Monday, September 19, 2005

What (40% of) Canadians Want

Good news. Our 3 main federal parties seem to know what we all want:

"That would be a confidence vote by definition," Mr. Layton told reporters. "I can tell you where we're going to stand on that one: firmly opposed, as will the vast majority of Canadians."

Liberal MP Fran├žoise Boivin (Gatineau, Que.) told The Hill Times that although the Liberals will be ready if an election is called in the fall, she speculated that it's highly unlikely. She said that if the opposition parties tried to defeat the government in the upcoming session, they'll have to face public backlash because Canadians want to see the two Gomery reports before they cast their votes.

Conservative House Leader Jay Hill (Prince George-Peace River, B.C.) told The Hill Times that he can't prejudge what his party will do in terms of trying to defeat the Liberals before Justice Gomery reports. "Every day is a new day," he said. "We take everything one at a time and weigh everything day by day to see if it's in Canada's best interest. Our intention is to wait until he reports because that's what Canadians want."
Heh. Such a cheap and easy political out, as if Canadian opinion on any issue were so clear cut. Frankly, they are often divided almost straight down the middle. Our MPs would do well to read the latest Leger Poll. One telling example: opinion is divided 45 - 41% on whether the Opposition should defeat the Liberal minority this Fall.

I am tired of listening to this ridiculous substitute for a lack of any argument on the correctness or desirability of a given position. Our stance is correct not because it has merit, or is principled, but because it is "what Canadians want". At least Layton attempted to qualify his usage with the words "vast majority", though I venture to say his assessment is still starkly wrong.

This is the level of debate in Canada these days - plain assertions backed up by a self-assurance that basically the entire country is on side. Perhaps that is the mindset that develops when it only takes 40% of Canadians to gain complete control over the workings of the federal government.

Put that way, it makes sense. So next time you hear a federal Canadian politician blathering on about what Canadians want - just add the 40% in front. It rather explains why both sides could make opposing statements and still technically be accurate.

How embarrassing. But neither the media nor the population demand anything more. There is a true poverty of discussion on ideas, and the country as a whole is the worse for it. Still no real new thoughts, plans, or proposals on healthcare reform - from anyone - 102 days and counting since the Chaoulli SCC case. Don't worry though. As the Prime Minister so heartily reminded us in the days after the ruling, "We're not going to have a two-tier health-care system in this country... Nobody wants that."

Easier to avoid tough questions/decisions if you deny something's existence, I suppose. But you can throw your "politics of achievement" out the window.

Alas, for leadership. If only we could import the British press for a few months. They'd at least delight in ripping these pretenders to shreds.


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