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"If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia." - Margaret Atwood
April 16, 2011 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Dear Canada: [SLYT] An Open Letter to Canada.
posted by Fizz (33 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hes no Gordon Sinclair
posted by wheelieman at 2:42 PM on April 16, 2011


I made it 2 minutes in and damnit I refuse to vote Harper again.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:46 PM on April 16, 2011


Because the other options make so much more sense...
posted by jeffmik at 3:09 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


jeffmik: the two options on the table right now are a Harper minority and a Harper majority.

If Harper gets a minority again, he'll need to cooperate with at least one other party. (I realize that cooperation isn't his strong suit.) If he gets a majority, he'll be able to do what he likes. I predict either deep spending cuts or huge deficits. Otherwise, his numbers don't add up.
posted by russilwvong at 3:16 PM on April 16, 2011


Because the other options make so much more sense...

Like voting for a party that didn't lie about spending, didn't break their own promises about electoral terms and accountability, didn't leave Canadian citizens to rot on foreign jails, didn't turn its biggest city into a police state for a weekend to host the G20, didn't re-brand the government with its leader's name, didn't prorogue Parliament to avoid confidence votes, and didn't try to push Canadian politics to the right for purely ideological reasons? I know what you mean, it's like we have no other options!
posted by spoobnooble at 3:20 PM on April 16, 2011 [35 favorites]


If Harper gets a minority again, he'll need to cooperate with at least one other party.

That's what everyone said the first time Harper got his minority. But over the past few years, there's been astoundingly little cooperation—most of the time, the other parties support his agenda because they're more afraid of another election than of Harper's policies. Partially because the Conservatives haven't royally screwed up the daily lives of most Canadians, and partially because none of the other parties have found the magic formula that makes them seem like a worthy alternative, we've been stuck with the never-ending minority for more than half a decade.

The problem with all the outrage about the Conservatives this time around—and believe me, I share a lot of it—is that the bad moves the Conservatives have been making don't actually have an impact on most people's lives. Withholding information about Afghanistan from Parliament? Whatever. Proroguing Parliament twice to avoid messy scandals? Politicians playing politics, and none of my concern. Cancelling the long-form census? Boohoo, we won't have accurate statistics. Don't policymakers just skew stats to fit their agendas anyways?

The video asks a question I've thought about over the years with no real answer forthcoming: if the Liberals fell because of one sponsorship scandal, how is it that the Conservatives make gaffe after gaffe without so much as a non-apology, and get away with it every time? Unfortunately, I've seen this game played already, and the result was a candidate whose sole platform was "cut taxes, eliminate waste, and gut the public transit system" being declared the winner in Toronto's mayoral election a full EIGHT MINUTES after the polls closed. As far as I'm concerned, if we give Harper yet another minority, we'll have dodged a bullet compared to the other likely scenarios.
posted by chrominance at 3:31 PM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


As a Canadian non-Harper-ista, I'm getting really tired of stuff like this. This is echo chamber shit. A bunch of people who aren't going to vote Conservative talking to each other about how awful the Harper government is. Meanwhile his poll numbers go up.

This is the downside of social media I'm noticing during elections...people see things like this, as well as Shit Harper Did, nod in agreement, and pat each other on the back for their cleverness. But this message doesn't get beyond the circle of like-minded thinkers to the mainstream.

I'd really rather people put their energy into actually campaigning for an alternative.
posted by dry white toast at 3:39 PM on April 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


Like voting for a party that didn't lie about spending, didn't break their own promises about electoral terms and accountability, didn't leave Canadian citizens to rot on foreign jails...
posted by Behemoth at 4:09 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because the Liberals are the only other party of course.
posted by NiteMayr at 4:12 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not Meh about voting, but I'm voting based upon how the local candidates responded to my personal information queries (via a letter) rather than voting on the leaders. In the end; while Harper has ably shown that a Machiavellian leader can actually run stuff, I'm still voting for a party and not a prime minister.
posted by NiteMayr at 4:14 PM on April 16, 2011


while Harper has ably shown that a Machiavellian leader can actually run stuff

Into the ground, you mean?
posted by Sys Rq at 4:35 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Thinking a boat voting Conservative." I know that's not a valid phrase in any English dialect. So it's either a coded message to some Canadian sleeper cell to commit acts of terrorism in an American hockey playoff city, or it's part of some viral ad campaign for knit hats or something.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:54 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Thinking a boat voting Conservative." I know that's not a valid phrase in any English dialect.

It does if there's a comma in the middle and the speaker has lisp that comes and goes.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:05 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Liberals have done shitty things, too; therefore, the far shittier things Harper has done are perfectly okay!

I didn't realize my father posted on MeFi.
posted by Zozo at 5:37 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Liberals fell after one scandal because it was a scandal that deeply outraged Quebec, and they lost most of their traditional support as Quebec voters turned massively to the Bloc Québécois. That's why they can't muster a majority these days.
posted by zadcat at 5:56 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Liberals fell after one scandal because it was a scandal that deeply outraged Quebec, and they lost most of their traditional support as Quebec voters turned massively to the Bloc Québécois. That's why they can't muster a majority these days.

Great point. It's a shame the G20 didn't happen in Calgary.
posted by auto-correct at 6:56 PM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


As a USAian, I appreciate being educated about Canadian politics. South of the border, we just don't care, as far as I can tell from the paucity of media coverage.
posted by kozad at 7:42 PM on April 16, 2011


This is Canada -- we just like to vote people out of office, it doesn't matter who gets voted in...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:01 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


It seems there are no big issues being pushed, beyond the Giant Douche vs. Turd Sandwich personality wars.

The Liberals keep saying how bad the deceptiCons are, but not how the Liberals would be any better, and the deceptiCons are just harping (heh) on the old standby, "O NOES LIBRULZ=TAXEZ!!!!1!"

Meanwhile, in my beloved NDP, Layton's just going on and on about his stupid and irrelevant "let's keep old people at home" plan instead of anything worth giving half a fuck about. It's so frustrating! We need to boot Mr. Moustache and give Edmonton's Linda Duncan a seat at the grownups' table.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:07 PM on April 16, 2011


This is just a campaign advertisement of of strictly local interest. Is it the sort of thing that belongs on Metafilter?

You're trolling, right?
posted by skwt at 9:24 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


>the two options on the table right now are a Harper minority and a Harper majority

Uh, no.

Liberal minority, supported by the NDP and the Bloc. NOT a coalition.
posted by doublesix at 9:46 PM on April 16, 2011


A coalition consisting of the three parties 60% of the electorate vote for is anathema to democracy, therefore, it's better we remain governed by a reflexively secretive and notoriously dictatorial prime minister, the only prime minister in the history of the Westminster system to lead a sitting government found in contempt of parliament.
posted by [citation needed] at 11:14 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Liberals keep saying how bad the deceptiCons are, but not how the Liberals would be any better

I KNOW. This has been my issue since the last election. I think Canadians are just dying for a positive message, and no one is giving it to them.

This video has been making the rounds on Facebook. And it's not bad; it's the most animated I've seen Ignatieff since, well ever. But it just feels like it's missing the second act. You're right, Iggy, Harper's a douche. And you're damn right I want to Rise Up. But what am I Rising Up for?

Near the end of the video, he says that this election is bigger than the Liberal Party. Well, he's wrong. This election should be about the Liberal Party. I can tell you a thousand reasons why the Harper govt is terrible, but I can't tell you one piece of the Libs' platform of the top of my head. Stop telling my why Harper sucks, and tell me why the G20 fiasco could never happen with a Liberal majority. Promise me you'll never prorogue parliament under any circumstances. Talk to me about where we're going to be getting our electricity from in 20 years.

I'll still vote Liberal this year, but it probably won't be enough. And it'll be because the Liberals fought over politics instead of policy.
posted by auto-correct at 11:18 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I've railed against strategic voting for years because I think it's bad for democracy. But I think this time it's worth considering if that's what it will take to get rid of Harper.

Go here and check the projections in your riding. Consider deciding who to vote for based on which of the NDP or Libs have the better chance of keeping the Cons out.
posted by auto-correct at 11:22 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Liberal minority, supported by the NDP and the Bloc. NOT a coalition.

Just because no one calls it a coalition doesn't mean it isn't a coalition, as several commentators in that article point out. As someone who would love to see a coalition government form, though, I don't see it happening; because Ignatieff ruled it out at the very beginning of the campaign, he's lost voters who would potentially hold their nose and vote an "anything but Conservative" ticket, if only there was an official coalition waiting at the end of the rainbow. And trying to back-door a coalition in the way proposed in that article would appear even more illegitimate than being upfront about it all.

Basically, I really wish Ignatieff hadn't immediately said no. I understand why the Liberal Party felt the need to shut down that talk for the duration of the campaign, but it feels like an old-guard, politics-as-usual response that overplays the current political importance of the Liberals—especially at a time when so many people are having trouble articulating why they would vote FOR a Liberal government, as opposed to against a Conservative one. (Bonus points if you can come up with an answer that doesn't involve the words "respecting democracy" or "education passport.")
posted by chrominance at 11:34 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps history tries to teach us that the seething mass of citizens can only dispel the tension of vague external pressures by electing a conservative government, which proceeds to mess up the economy so much that a moderate government has to eventually come in later to vaguely try to fix things, and then continue the cycle. Or something like that.
posted by ovvl at 11:40 PM on April 16, 2011


This video has been making the rounds on Facebook. And it's not bad; it's the most animated I've seen Ignatieff since, well ever. But it just feels like it's missing the second act. You're right, Iggy, Harper's a douche. And you're damn right I want to Rise Up. But what am I Rising Up for?

What's with the tinkly "special Full House moment" music? Talk about a missed opportunity to shoehorn some CanCon.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:45 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Great point. It's a shame the G20 didn't happen in Calgary.

When Calgary hosted the world petroleum conference back in 2000, I think, there was a little protesting, but nothing too violent. I seem to recall a memorable photo from that time of young people doffing their clothes and being amused that the sole young man was wearing Calvin Klein underwear instead of something without a corporate logo on it :-D

The 28th G8 was held in nearby Kananaskis Provinicial Park in 2002 and the protesting was again pretty low key. Albertans don't really protest much; we could take some lessons from the French! Greenpeace had to specifically hold a protestor camp a few years ago. But I think things are getting more serious - my friend saw a job opportunity to be a practice protestor in Red Deer. Basically you get paid to taunt the police, but they'll paintball your butt into oblivion :-D

I really don't know what it will take to get Albertans out to vote to change as voting rates at the federal, provincial and municipal level are quite low - usually less than 50% of eligible voters show up at the polls. One could dazzle someone with all the statistics of the damage that federal and provincial conservatives have done and most Albertans would be unfazed. For example, it's been 30 years since the NEP and my FIL still talks about Trudeau like he was Stalin or something.
posted by Calzephyr at 6:49 AM on April 17, 2011


Just because no one calls it a coalition doesn't mean it isn't a coalition, as several commentators in that article point out.

If the ministry is made up entirely of Liberals, it's not a coalition. Regardless of how successfully Harper is convincing the Canadian public otherwise.

so many people are having trouble articulating why they would vote FOR a Liberal government, as opposed to against a Conservative one

The Liberals have had majorities, on and off, going back to just after Confederation. We know what a Liberal majority means. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have never had a majority. Giving them one is a real risk to Canada as we know it.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:32 AM on April 17, 2011


Here's the real problem: none of the parties represents me in almost any way, and I'm thinking for most Canadians that they are trying to put together a decision on who to vote for based on assembling two or three minor, throwaway stances that any of these idiots have because they can't find any major stance they support or actually feel the person espousing truly believes in.

Things are not good when hoping your worst nightmare- a Conservative Majority- gets into power based on the tiniest microhope that they will create the unlivable conditions that result in real, massive change through revolt. It happens in Europe. It can even happen quite peacefully and succeed greatly. But people are complacent and scattered here, and I just want to go back to South America and be in the mountains again. Born, raised and lived most ofmy life up here, and I hate it. It's just so much White People's Bullshit.
posted by Bushidoboy at 7:41 AM on April 17, 2011


chrominance: --so many people are having trouble articulating why they would vote FOR a Liberal government, as opposed to against a Conservative one. (Bonus points if you can come up with an answer that doesn't involve the words "respecting democracy" or "education passport.")

Why don't you like the education passport?

Politics is about ideas as well as interests. The Liberals are pushing two ideas, one negative, one positive. Similarly, the Conservatives are pushing two ideas as well.

1. The negative Liberal narrative, of course, is that Harper is "out of touch and out of control"--that his priorities (fighter jets, jails, corporate tax cuts) are all wrong, and that he's willing to destroy anyone who stands in his way. That's why we're having the election: Harper's too contemptuous of everyone else to be able to work with any of the other parties. You can't trust him with a majority, especially when it comes to health care.

The positive narrative is the set of policies proposed in the Liberal platform during the first week of the campaign, the so-called Family Pack, which I'd summarize as "helping families who feel squeezed": by the cost of post-secondary education (hence the Learning Passport), by the cost of child care (hence the Early Childhood Learning fund to create more child care spaces), by the need to look after elderly relatives, by inadequate savings for retirement. As the Liberals have done since 1993, they've included cost estimates in their platform, showing where the money is going to come from (primarily from cancelling the most recent corporate tax cuts), to make their promises more credible.

The underlying idea is that Liberals have a different set of priorities from the Conservatives: they think families are more important than corporate tax cuts. Bruce Anderson describes it as the "chicken in every pot" tradition: the idea that government should ensure that prosperity is broadly shared. It's not difficult to have a society where the rich live in extravagant luxury; see any ancient empire or modern Third World country. It's far more difficult to make prosperity--employment, housing, education, health care--available to nearly everyone.

The Liberal platform got a fair amount of media coverage during the first week of the campaign, but it seems like people hadn't really tuned in yet. I'm not sure you can fault the Liberals for this, though. I'm pretty sure Ignatieff's been talking about the Family Pack at every Liberal rally and event since then, but of course it's no longer new, and therefore no longer news.

At this point we're in the "ground war", where candidates and volunteers from every party are knocking on doors and talking to people, and of course undecided voters are talking to their friends and family. (And these days, people are passing around information through Facebook and other social media, kind of like we're doing now.) So people are still hearing about the Liberal platform, but it's below the media's radar. At the media level, the last two weeks of the campaign are going to be about damage control.

2. The negative Conservative narrative: the opposition parties are a threat to Canada's political stability, bringing down the government and attacking the Conservatives only to further their own ambitions. You can't trust Michael Ignatieff and his coalition. If Harper doesn't get a majority, there'll be chaos. "King or Chaos!"

The positive Conservative narrative: that the Conservative record shows they've provided sound economic management. Canada was the last into recession and the first out. On unemployment, we're doing a lot better than the US. There's a deficit now because of the recession, but if you give them a majority, the Conservatives will cut it faster than anyone else. Once they've balanced the budget, they'll put more money in your pocket, through income-splitting and TFSA expansion.

(The actual record is that when Harper took over in 2006, the Liberals had run surpluses for 10 years: they left a $13 billion surplus. Harper quickly dug us a new hole, a $10-20 billion structural deficit, before the recession even hit. Today, of course, we have a $50 billion deficit.)

3. One advantage Harper has is that by taking over the Progressive Conservatives, he no longer has to worry about vote-splitting, whereas his opposition will be split between the Liberals, NDP, and Green Party.

The Liberal platform appears to be aiming for the centre-left, rather than the centre-right. For the Liberals, that has a couple advantages: they want to solidify the anti-Conservative vote behind them, and if they end up with a minority relying on NDP support, it'll be easier for the NDP to do so on a centre-left platform.

The Liberals and NDP have a common interest in opposing the Conservatives. They also have conflicting interests because there's a number of Liberal-NDP ridings, but for the most part they appear to be directing their fire at the Conservatives rather than each other; they know they may well end up working with each other.

After getting burned in 2008 with the carbon tax shift, the Liberals haven't said much about climate change. Their platform does include a commitment to cap-and-trade, but the Conservatives had already committed to cap-and-trade themselves. (That hasn't stopped the Conservatives from attacking it as "dangerous" and "un-Canadian".)
posted by russilwvong at 9:12 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay, this is new. Canadian Press, today:
Sensing he has struck a nerve with attack ads designed to sow doubt about Harper's commitment to universal health care, Ignatieff issued a new pledge before his first campaign event.

In what was termed a "open letter to Canadians," he said he would convene a first ministers meeting within 60 days of being sworn in to hammer out a new health funding arrangement and plan reforms of the system.
posted by russilwvong at 10:08 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you'd like to vote strategically, but still want to vote for "your own" party, try vote swapping.
posted by birdsquared at 11:20 AM on April 17, 2011


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