Monday, September 1, 2008

Will it be fear or hope?

It's Labour Day in Canada and the United States. It's hard to believe that it was the day after another Labour Day, twenty-four years ago, that a labour lawyer turned business magnate named Brian Mulroney pulled off the biggest landslide in Canadian history. Today, neither the incumbent PM nor the Opposition Leader are taking a day off. Harper and Dion are having a crisis meeting at Number 24, and if all indications are correct, an election will be called as early as tomorrow but no later than Sunday -- so as to cancel the four upcoming by-elections and proceeding directly to the generals.

My colleague Jeff Jedras lists what he thinks the "winning" issues are going to be. He raises some good points, but I do think the issues are going to be much broader. It's pretty obvious that the economy, health care, the environment as well as what Canada's place in the world should be are going to be at the top. Afghanistan in particular is going to be an issue, although with about 800 Americans joining the Canadian contingent of 2000+ in Kandahar one can only hope the fatality rate will drop substantially -- mind you the timing just before an election is rather suspicious to me.

The fact that the Green Party now has an MP does throw a bit more into the mix. I think, absolutely think, that Elizabeth May should be included in the debates. Canadians deserve more choices, not fewer. If Harper wishes to boycott the debates if May is permitted in, that's his problem; but it also shows the same kind of shallowness he demonstrated when he refused to debate his leftist opponents in the by-election that saw him return to Ottawa some years ago.

The Liberals should run a campaign of hope while targeting (not too hard) the failures of the Conservatives and their lack of accountability despite their promise to expand openness. As was the case last time, watch to see who goes negative first. Rick Anderson, CBC's mystery blogger in 2006, correctly predicted the party that went negative first would be seen as the most desperate. The pre-election ads that the Conservatives are running are spinning Harper in a positive light, but they'll go negative real quick once the writ is dropped.

I think the Liberals have to address this by emphasizing the "Green Shift" means a net tax cut for most -- over and over again. They also need to emphasize hope, not fear.

I would like to see a politics of hope. Unfortunately, like the Americans, we're going to see the politics of fear over and over again.

To my regret, my parents were well schooled in the politics of fear long before I even heard the names Peggy Noonan and Karl Rove. The day after that 1984 election, I was warned to keep one eye behind my back because our family could be deported any minute. Reason: Mulroney's wife was Serbian and we were Croatian and it was now open season on "our people." Of course, nothing like that happened -- in fact, Mulroney would wind up getting the wrath of Canadians of Serbian origin when he recognized what the vast majority had for years, the state known as Yugoslavia was a state in name only.

And the whole "our people" thing still gives me the shivers. I do not consider myself a Croatian-Canadian. I am a Canadian, whose parents happened to be born in Croatia. I cannot get away from my ethnic origins, but Canada is my homeland and where I live.

I bring this up because I think the Cons will attempt to go over the top and get their majority with ethnic triangulation. Target precincts with significant populations of ethnic groups that go their way typically and GOTV. Well, more than one party can get away with that. And as for religion -- forget it. We're way past the time when the Catholic Church (or at least, the majority of the priests who were in the rural areas) and the Union Nationale colluded with each other to ensure multiple wins for right-wing and even facist governments with the infamous line, "Le ciel est bleu; l'enfer est rouge" (Heaven is blue, hell is red). Red of course meant Liberal and blue was the colour of the UN.

Also, no party has a monopoly on patriotism. If Harper tries to play that line, he'll get creamed. All the Liberals have to do in that case is point out his broken promises and how instead of standing up for Canada he caved in -- on taxing income trusts, selling out our forests to the Americans, and announcing major military procurements then cancelling them late on a Friday night so no one would even remember come Monday. By not standing up for Canada, he's shown what he thinks of Canada. And anyone who governs in that fashion should no longer be in the PMO. One who wants Canadians to be afraid, and keeps wagging a finger at his enemies rather than taking responsibility for his actions should no longer be PM. One who has his cronies and their lawyers throw chairs at committee hearings certainly has a lot to answer for.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sept. 1st, 2008: It is my hope that Dion will stay away from words like Green Shaft, carbon tax and stick to bread and butter issues:
Lack of employment
Companies closing in Canada
The car industry going down the tubes. Dion should talk about the industry producing cars that use liquified natural gas. We have so much of it and it does not pollute
Replacing plastic bags with paper bags. Our paper industry is on its last legs.
If you have not got a job or the prospect of one, you don't fret over the state of the environment. Furthermore, unless the whole world cooperates, doing a bit in Canada will have practically no impact.
Come on Dion, get on the ball and defeat the Conservatives