Playing dice with the Country
A famous quote from Albert Einstien's debate with Niels Bohr, challenging Werner Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle. (thank you Wikipedia) The Uncertainty principle as described in Wikipedia is "sometimes called the Heisenberg indeterminacy principle, expresses a limitation on accuracy of (nearly) simultaneous measurement of observables such as the position and the momentum of a particle." Einstein had a problem with the theory and had wanted to establish hidden variable theory.
I am not a physicist, nor do I pretend to have a great grasp on the discipline. However, when I look at the current state of my country's government the words "Uncertainty Principle" just keep running through my mind - albeit, completely out of context. Many people I know want this minority government to work - minorities have occasionally worked in the past and were a great way for opposition parties to influence policy. However, The Liberals are tired, scandal ridden and untrustworthy. Even if the Gomery Inquiry acquits the Prime Minister of any wrong doing when he was the Finance Minister in Jean Chretien's government, Paul Martin will almost certainly face severe voter backlash. (though I doubt that his party will be decimated as badly as the old Progressive Conservative Party)
I was initially just going to say that Stephen Harper - the Conservative Party leader - was playing dice with the country, but really the dice were being rolled much earlier. The Sponsorship Programme aimed to keep the country whole by keeping Quebec Seperatism at bay, but the resulting scandal may just split the country apart. Canadians are fed up with the pork barreling and patronage that comes part and parcel of our political system. The only PM who tried to do away with patronage appointments and pork barreling was Joe Clark who, aside from only holding office for six months, was trounced out of his party's leadership during the 1983 Tory Leadership Convention. People seldom bring up the fact that Clark was unpopular within the Progressive Conservative Party because he tried to avoid corruption - in fact few people have ever heard that about Clark.
Clark was replaced by Brian Mulroney, a man who wheeled in the extra troughs and for "Uncle Brian's All You Can Cheat Patronage Buffet". It was a return to the status quo and then some in those years. Mulroney and his Conservatives fell sharply out of favour with the Canadian public, paving the way for Liberal domination under ace political hack, Jean Chretien. Preston Manning's upstart Reform Party took the place of the Tories proclaiming it was time to "clean the plaque out of Ottawa". (They even handed out dental floss with that slogan attached to it at election time)
Jean Chretien, a creature thoroughly of the Ottawa status quo, did nothing to end the patronage and corruption in Ottawa. He did a great deal to help his political allies out and the sponsorship programmes were just one way. Pierre Trudeau, like him or not, had a vision for a strong Canada and I believe he desired to become PM to that end. Chretien only seems to have been interested in the power and the priviledge the position would grant him: like it was his reward for the years he put in being Trudeau's toady-ish yes-man. I believe Canada was a distant fourth place in Chretien's order of priorities.
Chretien left the PM's office a ticking time bomb for his long time political adversary, Paul Martin. Some observors have stated that the PM tried to do damage to the office in order to pay-back Paul Martin for his disloyalty, keeping him in a permanent state of damage control. Knowing Ottawa's Old Boy Network would protect him as it had protected Brian Mulroney before him, (eg - the Airbus Scandal) Chretien could sit back in retirement comfortable for the most part and comforted by the difficulties he had created for Martin.
Rolling Dice. Chretien , a staunch Federalist, gambled with the security and well-being of the country just to spite-fuck his nemesis. Chretien's action may well prove to be the undoing of the Canadian Confederation. But it doesn't end with Chretien and the Liberals. Stephen Harper is doing his best to hurry this country towards its dismantling, though i am sure he doesn't see it that way.
Stephen Harper has never been more popular than he is right now. The country is feeling regicidal and Harper wants to ride that wave right into the PM's seat and 24 Sussex Drive. Recent polls showing that the majority of the Canadian public are in favour of letting the Gomery Inquiry finish before calling an election have slowed him down somewhat, but I doubt that it will do so for long. Harper is willing to hop into bed with Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Seperatist Bloc Quebecois, in order to topple Martin and the Liberal Party. Given that this new Conservative Party has no standing whatsoever in Quebec (Chretien had lured away the old Quebec Tories into the Liberal fold) and the party they came from, The Reform/Alliance Party, was openly hostile to Quebec - what hope could they have of keeping La Belle Province in Confederation? Harper, as the Alliance leader, had previously stated that he didn't really care whether or not Quebec stayed or left the country. The recent Conservative Convention in Montreal was supposed to help draw the Quebecois back to a Conservative Party to give them another Federalist option. Instead, the convention just reinforced the alienation between the two demonstrating the majority Alliance/Reform Party contingent's distain for Quebec.
What is Harper's hurry? If Martin is as guilty as he seems to contend, then why not wait for the Inquiry to validate his accusations? If Martin is lying about his participation in the sponsorship scandals and he states that he will be vindicated by the Inquiry, wouldn't it be best to allow the Inquiry to run its course? Even if the Inquiry implicates Martin of misdeads in the Sponsorship Scandal, might it not be best to stave off an election in order to develop a strategy to defeat the Seperatists and defend our Confederation?
Harper is playing dice with the country. Even if he wins he's still rolling snake eyes for the rest of us.
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