishonored contracts, so how could anyone trust them, yet they got in again, just like in the Klein Reich. Lemmings, yes, they’re everywhere.

BC provincial politics differs from its federal politics and it’s been possible in the past to have an NDP provincial government but Conservative, federal representatives. These days, we seem to be more of a mosaic. I must say, this is just my opinion, my feel, and I haven’t done much research into the actual numbers.

But I always worry about the lemmings. Too much of the electorate is ignorant of what really goes on, becomes starry-eyed with hollow promises and listens to media hype and believes it. Voters have notoriously short memories. They forget all the infringements of a government and only remember the good things that all governments plan just before an election. Gordon Campbell in his supreme arrogance felt he had nothing really to apologize for when he was caught drinking and driving in Hawaii. Sure, we all make mistakes, but the self-righteousness of Campbell meant that when other politicians had resigned over presumed wrongs he just gave a finger to the people of BC, like he did when there were protests of 40,000 strong in Vancouver.

But who remembers that? And I’m mixing provincial and federal politics. Of course, we have less direct conflict with federal leaders than with provincial leaders. Call me skeptical though. Whoever gets in (unless it’s the NDP or Green Party who have not held federal leadership positions before), we’ll soon see that half the promises go unfulfilled and that various scandals and wrongdoings will bubble to the surface like a pestilential pool.

I suppose I’m somewhat cynical, but then I remember beyond yesterday’s political promise, and when all the lemmings are jumping to their doom, I’ll shake my head. Of course it won’t help the country and sometimes I almost want to run as an opponent. I guess I should go get the dinghy ready with the emergency supplies.

I should also add that I know less of Canada’s other geographically specific lemmings. Quebec has been known to waft back and forth between Bloc and Liberals and even Conservatives. Ontario too but I’m less able to whine about them.

http://www.abheritage.ca/abpolitics/events/party_intro.html

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