The Monkey on Paul Martin's Back
Date: Thursday, June 03 2004
Comment by Eugene Plawiuk
2004 is the Year of the Monkey in Chinese Astrology. According to Chinese astrologers and Feng Shui magicians, January 22, 2004 ushers in the Year of the Wood/Green Monkey "Jia Shen". A Year of Movement, discussion and the exchange of ideas. A year highlighting: Politicians, diplomats, ambassadors, writers, spokesmen, storytellers, orators, salesmen, and confidence games. Welcome to the "Riverboat Gambler" year of the Chinese zodiac - the Irrepressible Monkey.
This is the year of topsy-turvy, what was up is down, what is down is up, revolutions, revolts and change is the theme of the year. A year for politicians to dig into their foxholes and cover their heads.
According to Richard Giles, writer, astrologer and Feng Shui consultant, "Monkey has such a reputation for action, energy, tricks and variety that we can expect to see a lots of shifts in the world this year. Monkey years show much activity behind the scenes where things develop in secret then burst suddenly onto the scene. This can be in the field of politics, social movements, technology and the rulership of countries. Many countries will experience unrest and even dissolution of established rulers this year."
Woe betides those incumbent politicians who face an election in this year. This means that in North America we should see the defeat of both Paul Martin and George Bush, if the history of politicians in Monkey years past is anything to go on.
Mr. Martin has faced secret and hidden revelations since he took power in January. While he was appointed PM in the dying days of 2003 he really came into power in the year of the monkey and lo and behold has had the poor beast on his back ever since. Certainly the adscam scandal fits perfectly as an example of "Monkey years show much activity behind the scenes where things develop in secret then burst suddenly onto the scene."
In Mr. Martin's case, he has gambled with this election and faces at best a pyrihhic victory of a minority government, if not outright defeat. Stephen Harper's Conservatives can take no solace in the year of the Monkey either, for they too could face being a minority government. Mr. Harper became leader of the combined Reform-Alliance-Conservative party in the year of the Monkey, which saw the demise of the sixty-year-old Progressive Conservative Party. The Monkey year is one of 'transformations', and certainly this has been true of the Conservatives and Mr. Harper, going from the radical right of Stockwell Day to attempting to portray themselves as middle of the road. In this election though, Mr. Harper faces his own internal contradictions in having a public agenda, moderate republicanism while internally his party still remains burdened with the reactionary politics of the old Reform Alliance.
Such were the revelations in the first ten days of this election, with comments coming out against Bilingualism and against Abortion, from his shadow cabinet members. The transformation of the Alliance into the so-called "New" Conservative parties, is still born.
We should expect to see more gaffs, tricks, and revelations affecting all parties in this election, as the Monkey loves humour and sarcasm, tricks and bluffs.
And why should we put such credence into the Year of the Monkey? Well it occurs on a twelve-year cycle, and in Canadian politics the year of the Monkey has seen the fall of many PMs and their parties.
In the monkey year 1992, Brian Mulroney stepped down as PM and was replaced by Kim Campbell, who went down to defeat in the 1993 election.
In 1980 Pierre Elliot Trudeau came out of retirement to defeat PC Prime Minister Joe Clark, who had held his office for only a year. Of course PET had the year of the Monkey on his side having become PM in 1968, a crucial and revolutionary year of the Monkey.
1968 is a quintessential year of the Monkey, with the Paris uprising of students and workers, the Tet offensive effectively defeating the Americans in Vietnam, the Chicago riots at the Democratic Convention which led to the election of two time loser Richard Nixon. The assassination of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the Russian invasion of Chezslovakia.
The Year of the monkey in 1956 saw John Diefenbaker elected Leader of the Progressive Conservatives who win the 1957 election with a Minority Government, the first minority government in Canadian history, which lasted only one year.
Prime Minister Arthur Meighan of the Conservative Party is an example of a real monkey politician. First elected PM in 1920 a monkey year, Meighan was plagued with being a one-year PM, not once but twice, in 1920 and again in 1926. Both times his caretaker government would go down to defeat at the hands of the Liberals under William Lyon Mackenzie King. Meighan, like his predecessor PM Robert Borden, was arrogant and held in disdain by Canadians in the West and in Quebec. Meighan as acting Minister of Justice under Borden during WWI when the government for the first time was a pizza parliament, a joint government of Conservatives, Liberals and Unionists. Meighan as Justice Minister was responsible for the 1914 Conscription Act and the Wartime Elections Act and the War Measures Act, these were detested in Quebec because they broke the promise of the previous Laurier Liberals that they would not bring in Conscription. Meighan ordered the brutal suppression of the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919, and brought in deportation of foreign born workers to smash what he saw as a communist uprising.
If the monkey cursed poor Arthur Meighan it did the same to the Conservatives in 1896. Then PM Sir Mackenzie Bowell has the dishounor of being the only Canadian PM turfed from office by his own Cabinet in 1896. Bowell was vehemently anti-Quebec, anti-French, and anti-Liberal. So much so that he saw conspiracies against him everywhere, even in his own cabinet which he called a "nest of traitors." Bowell was PM when Louis Riel led his rebellion in Manitoba, again in the year of the monkey, creating an independent provisional government, which would eventually negotiate the Manitoba Act with the Canadian government. The Act established Manitoba as a province and provided protection for French language rights. Bowell would have none of it and was forced out of office in order for the Government to negotiate with Riel.
Bowell?s successor chosen by Cabinet was Sir Charles Tupper. At 75 he was one of Canada?s oldest PMs he also had one of the shorest careers as PM. After only ten weeks in office he died. An election was called and the Conservatives went down to defeat for their opposition to the Manitoba Act. The Liberals under Sir Wilfred Laurier were elected in 1896. Laurier successfully negotiated with Riel and brought in the Manitoba Act. Laurier was the first French Canadian PM he was also Canada's longest consecutively serving Prime Minister.
So this year the monkey portends an ill wind for both the Liberals and Conservatives as we already see in this election. The fact may be that the NDP in English Canada and the Bloc Qubecois in Quebec will end up being the kingmaker. After all in ancient Indo-Asian mythology Hanuman the monkey king is not only a beneficent trickster of the people but the maker or breaker of the careers of politicians and rulers. His power reflects the will of the people over their self-proclaimed rulers. And in this year of the monkey the people are the kingmakers, and Hanuman is laughing.