Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My Futile Attempt at Explaining the Canadian Political Landscape

Post-election day, I went in search of a Canadian newspaper. First stop was a Borders bookshop near our hotel. When I asked, the lady at the counter said, "I understand they had an election." That's why I'm looking, I told her. "I also understand the Canadians voted in a conservative government." Yes, I said, they've won a minority. "Well, I'm sorry for you," she said.

I cleared my throat and said that while this wasn't the government I voted for, I was actually quite pleased with the overall election results. "Just don't join us in Iraq," she said. That wasn't likely to happen with a minority government, I told her.

"'Minority government' -- what does that mean?" she asked. I started explaining how the House of Commons was (currently) set up to accomodate three political parties, and though the Conservatives held the most seats, they didn't hold a majority. Thus, if they were keen on, say, sending Maritime boys ... sorry: our troops to Iraq, an election would likely be called and the Conservatives would likely experience a backlash.

"So it's kind of like us," said the lady. "You hold elections every couple of years."

I searched her face for signs of comprehension, then finally closed my mouth, swallowed and said, "Yeah, pretty much."


DarkoV said...

You are a kind man.
A gentle man and a gentleman, as well.
A teacher, always willing to pass on the bitter truth of knowledge wrapped in a chocolate ball of humour.
Just one, no, make that a few questions on your latest experience?
When this woman blinked, was it audible?
Did you pat her on the head after the last question and offer her a treat?
Can you believe that Borders, yes even Borders, hires folks without a clue? I remember reading, a ways back grant you, when Borders gave some sweaty questions to ther prospective hires? What happened?

I can only assume as Bush entered office for the first term, the collective group knowledge of our country started its slow clockwise turn down the toilet.

Oh, yeah. One more thing. Great to read you again.
Did you

Trent Reimer said...

I echo your optimism. One of the things that has really endeared Steven Harper to the public, despite his creepy look, is his unusual willingness to eat crow. He's already heard public backlash on previous positions, then proceded to pull out fork and knife and stuff the dark feathers into his maw.

I suspect it is this demonstration of flexibility, of willingness to LISTEN to the public, to let the people set the mandate, which appears to have allayed the fears of the voting public.

And having a minority government doesn't hurt that aspect. It ensures he is BOUND to listen to the public. Love it.

Seriously, how about a third national party for our friends to the South?

Whisky Prajer said...

DV - thanks, it's good to be back. I was really quite surprised by my Borders conversation. I didn't expect a working knowledge of our seemingly fragile Canadian confederation, but some sign that she was actually listening to me would have been cheering. She had lots to say, however - she launched into a lengthy diatribe against The Governator as she took my credit card.

TR - I'm hoping Harper will see fit to change his earlier consideration re: the CBC ("privatize it") and the sovereignty of our freshwater sources (open to the highest bidder). As for a third party in the US, I have trouble visualizing what it might look like. The grind for the presidential vote is so mired in "personality", that party differences seem almost beside the point. So you get someone like Ralph Nader coming in from (by Washington standards) left field with some (by Washington standards) fresh ideas. Just one man pulling for your vote, with no representation whatsoever in the Senate, basically siphoning voters away from the only competition in town - rather like "Reform" did to the Conservatives, not so long ago.

F.C. Bearded said...

Typical - bloody conservatives, always have to play the victim, the oppressed minority bullied by frenchies and libruhls.

Whisky Prajer said...

A-ha! FCB, alive and well! I rather hoped I'd smoke you out one of these posts.