Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Has Canada Fallen Victim to Political Compression Disorder?
A PostMedia column, "Obama's Election Victory Won't Hurt Harper," by Michael Den Tandt today struck an uncomfortable chord.
NDP leader Mulcair has proven stubbornly resistant to Conservative attempts to paint him as a wild-eyed Trotskyite, aching to pass laws mandating straw-bale houses and kelp diets. The phrase "competent, responsible public administrator" is never far from Mulcair's lips.
This is as finely calibrated as any slogan ever has been to resonate deep in the amygdala, the lizard brain, with which we choose our leaders.
As I have said before, Mulcair's Oct. 24 foray in the House of Commons on Bill C-45 was a master class in political rhetoric. Anyone who reads it will see he is avidly courting the centre - not the left and not even, particularly, the centre-left. He's after Harper's crown jewels. In this light, Mulcair's "Dutch Disease" thesis, pitting Ontario's limping manufacturing economy against Alberta's oilpatch, is the weird, discordant note. Don't be surprised to see him gently sidle away from it as the months pass.
And now there's Trudeau, also courting the "middle class," even more avidly than Mulcair.
The great risk to Harper is not that Trudeau promises to upend Conservative economic reforms; it's that he promises to uphold most of them, while offering himself as a more attractive character, with a more open, inclusive, engaging style of government.
There seems to be an incredible compression underway in Canadian politics. Yet without the broadest political spectrum the vision essential for healthy democracy is blinded and we wind up with a black hole capable of sustaining only technocracy.
Harper is a technocrat, albeit with suppressed theocratic instincts, and those who chase after him almost certainly will follow his course.
Can Canada as we have known it survive without a strong Left and a strong Right, each pulling at the Centre? Surely it's the vision we get from this broad and dynamic political spectrum that draws attention to the real needs and problems facing the country and our people, both today and in the future. Submission to the political compression of centrism and technocracy, championed so effectively by Stephen Harper, causes us to overlook and bypass the problems and challenges that are coming our way.