Monday, October 19, 2015
It has been, in the estimation of most people, an almost unbearably long campaign; its eleven weeks' duration likely tested the mettle of the most ardent of political junkies. Yet at the same time it has probably served at least one positive purpose for those who don't follow politics very closely: it has laid bare the true nature of the Harper regime. Contemptuous of democracy, willing to foster suspicion and incite racial, religious and ethnic tensions, the party's desperation has grown palpable. I am not sorry to see things wind down.
Ultimately, however, it has turned out to be personally valuable. As people get older, I am convinced that emotions like excitement and anticipation are harder to come by, time blunting the things that we so eagerly embraced in our youth. Yet it is precisely those feelings, along with some anxiety, that I am now experiencing as I anticipate the outcome of this election. This emotional state has also helped me realize more clearly than ever that there were largely two motivations behind this blog since I started it in 2010: a deep aversion to abuses of power, which I and so many others have written about over the years, and a deep love for Canada. It is the latter I want to discuss today.
Surely one of the most insidious and Machiavellian of the regime's schemes has been to relentlessly devalue and debase the notion of citizenship. While Harper's team was not the first to attempt this (here in Ontario Mike Harris gave it his best shot), they have had the longest opportunity to remake Canada in their own soulless ideology, one where the bonds that connect us to each other and the larger possibilities of society are slowly weakened until they break.
The low tax agenda, which erodes over time the ability to fund a larger vision, has been a centrepiece for Mr. Harper. And with it, of course, has come the inevitable extolment of the individual and the denigration of the collective. It is a formula designed to rip away our foundations as a nation, and one that people like former clerk of the Privy Council Alex Himelfarb and so many other progressives have been fighting back against. Himelfarb insists, for example, that tax isn't a four-letter word, warning that to embrace the neoliberal agenda means we won't be able to face up to our challenges and we will sleepwalk toward a smaller, meaner Canada.
But taxes are only a part of the Canadian equation that has been under consistent attack since the Harper ascension to power. The country I grew up in and love embraces so many qualities to which so many other countries aspire: acceptance, compassion, inclusion, peace are but four that have been put at grave risk by a government that regards them not as the virtues they truly are, virtues that need constant nurturing, but rather as impediments to the implementation of its marketplace mentality that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
These are a few of the things about this country that I love so deeply, and I want them back to once more nourish our collective soul and enrich all of us. It is what guided my vote in the advance poll, and it is what I want to see rekindled throughout our land.
If all goes well tonight, the reign of Stephen Harper and his horde will be at an end. The healing and rebuilding of our country can begin. It is a task no particular party is up to alone, but I believe that all of us, together, can still accomplish great things.