"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

And would someone please tell me where the Honour went?

See, I always felt that politics and governance of the country was a matter of ideology. Politicians, especially our Prime Ministers, took our uniquely Canadian Identity into consideration at every turn and made decisions about our country that were in our best interest, based on their interpretations of how best to honour our identity.  

To me, there was always the “Left” wing, or more Liberal ideology which, at least in Canada, is supposed to embrace our collective pride in equality for all and our belief in a society that supports each other rather than a more “all for one” kind of system of beliefs. Then there is supposed to be the “Right” wing or Conservative ideology that tends to believe that the best way to look after the “whole” is to look after the people with the money. The movers and the shakers. Their perspective being that if the natural laws of capitalism are allowed to play themselves out, a healthy wealthy business class will emerge which will in turn, create more jobs which will in turn, generate a more robust economy which is good for everyone. But whichever way you  leaned, it was always how best to serve Canada.

The debates and arguments from either side of centre were always passionate and carried out by men of honour trying to do what was right for us all. And in a free and democratic system such as ours, we were allowed to have those kinds of discussions at every level, from The Parliament Buildings in Ottawa to each and every kitchen table and pub in this vast country. Democracy played itself out in a rather sophisticated if not fiery and engaging choreography of nationwide debates and elections. And unlike our neighbors to the south, elections were tenaciously fought on the issues, not on the perceived short comings of a particular candidate….. Boy was I wrong.

As a young guy, as a young man, heck, even as middle aged man, I looked at our political world from the outside in. And boy did I ever have some rosy coloured glasses on.  I was not aware of the finer points of that game known as politics. I was proud of our leaders. Lester B. Pearson, who won the Nobel Peace Prize as the Father of Peace Keeping, Tommy Douglass as the Father of Universal Health Care and Pierre Elliot Trudeau who was a passionate and perhaps the most respected and world renown Canadian Prime minister of the 20th Century. This was a man who’s sole purpose was to see Canada as a strong and unified entity from coast to coast to coast. Even Brian Mulroney, though I strongly disagreed with his politics, everything he did, he did for what he believed to be for the betterment of a strong and unified Canada based on his definition of our unique identity as a country. To me, these were men of honour who strengthened our land and made Canada a respected presence on the world stage.  Ok, perhaps Mr. Mulroney’s “honour” is the tantalizing subject of debate, but at least he never embarrassed us on the world stage….except for maybe that time he sang “Irish Eyes” with Ronald Reagan. But I’m sure he meant well!

So I look at the political scene today, and I wonder why it doesn’t look at all Like I though it should look. Was I really that naïve regarding post war politics in Canada? Or has the whole landscape been altered by the shifting of some unseen ideological tectonic plates? The lines of demarcation still seem to be there, the right and the left that is. But only in theory. What I see is a right wing that does not honour the identity of the nation, but rather the identity of a single province and a grass roots minority of religious fundamentalists. This right wing does not seem to function in the best interest of Canada, but in the best interests of itself. It has no unifying voice and frequently drags our international reputation through the mud. Then there is the fractured left wing. Once again, there is no unifying voice to the current left wing. In fact, one party that claims a spot on the left, has the sole purpose of doing what’s in the best interest of yet another province. Heck, there’s greens, there’s reds, there’s orange and blues. Each feels they possess the real voice of the people and each stubbornly cling to this belief. They too, seem to only function for the best interest of their little corner of the left wing rather than speaking as one and working for the best interest of all Canadians.

And would someone please tell me where the Honour went??? Have I been mistaken all these years? Has there never been any honour in Canadian Politics?? We seem to have public inquiry after public inquiry regarding the conduct of our elected officials and their minions. One honorable man emerged from the left wing a couple of years ago. He seemed to have that united “One Canada” for all perspective as well as a unique vision of our place on the world stage. But the right wing would have none of that. So instead of proving this man wrong by legitimately challenging his ideas, they dismantled his character piece by piece throwing every insult and twisting his image into every conceivable form of speculative fiction. And to make matters worse, because the right wing succeeded in presenting this man…..(let me make this clear, they assassinated the man’s image, not his ideals or morals), as a worthless weak buffoon, his own party, instead of rallying around him because of his strong unifying left wing perspectives, crammed him down the trash compactor in favor of a more marketable candidate. And the left wing dithered and fought among themselves while the right sided guys patted each other on the back, not for doing what was in the best interest of the country, but for creating a political climate that allows for their continued existence.

So as you can see, I have some rather jaded opinions about the current state of Canadian Politics. But please keep in mind, I am just a citizen. As I said in my first post, I don’t claim to be any kind of authority regarding our political scene. Just an observer who quite possibly has just awoken from a rather long “Rip Van Winkleish” kind of blissful nap and has a lot of questions. And I will put many of those questions, as well as some observations out there in future posts.

Until next time,


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