New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Canadians went to the polls yesterday to place their ballots and elect a new government, or at least some of us did. And at the end of one of the shortest election campaigns our nation has seen, one that was called against the government’s own laws, under the affected premise that the government (which was not sitting at the time, on break) that had accomplished everything it set out to accomplish was terminally disfunctional, Canadians are left with one thing that’s new.

The bill.

Elections aren’t cheap. In fact, they cost a great deal of money. Sure, they pale in comparison to the elections held to the south of our border, but so do most things Canadian in size and scope. All the same, a great deal of capital and currency is expended in an election, which is just one reason why elections should never be called in haste or without good reason.

By that standard alone, this latest Canadian election never should have happened.

Stephen Harper put into law fixed election dates to avoid just such a situation, where a government calls an election to capitalize in the short term on a perceived political advantage that might spell the difference between gain and loss. Of course, they built in a clause that allows that the Governor General can override the rule. This was most fortuitous, and no doubt done with forethought, because the Conservative government realized that with an election pending in the US that would likely see the political tide turn left, their cause would be best served by having an election first. They just needed an excuse, but excuses are never hard to find.

So they produced a handbook for their members on how to disrupt the parliament as much as possible. I kid you not, there was such a document. And who better to write such a tome than the party that so effectively, if childishly, disrupted the affairs of government when they were in the opposition, effectively grinding all pusposeful business in the waning days of the Martin government to a complete halt?

So, they had their excuse and their means of skirting their own law. Really, anybody paying attention would realize that the Conservatives passed all the laws that they really wanted to pass, were not opposed in their agenda, and were not even in session when it was deemed that their efforts would be hampered by a disfunctional parliament. Anybody paying attention would realize that they engineered their own demise.

But, then, who the hell really pays attention?

And nothing has been accomplished, either. Sure, the Conservatives have 18 more seats than they had going into the election last night. But they are still a minority government. They are already talking as though this will be short-lived. The Liberals lost seats, but they knew that would happen; Stephane Dion might be a bright man, and a nice guy, but a strong party leader he is not. We’re in the same situation as we were a little over a month ago. I’d say that the only thing that’s different is the cockiness of the Conservatives and their fat, sweater-wearing leader, but that’s an old story as well.

We haven’t moved forward, we haven’t moved back.

We have, on the other hand, become poorer.

The cost of Harper’s election? Between 300 and 350 million dollars. This means that for each seat gained by the Conservative government, to no real great effect in practice, Harper has cost the country over 19 million dollars. And, what’s more, this is done at a time when people are watching the global economy get kicked in the nuts and tea-bagged while it’s down. Perfect timing to be wasting a third of a billion dollars.

But, you know what’s sick? We’re happier for it. Sure, lots of us didn’t turn out and vote (the poorest turnout in national history.) But the rest of us are already trying to put a happier face on the situation by parroting the lines fed to us about disfunction and the necessity to strengthen mandates. We eat everything the Conservative have pawned off on us up and regurgitate it back out like good little glassy-eyed lemmings. And I’ll say today what made me sick about the last election, and the last two I witnessed in the US: it’s sickening how stupid we have become that a good soundbite, an affected smile, dirt-slinging and bald misinformation are unquestionably accepted as gospel, and that we are too stupid to see through it.

We get what we deserve. One day, maybe we’ll reailze that.

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