Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why Not Passion and Patriotism?

Another election. Ho-hum. While many Canadians consider that elections represent nothing more than an unnecessary drain on budgets, I sense a more deeply-held feeling that recent elections have achieved little for the country. When the biggest item on any party’s agenda is the removal of taxes on home heating fuel, perhaps apathy is justified. Can we admire and feel good about marking the ballot for the candidate in our riding whose party leader says he’s going to put $120 a year back into our pockets? Six Loonies and a couple of Toonies a month. A couple trips to Tim Horton’s, basically. On this basis we are to make a decision about the governance of an entire country?

Why not passionate convictions? Why not grand ideas? Why not great national projects?

Is a pledge to defend the arctic from foreign encroachment an impossibility? Canada has legitimate arctic claims going back to the 16th century; why not assert these historical and legal claims and vigorously defend well-defined national boundaries? This is not simply a matter of pride or patriotism. It is a question of preserving a fragile environment, and one that affects the climate of the entire world. Those who would love to push Canada aside, the capitalist-controlled Americans and Russians, do not have environmental records that could be considered in any way exemplary—unless one wishes to extol the overwhelming virtues of a pure market economy and the wonders of free enterprise. Well, that’s fine. But you may wish to poll the residents of Prince William Sound, Alaska before you shrug your shoulders and allow the Russian Bear and the American Eagle to just come in and take territory rightfully belonging to the industrious Canadian Beaver. Twenty-two years after Exxon Valdez, Prince William Sound is still cleaning up. Imagine, if you will, an Exxon Valdez or a Deepwater Horizon just north of Iqaluit. Asserting Canadian sovereignty over its legally-defined territory is not really a privilege or a right: It is a responsibility.

And what about that $120 in taxes that some of the candidates are making into the biggest economic issue of the campaign? There are much more important interests that could be discussed. The first item on any valid economic platform, it seems to me, must be the decline of the American economy. The Canadian economy is tied so intimately to that of Big Brother downstairs that a 1:10 correlation, based entirely on population, can be seen in virtually all sectors of the Canadian economy. As the American economy goes, so goes Canadian jobs, bank accounts, and quality of life. How many citizens truly feel that such intimate and widespread connection to the economy of what will soon become a second-class world power is a situation best ignored and left to the status quo?

The United States did not go blind into its good night. The decline began in the Reagan years, when capitalists began shipping entire sectors of the economy to Asia. Manufacturing—the creation of something useful—used to be the centre, the very core of the U.S. economy. China has become the sweatshop for a few wealthy brand name owners, whose only role is to create television ads that stoke desire for products made by Mandarin-speaking peasants. U.S. workers who used to earn $25 an hour making computers now get by on $7.00 an hour flipping hamburgers at McDonalds.

Perhaps one of the candidates will discover a backbone. One can hope. The biggest hope, perhaps beyond anything we might legitimately dream of, is a pledge to cancel NAFTA. To place the fate of our continent in the hands of greedy capitalists and entrepreneurs was the biggest mistake of the late 20th century. It’s time to reassert sovereignty. It’s time for passion and patriotism. It’s time for an election we can feel good about. Michael, Stephen, Jack, and Gilles—are you listening?


March 29, 2011

No comments: