The Commons: Carry on then

The Speech from the Throne: a tribute to keeping at it

by Aaron Wherry

So welcome to the next four years. Presuming, as one probably shouldn’t, that the Prime Minister intends to keep to a fixed-election law that has the odd nuance of not actually fixing anyone to anything.

However long he intends to put off the next election, you can be reassured—or horrified, depending on your particular political viewpoint—that he plans to carry on as he has. As ably read into the record by the Governor General this afternoon, the Speech from the Throne was a tribute to keeping at it. Meet the next few years, same as the last few years. If you preferred the preoccupations of the recent past, you will mostly enjoy the short term future.

Where to begin? How about with a “stable, predictable, low-tax environment?” Or would you prefer that the government “continue to cut red tape for small business?” No matter, the government commits to pursue both and simultaneously at that.

Free trade. Foreign investment. A national securities regulator. Reducing the cost of government. Eliminating the long-gun registry. Fuming about the Canadian Wheat Board. Senate reform. Tax credits for every human action imaginable. The North. All your old favourites are still here: the Harper Government’s greatest hits.

The government will fight terrorists and criminals and human smugglers. It will promote human rights and religious freedom. It will complete the highway between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.

Which is not to say, of course, that the government is to be of limited perspective. As the title of the document declares, it is “Here for all Canadians.” As the subheads printed in bold and italics specify, this includes jobs and growth and eliminating the deficit and hard-working families and standing on guard and law-abiding Canadians and communities and industries and integrity and accountability.

Which is not to say that it will all be work and policy and careful public management. There will, for instance, be parties—like next year when we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Presumably there will be cake. And children will be invited to burn and ransack their own miniature versions of the White House.

The word “continue” appeared 24 times. The words “revolutionize” and “overhaul” seemed to have been entirely edited out. And for those of you keeping score of adjectives, “strong” bested “stable” by a score of five to three.

In response, the official opposition seems equally resolute. According to the traditional Huffy News Release from Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the government “failed” today to address “many key issues.” On the plus side, at a mere 35 minutes, this year’s edition of the Speech from the Throne was something less of a dirge than usual.

So there we are. If you are disappointed by the lack of surprises so far, recall that the last time the government aimed to spice up this traditional testing of the Governor General’s literacy, the nation was nearly thrown into civil war along gender lines at the prospect that the national anthem might be edited.

The day’s excitement was instead provided by a 21-year-old Senate page who decided to prematurely end her internship with a small protest of the Prime Minister. Her sign read “Stop Harper.” If it was meant as an order, it seemed a bit late. If it was intended as a request, it seemed futile.




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The Commons: Carry on then

  1. Late and futile (but civil she was). But that’s how protests go in China also. Throwing eggs and shoes at Beijing’s internet mandarin was futile. We don’t measure civil protest by its futility.

    Had the page been in China’s seat of power, the Western Fox-inebriated junkies would be calling for her to get a Nobel prize. And not unreasonably.

    I’m not calling for this as a habit. Like Cablegates, this is a one-off thing that should never happen twice for one country. But it was good to happen once.

    • She wasn’t in a repressive police state, though. That’s the problem. That’s the context that makes this kind of protest not only futile, but narcissistic and unhinged from reality. It’s all about the protestor’s adolescent rebellion fantasy of Striking A Blow Against The Man, not genuine political engagement.

      • A society can be repressive even when no guns are involved AVR

        The 50s was such a time….and we aren’t going through it again

        • Correct. We’re not going through a period of repression. This is a completely factual statement based on the evidence at hand, as opposed to the delusional threat of rebellion against creeping fascism you think it is.

          • Yes, we are…and it won’t be allowed.

        • Yeah for that closing comment Paul, today, you suck.

          • Paul who??

          • Sorry, meant that for Paul Wells’ dismissive statements about the Senate
            Page.

      • First of all, when a political leader makes funding decisions based on hard-line partisan principals, refuses to give information to parliament, refuses to take questions from the media, refuses to publicize the location of cabinet meetings, interferes with freedom of information requests, and publishes a handbook on how to disrupt the committee process, then yes, we absolutely do live in a repressive regime. The fact that it is relatively less repressive than China does not change that.  Moreover, the 100s of innocents arrested and caged during the G20 might have a hard-time describing Canada as “not a police state.”  The fact of the matter is, when the government wants to get something done, it’s shown it’s not going to waste time on things like respecting the rights to free mobility or free speech.

        Most of us choose to ignore these slow erossions of our liberties because, frankly, it would be too much work and too risky to actually do something about it.

        Ms. DePape had the guts to try and get people’s attention to see if she could ignite a movement.  She certainly succeeded on the first count.  Time will tell if she succeeds in the latter.   

    • Actually, her protest was not civil.  It was an insult to Canadian democracy and Canadian traditions.  In order to be civil, she should have avoiding interrupting and denigrating the proceedings. It was the opposite of civil. If she wanted to be civil, she would have done it in any number of acceptable places, at any number of acceptable times. But she preferred to be uncivil. Why? Because she has no respect for the voters, no respect for democracy, and no respect for Canadian traditions.

      • Yeah, and where could she POSSIBLY have gotten the idea that such contempt for Parliament is OK? 

      • Amen, I wholeheartedly agree!

        She is disrespectful but also very ignorant, her stunt was bigger than her brain!!

        • And where, pray tell, was your anger when Mr. Harper had his senators kill a bill the House had passed, or when Mr. Harper himself wilfully insulted the House of Commons by pretending their demands simply didn’t matter, and refused to provide the information demanded of him both on the Afghan detainee issue, and on the later issue which brought down the parliament before this one?

          You’d read a little less hypocritical if you’d evidenced such distaste at his actions then, as you do at this page’s actions now.

          • She is an absolute idiot, not going to retract from that!

            Take it as you will!
             

          • If you follow through that Harper is also an absolute idiot, then there’s nothing to say.

            Otherwise, what I’ll take it as is that you’re simply a hypocrite.

    • Just how old are you, Emily? Haven’t I read you making comments about working for the Mulroney-era PCs?

      • 64.

        I didn’t work for the Mulroney PCs, although I was PC….and I fully supported free trade. However, I was busy on a major project at the time.

        • Well. I had figured late 40s at the outside.

          Re: comments in these stories about Pagey McSmugface today – why do you feel the need to keep parroting what All The Hip Young Kids Think These Days? You know it just looks bizarre when you keep calling the other commenters – the majority of which are demographically likely for the medium to be much younger than you; I certainly am – “fogeys” and “methusalahs” for not sharing your adulation of thick-headed youthful radicalism, yes?

          Want to know what the future will look like? There’ll be no student rebellions, no widespread radicalism that survives getting a real job and a mortgage. Life will go on more or less the same as ever in a free, open and democratic society, with occasional spoiled brats who don’t know how good they have it breaking out in tedious little tantrums like this. There’ll be no repression, no “silencing of dissent,” no threats of violence…at least, coming from the government or citizens at large; the self-imagined heroes of the revolution will try all three any chance they get, of course.

          But, by all means, keep working yourself up into a rage over the boot that never actually stamps on a human face – ever. It’s good to have a hobby in retirement, I imagine.

          • Oh…is chronological age important to you?  You don’t find it odd that people decide their age based on orbits around the sun?

            Well in that case, I’m 32 on Mars.  Better?

            Your phrases, like ‘Pagey Mcsmugface’ and ‘Hip Young Kids’ give away the era you’re living in…grade 5 I’d say. Some Norman Rockwell painting anyway.

            However the world is in a threshold event. The eras are changing…rapidly. Even the ‘rate’ of change has sped up. And no one….no politician, no leader…and nothing…like an ideology or belief…is going to stop it.

            You have no idea what’s coming at you….you think like an old person….everything will go on the way it always has, and you can rock and knit and tut-tut forever.

            The 21st century will be tough on you….I doubt you’ll survive even the earliest part of it….everything you’ve ever believed will be turned on it’s head. And it has nothing to do with your old boogeymen from the Cold War.

            There’s a name for your condition….it’s called Future Shock.

          • Haha. Future Shock was written in 1970. A little ironic, no?

          • Strange thing about predictions….they were usually written in the past.

          • 28, dear. And I’ll live to see your delusions about the remainder of the 21st century proved wrong; you won’t.

            Keep banging that Age of Aquarius drum, though. It’s kind of funny in a sad little way.

          • I doubt it, you’re in codger territory already….still worrying about hippies when they are long gone. LOL

          • I suspect that many younger people seem like old fogies to you because history is more often cyclical than it is linear. Generation Y’s life experiences are more similar to their grandparents than their parents.

            We grew up in a shaky boom-bust economy with exciting new innovations, alongside rising inequality, and radical social change – not unlike the 1920s. We are coming of age in the midst of a time of instability and depression (thankfully no WWII yet, unless you count the war on terror). 

            Baby boomers just need to look a bit further back, and they will realize they are far from exceptional. They are a lot like the “missionary” generation – folks born in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s. They too were idealistic evangelicals (born-agains and hippies are two sides of the same coin) dreamers, who fought for social changes –  sometimes noble (eg. women’s suffrage), sometimes stupid (eg. prohibition, appeasement/isolationism). 

            In times of crisis we need the wisdom and character of each generation to survive – the passionate speechifying of the boomers; the sobre, cynical problem-solving of generation X; and I guess we’ll see what talents my generation develops (we’d best hurry, since we are on deck to be the body-bags). 

          • I’m thinking more in terms of the singularity.

  2. A repressive state, Emily please! Some people in the states think that Obama is creating a repressive socialist state. I know Canadians who think, that under various Liberal prime ministers,  we had governments that used human rights tribunals and political correctness to repress the rights of social conservatives.I think Obama’s policies suck. He is a socialist but the term repressive is inappropriate. The same goes for Canadian politics. Harper is no more repressive than Chretrien. Was Trudeau repressive? Unlike Harper, he invoked martial law during the 1970 Quebec crisis.The word repressive is just thrown around cavalierly by people out of power.

    Emily, if there is a revolution going on it is not of the nature that you expect. The politics of  Canada and the U.S. are moving to the right. The reelection of Obama is a coin toss. However, he has greatly damaged the Democrat Party. Republicans are polling at least 6 or 7 points ahead in party congressional preferencefor the U.S. House(versus 8 point Democrat advantage in 2008). They are expected to win the U.S. Senate in 2012 and increase their governorships in that year(Expected Republican gains in North Carolina, Washington, and Montana) to at least 32. Also, these elected Republicans are considerably more conservative than the 1994 or 2008 brand. In Canada, the Conservatives will have 30 extra seats in 3 provinces that favored them. Harper’s party platforms have gradually moved to the right since 2006 as have his vote tallies. The battle has been reduced to a Quebec centered NDP(mixing socialism with much of the Quebec nationalist agenda). The federal Liberal Party is reduced to 4 seats west of Ontario. Its provincial parties barely exist in the west. The B.C. Liberals are more a mix of Liberals and Conservatives. In Europe, the right is the one making the big gains. The social democratic model there has collapsed. In recent elections, the center-right parties have come to dominate traditionally socialist Scandanavia. They have won in Sweden and Finland(with new anti-immigrant, tough on crime, nationalist parties gaining strength). The same goes for the Netherlands where Geert Wilders Party for Freedom supports a minority center-right government. In Belgium, the dominant party is a right-wing nationalist party. In the last two years, right-wing governments have been elected in virtually every single eastern european country. Some are libertarian leaning like the pro-flat tax governing Reform PArty in Estonia. Many are very conservative like the new Hungary government  whose new constitution outlaws abortion and gay marriage.The protests in the streets are the rantings of those who see power slipping away. The big welfare state is dying.Socialism has been proven a failure. Now, social conservatism is making a comeback in some parts of europe. A right-wing version of the 1960′s is coming!  

    • Ah, so like the 40s in Germany.

    • So you’re excited that facism is taking over Europe again? 

    • “Ah, so like the 40s in Germany.”

      “So you’re excited that facism is taking over Europe again?”

      Jonah Goldberg, National Review: 

      Ever since Theodor Adorno came out with his scandalously flawed Authoritarian Personality in 1950, liberal and leftist social scientists have been trying to diagnose conservatism as a psychological defect or sickness. 

      Adorno and his colleagues argued that conservatism was little more than a “pre-fascist” “personality type.” According to this school, sympathy for communism was an indication of openness and healthy idealism. Opposition to communism was a symptom of your more deep-seated pathologies and fascist tendencies. 

      According to Adorno, subjects who saw Nazism and Stalinism as similar phenomena were demonstrating their “idiocy” and “irrationality.”

      Perhaps the more revealing psychological insight can be found in the fact that so many liberals think disagreeing with them is a form of psychosis.

      • Perhaps the most revealing insight can be found in that any time a person disagrees with a conservative, other conservatives assume it comes from character, rather than from analysis of the facts and situation.

    • Well your name certainly sums up your thinking….you are living in the past
       
      ‘Some people’ think a lot of bizarre things…..that doesn’t make them true.
       
      Obama is not remotely a socialist, and if you….or ‘some people’ ….think he is, you know nothing about socialism. Obama is polling at 53% btw.  Quite popular I’m afraid.
       
      I find it interesting that you oppose being civil, and believe that guarding human rights and being tolerant are bad things…..that screams repression right there.
       
      The world is not ‘moving to the right’….here or anywhere else.  The world is globalizing.
       
      There is no ‘left and right’ anymore….the Cold War ended over 20 years ago.
       
      Harper’s party platforms have moved away from the ‘right’….in fact many Cons are accusing him of having turned into a Lib. LOL
       
      I’m not concerned about the Liberal party, and I fail to see why you are.  I’m also not concerned about western Canada.  If some westerners want to live in the past…let them. The BC Libs are a mix of Cons and SoCreds….nothing to do with the federal Lib party.
       
      Canada is not a socially conservative country….we haven’t been for eons, and we aren’t about to go back to that.
       
      ‘Social conservative’ parties in Europe are to the left of our NDP….so don’t think Europe is about to produce a Bush or a Huckabee or any of the other teabag types.
       
      As to Geert Wilders….snort!
       
      Ayn Rand…..the darling of the ‘rightwing’ in the US…..denounced Libertarians as ‘right-wing hippies’…..and that they are. And just as nonsensical as the 60s hippies were.
       
      I’m sorry….but the 60s aren’t coming back.  They were half a century ago….and we are light-years away from that era.

  3. I only wish the Governor General was as principled and possessed as much courage as that Senate page. 

  4. Oh I so I enjoy starting the week reading the tears of leftwing has beens, get over yourselves lefties, welcome to 2011, the left is done, go peddle your tired old song somewhere else, we voted for Harper, precisely because we want him to continue doing what he has been doing! I know,  it hurts doesn’t it, LOL.

    • It does, actually, because I rather had respect for parliamentary democracy, and hoped it would continue.

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