It seems to be an almost near inevitability these days that we must periodically go through a bout of national agony at the hands of our elected politicians.
From the repatriation of the Constitution (which, despite all the All Hail Trudeau mythology, was not and is not universally acclaimed by Canadians), to the Charlottetown Accord (defeated nationally and sent to referendum only under duress in the first place), to this month’s Coalition attempt at power, Canadians have increasingly rejected the notion that our politicians can fundamentally change power and its distribution in this country without the Canadian people having a say.
In other words, we reject now the notion that MPs and Senators, or Provincial Premiers meeting with the Prime Minister, are our betters, an élite that can decide for us. This is why the polls (Strategic Counsel, Ipsos, Ekos) this week show majorities in favour of (a) the Conservatives, (b) an election if in January the government fails a confidence motion and (c) no coalition politics. Yes, our constitutional practice allows for coalitions, and allows for transfers of power across the aisle without an election. But the Canadian people no longer stand for it.
It is a dead letter, and I believe the Governor-General took that into account, both by approving the prorogation of Parliament this week (a time for reflection and sober second thought and for MPs to hear their constituents’ ire directly) and by, in essence, saying that if we come back in January and the government is immediately defeated out of hand a request for a writ of election will not be dismissed as poor advice.
Would any of us tolerate any government simply nominating a person — or a committee of “wise heads” — and then merely and meekly enacting whatever orders this arbitrary power said were necessary “for the greater good” (or any other mealy-mouthed slogan of your liking)? No — we would rightly call that dictatorship. This is why people like Yesterday’s Bob Rae, who is stumping the country for a transfer of power without our having any say in the matter are yesterday’s people. He was for Trudeau running rough-shod over the provinces and the Canadian people with his mania to change the constitutional framework of the country. He was for Meech Lake and Charlottetown as “élite deals”. Now he is for overriding the decision of the last election (and all those who chant — incorrectly, too — “62% against Harper”) which, whether these “we know better than yous” like it or not, returned a larger number of Conservative MPs with a larger share of the popular vote.
Bob Rae, in other words, like many others on the left in this country, want to take away the decision-making power of the Canadian people. A vote is only “good” when it gives the results it “should”. Otherwise it’s something to dispense with.
That’s why you and I are smarter than these kinds of clowns.
You see, we can be rabidly partisan, but we also recognise something important: the will of our neighbours.
I, for instance, did not see my chosen candidate as MP of our riding elected in October (or during the by-election in March 2008 — and I voted for different candidates in these two polls). But the victor is my MP, because more of my neighbours thought she (a) represented their leader of choice, (b) ran for their party of choice or (c) was personally the best choice.
BC, provincially, has recall legislation: if you can find enough people to join you, you can force a second election for a sitting MLA. This is not dissimilar to what the coalition has tried to pull: “we don’t like the result, so we’ll try and overturn it”. I don’t much like the recall initiative and I don’t like the stunt that was pulled this week.
So while none of us individually may pass muster as smarter or better informed than the person in the Prime Minister’s seat, or in the Cabinet, or even sitting on the Opposition benches, collectively we do. This is what we recognise now, and have since the early 1980s. That’s why élite accommodation is no longer wanted.
This, too, is why Ignatieff’s dancing — I won’t say “no” to the coalition but I’ll drop all these hints I disagree — doesn’t help his cause, either. That, too, is a game played amongst a small circle of players: yet another élite play.
Liberals often wonder why the Conservatives have an advantage in fund-raising. (So do Dippers, but they tend not to muse in front of microphones about it.) When you play élite games, people don’t want to pay into them. Conservatives, because of the great split between the PCs and Reform, had to seriously tone down the playing of élite games. They get the money. Pay attention: it’s not that hard to figure out. (Unless, of course, you presume the power should be yours so that you can play your games out.)
Canadians have ofttimes been declared apolitical — only a very small number of us actually join political parties, and an even smaller number than that work in EDAs. But we’re not: the rallies — both the Rally for Canada and the Coalition ones — attracted Canadians in numbers to stand in the cold, the wet, the dark and express themselves. We are apolitical only because all that’s wanted from us is our occasional vote, our money and otherwise a willingness to go along without complaint.
Those days are over. The West is more than irked with this notion of élites (even while practising it itself provincially).
You and I are smarter than those clowns, too, because we can see that Harper has taken the Conservatives about as far as he can. We may well, if asked soon, return a majority Conservative Government (the attempt to, by élite accommodation, displace the government is a worse evil than Harper’s poor judgement). But we also know that Harper has given us Liberal-light, not fiscal conservatism; waste and slop, not effective programs; prioritised operations and tactics over strategy. In other words, unlike them, who put their personal gain ahead of the country (and in this I include Harper), we can make a decision to accept some bad with the good.
I mentioned my MP earlier, and now here’s why: by being an Opposition MP, were she to break with the coalition, she could represent us. As along as she does what she’s done since her election in March — shout inanely across the aisle and slavishly follow her leader — she’s a toady. If all I can get is a toady, I’ll take a Conservative toady, thank you (better for the country, potentially).
Why people capable of complex reasoning — people like you and me — turn into simple minded gits when they get elected is beyond me. What I do know is this: the clowns no longer have the authority to run the asylum.