Friday, March 23, 2018

A Broad Canvas

If, like me, you are a retired senior to whom the fates have been reasonably kind, you have the luxury to contemplate the world around you at your leisure. If you are at all engaged in the larger world, however, that contemplation is rarely relaxing or enjoyable. You have seen too much in your lifetime.

A clear benefit and curse of advancing years is the context it confers. Without succumbing to mindless sentiment or nostalgia, I can remember earlier days when our society, although frequently roiled with major problems, was able to preserve and nourish something that now seems to be rapidly receding into the realm of the notionally quaint: the common good. People who ran for political office, it seems to me, more often than not, ran with a mind to represent the entire country or province, not a narrow or divisive constituency nursing some nebulous sense of grievance.

Today, that seems rarely the case. Nationally, of course, that 'narrowcasting' was most obvious during the foul reign of Stephen Harper, its main justification being to secure and retain power. His replacement, Justin Trudeau, while bearing the accouterments of a progressive populist, has disappointed deeply, purveying a neoliberal agenda and readily abandoning his election promises, an electoral reform that could have rejuvenated our waning democratic participation, and his pushing through pipelines without the 'social licence' he averred was sacred. Meanwhile, the Conservatives leader, Andrew Scheer, in true populist style in order to convince the electorate he is 'one of us,' dons a plaid short-sleeved shirt and bluejeans, while NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, courting the press, seeks to fashion himself as a Justin 2.0:

Here in Ontario, things are no better. We have a desperate Kathleen Wynne promising everything to everyone in a proposed spending spree which, should she be returned to power, would ensure at the very least another sale of public assets, the most likely immediate target being the LCBO. Her recent appointment of privatization czar Ed Clark as its chair was a barely concealed hint of a further implementation of the neoliberal agenda.

As a retiree, I am particularly offended at Wynne playing to the stereotype of the selfish senior by promising to remove the deductibles and co-payments under the Ontario Drug Benefit program, which provides seniors with free drugs. This will save the average person $240 per year. My vote really can't be bought, Kathleen.

Then, of course, there is the rise of the reactionary populist Doug Ford, promising to find 'new efficiencies' to save $6 billion with, wait for it, no job loss or government cuts! Shame on anyone who lived through the Mike Harris years for believing such patent malarkey.

Finally, we have the NDP's Andrea Horwath who, in a bald and venal play, gave up her balance of power leverage and triggered the last election, the same one that gave Wynne her majority, thereby allowing her to sell off 60% of Hydro One, a sale Horwath now promises to reverse by buying back the shares and lower hydro rates by 30%.

The contemporary canvas I contemplate is a bleak one. In Voltaire's Candide, Professor Pangloss avers "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds". Notably, the work is a satire. Perhaps it is time for a new generation of readers.


  1. I was pleased to see you to correctly refer to Wynnes proposal as removing the DEDUCTIBLE for seniors Lorne, listening to her talking about this one would think that she was referring to all fees already free for seniors. Political double speak as usual.
    The next 3 months will be so full of BS promises, which cannot or will not be instituted, from ALL the contenders. Warm up your scoop shovel Lorne!

    1. I am considering upgrading to a bigger, broader and deeper shovel, Rural.