Sunday, October 22, 2006

Finally

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061021.wbloc21/BNStory/National/home

That’s what I’m talking about. This is the reason I decided to vote for Duceppe in the first place. He is in his element, proclaiming sovereignty not only for the province, but also from the current leadership in the House of Commons. He has successfully gone on the offensive against the Merry Harpers and at once he has divided the Liberal party on a contentious issue at a time in which they don’t even have a party leader. I was looking forward to this kind of grandstanding from my favourite troublemaker, but I wonder if one piece of the pie is missing, or currently part of a top-secret strategy that will only become apparent in coming months.

The Harper Conservatives are now and have always attempted to win over not only the voting perspective, but the hearts and minds of their constituents as well. This hasn’t worked well for them until now, and now was the perfect time. The Liberals were on the saddest chicken run I have ever seen in my lifetime and Harper knew that the only way to get that many people to even consider the conservative platform was to hammer away at the Liberals publicly over and over and over. Privately, something very different happened. In the small congregations and religious gatherings across Canada, the conservatives went on a door knocking, direct-mailing frenzy and goddamit they gathered the people. For anyone, myself included, watching media coverage of the election, it didn’t seem even remotely possible that Harper could gain control of the country. The only hint I got was from the bizarre and often contradictory polling that showed him pulling ahead regularly. The problem with that, at least from my standpoint, was that the people doing the polling were asking questions comparing Harper to Martin rather than asking about Harper’s leadership per se. Remember kids: he’s led nothing! He won nothing before this election and my firm belief at the time was that they would make a good run for it, show the Liberals (who I had pegged to win with a minority) they needed to shape up and Harper himself would be re-schooled in the first lesson of electoral politics: you need to win to play. Sadly this did not come to pass. The Conservatives won in a ridiculous guard change that left me baffled and more uneasy than I have been in many years. The thing that didn’t sit well with me was the amount of seats won in Quebec. This made no sense to me given the Quebec voters history of going with either the person from Quebec or the person from the Party of Quebec. The Bloc has always been wildly powerful here and it truly made me wonder where the conservative vote came from out here. They won seats that the Bloc had been counting on. They are fixtures here and it left my head spinning. Not only could I not see the Quebec voters turning against the Bloc to such a degree, but Harper? No-one please try to tell me he’s “reaching out to Quebecers”, so why would so many of its constituents turn Harpward?

We are a province of Catholics and with the current trend of Conservatives to collaborate with religious groups is where we find the seed. To see where this has worked many times before, you have only to look south at the Roving-Bush-Cheyne. This strategy worked well over and over at a time in which the media coverage of various public speeches, events and party platforms seemed to show both candidates in a sheepish and non-sensical light. The difference though, is that at the grassroots, under the radar, churches and congregations everywhere were hearing the message directly. The internet as well was used to pass around dubious accusations via spam mail that would never be checked, simply passed on. They went further than we have to as our people are used to a different kind of election. There are still high profile new stories about how vicious the recent attack ads have become. We expect a certain level of leadership from all parties, and that includes being able to disagree professionally, without going down ugly roads. This time the ads were vicious, but while we were arguing about the low standards currently used by the major parties, they were in small churches and people’s living rooms. They went low for this deal, way under the mark, and the only way to get Quebec voters to turn conservative after so long was to get into the Catholic heart and mind and set the corkscrew in motion from there. They needed to know there was a candidate interested in Quebec affairs, and the only way to convince dyed-in-the-wool Quebecers that Harper was that candidate rather than Duceppe was to appeal to that sense of ineffable belief. Bring me to Ottawa, and I will lead you home. There hasn’t been an attack like this for decades, and that was the Catholic lobby themselves warning the country against Trudeau. There hasn’t been any need until recently for religion to enter into the political atmosphere. Until lately, our Liberals were atheistic-ineffectual whiners with sad, almost delusional commitment to such laughable issues as Sovereignty, Economic Growth, International Relations and Social Programs. The Conservatives were economic, we all agreed that Health Care and Education were things that need to be paid for and the disagreement tended to come from how to go about doing that. The Reform party and the Alliance were the fringe crazies with witless, though hilarious, posturing on the platform of “I hate you”. This is a new ball game up here. There is a genuine concern over those who are in power if they base decisions on their own religious beliefs. Galvanizing the base via religious gatherings is, I feel, a reasonable place to start. Those Christians for example, who believe in the End of Days and that the time is soon coming for it are less likely to give any credence to the need to curtail greenhouse gases and global warming. They are less likely to take a diplomatic and diffusatory position in the Middle East crisis, preferring to allow the space “to be prepared for the coming messiah”. There is a reasonable doubt in leadership of people who believe these things and more over, who believe that these credences should form public policy. Will Layton be able to stand up to that kind of irrational belief? Will he be able to convince the current company that he is a working-man’s working man? Of course not. Not if the Catholic churches remind everyone in their congregation Sunday after Sunday that there is merit to considering the life after rather than this one. Will Iggie sink to the same level and try to play the game of Rove? Of course he will. He can be almost the same leader as Harper with only slightly more charisma, and a party affiliation that at least has more fun on the weekends. If he wins the leadership, there won’t be a difference between the Liberal and Conservative Party and attempting to choose one or the other will result only in a dilemma equal to that of a poorly written sit-com.

Gilles, get your ass out there! Don’t leave us hanging with no-one to scream, no-one to set a hard line, no-one to remind us that we have to do something here on earth, in this life. You and I have not agreed on several tacs you have taken thus far, but I like what I hear today. You are one of the last few who can and will take a hard line, but you need to address your constituents. It is two years now since the election happened and don’t think there haven’t been events and gatherings since then. The next election could cost you even more unless you reach back inside and take back the base into the fold. I don’t agree with separation. I am a Nationalist who voted for you because I want Harper to have the hardest possible time doing anything in this country. I want every initiative he presents to be met with extreme suspicion, criticism and counter initiatives. I want someone to make appealing the idea of standing up in the House of Commons to him. I want him to dread the prospect of over-turning the gay marriage law, I want him shaking in his boots at the idea of involving ourselves any further in a nonsensical war in the middle east, I want him grappling with bladder control at the very thought of even the most minor adjustment to our Healthcare system. You are one of the few. No allies and a party dissimilar to any other in this country gives you the independence to make this thing work, but you have to get back your people, and give the conservatives not a hope of getting one more seat on the grounds that the next life will be better with them in charge of this one. I’m counting on you Gilles. Bloc them.

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