Monday, September 29, 2008

The Tipping Point

Harper insists Canadians are becoming more conservative - not Tory, mind you - but the kind of conservative that Harper is: shallow, mean-spirited, discriminatory and elitist. Is that what Canada has become?

During this campaign, Harper has not attended a single open public event and some of his candidates, including two ministers, have refused to attend all candidates meetings. Harper has refused to put his platform on the table for Canadians to evaluate. This shows shallow respect for the Canadian voter. Having campaigned for the last two years, Harper has chosen a show-biz style tour of Canada without actually talking to anyone who is not a conservative. In other words, he's ignored two thirds of the electorate. Will Canadians continue to accept this?

The conservative campaign against Dion for the last twenty-two months has been unrelenting in its mean-spirited attacks. Negative ads are something that Canadians say they do not appreciate but as a Liberal candidate said on Friday, "when I knock on the door, people say they don't like negative ads but in every conversation one or two of those attacks are brought up by the voter." Has the negative, American style campaign hits its mark? Are Canadians as mean-spirited as Harper projects us to be?

Harper's attacks against Dion remind and emphasize the difficulty with which Dion speaks English. At the beginning of the campaign, I found that many Canadians, even Liberals, were listening for his gaffes and wincing when they heard something that was not quite perfect. This says more about us and Harper than it does about Dion. Fortunately, Dion as explained the hearing loss reasons for his difficulty in correcting his pronunciation. 

This is discrimination at its worst because it is insidiously hidden in Harper's ad messages. It is worse than the ads against Chretien's partially paralyzed face precisely because no challenge on behalf of Dion as been mounted against this twisted campaign. Harper doesn't want you to hear what Dion has to say, he wants you to hear the occasional mispronunciation and join with him in taunting Dion.

Is it possible that Harper wants you to ignore the fact that he, himself, isn't saying anything? Harper hasn't even printed a platform for you to read and consider.

Harper's idea that anyone who leans to the left in political persuasion in this country can be described as an elitist is absolutely ridiculous. Harper has borrowed this from the American neo-conservative Republican movement painting anyone who objects to their point of view as an elitist. Right now, we can see the real corporate elitists in the US trying to suck $700 billion from the hard-working, tax-paying public.

In Harper's Canada we could look forward to an ever increasing influence of the corporate elites - more deregulation bringing about the listeriosis-tainted foods which have taken nineteen lives, so far. And even fewer than the three white collar charges that have been prosecuted in Canada in recent years. The American Securities and Exchange Commission has prosecuted more white collar crime in the last three years than Canada under Harper has.

How can Dion combat this onslaught from the right that is threatening to destroy the left in Canada and the Liberal Party of Canada from without and from within? For one thing, I believe, the Canadian public is confused. They don't know who the Liberal Party of Canada is anymore. Under Trudeau, we knew what it meant to be Liberal. Under Chretien and with Martin's hand on finances, we understood what we were voting for. We knew what we were getting. Despite his best efforts to put forth a concrete plan, Dion has been less able to get the attention of the Canadian public to have a dialogue about where we are headed as a country and who the Liberal Party is under his leadership. Is this his fault?

In my opinion, with the change in ownership of media to conservative corporate interests, the media is no longer acting as an honest broker on behalf of the Canadian people. During the first two weeks of this campaign, Dion was deliberately and consistently put at the 18 minute mark of daily news broadcasts by CTV-Globemedia. By that point, Canadians have already tuned out - heck, that's after the first commercial break and Canadians know the important stuff is upfront in the news broadcast where Harper and Layton have figured prominently.

With the similar abandonment of principles on CBC's The National, Dion is up against the entire media machine licking its lips with glee at the prospect of privatization and deregulation under Harper. The television media and its newsrooms want Harper to win so they can get rich. Can you blame them for skewing the message? They don't care what Canadians want or need, in fact, I don't think they can see the country's needs through the dollar signs in their eyes.

With the constant bombardment of negative conservative advertising on television, radio and print, Canadians have been under constant attack as well. Harper would prefer that you don't show up to vote. If you stay home, he knows his party will drag that almost 30% of Canadians who are on the conservative and neo-conservative side out to vote and take your place in the halls of power in our country while you stay home and watch American Idol.

Dion nees to bypass the ineffectiveness of the media in getting his message out. He needs to have Liberals onside at the grassroots, knocking on doors. Dion is trusting Liberals and two-thirds of Canadians to pay attention in this campaign - possibly the most important election campaign in Canadian history. If Dion and the left lose, it may very well spell the end of the Liberal Party of Canada but more importantly it may implant a brand of politicking we have only jeered at when we look south. In typical self-righteous mode we call the Americans foolish for choosing Bush twice. Can Canadians not see that the same tactics are being use on us. I wonder how loud the laughter will be south of the border if we choose Harper and they choose Obama?

Dion passionately and earnestly believes that Canadians can see that we are being played for fools by Harper with his non-campaign talking about flavoured cigarellos and other issues easily handled by an effective and appreciated civil service. Are we worthy of Dion's trust in our ability to see through the smoke and mirrors of the conservative game? Or, has Harper successfully bought our silent participation in the Americanization of our political process? Has Harper turned off enough Canadians in his relentless use of negative advertising that fewer Canadians will participate in voting?

Harper recently chastised Canadians for the poll results predicting a minority mandate. In response to those polls we learned that Harper's Justice Minister will make the crime bill, jailing 14 year olds for life, into a confidence motion and present it within six months unless we give Harper a majority now.

If Canadians choose to participate in this election despite Harper's best efforts to turn us off, then there is a chance that we have not yet become fully Americanized and we will retain our claim to one of the best countries in the world to reside.

If Canadians stay home on election day, the tipping point has already passed and the left including Liberals, NDP and Green, will diminish. We will have become truly American and conservative. Harper's dream will be realized.

What kind of Canada do you believe in?

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