Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

It’s 2015. Big change, heh?

Repeating constantly that the last decade’s threats are still lapping at our shores made Stephen Harper sound like an incumbent Republican: a negligent bore who’d have us waste our treasure and talents fighting ideological demons rather than the real dangers of modern times.

Wide-awake Canadians voted for hard work and real change—a politics that would follow objective evidence and, with fellow Canadians, tackle those problems that the timid avoid and the reactionaries deny.

Better days: Justin Trudeau, a life-affirming insurgent with an insurgent family brand, wins the confidence of young people and swing voters everywhere.

That’s the flattering narrative, and, certainly, an enviable launch for another permanent campaign to re-elect a new government. But, had those voters lost their appetite for the status quo? Were they truly hungry for real change?

Interventionist Canadians voted for a more activist federal government and gave a majority to the one national party that promised to cut income taxes broadly, thereby permanently reducing the revenues that government would receive from 99% of income tax payers.

Reform-minded Canadians responded to calls for a more humble PMO by electing a famous Canadian who alone promised to preserve the PMO’s juiciest prerogative: appointing voting members to Canada’s Senate, its second law-making assembly.

Environmentalist Canadians voted for another PM with no stated national plan to reduce carbon emissions, except for a promise to do better than the doing-nothings. And not one of the three serious contenders hinted at any intention to restrain rising demand for energy-guzzling suburban housing and SUVs.

Internationalist Canadians voted for bigger embassy budgets, personal diplomacy in Washington, and for training others to make war. We’ll be America’s closest ally and the world’s honest broker. (Making our friends and us richer and stronger by ratifying a gigantic trade agreement with Pacific market economies wouldn’t be a ballot issue anywhere, even on Bay Street.)

Brand-conscious Canadians overwhelmingly favored social harmony over limits on religious extremes. They affirmed our liberal comity by upholding the right of one sex to wear masks at citizenship ceremonies.

Bleeding-hearts voted for what will be a two-stage, multiyear national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. The mothers and fathers and community politicians that raised these children will help shape the terms of reference of the inquiry. But they will not likely be included in the study as parties to these tragedies, except as lesser victims of colonization.

Millennials and malcontents—whether tired of the monarchy, our chancy dollar, or the avid study of America’s problems at the expense of ours—elected a “traditionalist.”   

So far, there’s no buyer’s remorse.  A discretely conservative country wears its liberal conceits lightly.

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