Monday, May 02, 2005

Playing dice with the Country

"I cannot believe that God would choose to play dice with the universe."

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.

The opinions, beliefs and perceptions contained within this blog are soley those of me, the owner of The Shining Path, and not of or its affiliates.


Blogger Magnus said...

I rushed to publish this one, since I hadn't published anything in a while.
It may seem strange to people who know me that I would take a Federalist position. After all, I have held that it is the right of any Province in Confedartion to rethink its place within Confederation. In principle, I still believe that. Living in Quebec, however, has given me a different insight. We are stronger as a people for having Quebec with us. This country, I believe, will fall apart if Quebec separates. If Harper allows that to happen, he should be put on trial for treason.

03 May, 2005 00:01  
Anonymous trent said...

Shockingly well-balanced, you know, considering the source. Even your comment here about Harper being put on trial for treason (as opposed to, say Blood Eagling him, which'd be more in keeping with your linage.

Anyway. I suspect we here in BC are in for a few decades of what is happening on a national level if (and it should) the election reform passes. Canadian polititians don't understand how to run minority gov'ts, and I suspect we're in for a whole lot of minority gov'ts. Work together? Agree with the other people? Dialogue (as oppose to just heckle across the floor)? That's a big shift in the way things work.

04 May, 2005 13:56  
Blogger Magnus said...

Despite my lack of confidence in the electorate's ability to reason and make informed decisions, I believe Canadians need more political power - an "electoral shotgun" to put to the heads of the parties in order to enforce cooperation.

05 May, 2005 00:14  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

What is Harper's hurry? Well, the question of whether Paul Martin is criminally implicated in the sponsorship scandal is pretty much irrelevant at this point -- the best thing that can possibly be said about him right now is that he was recklessly, carelessly negligent and incompetent while he was finance minister.

That is the best thing that we will be able to say about Paul Martin's leadership skills once this whole mess is over; it is possible that Gomery will tarnish Martin's reputation even more, but there is no way he can make it better.

So the question is not, Will we find out even worse things about Paul Martin?, but rather, Why should we want Paul Martin to remain in charge of our country any longer than is absolutely necessary, given what we already know about his pathetic abilities?

And given that this current government is in, shall we say, a persistent vegetative state, what compelling reason can we offer the electorate for not pulling the plug on it and installing a government that might work?

I can't honestly say I'm worried about the Conservatives helping the Separatists when it seems the Liberals have done a pretty good job of that all on their own.

07 May, 2005 11:00  
Blogger Magnus said...

The government is a lame duck, but the Inquiry should be allowed to finish because it is the fair and reasonable thing to do. I'm not a fan of Paul Martin, nor would I ever vote for the Liberals, but rushing to topple the government at time so uncertain as this is irresponsible. Harper would seem to be as power hungry as Martin did when he ousted Chretien. (a much more politically stable situation)

"I can't honestly say I'm worried about the Conservatives helping the Separatists when it seems the Liberals have done a pretty good job of that all on their own."

A point I think that I made in the blog, but why push the knife in deeper? The Conservatives seemed to have gone out of their way to alienate the Quebec delegates at their cnvention in Montreal earlier this year. They have consistently failed to gain ground in that province. Given some of Harper's earlier remarks about ring whether or not Quebec leaves Confederation, how confident am I supposed to feel in this man as a leader?
The only hope I see right now is that some of the seperatists I met in Montreal were anything but anxious for another referendum. But there have been debates in Quebec whether a referendum is necessary if both the PQ and the BQ hold the majority of the seats in the province. Many seperatists consider that a vote in favour of seperation in itself.
Quebec is an integral part of our Confederation and I do not believe we can survive as a country if it leaves. If he wins the next election, Stephen Harper could well be the last Canadian Prime Minister, but then maybe that is the distinction he is looking for?

10 May, 2005 11:46  

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