OMG! Not to be like Mr. Bush!
May 26, 2004 11:25 PM   Subscribe

Paul Martin, Canada's current Prime Minister, running for re-election for the Liberal party, suggests that voting for him will prevent us from being like the US in his latest television AD campaign (sorry, they only make a WiMP 9 version available). Will your country be next?
posted by shepd (45 comments total)
Is it right to insult your neighbours to get re-elected? Is it smart to insult people with 100x more military than you?

I don't know. Maybe it is!
posted by shepd at 11:26 PM on May 26, 2004

Prime Minister Paul Martin talks about his vision for the country in a 30-second spot which will begin to air on Sunday, May 23rd, 2004.

Yes, keeping those taxes high are the only thing stopping the slow northward creep of Americanism!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:31 PM on May 26, 2004

Now if we could get a presidential candidate here in the states to run on that same platform we might get somewhere.
posted by fatbobsmith at 11:31 PM on May 26, 2004

Transcription, for the computationally differently abled:

Look, you can have a country like Canada, or you can have a country like the U.S.

But you can't have a country like Canada, with the taxation levels of the US.

Not without risking the very social programs, the institutions and values that make us, us.

We look out for one another. That's the Canada we choose. Proserperous yet generous of spirit. We hope, that's the Canada you'll choose too.

A message brought to you by the Liberal party of canada.
posted by shepd at 11:32 PM on May 26, 2004

SAL - how do you bitch about taxes in a country with so many bulky social programs? 'government cheese' doesn't come from government officials.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:58 PM on May 26, 2004

Bwaaaa-haaa-haaa!!! Another keeper from my government.

Frankly, I don't give a damn what Martin says to get re-elected, as long as he erases the legacy of the crooked-mouth moron once he is in power and helps restore Canada to at least some of its former respectability.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:04 AM on May 27, 2004

Which I hope he will and fear he won't.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:04 AM on May 27, 2004

s it right to insult your neighbours to get re-elected?

Insult or no, I'll vote for the party that promises to keep us from turning into the US, as far as public health/education/police/laws/etc are concerned. It's an effective platform. More than that, I think it's a good platform. If I recall correctly, Jean Chretien's farewell request to Martin was "Please don't turn us into the US".

Martin's a smart guy, and I think he knows exactly what he's doing with these ads. I don't know anyone who wants us to move any closer to the US.
posted by Jairus at 12:19 AM on May 27, 2004

Public health care's great as long as it works, Jairus, but ours is in shambles wherever major population centers are concerned. This is one of the areas where I wouldn't want Canada heading towards the US, but we're being thrust in that direction regardless.

Also, voting for a party on that sole consideration is a bit myopic, no?
posted by Krrrlson at 12:28 AM on May 27, 2004

Hehe, shepd, as you know, I am pretty far left, so I have to agree with the ad to some degree. It attacks an American policy and attitude, the striking lack of connection many Americans seem to make between taxes and public services. I hate misappropriated public funds, but the message of the ad (well, at face value) is that you need a certain level of taxation for public services, and attempts to refute, in the minds of the undecided, the Canadians who point to the US as an example.

I doubt the US will respond (best to ignore the little ones :-) except perhaps for a small press release or something from the US embassy, and I agree such a blatant comment is strange, but I've seen worse. This was a campaign by the FPÖ (the infamous Freedom Party of Austria, known mainly for Jörg Haider) in Vienna that said "Wien darf nicht Chicago werden" ("Vienna must not become Chicago", though I remember them spelling it "Schikago" or something). The link says it was referring to the problem of crime, but I remember at the time feeling more offended because of other implications of what big-city America is like, such as being multi-racial, having many immigrants and being rootlessly new. Anyway, it was European anti-Americanism in the worst sense, and as the link explains, Daley registered a complaint through the US embassy. Of course, maybe I was overreacting and the FPÖ was just referring to gangster films (it was still idiotic). Of course, at that time the FPÖ was not part of the governing coalition.

Finally, what surprises me the most, and feels the most Canadian, is running with the premise of keeping existing taxes in place. It's just so...unamerican. It actually reminds me of the hilarious Mondale sketch on SNL (despite the ad not being about raising taxes) referenced here.

[And I told you in #mefi I don't respond to political threads I'll just respond to yours :-)]
posted by Gnatcho at 12:29 AM on May 27, 2004

Public health care's great as long as it works, Jairus, but ours is in shambles wherever major population centers are concerned.

Britain's figured it out and is trying to revamp it's failed socialist healthcare with a working model - Sweden's. Canada supposedly has made overtures in that direction, but last I heard the inertia just wasn't there.

Simply put: more government funding for hospitals with the highest successfully treated patient turnover rates.

This pseudo-capitalism within a socialist framework works wonders for Sweden's #1 worldwide ranked healthcare (in terms of quality of treatment provided to the average person). The USA has the top healthcare in terms of the specialized treatments available (we have the technology and training advantage at the highest end of treatment), but in terms of overall care we're ranked fourth out of the major industrial nations.

As an American who hopes to become a Canadian citizen within the next half decade I sincerely hope that Canada moves as far away from our current course as is possible. Right now Canada - or at least parts of it - has the sanest laws of any nation: gay marriage, decriminalized small amounts of pot, extremely liberal digital copyright laws - you made the right call by going to war in Afghanistan but obstaining from Iraq, etc., etc. Canada has been as much a source of pride for Western civ in the past several years as the UK (2 million spy cameras and MI5 logging all Internet traffic? Black boxes to prevent speeding in autos?), and the USA (nothing needs to be said around here, I'm sure) have been a source of disappointment. Canada may not be perfect, but from this side that grass is looking a whole hell of a lot greener.
posted by Ryvar at 12:53 AM on May 27, 2004

Krrrlson: Our health care is going downhill, agreed, but I still don't get a bill from my doctor, or from the ER, or from the surgeon, or whomever. I have a lot of concern about the way it's heading, but I think we've still got a good thing going.

I think voting for a party based on their not-american-ness might be myopic if the party itself is seems to be suffering from myopia. I don't think that it's necessarily myopic, though.

To be perfectly honest, I voted NDP last election because although I wanted the Liberal party to win (compared to the Alliance), I would've loved a Liberal minority government with the NDP as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. Then, the NDP would be able to barter for health care and education reforms, in return for keeping the Alliance down.

I'm still undecided on Martin. I worry that his history in finance will lead him to be more concerned with balancing the budget than the welfare of Canadians, but I hope I'm wrong about that.
posted by Jairus at 12:54 AM on May 27, 2004

The old adage about the Liberal Party campaigning like the NDP and then governing like the Conservatives looks like it's holding true yet again.

Harper is trumpeting huge tax cuts without knowing how to pay for them, and he should consider himself lucky that the Liberals are sidetracked by the Canada vs. US model rather than simply pointing out clearly and unequivocally how stupid and unworkable Harper's plans are.

And the issue of insulting a country with a bigger military is something a 12 year old mentality might think up, but is idiotic to the rest of us.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:31 AM on May 27, 2004

Is it insulting, or merely presenting a choice? I can't play wmf's, so I haven't heard the ad, and really am asking the question.
posted by cardboard at 3:49 AM on May 27, 2004

Our health care is going downhill, agreed, but I still don't get a bill from my doctor, or from the ER, or from the surgeon, or whomever.

Hey, I think public healthcare's great as long as I don't die waiting in the ER. For free.

So does anyone but the Liberals even have a fighting chance anyway?
posted by Krrrlson at 7:40 AM on May 27, 2004

I don't think Martin is being insulting, or degrading the US. He's asking Canadians to make a choice: do we want (comparatively) high taxes and our existing social programs, or do we want a US-style private system?

This is all in contrast to the Reform CCRAP Conservative platform of lowering taxes below the US levels, which would naturally affect social programs (though they are careful not to connect those dots).

This ad also resonates with the Tories calls for "closer" ties to the US, which many, including me, take to mean that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would run our Department of Foreign Affairs. The decision to avoid the Iraq debacle is one of the more popular decisions the previous Liberal government ever made. Martin, by the way, was careful to never offer an opinion on the issue at the time. One suspects that, had he been at the helm in 2002, Canada would be in Iraq now.
posted by bonehead at 7:53 AM on May 27, 2004

The Martin ad is hardly critical of the US. It rather mildly points out that Harper's wish for US levels of taxation would mean US levels of social services. I thought his earlier ads with the Harper quotes were more interesting than this one, which is very bland.

The sponsorship scandal hit the Liberals hard, and the Conservative unification gave the right a single voice, but Martin will win the election. There are enough three-way races to make it interesting, a reduced majority or even a minority government, but I'm just not hearing the level of interest that normally preceeds a change in government.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:59 AM on May 27, 2004

as long as he erases the legacy of the crooked-mouth moron once he is in power

It amazes me that a lot of people seem willing to swallow this Martin-is-an-agent-for-change thing. I mean, is that really your best bet for a significant new direction in Canadian government - the guy who served as the crooked-mouth moron's finance minister for the entirety of his reign? Oh, right - he and Chretien weren't, you know, buddies or anything, so Martin's approach to government is therefore totally different. The sponsorship scandal? Martin and his inner circle are shocked - shocked - to learn of such chicanery. And as the guy who spent ten years authorizing all of the government's spending, Martin had no idea that such huge sums were being spent so unethically. (Which makes him either a liar or a rube, and an uninspiring leader in either case.)

That said, I do find it mildly encouraging that even a dyed-in-the-wool free-trader like Martin wants to distance himself from the Alliance/Natl-Post-editorial-board position of continental integration at any cost.

What I really find encouraging, though, is the prospect of a minority government with the revitalized and increasingly pragmatic NDP of Jack Layton holding the balance of power.
posted by gompa at 7:59 AM on May 27, 2004

(Should've been quotes around "crooked-mouth moron," by the way - I was just quoting Krrrlson, not endorsing that kind of ad hominem attack.)
posted by gompa at 8:02 AM on May 27, 2004

i want chretian back :(
posted by mrplab at 8:03 AM on May 27, 2004

Is it insulting, or merely presenting a choice

Check out the shepd's comment (4th comment I believe) which is pretty much what the ad says.

While it may seem like it's insulting the US to some, it's a fair assessment of the difference's between our two countries.

Sure we share many similarities, but in reality we are two distinct societies. And part of Canada's distinctness (IMHO) is the social contract that exists in our country. That means not having to worry about how to pay for the trip to the Emergency Room. It means having a helping hand in the form of Employment Insurance should I lose my job. It means an untold number of things that escape the mind when it's not needed but are then in times of need.

The difference between our two countries is how we've collectively decided to provide those needed safety nets/support devices. In the case of the US, perhaps it's more private sector based assistance (my understanding is that individual philanthropy is greater in the States than in Canada). In our case, however, the preferred delivery method is via the government. And that requires a certain level of taxation to sustain itself, levels that are higher than the US taxation levels.

The Conservative Party is running on a platform of tax cuts while providing the current levels of government services, and often point out that Canadians should have the same tax burden as the US. They also insist that the current government has underestimated future budget surpluses and that there is plenty of money available to support current service levels AND to implement tax cuts (a point I personally disagree with).

The Liberals are countering by saying that US taxation levels will not provide the services most of us take for granted.

I'm with Jairus in that (while a Liberal voter last time) I would love to see a Liberal Minority gov't with an NDP party providing the needed majority for legislation to pass. That would allow the NDP to act as the "social conscious" for Liberal legislation.
posted by smcniven at 8:11 AM on May 27, 2004

Did you hear about Al Qaeda's plan to attack Canada?

They're going to take over our health clinics with box cutters and demand user-fees at the front door.

(Because they hate our freedom, y'know.)
posted by stonerose at 8:14 AM on May 27, 2004

Frankly, I don't give a damn what Martin says to get re-elected, as long as he erases the legacy of the crooked-mouth moron once he is in power and helps restore Canada to at least some of its former respectability.

Me, I'd be happy if he'd just stop trying to gun down Chrétien loyalists in public. You're the leader, already! You won! Stop fighting!

Oh, and if you truly believe that Stephen Harper is some sort of awkward robot remotely controlled by space aliens, please raise your hand. Thank you.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 8:34 AM on May 27, 2004

Transcripts do not communicate tone.
posted by cardboard at 8:48 AM on May 27, 2004

Transcripts do not communicate tone

True, but the tone of the ad (which I've seen once I think) was more along the lines of sitting at the table having coffee with someone and describing something important to you.

posted by smcniven at 9:03 AM on May 27, 2004

crooked-mouth moron

He wasn't a moron; making fun of his mouth is below-the-belt; and given how crooked he was ethically, doesn't it make more sense to go after him for that reason?
posted by stonerose at 9:18 AM on May 27, 2004

the crooked-mouth moron

As someone who suffered from Bell's palsy, I find comments towards Jean Chretien's disability (and yes, it is a disablity for many..) absolutely appalling. If you're going to criticize how he did as a politican and prime minister, by all means go ahead.. But every single time I see comments about how his face is "crooked" or deranged or whatnot, I cannot help myself from cringing.. Would you be making the same type of derogatory comments if he was in a wheelchair?

Does anybody else remember when Kim Campbell's PC administration made that disgusting commercial focusing on how crooked his face is? Remember how popular the feedback was on that one? One thing I love about Canada is how we criticize each other and how we're not afraid to say if something is wrong with our government, and we help each other grow this way. But calling on one's disabilities or physical flaws - something that cannot be changed - is just in poor, poor taste and ridiculously immature.
posted by mojo80 at 9:27 AM on May 27, 2004

Is it right to insult your neighbours to get re-elected?

Well, it beats invading a middle-eastern country...
posted by clevershark at 9:51 AM on May 27, 2004

I don't know anyone who wants us to move any closer to the US.

I don't doubt this, but it also doesn't say much except what we already knew: the average MeFite doesn't hang out with anyone who is to the right of Ralph Nader (or who will admit to it). Anyway, you all now know of at least one Canadian who would like to see Canada move closer to some of the basic principles that have guided the US.
posted by mw at 10:42 AM on May 27, 2004

Frankly, I don't give a damn what Martin says to get re-elected, as long as he erases the legacy of the crooked-mouth moron once he is in power and helps restore Canada to at least some of its former respectability.

This is pretty damn funny considering that Paulie was the freakin finance minister for a large part of Chretian's run. Of course we are not supposed to remember that.

Yeah. Yeah. He is a new direction. That's the ticket....
posted by srboisvert at 10:56 AM on May 27, 2004

mw: Actually, I spend time with a lot of people, all over the political spectrum. Among other things, I'm involved in my community (which is elderly, for the most part), and I do work at a variety of nightclubs, where I'll see a few hundred people a week. I don't have time to chat politics with all of them, obviously, but I'd say that I have time to talk to at least fifty or sixty customers/clubgoers in a given week, and politics is always something to talk about in Ottawa.

It has nothing to do with surrounding myself with left-wing radicals, and people of like mind. The people of all ages and cultures I encounter in my day-to-day life in Ottawa don't seem to want to move towards the US.

I do appreciate you filling me in on the people I'm spending my day with, though.
posted by Jairus at 11:23 AM on May 27, 2004

I don't know anyone who wants us to move any closer to the US.

I know quite a few (public servants even) who feel that Chretien needlessly provoked the US administration. There's a big difference between being sovereign, like not participating in dubious adventurism, and being an ass about it, like calling the US head of state a moron.
posted by bonehead at 11:26 AM on May 27, 2004

I don't know which thought is more depressing: that Jairus thinks it's reasonable to be certain that not one of the hundreds of people he meets each week wants Canada to be in any way more US-like, or that he's right. Either way, it doesn't change the accuracy (with some allowance for the intended hyperbole) of my original comment (note especially the bit about admitting one's true politics).
posted by mw at 11:52 AM on May 27, 2004

Bonehead: A point of order, Chretien never called Bush a moron. It was a staffer, albeit a senior staffer, talking to a reporter off the record who said it. If I recall, the conversation was related to some frustation the staffer experienced in regards to the US position at a NATO conference. A second reporter overheard the conversation and broke the story.

Chretien actually had to state in a media scrum that Bush was in fact not a moron.

There have been other cases of MPs sounding off inappropriately (a Liberal backbencher from Toronto who really went off the deep end) regarding the US.

I'm sure there are many similar cases occuring South of Border regarding us (Chretien's nickname in Bush cicles was Dinosaur).
posted by smcniven at 12:06 PM on May 27, 2004

who wants us to move any closer to the US.
Why are there more professional hockey teams in Texas than all of Canada? Then add, why are the NHL teams moving south from the land that invented it?
Canada is a great place for outdoor enjoyments, hope you keep it that way too.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:40 PM on May 27, 2004

I just got back from hearing Chretien's convocation speech at Queen's University, and man, I miss that guy. Even in broken English, he's 10 times the speaker that Paul Martin will ever be (and 1000 times Stephen Harper. God I hate that man.).

When Chretien spoke about keeping Canada out of Iraq, he got a huge round of applause. Great moment.
posted by krunk at 1:06 PM on May 27, 2004

So does anyone but the Liberals even have a fighting chance anyway?

I'd say so. Given current polls and the mood in the Liberal stronghold of Ontario since the provincial budget, and the public's reaction to Adscam and the various other billion dollar boondoggles, it's starting to look like the best Martin can hope for is a minority government, if that... a lot of people I've been talking to just want a change.
posted by Haveed at 1:37 PM on May 27, 2004

IMO, the best outcome will be a minority NDP government with a strong Liberal opposition.

The Libs will keep the NDP from getting too silly with money, I'd hope. The NDP would nonetheless still keep our general social structures intact. The Libs+NDP would probably be able to argue and compromise so that only the most-important social items are addressed, which handily reins-in the NDPs sillier dreams.

What I really care to have happen: a healthcare system that continues to be mainly free, mainly excellent, and has a lot less overhead; a national media that provides non-partisan, high-quality, international reporting; proper equipment for our military, which is so sadly lacking in everything that it's become downright disgusting; and better provincial equity wrt funding.

I simultaneously feel that Paul Martin could be an excellent, visionary leader... and that he could very well sell us out to the highest bidder for his own financial gain. He's a little too "corporate" to be trusted.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:01 PM on May 27, 2004

Paul Martin, "visionary leader"!?!? What kind of vision have you seen him express, except with a glassy-eyed artificiality? Competent leader, maybe, but he's far from possessing any of the sort of spark that the greats boasted.
posted by Marquis at 3:21 PM on May 27, 2004

Visionary? Not really. But Martin is not a young man, and he's after a legacy - I would look for big things from him in the spheres of health and international development.
posted by stonerose at 4:35 PM on May 27, 2004

It's hard to say what Martin will do. I would hope he would maintain and improve our social programs, manage the budget responsibly, and - I'm having a hard time phrasing this - neither defer to nor unnecessarily antagonize the U.S., and insist on Canada's right to steer its own course. Chrétien actually did quite a good job of this. Yes, his administration was not without corruption or mistakes. Yes, he often did the right thing for the wrong reasons. But frankly I'll vote for the P.M. who consistently does the right thing for the wrong reasons over the P.M. who consistently does the wrong thing for the right reasons any election. Chrétien is a brilliant man and he has the instincts of a fox. And he had an unshakeable confidence and decisiveness throughout everything he did that quelled protest really quickly. The man throttled a protester on Parliament Hill and got away with it, for heaven's sake.

I'm not sure Martin has the same instincts. But I guess we're going to find out.
posted by orange swan at 9:03 PM on May 28, 2004

The man throttled a protester on Parliament Hill and got away with it, for heaven's sake.

Waitasec, you consider that a good thing? I'll concede that Chretien had a genius for making the scandalous seem trivial, but that's hardly the sort of quality I want the electoral system rewarding. It's like how antibiotics breed stronger bacteria--all you're doing is breeding better and better generations of political con-men.
posted by arto at 10:19 PM on May 28, 2004

What I don't understand are the claims that Canada has higher taxes than the US. Didn't the Globe and Mail run an article a year or so ago reporting that Canadian federal taxes were in fact lower than US federal? This was after the Liberal tax cuts, and they were notably lower for the highest tax brackets (not necessarily a good thing).

That said - I have seen the face of some of the best of American health care (world class university medical teaching centre) and it scares the bejeebees out of me. I had much much more reliable service in Toronto. The claims that the US is so much better just don't seem to hold water when you are down here - and up there I don't have to worry about being beggarred to get the treatment I need. Well, at least not before McGuinty's new regressive fees.

Our social services are important to our country; whether they make us Canadian or not, they do keep our GINI index to a mere 31 versus the States' 40, and that just makes it a better place overall to live. You can have good schools, good health care, a good university education (no debt if you live at home) - even if you don't have much money.

But I don't know how much I trust Martin to stick by his ads - his party spent the 90's budget cutting and downloading costs. Claiming to want to protect social services now is a bit rich. A significant NDP influence in the government, whether as government or part of a coalition, would be the best thing for the country, to keep the Liberals somewhat honest.
posted by jb at 4:56 PM on May 31, 2004

When you compare Canadian federal + provincial taxes all-in, versus US federal + state taxes + health insurance, they work out to be about the same.

The significant difference is that in Canada, everyone is covered for health care. In the US, if you're not insured, you're going to be significantly out of pocket, and may have difficulty obtaining the treatment you need.

Or so I'm given to understand.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:21 PM on May 31, 2004

The man throttled a protester on Parliament Hill and got away with it, for heaven's sake.

Waitasec, you consider that a good thing?

No, I don't, arto!!! Should have made myself clearer on that one, I suppose. It was a nod to Chrétien's incredible political acumen that he got away with it, not a defense of the action. And I agree with your comment that it sets a bad precedent when politicians do get away with crap like that.

Imagine the reaction if Dubya did that? Hoo, boy.
posted by orange swan at 6:58 PM on June 2, 2004

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