Nice doesn’t cut it…

Screen Shot 2018-11-02 at 11.07.36 AMTHE FEDERAL ELECTION is already shaping up

to be a virtue signalling, bafflegab of BS (no matter the political flavour), peppered with digital bytes and social media jabber, clouds of mushrooming vape, whereby, the Liberal’s ‘climate emergency’ has been rebranded as ‘the environment’ thing to be alarmed about and Green in New Brunswick is not so politically ‘green’ after all, and, and…

On the Conservative dance card — Can I have this waltz, please? — Andrew Scheer.

He’s kind of like Joe Clark, eh. He neither offends nor does he take all the oxygen out of the room. Hell — sometimes you don’t even know he’s in the room.

Joe & Andy kind of look alike. Don’t they?

And they’re both decent, honourable men, nice to a fault.

But nice guys often finish out of the running — dead last, if they’re way too nice.

MONSIEUR SCHEER ET QUEBEC 

To hear it in Quebec, you’d be thinking Andrew Scheer is NOT the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Je me souviens…

The Quebec electorate is being reminded over and over and over and over that Conservative means Harper and that spells doom for Monsieur Scheer in la belle province.

And remember: The narrative that people believe is what matters — not the truth.

ONTARIO

Typically, the 905-area-code can be counted on to deliver Conservatives to Ottawa.

Thus far, Mr. Scheer has been trashed as a religious nut bent on turning back the clock on abortion and same-sex marriage legislation; and/or he’s Rob Ford’s secret ally (a hardcore fiscal conservative hell-bent on cutting deficits whatever the human consequences).

And to that the Leader of the Opposition has responded!

Can’t remember what he said, eh.

Oh-oh…

THE WEST

Conservatives in Alberta and Saskatchewan (and given the recent result in Manitoba’s provincial election) will likely support Andrew Scheer because (a) he was elected within the party-system, and (b) he’s our guy, and (c) yeah, he’s our guy even though sheesh, shucks, golly… you wonder if he’s gonna be good in a fist-fight.

Our Man Scheer needs to stop with the appeasement prattle as a political strategy.

He needs to deliver a tough message that makes it absolutely clear that another Liberal government with Trudeau (the younger) in charge of the country — think of it — will create the conditions for a terrible, unthinkable consequence (more on this in a future post).

CULTURAL BATTLE SCARS

What’s unfolding in the U.K. is shocking, as much as it is instructive. Don Hill spent much of the summer there, working with innovators in the digital arts & tech sector. He says: 

“Britain is even more polarized than what you read. The generational divide is stark. Under 40s embrace the EU; those who are 40+ don’t recognize the new culture emerging. It’s a culture war.”

The Westminster Parliamentary democracy that holds Great Britain together — in good times & in bad — is frayed to the breaking point. It’s utterly dysfunctional.

Boris Johnson (the third prime minister in four years) has manipulated the democratic process in ways never imagined. And it’s not a stretch to suggest that we could see the same shenanigans here in this country. We too have a Westminster-style parliamentary system. 

Focusing on the democratic process — legal manoeuvring and partisan playbooks — avoids the obvious. What the U.K. desperately needs is leadership that can bridge the polarity, that can reconnect the old culture and the new.  

WITHER NOW CANADA?

Clip2Comic-1

This meme cartoon is making the rounds on Twitter. It makes you laugh. Yet deep down, it’s not funny. There’s a grain of truth that’s sticky. 

Canada is an enormous country. We can’t expect Canadians to all think the same way. We’ve always had differences in regional economies, geography, and the culture that arises from sea to sea to sea.

But there’s something different happening now that’s jarring. We’re neither the U.K. or the U.S.A., but like these two giants, we have a cultural battle going on in Canada that’s wrecking a deep divide.

Right now: our Prime Minister & the Leader of the Opposition are saying pretty much the same nice things about valuing, oh… diversity, for instance. It’s the Canadian way, they say. Diversity trumps the economy. And to think otherwise makes you suspect. A knuckle dragger. Racist. Denier of this, that, or the other thing that’s been settled because it’s 2019.

The national polls (if they’re to be believed) tell of a Canadian electorate that doesn’t square with what ALL the political players think ought to be of paramount concern.

LEADERSHIP & FUTURE CANADA

What our country needs right now is a federal leader that can and will articulate a social picture — a realistic culture — in which all Canadians can see themselves.

Culture is tricky (as Boris Johnson is fast discovering). You can’t impose it. And you can’t import it from elsewhere.

Quebecers that identified with France, after The Quiet Revolution, soon discovered they were not French. Quebec is Quebec. And here in Alberta, can we ever be American?

Culture is squishy. Battle lines exist “between celebrating certain kinds of difference and preserving the time-honoured values of past generations.” The culture of a nation is necessarily firm and flexible at the same time, equipping peoples of different geography and different economies and different histories to continue to share in a sense of belonging.

This isn’t simple.

It took conviction for the Scots to negotiate resource rights within the U.K. And let’s not forget Quebec built an independent pension plan and formidable financial instruments, such as the Quebec Deposit and Investment Fund, within the federal state (aka Canada)! Even the Norwegians voted — twice — to not join the European Union (but rather, to enjoy an association with the EU) because they didn’t want to risk the Brussels bureaucracy tinkering with Norway’s sovereign wealth fund (a trillion dollars and counting).

Figuring out what binds us together in Canada as Canadians one and all isn’t a Big New Idea; it’s a reality check.

Whoever can articulate Canadian culture — as a point of pride, not a guilt trip — that truly reflects Canadians as a people, rather than a pastiche of special interests — will be the leader we’ll follow.

Being nice these days is irrelevant. It’s actually kind of silly. Dangerous — given what’s at stake ahead.

This column is the consensus opinion of the writers Donna Kennedy-Glans & Don Hill

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One thought on “Nice doesn’t cut it…

  1. Exceptional analysis. As was mentioned in McLeans a few weeks ago, it will in fact be the media that stoke the fires of a Kulturkampf.

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