The Most Dangerous Game
We’re going to do something a little differently today. Normally I shy away from talking politics on the blog. People (presumably) come here for entertainment so I try and keep things focused more on that than the nitty, gritty world out there.
But things change and sometimes you just have to type some words about it.
2016 was a year of many things. We saw some rather… unexpected outcomes across the world. Some were jubilant. Others were anxious. At the very least, a number of people and countries were hurtling towards uncertainty. Because at least that would be a fun change from what we normally have.
Up here in chilly Canada, we’d been warming up to our newly elected Prime Minister. Justin Trudeau has been, essentially, everything that Stephen Harper was not. He was young. He didn’t have hair plucked from a Lego man. He led the red party and not the blue. Even more amusing, and after a number of teeth grinding years beneath Harper’s Conservatives, he was the spawn of the more polarizing politician Pierre Trudeau. I wasn’t around for Papa Trudeau’s tenure but I have family who were and, suffice to say, they weren’t big fans.
But Justin was saying all the right things and playing all the right notes so that people were generally willing to overlook this admittedly irrelevant quality. There’s no point in tarring the son for the actions of the father, as they say. I think they say that. I also wasn’t around for the age of tarring people.
I’ll go out and say it though, while many in Canada and the rest of the world were swooned by Justin’s flowing locks, I was hesitant. While I considered him a step up from the prior administration, his handling of Bill C-51 was, at best, amateur. I don’t expect many people to be aware of this bill, least of all most Canadians, but it was our northern version of the far more discussed Patriot Act that implemented a number of concerning powers to overstep citizen’s privacy in the name of federal security. Bustling little Trudeau vowed to address the more sticky parts of the bill should he be elected (holding the bill hostage, I suppose) while the rest of the minority parties outright argued against its disingenuous and dangerous precedence.
Well, news flash, here we are two years later and there’s still no peep from wittle Justin and his lovable band of diverse misfits over addressing the tightening of state power over citizens’ lives. A broken campaign promise? From a politician? Why I never.
I suppose it could be still in the works and Justin just hasn’t gotten around to it. He has been pretty busy with his townhall meetings across the country, don’t you know.
But I get it. Politicians lie. They just want your vote and they just want power. We can’t really trust them after all. But be sure to show up to the ballot box to make the one you’ve arbitrarily chosen like your sports team so that those even worse lying other guys don’t get to take the government and invariably implement what they promise to do on the campaign trail.
Because, as it turns out – and quite contrary to Liberal apologists – most politicians actually make honest efforts to implement their platforms. A Rutgers study in America by Gerald Pomper found that between 1944 and 1976, winning candidate’s implemented two-thirds of their platform. What doesn’t pass is usually due to obstruction by other representatives and not due to the candidate blithely pitching their words away before the eyes of a cynical public. Hell, even President Obama managed to address seventy percent of his 2008 and 2012 campaign promises and he faced six years of hard Republican obstructionism in congress (which accounts for twenty-two percent of his broken promises).
This scepticism of campaign policy is not only unfounded but can be rather dangerous when people elect politicians on the basis that they don’t believe said politician will deliver on their words but pursue some fantasy platform held only in that voter’s own mind.
Thus, we shouldn’t shrug our shoulders in acceptance when a politician does brazenly, boldly and bald-facedly break a key plank in the platform.
Hello, Justin. Please tell me again how 2015 would be the last election in Canada under the First Past the Post system.
You see, the Liberal Party of Canada spent quite a bit of air time telling us how they were going to push through electoral reform if they were to gain power. I mean, they kind of had to since both the NDP and Green party were banging that drum pretty hard and let’s be honest – the Liberals are not ever going to win an election unless they can somehow convince NDP and Green voters to begrudgingly give up parties they actually support to hold their nose for the Liberals at the ballot box.
You see, it wasn’t that Justin Trudeau walked on stage in glitter and beneath spotlights wooing the Canadian public. He won the election because, quite frankly, there was a massive grassroots effort to replace Stephen Harper with someone – anyone – and people would work together to see that goal realized. I think the Liberals walked away from their majority win (on 38% of the vote) with this delusion that they had somehow converted the majority (well, barely a third of voters) to their side.
Thus, nearly out the gate, the Liberal government has been trying to kill electoral reform. I’m not going to repeat the sad display they’ve put on over this. I will repeat the highlights, however:
“We don’t have a mandate despite you voting for us being a good enough mandate to enact all our other policies. So we’ll put together a consultation committee to see what people want.”
“Oh shit, why do you want Proportional Representation? Wait, this is a recurring conclusion founded by all parties, too? It’s only our party representation that’s now arguing we should take some time after the next election to implement it instead of putting it forward now? You know what, we just simply haven’t heard from enough people.”
“Why do people keep bringing up our own committee’s recommendation for electoral reform. Look at this equation they used to measure the accuracy of election results to the vote totals. That’s math! Math is too hard!”
“Look, we’ll put out the world’s most misleading and disingenuous survey to get people to finally admit that they secretly want Ranked Ballot and not Proportional Representation.”
“Oh shit, that didn’t work. Fuck it. You’re not getting reform.”
Kristy Kirkup at the Huffington Post wrote a great summary for this about face from our inglorious leader on why he was turning his back on his promise. Now was not the time for such reform. He feels its not within Canadian’s self interest to have reform. He fears “extremist” voices getting seats in the government and propped up Kelly Leitch as his boogeyman.
Well, surprise Trudeau, but Kelly Leitch could very well be the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. What are you going to do then? Ban her from running? Or is it that you’d actually rather run the chance of dangerous “anti-Canadian values” individuals getting top billing of your closest rival in the hopes of tarring them in future elections to keep your power?
And tell me, how is playing chicken with hateful, anti-Canadian rhetoric and beliefs in the best interest of Canadians?
If Trudeau legitimately wanted to safeguard Canadian values then it would be to open up proportional representation. Please, let Kelly Leitch run her own party. If she doesn’t represent the majority of Canadians she’ll get a meagre portion of the votes and end up with… what? Two or three seats? On the other hand, if she does represent Canadian values, then she’ll have to convince nearly 50% of Canadians that we’re all xenophobic assholes willing to throw our history, heritage and values in the garbage to bang some misleading drum about Islamophobia… errr, sorry, Barbaric Cultural Practices (TM).
But what you’re doing now is safeguarding nothing. You’re casting the dice, hopeful that Canadians will take her hateful words at face value and run back to the ballots to put you in place to keep her at bay from riding a minority of votes to a majority seats in the government. You’re basically asking us to support you, a self admitted liar and turncoat, to not believe your words but to believe your enemies. Because their words are scarier.
And you’re just a weasel trying to maintain control.
As it stands now, I’m looking at two big parties and neither represent Canadian values. And, news flash, but we don’t live in a two party system no matter how much you’d like that. There remains alternatives for me to choose. And those alternatives have historically siphoned off your votes leaving you in a helpless position to do nothing but watch as “anti-Canadian” advocates dismantle the country you profess to love. And it’s not like you even promised to enact Proportional Representation. You promised to end our broken First Past the Post where just about any other option would be better. Thus, I can only conclude that you’re keeping our broken electoral system (as described by you) simply because you think you can profit off it.
It’s a gamble and the most cynical one at that. And should the Conservatives not elect the boogeyman you’re hoping they will, I’ll shed zero tears if this blows up in your face.
Because it should. You’re not a normal politician, Justin. At least an honest one would have actually kept their word.