Sayonara, Mr. Martin
Date: Thursday, June 10 2004
by Paul Harris
Sayonara, Mr. Martin
“Throughout the world, there are various shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals. Ten degrees to the left of centre in good times, ten degrees to the right of centre if it affects them personally.”
Phil Ochs, live introduction to ‘Love Me, I’m a Liberal’ (January 1966)
Ochs was really talking about the small ‘L’ variety of liberals, and specifically the American subspecies, but the shoe certainly fits here in Canada with the big ‘L’ crowd. And we are presently witnessing the desperate attempt by these Liberals to purchase, with our money, the same social niceties they have stolen over the past ten years or so, also with our money.
The Liberals didn’t negotiate the disastrous NAFTA deal, but they did let it go ahead as planned in January 1994. They didn’t give us the GST, but they did fail to remove it as they had promised. They claim to have balanced Canada’s books for the past decade although accounting magic can make anything look balanced, or not, as political whims dictate.
But they have also overseen the continued degradation of those intangible and real things that make this country different from our friendly southern neighbour. Medicare is sick or dying, our military is a worldwide joke and our once proud history of peacekeeping is beyond our reach, our taxes go higher or lower for entirely political rather than financial reasons … in short, Canada is a mess.
The Liberals are certainly not to blame for this entirely because we have still the legacy of Brian Mulroney as a cross to bear. But in a decade they have only made things worse in Canada, not better.
Over the past month, Paul Martin has given additional proof to a theory I have held about him for some while. Think back to his nine years as Minister of Finance: every year, the picture got rosier and the deficit or surplus looked better and better. Every time he was discussing an upcoming budget he would make predictions of, say, a billion dollar surplus and then proudly announce later that performance was better than expected and the surplus was five billion. Every time.
There are those who say he was simply giving ‘conservative’ (small ‘C’) estimates but I have maintained that he simply can’t count.
Three weeks ago, in the wake of a horrible slide in voter appreciation for his party, he called an election he didn’t need to call. Again, I think, because he can’t count. And now we are witnessing the meltdown of the Liberal Party right before our eyes and the only regret that brings to my mind is the ascendancy of Stephen Harper and his band of no-goods.
While Harper’s Conservatives are asking Canadians to ‘demand better’ in the hope that voters will be fooled into believing that ‘better’ means Conservative, Martin is prancing around talking about a vision of Canada that he and his Liberals choose and, by gosh, he hopes you’ll choose it too. And he does this with the boldfaced arrogance of someone who thinks we’ll all be too stupid to notice that the vision he is espousing is a return to many of the things that he and the Liberals have been busy gutting for the past decade.
Paul Martin deserves to have his face slapped, figuratively and literally, and it is beginning to seem that the voters of Canada are in the right mood to do at least the figurative part. And it bloody serves him right! The problem is, his 10 years of stupidity in power and his present idiotic election call may very well result in putting Stephen Harper in the Prime Minister’s office. God help as all then.
It seems to me that Canadians are choosing the Conservatives for the wrong reason: they want to punish the Liberals. It’s a noble sentiment and one that I wholeheartedly endorse, but this is the classic ‘biting off your nose to spite your face’ syndrome.
The Liberals cannot be trusted, the Conservatives cannot be tolerated. And if either party is reaching voters with the few little tidbits of social programming they are promising, then voters should have enough sense to simply reject both parties and cast their votes for one of the two parties that truly are into social programming: the NDP, and the Greens. Either of them is a far better choice than Dumb and Dumber.
In my life, I have voted for almost every political party, even the fringe parties (and, God forgive me, the Progressive Conservatives once when I was very young and the candidate was impressive [mea culpa]) … all except the Liberals; I’ve never sunk that low.
Phil Ochs was right.