Thursday, December 30, 2010

How others see us

The Gulf News is pretty brutal in its take on the “new” Canada under the Harper Cons.

Beginning with the statement “Prime minister's authoritarian approach has damaged its progressive outlook”, the opinion piece goes on:

Canada had rightly earned a status in the international community as a fair and open-minded country, willing to open its doors to all, willing to assist the needy, willing to embrace the downtrodden. It was always viewed as a nation willing to accept those fleeing political, religious and ethnic strife; its fabric enriched by the fact that one-in-three of its people were born elsewhere.

Sadly, this progressive outlook has changed.

Ever since Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his right-wing Conservative government came to power, the veneer of civility has slipped. Politics in Ottawa has become polarised — it is Harper's way or the highway. Independent institutions such as Statistics Canada or the Atomic Energy Control Board have suffered from political interference from the Prime Minister's Office.

This is followed by references to Canada’s protectionism, stance on the Middle East, and even Omar Khadr.

And ends with, “That's why Canada's citizens need a visa.”

Pretty hard to argue…

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why the surprise?

According to this John Ibbitson piece in the Globe and Mail, the Cons, Libs, and NDP have quietly agreed to scrap Bill C-12. The proposed legislation would have increased the number of seats in the House from 308 to 338 and gone some ways towards rebalancing the provincial distribution based on current populations.

The Harper government and the opposition parties have agreed to quietly sink legislation that would have given Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta more seats in the House of Commons. As a result, urban and visible-minority voters will continue to be discriminated against in Parliament.

When any provinces (in this case BC, Alberta, and Ontario) gain more representation then, by definition, the other provinces lose relative power. So facing outrage from Quebec and strong pushback from the Maritimes, our honourable members caved.

Is this a triumph of cowardice over principle? Or simply a matter of political expediency? Both I would suggest. While the NDP don’t really stand much of a chance in Quebec, both the Libs and the Cons are looking to make some solid gains there come next election, and the last thing they want is to have a bunch of Bloc-heads trotting out the “humiliation” card.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Inferiority complex? Not bloody likely!

So some flunky buried in the basement of that Sussex Drive monstrosity called the US Embassy doesn’t think Canada measures up to the US. And now, thanks to Wikileaks, everyone is reporting on Canada’s “inherent inferiority complex” as if it were a fact.

It’s true that the Harper Cons seem to operate in awe of the US and want to play with the big boys and their big toys, but I know of no Canadian who feels in any way inferior to our southern neighbours – except possibly for the fact they get to enjoy better weather.

If Canadians can be found guilty of anything in this regard, it’s that we can sometimes feel superior, smug in our social safety net as we look southwards at the current economic disaster our friends and neighbours are having to deal with. Now that’s something worth paying attention to – when we’re not busy reading the latest inane email from some low-level embassy staffer.