Friday, May 15, 2009

The Depressing State of Canadian Politics

The recent troubles of Ruby Dhalla and the release of yet another round of attack ads from the Conservatives, directed personally at Michael Ignatieff, is just further indications of how low Canadian politics has sunk in a very few short years. Not much more than a decade ago the Dhalla story would have been barely mentioned as the personal troubles of a Member of Parliament were generally ignored. Maybe it would have received some mention in the Toronto papers, buried deep, deep in the inner pages, but it would not have received days of coverage nor would it have warranted days of Parliamentary hearings. As for the attack ads, not too many years ago they would have been met with howls of outrage from the media. There was a time when political opponents could question each others judgement, vision, governing style and policy proposals but personal attacks were strickly off limits. Actually questioning your opponent's patriotism and/or Canadian identity would have been met with heaps of scorn from our chattering classes.

There was a time when politics was about people with honest disagreements on how to resolve the many problems that arose in the life of this country. Certainly they disagreed with each others ideas and policy proposals but it was implicitly understood and acknowledged that your opponent came by his opinions out of their love of Canada, the desire to make it better and to assist all Canadians.

Now of course personal attacks are just a routine part of the political "debate".

Many Liberals believe that attacking Mr. Ignatieff in the way the Conservatives are attacking him will backfire. Perhaps, but they would not have released these ads if they did not believe they would resonate with some Canadians.

I blame the American Republican Party for this sad state of affairs. Newt Gingrich and his merry band of neo-cons in the US made politics personal by personally attacking Bill Clinton at every opportunity. Granted President Clinton gave them more than a few openings but the witch hunt regarding his financial dealings during his time as Governor and the impeachment of him largely because of a blow job were way over the top. However, it ultimately worked because the Republicans rode the disgust they so assiduously cultivated amongst the American electorate to the White House (with the assistance of some partisan state officials and Supreme Court justices). The Reform movement in this country saw that and they began to follow the same practices. It began with Stock Day but he was not very good at it so it took Stephen Harper and his gang to perfect it. Mind you, the Liberals cannot claim to be squeaky clean in this either. They launched an ad campaign against Mr. Harper before the 2004 election which did not directly question his patriotism and loyalty to Canada but it certainly inferred they were both lacking.

I disagree with Stephen Harper on many issues on many different levels. However, I do not believe that any of his actions are out of malice towards Canada. I believe that he truly believes that his ideas and policy solutions to real and perceived problems in this country will make Canada better and stronger. His ideas are certainly more radical than what we have seen in the past but that does not make him unpatriotic or disloyal.

Thankfully, the situation seems to be changing and again that change is being seen first in the US. The masters of personal attacks in the US have been soundly defeated. They have not accepted this yet and they are happily reducing the Republican Party to a rump. It will be awhile before that changes. The hatefilled, parochial, ignorant, narrow-minded wingnuts that now dominate that party are still drunk on the idea that they had one of their own elected president twice. It is going to take another crushing defeat in 2012 and the prospect of facing a fresh, young VP cum presidental candidate in 2016, after Joe Biden announces his retirement from politics in 2011, to change that. At that point the adults in the Republican Party will reassert their dominance and re-establish the Republican Party back to something resembling a political party that is able to represent true conservative minded Americans.

It is going to take awhile for that dynamic to be seen here but I am hopeful that we will begin to see that kind of change within the next few years.


Blogger The Rat said...

The Republicans? How about you look in the mirror! The Liberals of the '90s and first half of this decade made it clear that "Liberal values are Canadian values", and had no qualms calling Reform members "rednecks". Wasn't it your own dear leader's advisor who openly mocked Stockwell Day's religious beliefs? If you don't like the state of today's politics all you need to do is change it. But not because you're now losing the mud war, not because you can't afford to participate in the nastiness, but because you honestly want to change it. For starters maybe you could get rid of the labels, like "neo-cons". That you can admit that Harper doesn't hate Canada is a good start. I'll wait to see how long it lasts and whether your fellow Liberals feel the same.

May 15, 2009 6:09 PM  
Blogger RuralSandi said...

Rat - concerned about namecalling? Cons should clean their own doorstep first - Lieberals, Iffy, Count, etc.

Harper may like Canada but he sure has US envy and is trying to make Canada like the "old right wing GOP".

May 15, 2009 6:59 PM  
Blogger wilson said...

Guns in our Streets.

Hidden agenda.

neo-cons want to destroy medicare

knuckle draggers will take away women's rights
chain women to the kitchen

'heh Harper, do you love Canada?

Warren Kinsella started it
with Stock Day and Barney the dino. re-hired him, so don't tell me Libs are not going to go dirty with Kinsella whispering into your leaders ear.

May 15, 2009 7:12 PM  

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