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THE 43RD SUICIDAL REVOLVING DOOR WALTZ: THE CANADIAN PASTIME OF VOTING STUPID

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. – James Bovard

Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender.– Keith Ellison

Frank A. Pelaschuk

On October 21st, nothing will change. That’s a guarantee. Canadians will vote liberal or conservative but, with recent revelations regarding Justin Trudeau, conservatives may now have the edge. With a few exceptions, voters will look to no one else as they have for 42 elections and one of those two parties will take its place to govern the nation as they have for 152 years. The 43rdwill hold no surprises not even if and when the new party of anti-immigrant sentiments with a membership largely of discontented racial and religious intolerants led by a disgruntled former conservative member of parliament takes a riding or two. If that happens, most of us will cluck, say that’s an aberration, that’s not Canada, that’s not who we are. Others may demur, say It is, but let’s not dwell on it, at least we’re not Americans. We puff up our virtues and ignore our deficits. While I hope not, I know Canadians will vote stupid this time too doing the same old same old saying, perhaps even some believing it, though how if any had a brain, “We have no choice but to vote for one of those two; voting NDP or Green is a wasted vote.” The only thing wasted is the source of such utterances. What makes it worse is we have a system that, in almost all instances if not all instances, permits 35 to 40 per cent of the vote “for” to outweigh 60 to 65 “against”. Yet we refuse to embrace a system of voting used by almost every democratic nation whereby every vote counts. Occasionally, politicians will offer hope of change as did Trudeau then proceed to sabotage the promise, as did Trudeau, when it is apparent the outcome will not go as they would have wished.

With every campaign, the promises are bigger and better than the last as are the lies we swallow and the bitterness we experience with each broken promise and whopper exposed. Nothing will be new, better, more open or more transparent nor will voters experience shame any more than previously for their role in this sham song and dance of the revolving door that allows entry to members of only two parties at the exclusion of all others. Before long, after the results are counted, some may feel used – for a microsec – with the victorious politician claiming vindication while the losers, wounds licked, begin planning for the next kick at the can. Next time will be better, just wait and see. For a spell, voters will plant themselves in a corner and examine the cheap sparkly baubles that bought their votes and be content for a time not wanting to admit to themselves, at first, they’ve been had once again and for so cheaply in the same old way with the very same stale promises and often by the same smooth-talking snake oil tinhorns. When they finally do admit what happened, and when the rage begins to boil, they nod and tell themselves in three, four or five years, they can hardly wait, they’ll do it all again only this time, this time, it will be different.

It never is, of course. We see it now, politicos on the hustings spending billions in promises to be broken and slinging mud. You’ll hear the chorus of voices, liberals, conservatives, greens, Bloc, the NDP, the PPC wanting your vote and donations. But the majority will hear only two and opt for the one over the other. Things will be different. Hope has no more limits than stupidity.

Oh, yes, in your heart of hearts, after ten years of mean-spirited conservative rule, you ached for change, or so you told yourself. You grew tired of Stephen Harper and gang, tired of ten years of endless efforts to slip laws buried into omnibus bills in hopes they’ll go unnoticed and heartily sick of conservative efforts to rig elections with robocalls, of illegal campaign spending, of skirting election laws, of attempts to disenfranchise voters and to weaken the scope of the Chief Electoral Commissioner’s ability to investigate suspected election fraud. You had enough of Harper and Jason Kenney, his then minister of employment, pulling off such stunts as encouraging companies to hire foreign workers under protection of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program at 15% below that of Canadians doing the same work. You had enough of them lying about it and lying to you and you wanted to believe that Trudeau and the liberals would not only be a refreshing change but also new, different, better, more open and transparent exactly as they promised and exactly as Harper promised for all those years before. But in your heart of hearts, did you really believe they were new, better, or held any promise? Or where you simply too scared to look beyond those two parties in whom you have always put your faith and who have always failed you? Could you not even bring yourself to look at the NDP or the Greens, to open you mind and hearts and hear them out, perhaps even believe it possible that, this time, it just might be different? Certainly you’re not tired of saying that to yourself because you’ll do the same again.

Of course, you couldn’t, wouldn’t. You have closed your ears, minds and hearts, ignored your better instincts, preferring the easy seduction of the tried, tired and unfaithful succumbing to Trudeau’s slick charm and boastfully grand promises only to quickly find out how consummate a manipulator he and his crew were and how little they really believed in the vision they offered. Not only did they lie about almost everything, they were often shameless enough to admit they had no difficulty in walking away from some of those promises as the Prince had when he tried to stack the committee looking into electoral reform, “the last ever first-past-the-post” he had gushed 2015. But when stacking the deck failed, Trudeau worked even harder at undermining his own program saying Canadians “were no longer interested” without offering evidence of such. Maryam Monsef, then minister of democratic reform, and her replacement, Karina Gould, were thrown under the bus, Monsef for saying the committee members hadn’t worked hard enough (i.e., to find a reason to offer Trudeau’s preference of electoral reform) which led to a public storm of anger and Gould for finally being the one driving a stake through reform’s barely beating heart after a brief, final pretence of working towards reform. Trudeau was not only unapologetic for betraying the promise, he boasted of pride in doing so at a town hall meeting. Unfortunately, since electoral reform was his baby, the one he was so loud in promising and promoting, he demonstrated exactly what he is when the initiative was killed off. It was not the father, not the creator, who killed reform or announced its death. Instead, he allowed two neophyte members, females at that, to carry that burden and take the fall for its failure. Jeremy Thorpe might have been thinking of someone like Trudeau when he wrote: “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his friends for his political life.” That would not be the last time Trudeau would do such.

In the past, I have posted my long-held belief that the Trudeau the public sees is all façade. I have never believed what I saw and was puzzled why others were so blind. It was not just his reversal on electoral reform but his loud, boastful announcement that electoral reform would happen that set off alarms. There was too much swagger, too much boast, too much smug assurance. I hoped he would let it happen but did not believe he would. With that, all doubts of him as a phoney, if I had doubts, were swept away.

But his secret fundraising meetings, the efforts made to hide them and the lies he uttered to justify them and then later retracted, his lax attitude towards conflicts of interest by senior members of cabinet in contradiction of his own orders in his so-called mandate letters troubled me not only because they happened but because they happened so early into his first term as PM. He was found guilty, twice, of ethical breaches. The had never happened to a PM before. The first for accepting a free helicopter ride from the Aga Khan while on Christmas vacation. Later, we would learn the Aga Khan foundation would receive additional taxpayer funds in the millions for another five years. Then came Trudeau’s efforts to pervert the course of justice and undermine the independence of the Director of Public Prosecutors, Kathleen Roussel, when he sought to pressure the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to intervene in the trial of engineering giant and Quebec-based SNC-Lavalin for bribery and corruption. It is this scandal that offered a totally brutal take of Trudeau and the lengths to which he would go to not only ensure the health and welfare of Big Business but also of the liberal party fortunes. Heavily lobbied by the company, Trudeau slipped the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) into the 2018 Budget. The budget was presented as an omnibus bill a practice made an art by Stephen Harper and roundly condemned by Trudeau who vowed to bring to an end because it allowed governments opportunity to sneak laws into legislation in hopes the public and the opposition would not notice. Well, that was another promise broken and for those with a propensity to do things in the dark, such as Harper and Trudeau, it is an excellent tool to accomplish what you hope no one discovers. As a consequence of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, Jody Wilson-Raybould, in refusing to intervene on behalf of the company because the independent DPP believed there was no grounds to not proceed with the trial, was shuffled to Veterans Affairs. She was the first First Nations member and third female to hold the role of Attorney General and Justice Minister; the shuffle made no sense and surely would risk the ire of the indigenous community. When she resigned from cabinet, she was followed by Jane Philpott, recently appointed as President of the Treasury, in solidarity. Trudeau wasted little time in undermining both women, questioning their loyalty (to him and the party) and their abilities, particularly that of the former Justice Minister. Once again, two cabinet members, again women, experienced the brunt of the fallout, their political careers in tatters all in the service of Justin Trudeau who had lied throughout the scandal about what he had and had not done. Wilson-Raybould and Philpott have survived, their images enhanced. Trudeau? Not so much.

Trudeau has often and loudly been boastful of his feminism and points to his gender balanced cabinet. That’s good. But does that really bolster his claim? Not if one looks at how he treated MPs Monsef, Gould, Wilson-Raybould, Philpott. Nor does Trudeau fare any better when we look back to when Trump’s so-called “Pussy Tape” recording became public during the American presidential campaign. Trudeau was offered two opportunities at the least to prove his credentials as a feminist when asked to comment on Trump’s vile, misogynistic remarks. Trudeau refused to unequivocally condemn them saying everyone knew his approach to feminism. Yes, we do. He uses feminism as a flag to be waved when he stands to benefit. But because he was in the midst of the NAFTA negotiation and knowing Trump’s propensity to strike back, the loud feminist retreated; the flag went to his pocket. Then it gets worse. A news story broke of a past event involving Trudeau and a female reporter. While attending a music festival in British Columbia in 2000, Trudeau, 28, was accused of groping the reporter. He apologized, according to an editorial in a local newspaper, saying, “I’m sorry. Had I known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward.”!!!

So, it was wrong because she was a reporter. But it suggests that if the woman had been Ms. Nobody from Nowheresville, he may have acted differently. Well, that didn’t hurt him but the latest reveal from a Time magazine article on September 18, 2019 of him wearing blackface for an Arabian Nights themed gala in 2001, may result in a different outcome. While prompting a response of apology from Trudeau, who did admit to other instances of wearing blackface, this episode has thus far not prompted him enough to do to himself what he demands of Scheer.

Throwing mud goes both ways but shows most noticeably on those who pontificate from some absurd and lofty aerie on their virtues that later prove far less than advertised.

Human rights? Same thing. By Trudeau’s light, such concerns can also be played with. The health and welfare of business interests, masquerading as a duty and desire to protect Canadian jobs, has been and is a major preoccupation for the liberal leader especially if the jobs are in Ontario or Quebec and Big Money is talking. So, it is no stretch for Trudeau to go against UN sanctions and to disregard Canada’s own laws regarding trade with one of the worlds worst human rights abusers by signing off on the Saudi Arabia $15 billion Light-Armoured Vehicle deal involving about 3,000 Ontario jobs. The deal, begun by Stephen Harper’s conservatives, got the liberal pass with Trudeau offering all kinds of phoney excuses for putting human rights on the backburner. When challenged on this, Trudeau, sounding much like the pampered brat caught with his hand in the cookie jar defiantly offered several takes: the deal was already a done deal; my hands were tied by the previous government; I didn’t want to risk Canada’s reputation as a trading partner that can’t be trusted. It’s not my fault, that bad man Harper made me do it.It’s about Canadian jobs and votes and liberal fortunes in the polls, not so much about saving Canada’s trade reputation. Jean Chretien had little trouble breaking a lucrative helicopter trade deal when he was in office. Canada took a hit in penalties with its reputation as trading partner relatively undiminished.

Trudeau knows all the right feel-good buttons to push. He oozes charm and sincerity. But there is a darker, more unpleasant side to him which occasionally forces its way to the surface. And that side is deeply disturbing. I am not convinced he is a racist as some suggest but I do believe he is extremely arrogant and lacks sound judgement and his failures in this have been too many.

SO, ABOUT THOSE OTHERS  

But if Trudeau is stooge for corporate interests while at the same time appealing performer of feel-good slogans and promises for the masses swayed by surface glitz rather than ideas and deeds, if he is a shameless hypocrite with fluid ethics, is Andrew Scheer, Stephen Harper lite, a better option? For ten years, he was a member of Harper’s cabinet and, as such, the most common and best thing said of him was that he smiled at lot. As the Speaker of the House, always smiling, he was less than objective, once even suppressing documents for several weeks, regarding requests from the Chief Electoral Commissioner that two candidates temporarily step down while investigated for campaign expense irregularities. As opposition leader, he has an uncanny knack for bitching about everything without ever coming up with an idea worth hearing let alone even consider. For him, the exposure of the Trudeau blackface photograph must seem heaven-sent offering him the pleasurable experience of schadenfreude. If so, let him enjoy for a bit but he best not rely on that alone to win the confidence of voters to hand him the top job in Canada. For Scheer and the conservatives have filth of their own to shed.

In 2015, Stephen Harper’s conservatives, of which Andrew Scheer was a prominent if undistinguished member, campaigned stoking the flames of fear, suspicion and hatred seeking votes by any and all foul means possible the most notable and offensive of which was the promise of creating the Barbaric Cultural Practices snitch line targeting you know what group. It was disgusting and it was racist. Conservatives clearly had no qualms at the time to appealing to the worst instincts in us and I can recall no conservative voice, let alone Scheer’s, raised in denunciation of such a program. Instead, as we watch Scheer’s campaign during the first week, we see that, again, conservatives have decided wallowing in the gutter and appealing to the worst is better than ideas, light and air. Once again they campaign with the tactics of thugs smearing opponents with stories filled with lies and misinformation when not completely fabricated: Trudeau schmoozing with Faith Goldy, the white supremacist alt-right fan and former employee of the Ezra Levant anti-immigrant Rebel Media; Justin Trudeau prepared to accept child killer and pedophile from the U.K.; the RCMP confirming Trudeau is under investigation regarding SNC-Lavalin. During the Harper years, the conservatives spent too many years in the sewer. Evidently, they are reluctant to leave the warren they call home, though, it must be said, the liberals also seem to prefer muck from the same swamp. The videos of conservative candidates mouthing anti-immigrant and racially intolerant views is the past, made public by courtesy of the liberals, need more than slaps on the wrists. Such views seldom go away, even with maturity. Yet those candidates have apparently received a free pass from Scheer. All they need do is say, “Sorry”. Evidently, it’s okay to be a bigot as long as you’re quiet about it – for now. Hardly surprising from an individual who cut ties with the anti-immigrant Ezra Levant Rebel Media only when he was shamed into doing so. That, alone, should be reason enough not to cast a vote for conservatives.

I have no quarrel with Elizabeth May and the Green Party whom the media insists on painting as leftist and progressive. If that is so, I am Mahatma Gandhi. While I do support her climate change concerns and laud some of her proposals, I find myself unable to trust Ms. May herself. Early in her campaign, when asked whether she would allow members of her cabinet opposed to abortion to revisit the issue, she struggled seeming unsure of her own party’s stand on the matter saying she would because she had no power in the party to whip them or to silence them though she would attempt to persuade them not to raise the matter. Hours later the Green Party issued a statement that there was “zero” chance of abortion being raised even though it was true the leader has no power to whip votes. For the Greens, all candidates must support the party line of the right of choice for women. That May appeared rattled by a question simply presented and seemed not to know her role offers no assurance that her narrow focus is sufficient reason to recommend her to lead a party let alone a nation. I foresee a further unraveling of the Green promise in which so many are willing to place their hopes as she and the party become subject to greater scrutiny. The Greens have been very influential in Europe and have often proven themselves more pragmatic than principled: they make promises from the left but, once elected, often side with those on the right. I cannot trust them and have no reason to thus far.

I have little to say regarding Maxime Bernier leader of the newest Canadian party of bellicose wedge issue politics that draws the self-indulgent malcontents and wallowers of victimhood and haters the way light does moths. It is doubtful that there is a finger pointer, racist or immigrant hater that he would turn away. If Bernier has anything of worth, they are as clear as the mud under the shoes he wears and in the ideas he and his supports espouse. To me, he offers no credibility though I know some yahoos may find his thoughts appealing because, as conservatives often do, Bernier seeks to exploit our worst instincts. It’s not a party of hope or opportunity but of victimhood and despair, anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-tolerance. Allowing him to partake in the election debate serves no useful purpose but to validate the rampant paranoia of its core supporters.

As for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP, I do have high hopes. The NDP is the party of hope, opportunity and possibility. Though I suspect that, articulate and talented and full of ideas as he is, he doesn’t have a hope of leading the country. Canadians will not say it, would likely even deny it, but many, far too many, will not hear him out, will not listen to him, will not even see him. All they will see is his turban. He and the NDP are full of ideas and almost all doable. True, they will cost money but they will also benefit every segment of society particularly those who have the very least. We all benefit and if it doesn’t’ put money in your wallet as conservatives and liberals promise, it will not cost you as much when your well-being is protected head to toe. With the NDP platform everyone will have a share of a better life and the very wealthy will finally be accountable for paying their fair share. Singh is not a perfect man. I am still unhappy with how he handled the matter of Erin Weir and Christine Moore. Weir deserved better and I hope that day comes. But Singh has been, thus far, the only one talking ideas, speaking of healthcare and societal needs with a real plan to take on climate change, affordable housing, potable water for our First Nations community. I have not seen nor heard him or the party slinging mud but stating facts. That’s legitimate. But look at him and his response when the issue of Trudeau’s blackface pictures came to light. Unlike Scheer, who denounced Trudeau, Singh almost immediately and before the media, addressed the nation rather than Trudeau and talked of the personal experiences and the hurt of being a target of racism. Thus far, he opted to talk of intolerance in broad terms rather than use it as a hammer against an opponent who, years ago, committed himself to doing an incredibly offensive act not once but several times. This is a man who, during the debates and on this terrible day for an opponent, behaved in a way that, dare I say, was prime ministerial.

Canadians will on this 43rdelection be offered the opportunity to commit to real change. They had it last time and many other times in the past. They refused to dare, to challenge themselves and the status quo.

It is not enough for voters to say they want something new, different and better. It is not enough to say you want politicians who are decent and honest. We must seek them out and open the revolving door so that it allows all members from all parties to walk through them. Doing what we have done for the past 152 years 42 times with expectations that outcomes will be different without recognizing other possibilities meets Einstein’s definition of insanity

We imagine ourselves thinking beings capable of change, real change. Let us prove that we are. Look at the conservatives and liberals. Do you feel you are better off? Are you not tired of health and education being used as footballs to be kicked around, tinkered with while the sick and elderly overflow hospital hallways? Why have no liberal or conservative governments moved to provide our First Nations people with better housing and drinkable water? Why have they done nothing about housing the homeless?

Just look at the NDP and Greens but more closely at the NDP. Consider them in their totality. We cannot just go with a party of one issue but a party of inclusion ready to work on all the issues that must be considered for a fully functioning society and a better life for all. The day after the blackface story broke, I received a copy of a Jagmeet Singh letter. I offer an excerpt: “There are millions of people in Canada – kids, young people, newcomers to our country – who have been bullied, hurt, attacked, and insulted because of who they are. These photos bring that into focus. 

I faced racism growing up. And I dealt with it by fighting back – sometimes with my fists. But not everyone is able to do that. Many feel powerless – intimidated into a sense of not belonging.

I want to say to the people who’ve felt that pain – you are loved, you have value, you have worth – and we can and will do better for you.

Today I want to ask Canadians not to lose faith in our great country. The last 24 hours have been difficult and so will the coming days. But, remember this – you belong, and together we can fight for a Canada that rejects racism and discrimination. Together, we can fight for a Canada where we are celebrated for who we are, and where we take care of each other.”

What do you think? Look at Mr. Singh again. Ignore the turban, open you mind and heart and hear him, really hear him. You may be pleasantly surprised if you open the door to the NDP and the Greens. You may also be disappointed but you, at least and at last, will have dared to expand your horizon and see a little more of what good things await you.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

 

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About Frank A. Pelaschuk

I am the author of two works of fiction reviewed by Brian Porter, author of Lonely Together and The Atlas Proxies. He called the novel, Serpent in the Garden, "A convincing, seductive tale of coming home to the enemy". Of Ambiguities of Love in Six Stories, he wrote, “Moving, intelligent, and thoughtful storytelling." Both works are available on Amazon as soft cover or e-book where the full reviews also appear.

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