I'm waiting. Provincially, federally, I'm waiting for someone, anyone, who has a vision.
Politically, we've become all about the agenda of electability. As the freshly minted parliament shows, elections going forward will be less and less about issues and more about which campaign is safest. The winner is the team with the best short soundbites and the catchiest of catchphrases. We're a poorer people for it.
People talk about leaders. We don't have many. We have an assortment of the most popular guys in their individual parties, or the most powerful. When the liberal party attempted to advance a leader who may have been a leading thinker, he was villified and marginalized so badly he couldn't even get his message across during a campaign. If anyone believes this is a one-shot deal they're nuts. Once politics descends into the level of sport we will get increasingly bad government. We get the equivalent of the WWE, except the ticket costs us a hell of a lot more and we can't choose not to attend.
Because of managed, win-at-all-costs politics, Canada has slowly evolved (or devolved) into a group of angry regions. Because of political expediency, long standing grievances have been used as goldmines of support. In every region of the country, in modern elections, people bring up things that happened decades ago, maybe centuries ago. Truth and reality don't matter, it's how you manage the message. While, in the short run, this crap will allow you to gain power, it disregards the degradation of the natural things this country absolutely must depend upon to survive as an independent nation.
By geography, Canada is the second largest nation in the known universe. By population, we're California, dude. Unlike smaller countries that can succeed with division because of population density, we don't have that luxury. Canada has succeed most in the times we've all had to compromise. It led to confederation. It led to western expansion. It led to a national railway. It led to a trans-Canada highway. It led to a Canadian identity. It led to Canadian health care. It led to repatriation of the constitution. It led to the charter of rights and freedoms. It led to rights for women, for recoginition the gay community were not freaks who were waiting to prey on our children, it led to recognition that we have two founding populations who have much to learn from each other.
What have recent, and what do modern politics bring to us? Marginalization of Atlantic Canada (unless we keep finding oil whereupon we will become quite important). A whipped up frenzy in Quebec that, somehow, the rest of Canada is "the man" and we are "keeping them down". If they really honestly look at the situation, if they think French is marginalized in Canada, imagine going it alone, floating in a sea of people who no longer need to accomodate an increasingly small minority. People in Quebec have been led to believe if they "choose" soverignty, it's just a "sign the papers and we're off" deal and everything remains the same. Naive in the extreme. I'll get hate mail for saying it, however, it is the truth. In the West, they've spent years whipping up the "east is out to get us" sentiment, with a great degree of success I may add. This ignores the fact there are things east of Ontario and Quebec, however we in the east are used to that. Ontario now is being whipped up with the cries of "we've fallen on hard times and everyone is ignoring us" which seems to be successfully catching on (welcome to the world of Atlantic Canadians, but not really). As soon as they can figure out a good reason BC should be pissed off at everyone else, the fracturing of the nation for partisan political gains will become something historians will marvel at for generations to come.
From the moment of confederation, one part of the country has received more of the benefit than another. As different resources become more important, economic activity can shift, fortunes can change, haves become have nots and vice versa. The only thing that will allow this vast, diverse, sparsely populated country to survive and thrive is to come together, to cooperate, to share our good fortunes when we have them and know we can depend on others to give us a hand up when it's our turn to need it.
While the politics of division work well for the sole purpose of gaining power, the polarization of the population will be the ultimate downfall. If you spend all of your focus on what divides us the ultimate result we be an inability to agree and where does that lead? Not where the builders of this country had ever envisioned. Not what I envisioned. But vision seems to now be something one should heap scorn upon.
When was the last time a leader had an idea or ideas that worked for Canadians from coast to coast? Who has tried to advance Canada above their own personal lust for power? If convincing people to vote for you to "teach those other bastards a lesson" works you can bet it's a tactic that will be used for immediate gain without a care for the long term consequences.
Maybe I'm alone in wanting a different Canada. Maybe we Do want to be like Americans, living in a polarized society where ideology means you should hate your neighbour and distrust everyone. It's not the Canada I grew up in and it certainly isn't the Canada I want to grow old in.
My kingdom for a visionary.
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Mark McCaw ~ twitter's @bigpicguy
Author of "Insights Inside a Mind" ~ blogging the big picture