Where change has to start

Like many Canadians, I’m very concerned about recent events in Canada’s Parliament.  Many people are shaking their heads and saying, “What on earth is going on here?”

What is going on here ?  Arrogance and hypocrisy – that’s what.   It’s that simple, and no-one is innocent.

Let’s step back from the rhetoric and flag-waving, and look at what really happened.  No matter what anyone says to the contrary, the government’s decision to withdraw the subsidy from the smaller parties is the real issue.  That’s what triggered the reaction from the Opposition.  Now they’re into a spat, and no-one wants to admit that they realize they’re jeopardizing the stability of the country over something so trivial, because that would mean admitting they were wrong.

And let’s face it, everyone is wrong in this scenario.

The government is wrong because of its arrogance and hypocrisy.  The government’s decision to withdraw the subsidy is like saying “we won the election, now we’re going to rub your nose in it”.  No matter what anyone says, it was an unnecessary slap in the face to the smaller parties, and the amount of money saved wouldn’t even have been that large in the grand scheme of things – only about a dollar per year per Canadian.  And now that they’re in real danger of losing power, they are trying to say that all they are concerned about is the good of the country, when the truth is they just want to protect their own kingdom.

The coalition is wrong because of its arrogance and hypocrisy.  While they too are claiming to have only the best interests of Canadians at heart, their real agenda – a grab for power and a chance to get back at the hated Tories – is obvious to anyone with eyes to see.   A party that got its lowest share of the popular vote in 141 years is going to save the country by banding together with a party that wants to destroy the country and a party that hasn’t won a federal election in its 75-year history, and the Prime Minister is going to be a man who was so soundly defeated in the last election that even his closest supporters told him it was time to step down?   Come on, let’s be honest.  This is not about the good of the country.  It’s about a chance for the Liberals and the NDP to put Stephen Harper in his place.

But ordinary Canadians are wrong too.  We’re just as arrogant as the leaders we condemn.  Their cynicism and opportunism are just a reflection of our own.  We get the government we deserve.  We act so shocked that our politicians are behaving this way – yet I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say “All politicians are crooks”.  Maybe it’s not so surprising that they behave like crooks when that’s all we expect of them.

It’s easy to point the finger at someone else – after all, both sides in the House of Commons are doing it, so why not follow their lead and point the finger at the lot of them – but what about us?  Most of us have lost our vision for a better country, a righteous country, a country of high ideals.  We’ve forgotten that a country can be no better than its citizens.  Maybe It’s time for us to take a cold, hard look at what a cynical, self-interested, short-sighted people we have become.  We need to expect better of our Parliamentarians, yes – but we also need to expect better of ourselves.   If I want my leaders to live by high standards, standards of integrity, trustworthiness, truthfulness, compassion and vision – do I expect the same things of myself?   That’s where change has to start.


2 thoughts on “Where change has to start”

  1. I agree this is quite complex, but I disagree that removing that subsidy is trivial. It represents a move towards an American-like system. Without that subsidy I feel we will lose some of the diversity of political representation that we enjoy in our country. I may never vote for the Marxist candidate, but I’m sure glad they are on the ticket. Also it means my vote, no matter who I vote for, is always meaningful. When I vote for a party I put ~$1.95 in their coffers so they can build on the platform I support for the next election. That is very important to me. Take that away and we might as well play that strategic voting game.

    But you are also right about the games people are playing in such a critical moment. It makes me wonder if anyone in parliament actually realizes there is more at stake than their respective jobs. If this fiasco has done anything, it is putting politics back into the thoughts of Canadians. I have never seen so much passionate politicking in my life. There is something very good about that. It is like the devils trick of making us not believe he exists – well politics has been like the devil we’ve ignored for too long. And I don’t mean the trite evangelical voting block kind of thinking – but real passionate engaging with the issues that are really important for me and my country, and even how I want my country to be seen in the world. And with you I’d like to have high ideals there as well.

  2. Frank, thanks for your comments. And I can see your point on the subsidy. I think it was trivial of the Conservatives to include its removal in the original finance bill (even though I am a reluctant supporter of the government – reluctant because I think they could do so much better, but a supporter because I think they are currently the best option out there). I also think it was a bit self-serving of the opposition parties to be so offended at its removal, and then pretend that it wasn’t the real issue (my interpretation, I admit). After all they could have learned to be better at fund-raising … but I do agree that the subsidy plays a valid role, especially for smaller parties like the Christian Heritage Party (one of my personal favourites) and the Greens … it’s certainly fairer than the previous policy which based financial support on seats won.
    Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful comments

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