Polygonic

That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Life inside the F-Bomb

“This is a fucking disgrace … closure again. And on the Budget! There’s not a democracy in the world that would tolerate this jackboot shit.”

Pat Martin’s words, as if he had read them from a teleprompter inside my own brain. He got me absofuckinexactly.

What I regret, to a measure, is that I haven’t dropped any f-bombs myself (nor have I used any words at all to express what I think about the world of Canadian politics) for a goodly while now. I’ve let Polygonic go quiet. I’ve turned my mind to other things entirely.

But there’s a reason for it. I was going absolutely bonkers.

Living all the way over in the UK means I live through none of Canada’s particular pleasantries – the rivers, the mountains, the wholesome, giggly demeanour. Yet, by following its political discourse as closely as I can, I do live through everything unlikeable about Canada – the lapdog media feeding its politically-lobotomised audience, the neurosis, the tall-poppy tendencies, and the apathy that allows a government to go from Contempt of Parliament, to winning a massive majority mandate.

I used to think Canada was clued-up and progressive. Now I just see Harper’s lipless smile as he sets about boiling the live frog that Canadian political society has become. (cue sound of me roaring at the moon)

And so, after too much time on the Globe and Mail and too much time crafting ripostes on Polygonic, I finally realised something was going wrong – I had become a self-hating Canadian!

The descent was swift. I now see backpackers here in London with little maple leaves stitched on, visible from every possible angle, and I think to myself what has become an inevitable thought: “what a complete shit.” For theirs is not some brash, bombastic conceit – it’s just a naive, slightly gormless kind of conceit, which I think is far worse. What do you expect people to do when they see your stitched-on leaves? Hug you? Thank you for something nice you are bound to have recently done for the world? Sorry, kiddo, it just doesn’t hold water anymore. Please wake up and smell the rancid Harperian syrup.

I don’t actually hate that neurotic nationalism per ce – what I hate is that so many continue to invest belief in all these dying myths of Canadian exceptionalism, of some ethereal progressive, positive, cooperative approach to life, our inherent sense of fairness. Things people might hug you for.

That warm-fuzzy self-image bears zero resemblance to what we’ve allowed Canada to actually become. What’s so nice about assenting to Harper’s dismantling of our democracy – watching him shut down committees, stuff the Senate with his failed would-be MP candidates, stifle Parliamentary debate, and retreat into this sub rosa, in camera, closed-door presidential system that stinks of unconstitutionality? What’s nice about jets, jails and dirty oil?

So, right, clearly there’s been a fair amount of maple-scented rage welling up inside me. But I’m re-learning how to control it, focus it, like a maple-scented laser beam of goodness. Time to fire off some more words of protest against the saddening decay of a democracy.

Though I’m sure occasionally, as Pat Martin knows too well, there is often only one word that comes to mind.

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Filed under: Canada, Politics

4 Responses

  1. Do you really think that’s unique to Canada, though? From where I sit, it looks like the progressiveness is being drained out of all of the countries I care about, drop by drop. I mean, I look at your current country of residence and shake my head just as often as I do at Canada. Even the supposedly progressive Netherlands is doing some pretty odious shit these days.

  2. polygonic says:

    There is most definitely a rightward lean across a range of Western countres. The more vocal lunatic fringe in Europe, i.e. Nick Griffin and Geert Wilders, has worrying levels of support – though still nothing like mainstream support.

    Comparing mainstream conservatism – electable conservatism – in Europe and North America, though, there are two diferences I notice. One is pure policy. European conservatives like Cameron, Sarkozy and Merkel are on the right fiscally, but they are as socially liberal as Canada’s, well, Liberals. One example: Cameron wants to tie bilateral aid to African countries to benchmarks on gay rights, to the confusion and anger of Uganda. Harper is absolutely polar opposite.

    Leading to the second concern. It’s not the what, but the how. Progressive voters have to accept that conservatives will govern about half the time, or more. But beyond Harper policy, it’s the bullying down of Parliament, the contempt, the closed-door approach, the Senate stuffing, that infuriates – and that Canadian media swallows it is not only sick, but it encourages it.

    Lawrence Martin’s 17 November piece in iPolitics illustrates a range of examples. No European Tory attempting to bypass established legislative process, bypass the press, demonise coalition government as falsely “unconstitutional,” redact entire budgets associated with controversial bills, could possibly hope to get away with it. Up with this people shall not put.

    But the system in Ottawa is corrupted by both laziness and by the deliberate subjugation of our checks and balances. It is unique and almost unbelievable.

  3. Yeah, I’m not buying it. The latest polls are showing Geert Wilders’ PVV as competing with the VVD for the top level of support–and that’s a trend that’s been there for a while (in fact, they swap back and forth, back and forth as the top party). Yes, because it’s the Netherlands with its zillion and one parties, that still only means a rather low percentage of support, but if they come in first in the next election, Geert Wilders is still prime minister. It’s UGLY. I am way more worried about the Netherlands right now than I am about Canada.

    What you’re calling “electable conservatism” is actually not doing very well in most of Europe, which would be sort of encouraging if it weren’t for the fact that so much of their ordinary support is bleeding to the fringe. And even the “electable” conservatives (like the main governing party in the UK currently) are accelerating austerity policies at a rate that I think even Harper would find alarming (not because he doesn’t agree with them ideologically, of course, but because he’s the king of incrementalism and would probably prefer to see them take several years to do some of the things they’re doing so that it’s more likely to stick).

    I’m not defending Harper, of course. His union-busting policies are particularly odious and disconcerting, and I’m really worried about the CBC. But from where I sit, the disease is pretty widespread these days.

  4. P.S. Where you are right, of course, is that there is a uniquely Canadian distaste for proper democracy, and the Canadian public not knowing enough to give a damn about that. But you seem to be lumping that together with policy preferences, and they’re really not at all the same thing. Most European countries still have proper functioning democracies, and that is a wonderful thing. But they’re still freaking right-wing these days.

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