Sunday, July 29, 2012

Canada Requires A Unifying Force

In the absence of defining moments, it is sometimes hard to ascertain incremental drift.  There is a certain subtlety to Canada's federation unravelling that tends to undermine the true severity.  For instance, in Quebec separatist polling allows for some superficial sense of "calm", when really a growing indifference and internalization threatens any affinity.  Again, without succession votes or constitutional wranglings, people are allowed to adopt a false sense of overall health, when really there is a inward retreat and an overarching desire to simply be left alone.  Enter a federal government that voluntarily abdicates the traditional role of overarching unifying force, and you have the mirage of "peace".

I agree with almost everything B.C. Premier Christy Clark had to say in her op-ed relating to the pipeline.  I also believe her new found stance is craven, naked political opportunism, more about political survival than sincere conviction.  However, it is simply comical the way some commentary expects a narrow self interest to champion a higher calling.  In reality, Clark is a creature of the system, she is playing to her constituency, representing her province, protecting her interests.  Expecting anything more from Clark is to seek the exception not the rule, Canadian democracy is such that her state is a natural one.  The counterbalance to narrow provincial stances is supposed to be the blanket perspective of the federal government, but again we lack that crucial ingredient and are left to meander.

More and more, provinces operate as defacto countries.  I'm an Albertan, I'm a Ontarian, I'm a proud British Columbian, etc...  The regional pride is really at the expense of the collective whole, as one sense rises, the overall affinity to something big wanes, make no mistake about it.  Without a real voice to challenge and think of something wider, we will identify with the advocates who speak to a more confined "backyard".  Premiers are "standing up" for their constituents and all are quick to contrast with Ottawa, as though some foreign bogeyman bent on undermining prosperity.  The oldest game in Canada, but also a very dangerous mentality that ultimately fractures. 

The Harper model essentially sees the federal counterbalance as a nuance, the "firewall" mentality permeates many decisions.  In some regards, Canada is interference, Canada is a distant government that doesn't necessarily represent, nor does it have the capacity to adequately speak to regional issues, much better to let the locals have greater latitude.  The trouble with this mentality, it creates a vacuum, it actually believes people beholden to subsets can articulate a wider vision.  Politicians are only accountable to their voters, to expect some noble pursuit outside of their fiefdom is to seek rarity and with that practical folly.  We can criticize Clark, but Redford is no different, even the floated national energy initiative is simply a vehicle to help grow Alberta's wealth, nothing more, nothing less.

Here's a thought borne of sheer madness, perhaps a true national energy strategy adopts the notion that natural resources are for the benefit of all Canadians, equally and fully.  I know, the horror of the suggestion, how dare one posit an actual national approach to provincial affairs, but really if everyone isn't "invested" in certain economic realities, then you will have opposing viewpoints.  Yes, B.C is taking most of the risk and little reward, but perhaps the perspective would be different if the reward was national in scope.  Rather than these complicated arguments about "spin offs" and worker migrations, equalization payments, if resources were the property of ALL Canadians, then a more Canadian perspective would surely emerge.  Instead, we live in a country of "ours", we play us vs them all too often, we lack any cohesion or commonality that binds, we really are a mirage of an entity. 

It's all fine, if we want loosely affiliated provinces- as Trudeau lamented- but if you believe societal evolution involves greater accommodations and common ground, then Canada has it backward.  Are we forever shackled by our Constitution, can it never change, is this Canada's permanent state until it ultimately unravels?  Canadians love to think of ourselves as the nation where all peoples can come and share in the experience, we trumpet our internationalism, our multiculturalism, as a model to the world.  In reality though, Canada is a thin veneer, there is little commonality, it only articulates itself during sporting events or historic remembrance, but mostly it mocks other regionals, has contempt for other jurisdictions, while pumping its own regional chest with narrow pride.

We can do better, but who is there is to articulate the "greater good"?


The Mound of Sound said...

At the moment a lot of my fellow British Columbians are feeling decidedly estranged from the rest of Canada. I think it's pretty plain that only large scale and broadly based civil disobedience has any chance of stopping this pipeline supertanker fiasco. I think that will also show whether British Columbians really stand alone, or worse, seriously at odds with the Canadian public.

Gloria said...

BC would be better off separating from Ottawa.

The BC citizens have had to battle, Harper and his Conservatives and the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals. Campbell forgot to tell BC citizens, he worked for Harper, and still does. Everything of value in BC, has been thieved and sold. Christy is waiting for the ink to dry, on the sell-out of our LBC. She too works for Harper. She hired on, one of comrade Harper's boys, Boessenkool. He works for Harper and lobbies for Enbridge. The BC Conservatives also support Harper.

The people of BC have been thieved from, for going on 12 years now. All we have left from the thieving is, the beauty of BC, our woodland wildlife and our beautiful marine creatures. This we will fight to the last ditch to keep.

The BC citizens also, will not assist Harper to sell out control of the tar sands, to Communist China.

Christy Clark is demanding money. The people of BC did not ask Premier Redford for her precious money. Nor, do we want her lethal, chemical laced dirty Bitumen, in our province, nor our sea. She is quite welcome to keep all, to her own little self.

The BC people are used to, lies, deceit, corruption, broken promises, thefts, dirty tactics, dirty politics, and politicians who cheat to win. This we get from the BC Liberals and Harper.

Harper just got caught in a whopper of a lie. More than ever now, over 3/4 and counting Canadians, say Harper used the robo-call election cheat fraud, to win the election. He is also using dirty tactics, to try and get out of that one. Also the disputes over the riding election wins.

Anonymous said...

Definitely an unfortunate situation but given our sheer size and small population perhaps its understandable up to a point. Personally, I've never understood the provincial tribalism I've encountered many times. Yes, I hail from Ontario but I've had the good fortune to have also lived in the NWT, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut and Alberta. I always considered myself a Canadian first rather than some sort of NWT'er/Manitoban/Saskatchewanite/Nunavummiut/Albertan. It would be great if it wasn't so damn expensive to travel this country. I think the more people did that, the more they'd come to realize what we have in common rather than all the petty inter-provincial squabbling crap that pulls us apart.

Peter said...

perhaps a true national energy strategy adopts the notion that natural resources are for the benefit of all Canadians, equally and fully.

Including Quebec hydro?