Monday, July 2, 2012

The Distance

Behold the predictable shrieking backlash from the Toronto Star over Hudak's proposal to change Ontario's labour laws.

"Ontario’s economy is weak. People are hurting. McGuinty is struggling to rein in the public payroll. At times like this, regressive ideas can well take hold."

I like editorials like this because they are honest. They are an honest reflection of what those on the left believe. That any change to Ontario's labour laws is the wrong way to go. That we are not living in Ontario, but somewhere like Greece, where people with actual regressive views win 18 seats in an election. To those on the left, there is no difference between Hudak's proposals- like making unions reveal how they spend the dues of their members- and the most brutal union-busting tactics employed down south, whatever those may or may not be.

We usually aren't this lucky. When those on the left defend the unworkable status quo, they usually don't reveal themselves to be prone to the same sort of knee-jerk fear-based sentiment that they, hilariously, associate with us on the right.

The Liberals never reveal themselves to be driven by this same fear of change, though we know that they are. Instead, some sort of distancing mechanism is put into place. A few months ago, Dalton McGuinty agreed to an NDP demand to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to pass the budget. We know he wanted to raise taxes the whole time. But he couldn't give us the satisfaction of saying so. So he let the NDP speak for him. And there's no shortage of people willing to be mouthpieces for Dalton's government.

We know, for example, that the only reason that Liberals support Justin Trudeau for leader of their federal party is because his last name is Trudeau. That's it. The entire exercise is as simple as that. Trudeau I was PM, therefore Trudeau II will be PM. These same Liberals scoff at the notion that George W. Bush could have ever been President of the United States, and if you press them, they will likely say that the only reason Dubya ever held the office was because his daddy made that possible. But if you say the same thing about their beloved Justin.....well, sit back and watch the show. :P

You can read books like Brooke Jeffrey's "Divided Loyalties" and, reading between the lines, discover that the main reason why people like John Turner, Paul Martin, Stephane Dion, and, by extension, Michael Ignatieff, were such epic fails as Liberal leaders was because, whatever else they did, they were not the true heirs to the Trudeau legacy.

You can read the story of how former Liberal Party President Iona Campagnolo said, moments after John Turner had won the Liberal leadership, that Jean Chretien- who was the true heir to the Trudeau legacy- may have been "second on the ballot, but first in our hearts."

To come so very close to the truth, but to step back at the very last second. This is the essence of what it means to be Liberal. No Liberal can flat out admit that they rely on knee-jerk anti-Americanism to shut down debate over Ontario's labour laws and that they favour Justin Trudeau for Liberal leader because of his bloodline. There's always The Distance.

This ritualized, formalized act is what keeps our health care system the same, year after year. It keeps the CBC running at a loss, as Richard Stursberg lays out so bluntly in "The Tower of Babble." It keeps supply management for farmers humming along. It kept the gun registry for all those years. It keeps Canadians fearful of foreign takeovers and governments that "sell out our interests." In short, it keeps Canada the way it is and keeps it from becoming what it could be. Liberals know this, consciously or unconsciously.

The Distance must be maintained at all costs, and when it is threatened, so-called progressive Liberals transform into passionate defenders of the status quo. It has been with us since the War of 1812, and isn't going away anytime soon. And to maintain The Distance, to maintain the status quo, people will keep on voting Liberal here in Ontario.

Ah, but we return to the example of Greece we talked about earlier, and to the contagion spreading across Europe and the United States. Things cannot stay the same forever. The Liberals believe that The Distance will keep things the way they've always been. They are wrong.

And if we have to get to where Greece is now before they see that they are wrong- well, so much the worse for all of us.

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