This article was originally published by the Forget the Box news collective a few days ago.
If there’s one thing I love, its getting caught off-guard and surprised, especially when it comes to Canadian politics, which I generally find infuriating, pedantic and riddled with pseudo-scandals. The events of the past couple weeks, instigated by the Québec justice minister and subsequently supported by the Premiers of Ontario and British Columbia with regards to the Tory ‘omnibus crime bill’ have restored my faith and hope in Canada, if for no other reason than it presents real leverage against Stephen Harper and once again places Québec in the driver’s seat with regards to social policy.
Suffice to say, I’m not a fan of provincialism in general, and I feel that part of the source cause of societal imbalances within Canada has to do with the fact that key elements of our social-state are devolved to provincial administration. Thus, there are inequities within Canadian provinces concerning the quality of healthcare and education. That said the provinces are not independent in any real sense, unless they choose to act in solidarity with one another; at that point, the provinces can wield a veto power even an autocrat like Stephen Harper cannot deny. This particular federalism, which allowed for our Charter and Constitution inasmuch as it prevented its final ratification, is as Canadian as beavers (or polar bears if Senator Nicole “has-too-much-time-on-her-hands” Eaton has her way). And whether you like it or not, Québec’s liberal government has just handed the ‘minority-majority’ Harper Government its first major setback. The provinces will not foot the bill of new prison construction nor prosecutions under an amended criminal code. Without the support of the provincial governments, the Tory Crime Bill may amount to little more than a lot of noise. We should be so fortunate.
What I find particularly interesting with this development is just how quickly an ‘unholy alliance’ was formed between Québec, B.C. and Ontario. Three provinces that hold the bulk of the population, the major cities, the key industries not to mention the overwhelming bulk of ‘multicultural Canada’, modern and internationalist in outlook and disposition. Inasmuch as Québec proclaimed its conciliatory federalism via the Orange Crush, so too have these key provinces demonstrated that they would rather not sell their souls and turn their backs on progressivism, nor on Canada.
Is it me or does it seem some important decisions in this nation have been made ‘for the common good’ from some of our great pillars of individualism? By hook or by crook we will find the bonds that unite us, and if it requires an autocrat to unite Canadians in opposition, so be it. Eventually my hope is that Canadians recognize culture should not be confused with nationalism, that society requires socialism, and that a pan-nationalist social-democratic state is stronger because precise legal concepts are used to define the values, rights and responsibilities of the citizen. Our system is deficient, and I’ve often ridiculed it because it seems designed to be inefficient. The funny thing is that people like Stephen Harper, inasmuch as the Bloc Québecois and Reform Party, came to prominence because of the perception of too much federal power. And today, it comes full-circle, and Canadians can stand proud knowing that when it comes to efforts to undermine our progressivism and the rule of demonstrable, factual evidence, no autocrat can resist the combined power of the provincial governments. What is brilliant is that it unites three embattled and only moderately popular premiers on a key social policy issue – there isn’t much Harper nor the CPC can do at this point aside from engaging in election styled propaganda and smear campaigns. It would be futile.
Today I feel slightly re-energized. The doomsday scenario of an unbridled and potentially mentally unstable Prime Minister running amok tearing out the guts of our society in an attempt to redress a mass inferiority complex seems mitigated by the collaborative strength that I feel best describes Canada. It’s an affirmation of some core beliefs in a time of malaise, uncertainty and instability. And so now the people must rally behind the progressive provincial governments and secure the change we desire. There are five provinces with Liberal or NDP governments and two with ‘Red Tory’ Progressive Conservative leaders – something tells me they may be able to define a better social agenda through consensus than a ‘majority’ government elected by a scant 24% of the eligible voters.
It’s time the power was shifted back to the people – the current situation is no longer tenable. If this means the people rally behind their provincial governments to cooperate with one another to create a more perfect state, then let it be. It is entirely appropriate for Québec to lead this effort against the Harper dictatorship, and this is only further demonstrated by the immediate support of Ontario and BC. In a land ripe in paradox, contrasts and societal and political absurdities, it was very refreshing indeed to see the eccentricities of our system providing the people with direct and effective means to redirect our nation back onto the road towards peace, prosperity and progressivism.