Tuesday, January 10, 2006

debate report card

After spending two hours last night listening to the second leaders’ English debate, I figure the least I can do is get a blog post out of it. So, hear goes – one very grassroots opinion on how these guys did in the debate:

Paul Martin: C
He looked like he was fighting for his life. Did a lot of treading water in a thrashing about kind of way. Played the "I love Canada more than you do," card a whole bunch of times. And the rabbit he pulled out of his hat yesterday was scary: that he will make it impossible to use the Notwithstanding Clause in some cases. It’s a poorly thought through idea and would put Canada even more tightly in the straightjacket of the human rights crowd. (We’re talking giving the final say on social policy [called ‘human rights’ – like gay marriage] to unelected – appointed by the ruling party, in fact – judges here, with no recourse for elected politicians to change their edicts. This is a bad idea.)

Jack Layton: B+
Perky, smooth – a bit robot-like at times – and sanctimonious ("Oh, that makes me so sad..."). Sings one tune: "Social Programs" in every imaginable key.

Gilles Duceppe: A
Intelligent, often funny. Enjoy his sarcasm. He lends a refreshing angle in that he has little to gain or lose by being there and can afford to be honest. One thing he pointed out is the fact that the two darling issues of the election (at least the ones the media tells us are the real focus) – health care and education – aren’t under the control of the federal government at all but are under provincial jurisdiction. I gave him big points when he hammered home the fact that it was under Paul Martin (he was finance minister a bunch of years) that the transfer payments for healthcare were slashed in the first place. (So what’s with the crocodile tears and wrapping yourself in the flag over healthcare now, big boy?)

Stephen Harper: A-
Measured. Focused. A little bit fake sometimes (I can just hear him, recalling his debate coach’s advice ‘ Stephen, remember to smile into the camera’). He did succeed, I think in sticking to the plan (at least the pundits claim it was a plan) to get across substance and not sink to personal attack. There were a couple of times I wish he’d defended himself more. By not defending himself he does one of two things: either show himself above such behavior or cast doubt in the watcher as to whether he can defend himself or if his position is defensible.

It’s pretty obvious on whose side I am. I guess if there was one thing I wish Stephen Harper had spelled out more clearly it would be a vision of a free enterprise Canada where Canadians are and can be more self-sufficient. It seems he has also bought into the myth that what we all really want is a nanny state – that it’s in our genes to need to be taken care of by government.

We need someone to help him articulate what it would look like for Canadians to be weaned from government dependency. There’s a certain fatalism here, a give-up attitude vs. that rising-up attitude that says ‘I can do it.’ The pioneer spirit that built this country seems to have evaporated.

It seems we’ve been told that this is the way Canadians are to the extent that we all believe it. Even free enterprisers and individualists are pressed into the socialist mold, or risk of being called bad Canadians. Paul Martin tries to paint it in glowing terms: "We look out for each other, we lend each other a hand ...blah, blah, blah." And we drink it in, not realizing that on the flip side of this is an addiction which kills incentive and attempts to bring us all down to the lowest common denominator.

The danger of this addiction is the mindset it breeds of going to whatever lengths it takes to get our share. This inevitably leads to the need to compromise beliefs and values. (The Liberal’s proposed National Daycare Program will be another example. In order to get that daycare money, mothers will be forced to put their children [as young as months old] into government-funded programs and into the hands of women whose values they have no way of knowing.)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...