Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Government Out Of Time

I think I've finally figured out the problem with Stephen Harper and his Conservatives.
One of them, anyway. There are lots to pick from, among them Harper's almost total lack of empathy, his control-freakiness, and his unrelenting ideological drive. 
But I've discerned something about this government and its policies that covers a lot of ground: namely, that "Canada's New Government" is in fact an old government...a government rooted in the past and unable to frame the present, let alone the future, in any meaningful way.
Harper and his coterie are trapped in a time-warp oscillating between the 1950s and some point about a year and a half ago. His speech yesterday was a case in point. This recession is an "opportunity". 
Yeah, sure, Steve-O. Big opportunity. People losing their jobs (as Ignatieff correctly pointed out, at twice the rate of the United States right now), quite likely a bunch losing their homes in the not-too-distant future, and you're repeating the what-me-worry from the election campaign? 
Or take today's announcement that the Conservatives are once again trying to bring in anti-terrorist laws permitting, among other things, warrantless arrests. This might have gone over well in October 0f 2001, but ask Canadians about their fears in March 2009 and "terrorist attack" will rank way the hell down the list, I assure you. (And I'm one of those people who does think Canada will eventually see a terrorist attack!)
The bill failed once already and will fail again. At least the Conservatives are consistent: the same could be said for the bailout package and their hopes of winning a majority.
On justice, the Tories have a fifties mentality that is so hopelessly out of date it would be labelled "quaint" if it weren't so threatening: Lock 'em up and throw away the key.  Now, hey, I'll be the first to admit that getting hard-core criminals off the streets is (in my mind, at least) a good idea. But the Tory definition of "hard-core criminal" is a little broad for my taste. Reefer Madness is trying to take hold in Ottawa again; the Conservatives are trying to bring in a rather draconian copyright act; and what really puts me on edge is the Harperite attitude towards anyone who doesn't think like he does...I'm positive he'd brand us all criminals if he could. As it is, he can only rob the revolutionary types of their funding.
I remember when the Conservative Party had another word in its name. A word that came before Conservative. That word was Progressive. Since Harper's stuck in time, may I suggest he steer the ship of state towards that era?

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