By Blair Korchinski (Reverend Blair) July 10, 2004
As you read this Canada has just gone through a federal election. The Liberals eked out a minority government, but the future vision of our country is increasingly murky.
What can we expect for a foreign and defence policies? Since both the Conservatives and Liberals favour policies that would bring us closer to the United States and the policies of George Bush, we are likely to head in that general direction. It is an accountant’s view of foreign policy, one bereft of imagination or humanity. A foreign policy designed by looking at the quarterly bottom line. It does not take into account the human spirit or take a long view of what it means to be Canadian.
An accountant’s view of foreign policy is not what made the country what it is today. It is not what will make Canada a leader, once again, on the world stage. The Polaris Institute recently came out with a report grading the defence policies of the three largest parties in the election. The ratings for the parties are a moot point now that the election is over, but they gave peacekeeping a good deal more emphasis than they did the alleged war on terror.
The Polaris Institute is still looking outward. Most of Canada has not been looking outward. We have been looking inward to a leadership crisis. The debates were a debacle. The two leading parties ran extremely negative campaigns, with the next two switching off between imitating them. The Conservatives didn’t even manage to have a policy convention before the election. The Liberals, if their past performance is any indication, have no use for a plan. The NDP are still singing that same old song and, as much as I like alternative music, it might just be time for a hit.
The election ran on promises of greatness with no sacrifice and appeals to personal greed. When Spiro Agnew mused about the nattering nabobs of negativism he had no idea how ridiculous it could get. He hadn’t seen Canada in the twenty-first century. Even Spiro Agnew, the forgotten criminal from the Nixon years and no fan of Canada, would shake his head in disgust at what Canada has become.
Tax cuts are in style. So is a “me first” attitude. We all want that tax cut. We all want more for ourselves. We all don’t want to pay. Yippee for us. Our vision has been limited to the size of our next pay cheque, our willingness to participate limited to the bottom line. Our own poor no longer matter so why would poor people in other countries?
I’ve been following a lot of public opinion on the Internet forums. It is far from scientific, people with biases (myself included) being the most vocal. What I’ve seen most of all is a lot of people standing there with their hands out and their prejudices flapping in the wind. We need tax cuts. We hate Quebec. Poor people are poor because they like it and poor countries are poor because they are somehow less than us. We want corporate welfare cut except, of course, in our little piece of Canada. The natives are all welfare bums. Seasonal workers are scum because they dare to collect Employment Insurance. Money spent on foreign affairs is wasted; let them pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and never mind that we do our best to take their boots away. Speaking of boots, we need to lick any boot that is standing on a dollar -- because money is king and nothing else matters.
We’ve become a nation of losers. We are the guys who cadge drinks at the bar, the thug who grabs a child and hands him to the schoolyard bully. Canada, the home of toadies and yes-men. Now there’s a national legacy we can be proud of. Wouldn’t you like to grow up there?
That isn’t where I grew up. I grew up in a place where people mattered. I grew up in a place where people actually were considered more important than money. Our politicians, even the ones I vehemently disagreed with, had a vision not just for Canada, but also for the world. There was a feeling that we could make things better, that Canada could lead the world to a better place.
We’ve given up that vision and substituted greed. We need a bigger house and a bigger SUV and a better haircut. We need those fancy suits and the ties that go with them like a corporate leash. The TVs are getting bigger so we can see them across our huge living rooms. The VCR, DVD player and stereo require ever-bigger wall units, and walls, to hold them. We hire somebody to cut our grass, walk our dogs, and clean our toilets.
Even suggesting that there might be a better way, that greed is not a virtue, conspicuous consumption not a way to personal betterment, is considered an affront to those who would put a price not just on human life but on human spirit. I was talking to a man, and I use the term loosely, the other day who suggested that Canada should cut off all foreign aid and withdraw from all UN projects until the debt was paid off and our military was up to fully participating in US-led missions.
His point was that since our biggest trade partner was the US that we should only do things which benefited our relationship with the US or contributed to reducing Canadian tax rates. He was basically suggesting that we become a colony so he could have more pocket change. The untold suffering it would bring to others and the loss of what Canada means on the world stage was of no consequence to him at all.
I’ve seen those sentiments echoed everywhere from the new Conservative Party platform to the bar I frequent on occasion. Those are not Canadian sentiments. They are the sentiments of a psychopath. We need to beat them back into a dark corner where they belong.
Blair also writes bi-weekly for a pro-Canadian publication, vivelecanada.ca.