Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sound and Fury

I'm finding it hard to write about the impending byelections, or anything related to provincial politics. Not because I don't want to, or because I don't have any ideas, but because it's really the same story over and over again. It's bloody boring.

Am I supposed to be mad or surprised at Kathleen Wynne's late-breaking decision to approve the construction of a new hospital in Niagara Falls? Am I supposed to oppose her move, as if I don't want the hospital built? Am I supposed to accuse her of "playing politics"? How about linking it to her decision to approve the Scarborough subway last year before another by-election? Sure, I can do that. So what? What's going to change? If I write about it, will the outcome be any different than if I hadn't written about it?

When I go out to Niagara Falls or up to Thornhill and work to get a PC Party MPP elected, is Kathleen Wynne going to lose power or do anything differently? Probably not. So she loses one more seat, big deal. She wasn't worried when she lost three seats the last time around (and everybody said that she did better than the PCPO anyway for some reason), and she's probably not worried now.

Kathleen Wynne is giving away the store, Kathleen Wynne is obsessed with holding onto power, Kathleen Wynne is stealing a PC idea, Kathleen Wynne is beholden to unions, Kathleen Wynne has zero long term vision for this province. Blah, blah, blah, blah. You've heard it all before.

Slightly more interesting is the idea that despite all the complaining, people are basically fine with this carrot-and-stick routine. Oh, nobody wants to oppose a new hospital! Nobody wants to annoy the government by spitting in their faces, or else we'll never get a new hospital ever again! Please, oh mighty Toronto-based Liberal government who can't even find Niagara Falls on a map, don't turn us out into the cold!

So, we gripe about how our political system is broken, about how we're all reduced to waiting for a byelection for the government to commit to something, and then when the time comes we all forget about the health of our democracy and transform into begging supplicants. Every time. All the talk about improving broken systems is just that- talk. Actual change requires a lot of work, which nobody has the time to do, and actual change might upset some people, so forget it.

People sure do love to gossip, though. People get really mad about how some guy at York University didn't want to have to deal with women, and the university accommodated his request, but they aren't actually going to do anything besides share the story on their Facebook walls. Like the "debate" over the Quebec charter of values, nothing is actually going to change. Even more so with the York University situation, because this is one guy making one obnoxious request, not a wide-ranging diktat on how government employees must dress. In a way, we owe this anonymous woman-hating douchebag a measure of thanks, because his request gave us something to talk about other than the Leafs and the weather.

Does anyone want to resolve the difficult and complex issue of religious accommodation? Anyone at all? No, let's just complain about it and then get distracted by something else. Someone else is affected by it, someone else will deal with it, or they won't. Who cares.

A theme I've been trying to communicate on this blog over the years is that we, as a nation, are moving toward a culture of "Screw the rules and screw people's feelings, we're the government". Every single political development has accelerated this trend, whether it's Trudeau, Harper, Ford, Christy Clark, Allison Redford, Dalton McGuinty, Kathleen Wynne, or the teacher's unions. The absolute belief that you are right in whatever it is you are doing and brutally silencing dissent is becoming crucially vital to success in Canadian politics. And this works because Canadians still, for some reason, expect a form of politeness and consideration from their government, and are shocked and angered when they don't get it. So shocked that they can't or won't or basically don't organize in response. They sure do scream about it, though. Lots and lots of talk about how change is coming.

Opposition parties (PCPO, I'm looking in your direction) misinterpret this screaming as a desire for change and assume that they have the next election in the bag. This never works, of course, but once again, getting a party into the kind of shape that it needs to be in order to win an election is really, really hard and requires out of the box thinking. And because "that's not the way we used to do things", well.....

Sooner or later, someone (well, someone else....besides me) is going to realize that all of the talk about politeness and mutual respect is just talk and that it would be almost pathetically easy to seize power and do whatever they want with it just by believing and by repeating that they are infallible. Maybe somebody already has, because Justin Trudeau turned the Liberal Party of Canada around with good looks, a famous last name, and the general impression that the rules don't apply to him. If he ever becomes Prime Minister, he's going to make Rob Ford look like William Pitt the Elder. We can howl with outrage about that all we like, but it isn't going to make a particle of difference unless we meet him with complete and overwhelming dispassionate brutality.

From now until 2015, the CPC should be devoting all its energies to destroying Justin Trudeau every way possible and in some ways that aren't possible instead of talking about how he is in over his head. And lest anyone suspect me of just being partisan, I will also say that if Ford's enemies want him gone, maybe they should spend less time collecting damaging quotes in the pages of the Toronto Star and actually organizing a campaign against him.

As I've said many times: We know what we have to do. What I'm saying here is not revelatory or new. You've heard it all before, not just from me. But as long as we make up reasons why we can't do what is necessary, things will continue as they have been, and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

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