Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sides and Subjects

The thing about governments is this: they're supposed to look out for their people. That's one of the key differentiating factors in the whole public/private foofaraw, as the private side of the equation is supposed to extract as much wealth from the people as said privateers can get away with. Really, though, that's an idealistic view of government, and governments rarely live up to the ideals. Still, though, I'd appreciate it if they pretended to care.

But of course they won't.

Case in point: the upcoming Labrador by-election, which in nine days may well introduce a new splotch of red into the House of Commons. From the 2011 election until March it was represented by Conservative MP Peter Penashue, who resigned due to his campaign accepting more than twenty-five illegal campaign donations--and yet he's running for his old seat in the by-election, because why the hell not? Still, for my purposes that's a sideshow--and, considering the Pierre Poutine scandal, hardly unprecedented. No, what really drew my attention was one of the quotes in Globe and Mail article about it.

"Labradorians have a choice, [Penashue] likes to say: a voice in government for the next two years or another loud but ineffectual opposition member." Or, in Penashue's own words: "I think [Labradorians] will decide that it is much better to be on the government side than to be on the opposition."

That really gets to the core of it, doesn't it? I know there's a long tradition in Canadian politics as viewing the Opposition as a collection of windbags who have nothing better to do than obstruct the government--I mean, it wasn't that long ago when the Bloc Quebecois was the Official Opposition; remember them? Whether Conservative or Liberal, once a party carves out a majority government, the last thing they want to do is give consideration to the other side of the House.

But it's bullshit.

What infuriates me is when politicians treat politics as a game. That's exactly what I'm getting from this: a sense of "us versus them," and if people go with them instead of us, the people will be punished, even if it's just being frozen out of the system. Which, in a democratic country like this one, is bullshit. I, as someone who voted for a non-Conservative party, do not get to freeze the government out of my life. If I didn't pay my taxes, they wouldn't just let it slide. This attitude is that of the people as a resource; a resource the government can tap whenever it wants to build billion-dollar gazebos in Muskoka or to send mailouts attacking Justin Trudeau, paid for with taxpayer dollars.

I can sum it up a different way in light of what I've observed. If you live in a Conservative riding, you're a strong, proud, citizen with a strong voice in government; otherwise, you're just a subject. Here's hoping you paid your taxes, fellow serfs and peons.

PS: it's been two years since the election that propelled the Conservatives to their majority. Only nine hundred and one days to go until we find out if they can manage to keep it.

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