Tuesday, June 7, 2011

proud of my country--but not of my government

I am officially done with mainstream Canadian news, at least when it comes to big papers. I've been reading the National Post for about a month, but this past weekend their conservative tone and the endless comments in which readers dissed and bashed the more liberal people in government (Jack Layton, other NDP/Liberal MP's, etc.) ended up getting to me, and I've deleted it from my bookmarks list. I then spent most of Saturday looking for a Canadian news source that's not so conservative, and so far I'm liking rabble.ca and AlterNet (which is American).

Since I knew that the Globe and Mail had endorsed Prime Minister Harper, I did a Google search--and was shocked to find out that virtually every major paper in Canada, from the Montreal Gazette to the Winnipeg Free Press had endorsed the Conservatives. Including the National Post. And Maclean's magazine (kind of like a Canadian version of TIME). The only papers that didn't endorse the Tories were Now and the Toronto Star (NDP), Le Devoir (Bloc Québécois), the Georgia Straight and La Presse (they endorsed multiple parties), while Le Soleil endorsed no one (I couldn't find any info on either the CBC or CTV). So now, even the majority of mainstream Canadian news sources cannot be trusted to present the news straight up, or to present it in a non-biased way--they all think Harper is just fabulous, and is doing a wonderful job for Canada **gag**. I knew that the days of truly unbiased news had passed, but until I found out that the G&M had endorsed Harper (I found that out during the campaign), I had no idea that newspapers endorsed political candidates.

However, there is a benefit to reading non-mainstream newspapers and sites: sometimes they cover stories that the mainstream is too busy to cover, or deems to be less important/sensational. Plus, now that Harper has his majority government, those of us who didn't vote for the guy (meaning, most of us) have to keep a closer eye on him and his mischief. And let him and the rest of the government know that we will hold the prime minister to account for his actions.

Although I knew that he'd done a lot of nasty/irresponsible things, after reading the stuff on shitharperdid.com, I was rather mad at myself for not keeping a closer eye on Canadian politics in the last five years. During this election, I vowed to keep more up-to-date on the politics of my own country. So far, so good.

The 2011 budget (version 2.0) came out yesterday. One of the things that Harper campaigned on was balancing the budget a year early (2014 instead of 2015), and the Conservative government being the Conservative government, they've decided that the best way in which to get back on track is to (get ready for this) cut spending in places where they shouldn't cut spending. Arts: GONE. Global warming: IGNORED. Filthy rich: GIVEN A TAX BREAK. 80,000 people: UNEMPLOYED. Per-vote subsidy (for each vote that a party gets in a federal election, they earn $2): GONE. And on, and on, and on.

There are many things that bug me, of course, two of them being the fact that funding for the arts (namely, the National Gallery of Canada--as I recall, about half of the people who work there will be unemployed shortly) is being slashed; and the end of the per-vote subsidy. Harper has said that "Conservative values are Canadian values," and that Canada is a "conservative nation." With the elimination of the P.V.S., the other parties (the NDP, Liberal Party and Green Party being the three best-known and popular) will have to rely on donations to survive. Since the Conservative Party is the biggest and richest of all the Canadian parties, they won't have to worry about going under--which makes the slashing of the P.V.S. incredibly selfish and obscene, and threatens to turn Canada into a one-party state. Which is wrong: we are a free country, where the voters can choose who they want to vote for. That freedom of choice is one of the things that sets us apart from, say, Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

And while he's cutting spending in places where he shouldn't, he's increasing spending in others (where he shouldn't): despite the fact that the crime rate has fallen, he's decided to get tough, and build huge "US-style" prisons (which is a model that the US no longer uses). The punishments for those who dare to break the law are going to be harsher (if that word exists), too. And then there are those F-35 fighter jets (engines sold separately) that he wants to buy. Both the prisons and the jets are unnecessary.

But what really drives me nuts is Harper's secrecy. As that line from The Wizard of Oz goes, "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." Or, "pay no attention to the political schemes behind the curtain." But I will pay attention to the schemes that the government is trying to hide from us ordinary Canadians. Harper's got his majority--now he can finally cackle, rub his hand together, and implement his plan to make Canada into a country that the rest of us won't recognize when he's done. **shiver** And, gee, in his victory speech on Election Night the guy said that he would "govern for all Canadians" (emphasis my own)--not just those who voted for him. Well, he certainly won't govern for me.

Two articles on the budget, v. 2.0 that are worth reading:

Budget 2011: Don't look behind the curtain
You can't cut your way to growth

PS: Don't even get me started on the fact that our voting system is unfair--a minority of Canadians voted in the majority of the MP's. First-past-the-post system, you've got to go!

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