Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another Week in Pogoland

I swear, if you put that little fedora on his head, shove a cigar in the corner of his mouth, add a bow tie, in Stephen Harper you have an eerie likeness to comic strip iconoclast Pogo. After all Mr. Harper seems intent on living out one of Pogo’s most famous aphorisms – “we have seen the enemy and he is us.” First he destroyed any hope of a majority in the last election by his gratuitous attack on the arts community in Quebec, a position from which he had to retreat only after it was too late to prevent the flood of voters back to the BQ to collect the Get Out of Jail Free Card handed out whenever the Feds propose anything that might impact on Quebec culture or a permanent stall at the pork barrel.

Seemingly having learned nothing from that experience and faced with a humbled impoverished and leaderless Liberal party resigned to a long minority role, Harper was overcome with hubris as he formulated his economic plan. Instead of focusing on the major economic issues, Harper foolishly triggered a potential constitutional crisis that has confused and angered the voters and caused the international community to scratch its head in bewilderment.

To save the taxpayers $1.95 per head, or $30 million Harper chose to risk the $300 million dollar cost of an election that would surely follow shortly upon the heels of the failure of a coalition spawned from the witches' brew of Liberal, NDP and separatist ideology.

Of course, this latest imbroglio only confirms that political leadership in Canada defaults to the panjandrums. It makes me less proud to be a Canadian as I watch Ignatieff, Rae, Dion and Layton prance about like characters in a Moliere play. If only Alan McEachern weren’t dead, he could join the cabal with Ed Broadbent and Jean Chretien to produce a convincing argument that would sway the vivacious but vacuous Governor General to appoint a coalition government.

But who would lead this coalition she might be prompted by an aide to ask? A mere detail, let’s get rid of Harper first and we will figure out the leadership issue quickly enough. As long as Jack Layton gets Finance he could care less which of Rosencrantz Rae or Guildenstern Ignatieff wins the coin toss for leader. As for Gilles Duceppe he will be content to prance about in the background like a crazed Mick Jagger in his Jumping Jack Flash persona, giddy with the sight of another tear appearing in the fabric of Canadian society.

The first order of business for such a coalition should be to adopt a new national emblem - the rainbow - as was proposed by Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbiniere in 1865. In support of its appropriateness as Canada's emblem he wrote: "By the endless variety of its tints the rainbow will give an excellent idea of the diversity of races, religions, sentiments and interests of the different parts of Confederation...By its lack of consistency - an image without substance - the rainbow would represent aptly the solidity of our Confederation." (First Things - Vol 188, p.64 Dec 2008)

Solidity without substance - how perfect a description of Canada in times such as this.

Robert Musil wrote, “the problem of civilization can be solved only by the heart. By the appearance of a new type of man.” Mr. Harper needs to drop the Pogo disguise if he is to be that man.