I’d like a few things for Christmas this year.
I’m patient, and I wouldn’t expect such gifts any time too soon either. But if somehow these wishes come true in 2014, perhaps my faith in humanity will be restored. But like I said, I’m not holding my breath…
I’d like the mayor of Montreal, Mr. Denis Coderre, to fight corruption and waste and leave Montreal far better than how he found it. Talking tough about fighting corruption is one thing, but I’m fairly certain me and my co-citizens want to see real action this year. We want to see heads roll, we want to go to sleep knowing we have a mayor who is working tirelessly to break the bonds of collusion and organized crime. Am I asking too much? No, I don’t think so. I think all we really want is for our mayor to do the one job we need him to succeed at.
By contrast I’d like the disgraced mayor of Toronto to disappear into the Canadian wilderness, never to be seen or heard from again. He’s done enough damage to this country’s brand, let alone the City of Toronto, for several lifetimes. This trash doesn’t belong in the halls of power, any hall of power for that matter, but I can’t help but think Rob Ford’s remaining support comes from those still irked by the ‘Toronto-the-Good’ image. Get over it, Mr. Ford has given the entire world a poor impression of a once great city.
All elected politicians in Canada, regardless of whether they serve municipally, provincially or federally, need to understand this key point:
Getting elected does not grant you the honorific of ‘leader’.
Getting elected doesn’t even mean you have leadership skills.
There is a profound dearth of quality leaders in this country, especially among the ranks of various ‘province-first’ parties and the whole mess of Conservatives, be they former reformers or previously progressive.
It would be nice to see some politicians this year actually using their apparent leadership skills to get work done, rather than simply throw mud back and forth.
And I’d especially like to see the Tories realize the immense difference between leadership and bullying. They have no idea concerning the former and only seem to know the latter, and much like Toronto trying to escape their former identity, the Tories want to sell you on a tough guy image, like they’re not taking anybody’s crap and we should all be grateful.
Government by bullying is what we have, and the Tories have been slowly eroding away at the foundation of our nation’s democratic tradition for seven long years, making their style of governance (or lack thereof) somehow de rigeur. I’d like to see the Tories pull back from the brink and at least try to build consensus with opposition parties.
I’d like us to reject American-style politics.
More on the Tories; I want them to stop insinuating the Federal Liberals are trying to turn my kids into drug-addicts when they’re proposing sensible, cost-effective and above all else ethical solutions to the drug problem. Similarly, I’d like them to stop telling me how great the economy is doing when it’s very, very clear the economy is so far from being in good shape. I suppose I’d like them to stop treating me like an idiot. Me and every single other Canadian. And I’d really appreciate it if the Prime Minister came clean about the Wright-Duffy Affair. And for the whole party to stop insinuating the NDP is a closet separatist organization. Or that Jean Chretien actively tried to destroy the Canadian Forces.
In sum, I wish our politicians would stop lying to the people so blatantly, so constantly. I can’t ask for politicians to be honest – that would be asking too much. So perhaps I’m just begging for a bit of subtlety and decorum.
On the provincial side of things, I’d like Ms. Marois to shit or get off the pot.
Almost weekly we hear the ministers of her cabinet disparage Canada and the Canadian ideal, and further insist support for QuÃ©bec’s independence is growing. Is it? Well if it is, do something about it. I half-wish Ms. Marois calls a referendum because I don’t expect the Tories to be terribly well-positioned to succeed in advocating for federalism. I half expect the Tories wouldn’t do much of anything at all – no overtures, no rallies, no media-blitzes etc. Rather, I think Mr. Harper and his merry band of fools would take the tough guy approach as if to dare the province into seceding.
And this concerns me greatly; not so much that I can anticipate the Tories doing nothing to keep the country together, but what they might do if QuÃ©bec splits.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I think the pÃ©quistes are aware of QuÃ©bec’s reality, and despite their rhetoric they know damn well separation isn’t going to fly – not now, likely not ten years from now. So if only they could drop the whole charade and focus on what really matters, like developing a sustainable economy, increasing our quality of life and eliminating waste and corruption, yeah, that really would be great…
I wish the PQ would realize there is no threat to QuÃ©bec’s language, culture or identity. I wish they’d realize the damage they’re going to create with the ill-conceived and inappropriately named ‘charter of values’.
I wish the PQ wouldn’t waste their time on useless propaganda, such as guide to avoiding arguments in living rooms and around dining room tables concerning the proposed charter.
And perhaps most of all I’d like the PQ to cease uniquely representing the interests of the Franco-QuÃ©bÃ©cois majority, and treating anyone who disagrees with PQ policy as though they are not ‘real QuÃ©bÃ©cois’ or worse, that anyone who disagrees with the party is a traitor who is holding QuÃ©bec back and thus should leave the province.
This is the government of Canada’s second largest province; this is how they treat their own people, this is the government looking to institutionalize racism with Bill 60. remember what I said about wanting us to turn our backs from American-style politics? I mean this more with regards to the PQ than I do to the Tories.
At least there are some reformers within the Tory party ranks. I cannot say the same about the PQ.
Perhaps I’m wishing for an end to blind political idolatry.
Perhaps I’m wishing for far too much.
But most of all I wish that the people begin to demand real, tangible solutions to a bevy of problems we all have to deal with. Poverty, homelessness, hunger… during this bonanza of conspicuous consumerism (which, year after year, fosters the development of new generations of obsessive consumers) these social problems seem that much more apparent, more glaring, striking to me. The downtown is littered with human beings sleeping on vents, piled together for warmth, while the middle class empties its pockets buying garbage it doesn’t need in a vain effort to make itself feel wealthy, to maintain the illusion of status and luxury. A holiday ostensibly about family and charity, forgotten about the very next day as crowds will invariably trample each other for bargains on more junk.
What a holiday.
What, a holy day?
It’s not just poverty, homelessness and hunger I wish we were better at fighting. I wish we were aware that year after year our economic situation, nationally and personally, doesn’t get better, it gets worse. More of us will be poor tomorrow than yesterday, and yet we continue to destroy the social safety net that once supported all of us and held us high. We turn our backs on mutual, government-mandated charity so that we can have a few extra hundred dollars to spend on little comforts, little luxuries, that only ever leave us feeling hollow, empty, and desperately needing more.
Last night I walked past two payday loan operations on Atwater. I was coming home from the market, loaded up with good food and wine, and here I was passing all these people submitting to the personal-finance equivalent of rape. Each payday loan place was open late and both were crowded with people milling about outside, waiting to get it.
It was tragic. Even when you’re down the system always finds a way to make you just a little bit poorer, especially if you’re close to edge as is.
And all this occurring on the supposed anniversary of a philosopher’s birth, a philosopher who advocated against mindless consumption, against wealth, and proposed instead that the well-lived life was one of charity, humility and selflessness.
What Christian charges his fellow man 30% interest on a loan, especially when the lender knows he doesn’t really have the means to pay for it in the first place?
A friend asked me what salutation was appropriate for an atheist on Christmas.
I thought it over. I was once a Catholic, and this day had a special meaning for me. Today I’m a man, and it seems to me that Christmas may be the least Christian holiday on the calendar.
I responded it’s best to wish me a happy new year.
The future’s all I have left to hope for.