Ring the bells that still can ring
forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything.
that’s how the light gets in.
-”Anthem,” Leonard Cohen
It was supposed to be the same old same old.
But from Parliament Hill I hear the distant sound of shredders being cranked up as the Conservatives start to consider the unthinkable. The numbers don’t lie. It looks like the Conservatives may be tsunamied by the country’s progressive forces. Sing it loud! Coalition!
Quebec can be like that – think the Action Démocratique du Québec in 2007, the Mulroney Conservatives in 1984. When Quebec decided to throw out the Liberals in 84, they elected so many “poteaux” that two newly elected Conservative members of Parliament showed up to work at the National Assembly in Quebec City, and not three hours down the highway in Ottawa. It can, and does, happen that a massive wave washes across the political landscape.
In this case it is hard to know whether this will translate into seats. But suddenly in ridings where they have been completely inactive, NDP candidates are second and climbing. The Bloc vote seems to be collapsing, and the Liberals are not lifting off, despite very credible attempts by Michael Ignatieff. Ignatieff was graceful and funny on Tout le monde en parle on Radio-Canada on Sunday. That show is like a political gauntlet for politicians. Jack Layton did a good job the week before, but Ignatieff surprised, winning over the heart of one of the biggest stars of the Quebec star system, Dominique (Dodo) Michel.
This amazing state of affairs could mean seats, maybe a lot of seats, for the NDP, and even a few for the Liberals. It could also mean splitting the vote, to the benefit of the Conservatives. It is really hard to call. “Ça se corse,” as they say.
LIES, LIES, LIES
It could be and should be a good swift kick in the shins for the Conservatives. No one has seen this kind of political party before. This kind of right-wing libertarian populism has never held sway in Ottawa.
These Conservatives tried to tell us that if the opposition gets together with more seats than the Conservatives, that “reckless coalition” is the equivalent of a communist plot.
Yet their own party is a coalition of Conservatives and right-wing Reform and Alliance parties, born from the lie that there would be no coalition. Peter McKay told David Orchard there would be no merger if Orchard supported him as leader. And as soon as McKay was elected, a closed-door deal was struck, with the Reform Party swallowing the Conservatives.
After that lie, in 2004, Harper himself sought a coalition with the Bloc (“the traitors”) and the NDP (“the socialists”) to try and take power, and now they lie about that too.
Remember, these are the people who have begun talks to create a Fortress North America, with the Pentagon calling the shots. A clear example is the multi-billion-dollar stealth fighter they have promised to buy. The Taliban attack with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) costing a few dollars to produce, we plan to hit back with shock-and-awe fighters. And when they miss, we kill God knows how many women and children.
Harper has called Canada a second-rate socialist state, and so much does he loathe medicare he refuses to actually say the word. As a mark of deliberate disrespect for the public system, last summer Harper kept his Health Minister away from the annual convention of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). Only five years ago Harper was president of the National Citizens Coalition (there’s that word again), whose stated aim was to get rid of medicare.
Their contempt for Parliament is unsurpassed. It’s little known that Parliament defeated a fishing treaty that was basically giving away our fishery to the Europeans. The next day, the Harper Conservatives signed the treaty anyway.
It was the same with the Kyoto accord on climate change. The Liberal government signed it. The Conservatives have done their best to sink it, even as climate change is upon us with formerly unheard-of storms around the world. The fact that the Conservatives reject the science of global warming is unsurprising. Their Minister of Science is a creationist who has been taking the axe to grants for serious science.
The international community once regarded Canada as the honest broker, the people who won the Nobel Peace Prize for creating peacekeeping. Now we are shunned at the highest level, and denied a seat on the Security Council.
It goes on. The Tories crush grants to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work with the poor and the voiceless, like native women, and lie about it. They poured a billion dollars into security for the G8 and G20, a party with a fake lake for the world’s richest countries, and lie to Parliament about the obscene costs.
When thousands of ordinary Canadians rose up in protest, they incited violence and attacked the demonstrators, conducting the biggest mass arrest in Canadian history. They arrest almost 1,000 people (about 300 were from Quebec) for trying to make the point that Canadian interests aren’t being served at these clubby meetings.
It’s unrelenting. They cheated about secret political financing and then lied about it. They gutted the census. Why? Because it delivers uncomfortable facts. Such as the fact that the crime rate is dropping like a stone while they want to build more prisons and imprison more Canadians.
Pace. Peace. Vox populi, vox dei. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Vote. If the trend holds, the New Democrats and Liberals combined will have more seats than the Conservatives. Maybe it is time to unite the left. After so many years of darkness, here comes light!