Talking about politics


Like you, I suppose, I was up much too late last night watching the Alberta election on twitter.  Today I fought to stay awake despite the warm air and sounds of the rain on the windows all day, New Brunswick having entered some kind of tropical rainy season.

In other poli-sci news, I see that the apparently shameless Michael Ignatieff was on the BBC warning the Brits that if Scotland separates from the UK, Quebec will surely follow suit (Québécois being famous for emulating Scots... or something).  Ignatieff highlighted the damage caused by previous Quebec referenda by pointing out that Canada had given the province power over things like natural resources, health and education - showing himself to be a political contemporary of Lord Durham and somewhat less than up on the BNA Act (gawd help the U of T). At first, I thought he was lamenting the good old days when Liberals could get elected by stoking fears of Quebec's imminent separation, and then riding in to save the day.  (If I understood the Sponsorship Scandal hearings correctly, the last round of pro-independence bill boards in Quebec were almost wholly funded with the aid of the Liberal Party of Canada.)  But now I'm wondering if he's testing sound-bites for a run at leadership of a Scottish political party. Certainly, he could be no more a stranger there than he was in Ontario when he first came striding up out of America's bright lights in hopes of becoming PM.

Locally, we're approaching a round of municipal elections with the electorate in a wonderfully angry mood. (I hope for great things.) The most recent run of our small, free community newsmagazine Around the Block did a great job of identifying wards and candidates, as well as explaining elections in a general way. (Did I mention my hopes?)

I see the French - the ones in France, not in Quebec - are voting in a run-off election for their country's leadership. It's a contest between austerity and sanity, and the good guys may well win. Yesterday, the newspapers told us the stock market was showing "jitters" over the outcome, but it was mostly just trying to scare French voters back into the arms of Nicolas Sarkozy and the Germans.

Most of Europe's countries are experiencing heavy economic and fiscal strains. Given the up-coming centenary of 1914 and the 30 years of war that followed, this is something we might choose to pay greater attention to. A century ago, the first of two Balkan Wars took place on the Balkan Peninsula in south-eastern Europe. Fall-out from the second war led to World War One. (Did you know that over the past few weeks Russian troops have massed near Iran's northern border in apparent response to US threats to invade that country? Did you know the aircraft carrier Independent just moved into the Persian Gulf?)

Well... my point is, there are some interesting things going on in politics and society. And with so much of it as near as the internet, small wonder I'm short on sleep.

But not everyone feels that way.

angry mob at frankenstein castle

When I announced to my class the up-coming visit of a mayoral candidate, I had to preface my remarks with a bizarre warning that I would send home the first person to tell me they "hate politicians" or "couldn't care less about politics." This apparently psychotic threat was necessary because, invariably, my every effort to address any current political issue is met with a chorus of boos, imprecations and denunciations effectively drowning out my voice.

This is not the case when I bring up John A. or the 1982 constitutional changes or how someone gets to be prime minister.  My learners don't seem to be inconsolably exasperated with dead politicians or the mechanics of our democracy.  But let me mention a living, breathing representative of the people, and they instantly transform into a torch-wielding mob....  but never a vote wielding mob! Why never a vote wielding mob?!

Well, it's not hard to understand. Robo-calls and inflated pensions. Broken promises and cuts to social services. But, really, I don't think it's any of those things. I think it's altogether too great a faith in right-wing, anti-government American infotainment.

American infotainment.  Like when that Ignatieff fellow came up from Harvard to be our PM. When what we really need, I suppose, is more Rick Mercer.


Maria said...

Oh Wendell - you hit the nail on the head yet again... how did you so perfect your aim??
Thank you

Wendell Dryden said...

Thanks, Maria.

All due to a mis-spent youth, I suppose (mostly listening to CBC Radio's Sunday Morning).