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Spin Me Sweet Little Lies

When asked to define the middle class about which he continuously expresses his concern, Justin Trudeau replied that it was anyone who lived paycheck to paycheck as if it wasn’t possible to be reasonably successful and be middle class. He further defined it as anyone who lived on a salary they earned at a job as opposed to someone who was living off their assets. With that singular definition, Canada’s Peter Pan pretty much threw pensioners out of the middle class with the same efficiency and about as much thought as he tossed Liberal Senators from his caucus.

There has been all kinds of blather over his comments and it’s justified but there is something many of the blatherers have ignored.

Nobody has asked how the Conservatives or the NDP define the middle class they claim to be fighting to defend.

All three parties have expressed their deep-rooted and sincere concern for the middle class but it isn’t clear to me that any of our politicians have any better understanding of what constitutes the middle class than our pal Justin Trudeau.

We are, my friends, increasingly governed by fools who tilt windmills and fight straw dogs rather than dealing with real issues in a professional and effective manner.

Politicians are people who have become so caught up in the politics of spin that they wouldn’t know reality if it jumped up and bit them on the ass. Nothing is clear and properly defined anymore. Everything is double-talk and self-serving nonsense that clutters the airwaves but accomplishes nothing.

Consider, for example, the Conservative’s Fair Elections Act that is being championed by Canada’s Minister for Democratic Reform – Pierre Piddley-Pants. One of its primary objectives is to eliminate voter fraud and the obvious question is; what voter fraud?

All three of Canada’s major political parties have been charged with various violations of the current Elections Act as have a number of individual politicians. Liberal Joe Volpe, for example, got nailed a few years back for claiming campaign donations from dead people which, I admit is a nice trick if you can get them to sign a cheque.

Is there anything in the Fair Elections Act to address political party fraud? Nope! Quite the opposite, in fact. The meager rule changes for robo calls notwithstanding, the revised act does nothing to curtail the assault on our electoral process by politicians who are always looking for an edge and all too willing to cross the line if it will help get them elected. If anything, it has made it somewhat easier to break the rules and not so easy to investigate them.

Minister Piddley-Pants bases his claims of voter fraud on a report compiled and submitted to the Commissioner of Elections. He quotes the report ad nauseum and when he was challenged by the report’s author who stated unequivocally that the good minister got it wrong, Mr. Piddley-Pants simply announced that the report’s author didn’t understand his own report.

That’s political spin elevated to a level of stupidity that is difficult to believe can be delivered with a straight face.

Consider this example.

Ontario is heading towards a budget. I say heading because we no longer just have budgets presented; they have to be spun first. Documents leaked to the opposition parties laid out the spin strategy for leaking much of what the budget would contain before the budget is actually tabled. The leak is the spin to test the leaks of the spin for the budget and the spin to immediately follow it being tabled.

Don’t try to understand that; just do your best to try and keep up and let’s move on. I know it’s hard, it confuses me too and I had to write it.

When confronted about the leaked strategy, Ontario’s Finance Minister, Charles Sousa went off on a wonderful and eloquent if somewhat shrill defense of the government’s plan referring to increasing the existing deficit by $5.9 billion as ‘nation building’.

Nation building? The current Liberal government of which Mr. Sousa is a part has all but destroyed Ontario’s economy. If they intend to make a similar contribution to building our nation, we might just as well bend over, stick our heads between our legs and kiss our asses goodbye.

In Quebec, the Marois separatist government is so lost in its own spin, it’s even confused itself. One minute it is waxing generously about the relationship between Canada and an independent Quebec and the next, denying that it ever intended to hold a referendum on sovereignty. One minute it is claiming that its Secular Charter does not violate the constitutional rights of Quebec citizens and the next it is indicating that it will use the notwithstanding clause to uphold it if it does.

I don’t think we’ve ever seen a time when our political leadership is so bereft of ability, knowledge or just plain common sense.

The Harper government is quite upset with the Supreme Court for ruling against its appointment of Justice Nadon to the Court. They’ve gone so far as to accuse the court of making new law which is spin taken to the nth degree. The rules which disqualified Justice Nadon have been a part of Canada’s constitution since 1875. Now, the government is reduced to denying that rule existed although they did try to retroactively change the law while the appointment was still being considered by the court.

What? How do you rationalize an attempt to change a law you now claim never existed. Oh yeah – spin. I keep forgetting.

Spin rules – nothing else matters.

The problem is that it is no longer constrained to local and national politics. It has now spread onto the world stage as we saw in Syria and recently in Ukraine.

I’ve been fairly critical of the West’s handling of the situation in Ukraine because it was clear from the outset that Harper, Obama and pretty much every other G-7 leader with the possible exception of Angela Merkle of Germany were dealing with the crisis exactly the way they would deal with a political issue back home.

They tried to spin it.

They carved out a scenario and then set about trying to sell it to the world. Russia bad, Ukraine good. Putin was both Hitler and Stalin. They threatened, condemned, criticized, sanctioned, pontificated and blustered but what they didn’t do was understand. They didn’t bother to understand or even try to understand the political and cultural history of the region. Understanding takes time and effort and lately, politicians don’t have time for either. They just shoot from the lip with self-righteous spin and without much real thought.

The G-7 met last weekend where, among other things, they continued to ramp up the condemnation of Russia and Vladimir Putin. Their work done, where did President Barack Obama go next? Why, he trundled off to that bastion of democratic freedom; Saudi Arabia where he met with the leaders of a nation that has just passed a law that all atheists will now be treated as terrorists.

The White House characterized the meetings as productive which only goes to show just how convenient spin can be when dealing with hypocrisy. This would be the same Saudi Arabia that routinely in public lops off the heads of folks convicted of witchcraft but the west takes a much more dainty approach to dealing with the Kingdom because – well – it’s got lots of oil and holds lots of the west’s debt. See how that works? Ukraine never had a chance.

It’s one thing to take a shot or two at Justin Trudeau he doesn’t have an army or nuclear weapons but what might work when dealing with him ain’t going to work on someone like Assad or Putin, North Korea or China.

No matter how good you are at it, no matter how many elections you managed to spin yourself to victory, spin ain’t much use in real confrontation like a war.

Instead of diplomacy with teeth, the handling of the Ukraine situation was all about what would benefit the west’s leaders back home. It didn’t really do much to actually help Ukraine or its people which is basically confirmed by the fact that Crimea is now part of Russia and Ukraine is both politically and economically unstable and in jeopardy.

It’s pretty much the same result with everything these folks touch from Obamacare in the States to Senate Reform in Canada. Spin might save your ass for a moment or two when the media are chewing it over some issue but it will never resolve an issue. Inevitably it only makes it worse as we are seeing in Ukraine, the Middle East and the Senate Expense Scandal.

These guys can’t even get a pipeline built but boy can they spin the reasons why not.

Government is big business – a billion dollar business and yet, we turn it over to people whose only qualifications are the ability to get elected. It’s like selecting the new CEO for Microsoft or General Electric from contestants on American Idol.

Popularity is no guarantee of ability and God knows we’ve seen more than enough examples of that over the past few decades that we should have figured it out by now.

We haven’t and we’re paying for it.

Brigette Pellerin posted a rather sobering bit of information on her Facebook page the other day. It was part of a report on government debt produced by the Fraser Institute which shows that when all government debt; municipal, provincial and federal is added together, Canada is in debt to the tune of $4.1 trillion. To put that in perspective, that would be the equivalent of $243 million for every living man, woman and child in the country although I believe it may exclude most of Joe Volpe’s campaign contributors.

How many corporations do you know that could survive that level of incompetent management? The current, ‘fiscally responsible’ Conservative government only added $162 billion to the debt. God only knows how much more would have been added if it had been a spendthrift government.

From our constitutional rights to how our government is meant to work, politicians these days are the single biggest threat we face. Most of them have never read the constitution, have no clue what are or are not a Canadian’s constitutional rights, clearly have no clue when it comes to responsible management of our economic resources and increasingly drift from one self-manufactured crisis to another on a wing and a prayer powered by a lot of spin.

I think we should enact a law that requires anyone who wishes to run for political office to take and pass a basic civics test that contains questions about our constitution, the economy and government process. Tossing in a couple of math and literacy questions wouldn’t hurt either.

You should only get to run for office if you pass the test with a score of 80% or better.

 Popularity contests and cult-like partisanship haven’t been working too well for us and its time we accepted that and got serious about who we elect to run things.

Either that or get out your cheque book because we have $4 trillion to start paying off.

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© 2014 Maggie’s Bear

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Twitter: @maggsbear  / Facebook to: Maggie’s Bear / contact: ivmaki@sympatico.ca

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  • paulsstuffb

    I completely suck at math, but 35,000,000 Canadians times $243,000,000 debt each equals $4.1 trillion? I get somwhere around $172,000 each.

  • Pingback: Spin Me Sweet Little Lies | Grumpy Opinions()

  • oldwhiteguy

    you sure did address a lot of stuff in todays rant. spin, is a good word. it must mean a lie that goes around and around and is never questioned. the scoc telling the pm that the person he wanted to appoint could not be appointed, based on a law in our constitution circa 1875, drives me nuts. the entire scoc were appointed by a pm. can said law now be used to keep anyone off the bench who does not agree with the current court’s philosophy? I think it was George carlin who said ” language is a tool for concealing the truth”. I think he was right. as for your requirements for running for office I would apply the same standard to voting.

    • MaggiesBear

      Personally, I think the entire appointment process is flawed and needs to be changed but until it is, government has to abide by it. It’s really that simple. The government knew in advance that it was violating the constitution, that’s why it tried to introduce a new law to change the constitution but you can’t end run the constitution with unconstitutional law revisions. We have a constitution to protect us from governments that would enact laws for their own benefit at our expense and a people that forget that soon lose many of the rights their constitution provides.

      I agree with you about voters. I see a lot of stupid stuff being bandied about in a day and I sometimes wonder if they realize that they’re talking American rights rather than Canadian. I believe that IQ no longer stands for Intelligence Quotient but rather Ignorance Quotient and their is a lot of ignorance around these days.

      • oldwhiteguy

        that particular law protects the scoc by giving it the power to decide who should be on the court. they should not have that power.