You should know I brewed lots of strong coffee this morning. Fasten your seatbelt.
Until recently, as in a decade or so ago, Canada was this big empty place that didn't get paid a lot of attention. The famous Canadians you can name, Commander Hadfield excepted, live in the United States because you had to go there to play on a bigger field. Canada had a good, if vague reputation as a nice place to live, and was seen as a good player on the international stage.
Just after the second world war Canada had one of the biggest navies and a very well respected military. Over the decades it became a barely running joke. Our current submarine fleet is only a theoretical thing, since they can't go under the surface. The surface ships make the news because they've been taken out of service, or sunk as an artificial reef.
The Sea King helicopter recently passed the 50 anniversary of entering service. Think of that for a moment. How many of you are 50 years old? I once heard a helicopter service company rep describe helicopters as "an assembly of parts flying in really close formation." These helicopters have been flying in all sorts of weather on missions where lives are on the line, and not just the helicopter crew. They probably require more maintenance hours than flying hours now.
It's not like this is a surprise to anyone, but how is it our government can't buy suitable helicopters? How hard can it be? Helicopters are complicated things, true, but the operating envelop is well known, and there are lots of choices. You build your requirements, and you take your pick. But wait, it's the political requirements that take priority. Right. That explains everything.
The previous Liberal governments were seen as hostile to the military. Harper made hay with this, promising to properly fund the military, and buy better supplies. Some of that happened, it's true. But what else happened? Dig a bit deeper. Offices that serve veterans have been closed. The Harper government has spent $700,000 in court, trying to avoid supporting wounded veterans, saying they have "no special obligation."
I'm ashamed of my government for that. While I disagree about the efficacy of military solutions in many cases, we have to keep in mind these veterans did what they were told to do, as best they could in difficult circumstances. Most of them would say they weren't just serving our government, but also a higher cause, opposing various forms of extremism. We effing well DO have an obligation to them!
That brings me up the longest election in modern Canadian history. It's gone on and on, and to be truthful with you, I've tuned out from time to time. A small matter of Penn West laying off a third of it's staff, including nearly everybody I know there, has distracted me just a little. Yes, I'm still there. This week. Every time I think about it, or look at the political news I get more depressed.
We've all known that the behaviour in the House of Commons is a disgrace. Behave like that in any other workplace, provincial legislatures excepted, and you'd be fired on the spot. And that's before Stephen Harper became the first Prime Minister in history for being held in contempt of Parliament for not providing it legally required paperwork over the lies they were telling about the F-35. And that's before the various Senate scandals, many of which involved Senators named by Harper. And before losing a bunch of cases in the Supreme Court, where Justices he appointed find against him, because he was trying to do things that were clearly against the law. What does that tell you about Harper?
Is there anyone that thinks it's appropriate to pee in a coffee cup and dump it down the sink at any time, let alone when you are in a private home to perform work for the homeowner? I thought not. We all have to deal with bio-pressures, and I had thought that we had all been taught polite ways of asking where the toilet is. I guess not. I think it's telling that a person that would do that, would also think that running for office under the Conservative banner would be a good idea.
The phone prankster is just juvenile, which leads me to my next point. There's a concept called "grown-up."
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." I had thought it was Shakespeare, but it turns out to be the bible.
It's a concept that seems to be lacking these days. Not just in politics, but in movies and other popular culture. This isn't to say that a fart joke can't be funny. They can be, in the right time and place. But constructing a whole movie around it seems a little over the top. This isn't to say an adult can't forget their dignity and play with their kids. They should, from time to time.
But holy doodle, is it too much to expect that our elected representatives would behave like grown-ups as they discuss the details of spending billions of our taxpayer dollars? I completely believe it's possible to discuss an issue with people that hold opposing or differing viewpoints. Grown-ups have learned that they can't always get their way. They've learned to compromise with others, to give up some of what they want to get something more important.
The American Tea Party is a group of people that are still emotional two year olds. They want what they want, even if it's stupid or against the law, and even discussing a compromise is treason. They have said they are about to engage in another round of holding their breath until they turn blue, to get their way.
The Harper government is channeling the Tea Party. Harper doesn't want his issues clouded with facts. He only wants what he wants. That's why he muzzles everyone but himself and his carefully prompted minions. Thats why they refuse interviews. They have nothing to say except their banal talking points dictated to them by the PMO. His carefully vetted event attendees are now verbally abusing journalists that dare to ask questions of the Dear Leader.
Consider the thought process of a man who thinks that the long form census is an invasion of privacy, and yet writes legislation to:
- allow his security services to intercept any form of communication between Canadian citizens, without notice, without any meaningful oversight,
- detain people only suspected of a considering actions that might be a crime,
- criminalize speech related to "terrorism", where even discussing why someone might be driven to consider committing a "terrorist" attack, is itself a criminal act,
- allow business interests to muzzle objections to their plans on environmental issues.
I say it loud, and I say it proud, Harper and his Conservatives must go. I want the next government to spend the first few years undoing the omnibus shit Harper did. The economic stability arguments are a red herring, Harper is a poor manager. The security issues are another red herring. More people die in auto collisions in a month, than have ever been killed in terrorist attacks, and Harper's security state actions are not what keep us safe.
Here's some voting advice. First of all, make sure you can vote. Make sure your friends and family can vote. Harper has been suppressing the vote by making it more difficult to do, on the spurious grounds of preventing voter fraud. There is no voter fraud. None.
But Harper is afraid of the electorate. He doesn't want the poor, the young, the Native, the minorities, the environmentalists, the immigrants, or the socially active to vote, because they're likely to vote against him. Why ever would that be? Think about it.
Look at the various ads from people and groups urging you to vote Conservative. Are they like you? Are you a snout in the trough big business? Are you old, rich, male, and white like them? Are you afraid of people that are not like you? Do you think that people fleeing the bombed out ruins we helped cause are really coming here to take away your job? How many generations back was it YOUR ancestors fleeing another country? Native people excepted, we are all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, and most of us not that many generations back. Trying to restrict immigration now, when we desperately need young working age people, smacks of "fuck you Jack, I've got mine."
Neither the Liberals or NDP are perfect voting choices. That's fine. Pick the candidate that seems most likely to defeat the Conservative. Maybe the Green candidate is only half as good as Elizabeth May, vote for them! Whoever it is, even the resurrected Rhino party, will do less damage to Canada than the Conservatives. Don't think about your "traditional" voting habits. The Conservatives are relying on that to split the vote. Lie to the pollsters. Lie to the people calling you and trying to get out your vote if you're Conservative. Be wary of people calling to give you election information. The Conservatives have been convicted of misleading the voters this way. Try to vote in the first advance poll, so if there's a problem you still have time to get it fixed.
This is an important election. Get out and vote! Encourage your voting age children to cast their ballot. If you think your vote is not important, keep in mind that in the recent Alberta Provincial election, two candidates ended up with exactly the same number of votes, 7015 each. A judicial recount decided the matter, and it ended up 7018 to 7012. A total of 3 votes changed. Don't tell me your vote isn't important.