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Lost in the Noise

A friend and fellow conservative blogger out of the United States sent me an email this morning.

“Where the hell have you been? Snow’s melted, power should be back on and you’ve been quiet!”

The operative word in that short message was ‘quiet’. I took an extended break to try and get away from the noise that surrounds us all day – every day. It never stops; it’s just one constant barrage of uninformed opinion, bigotry, arrogant partisanship and simple-minded solutions put forward as the panacea for complex problems.

During my break, I didn’t write. I kept up with the news but only just. I’m as tired of the lack of informed analysis and the absurd partisanship in the mainstream media as I am with the trolls and the sanctimonious on social media.

Yesterday, for example, I briefly watched a media piece where the host interviewed an ‘expert’ with regard to Canada’s military deployment to Eastern Europe. The expert stated that the deployment of a few fighter aircraft was more symbolic than preventative which was accurate but then went on to state that what Canada should have done was deploy at least one battleship to the Black Sea.

Christ in Heaven! A battleship? Canada doesn’t have a battleship. It has some destroyers, frigates (one of which is now being deployed), four submarines, some coastal and supply vessels. In fact, none of the NATO countries, including the United States, has any battleships – something you would think that an ‘expert’ brought in to comment on the situation should know.

But then – he’s not alone in not allowing facts to impede his rush to share his expert opinion.

I’ve lost track of the number of ‘informed’ media pundits who have referred to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet as the Executive Branch of the Canadian Government.

And these folks were commenting on our constitution which clearly they have never bothered to read.

Canada has three branches of government: judicial, legislative and executive. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet are part of the legislative branch. Indeed, the Prime Minister isn’t even elected to the office. He, or she, becomes Prime Minister by virtue of having been elected leader of his or her party. If the party decides to boot the leader, he or she is no longer Prime Minister. It is the same with provincial governments and we saw two conservative Premiers forced from office this year when they lost the confidence of their parties and were forced to resign as party leaders.

The executive branch of the Canadian government is the monarch with specific powers and responsibilities that are separate and apart from the legislative branch.

That inconvenient fact doesn’t deter the opinion makers. They continue to blather on and on as if what they want to be true actually is true.

And in the end it neither informs nor advances an issue – any issue. It just adds to the noise. The same noise that  incessantly criticizes the Supreme Court for upholding the constitution as it is written rather than allowing politicians to ignore it.

We are a country that built a railroad from coast to coast back in a time when building a railroad was no small feat. We built the St. Lawrence Seaway that provides access to the centre of the continent for seafaring ships, designed and built the Canada space arm and developed a vaccine against polio. We are a nation that fought in two world wars against tyranny, served in a variety of smaller conflicts and in peace keeping missions around the world. We led the international effort to end Apartheid in South Africa and answered the call on September 11 when our American friends were under attack. We immediately allowed all in-flight aircraft in American airspace to divert to and land in Canada where many travelers were sheltered by Canadians until the situation was resolved.

We are among the first to put boots on the ground and provide relief resources when a natural disaster strikes as we did in Japan, Haiti and West Africa. In other words, we were a decent people led by flawed but usually competent leadership that earned us the respect and admiration of the world.

That is no longer true.

Now we jabber at each other like petulant Canada geese while supporting some of the most inept and often corrupt politicians in modern memory. We no longer talk to each other only ‘at’ each other, throwing demeaning and weak-minded accusations around that would embarrass an NBA Basketball team owner.

This isn’t a partisan issue although some cling to the idea that if only their party were to be elected, the world would find peace and harmony. Yeah! Right. This isn’t even a Canadian issue. Pick your political ideology and your state, province or country and it’s all the same.

Consider some of our recent heroes.

Former Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty who managed to take Canada’s oldest and most prosperous province from being the economic engine of Canada to being a have-not province with a crushing debt, declining jobs, rising energy costs and over-taxation. Add his successor current Premier Kathleen Wynne who is rushing to increase the debt by more than $1 billion in this fiscal year and you have a political leadership that is disconnected from economic reality.

Federally, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has little to show for his 9 years in office other than a few trade agreements. He gets credit for steering the country through the 2008 recession but the truth is that he inherited a stable banking industry and did not face the housing bubble collapse that devastated the U.S. economy. In the end, he did precisely what a Liberal government would have done; he threw money at the issue and raised the national debt by more than $160 billion.

In the process, he divided and polarized the country with his consistent refusal to collaborate and work with provincial premiers; presided over scandals including the Senate expense scandal which reached right into his office and has failed to deliver on any of his major promises including senate reform, a more open and accountable government and whose foreign policy is almost as disjointed as that of Barack Obama.

The current leader of the federal Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau, has more in common with a contestant on American Idol than a national political leader. He has straight teeth and a charmingly crooked smile but not a lot more going for him. With more than a year as leader under his belt, he has managed to trade his celebrity to increase financial support for the party but damned if anyone knows what he stands for or what he’d do if he became Prime Minister.

Surely to God, we can find someone to run this country who isn’t mean-spirited and petty or whose only major accomplishment is putting cash in the party’s bank account?

Former PQ Premier Pauline Marois didn’t survive a year in office which is a good thing. Her solution to building a strong, independent and tolerant Quebec was simply to suppress the constitutional rights of any who were not just like her and her xenophobic associates. She was a petty, mean little woman who had little consideration for the rights of those with whom she disagreed and did everything she could to try and entrench her bigotry into law.

In British Columbia, the current Liberal premier is forging ahead with her belief the province’s prosperity will come from developing liquid natural gas despite a recent report that states the exact opposite and warns the government of what could be a pending economic disaster.

Next door in Alberta, former conservative Premier Allison Redford got the boot from her party for her ‘let them eat cake’ attitude. Perhaps more than any other Canadian politician, Ms Redford indulged in the privilege available to her which cost the people of Alberta ridiculous amounts of money for unnecessary travel and other expenses. It was on her watch that the RCMP broke into homes in High River and confiscated legally acquired and owned firearms, a situation a little too close to police-state tactics for most of us.

But then, that is part of the expanding divide between us and them.

Government increasingly treats us as the enemy. They impose onerous restrictions on ever-day citizens under the guise of national security or safety. When we fail to obey, we are fined, penalized and even jailed.

Meanwhile terrorists continue to flourish and people continue to die.

In the States, Barack Obama took an historic election and the opportunity that providedand squandered it. He had the admiration and support of the democratic world and within six years, has failed to deliver anything beyond incompetence, division, discord and economic confusion. His foreign policy is a disaster, his signature Affordable Health Care Act an abysmal failure and his promise to deliver change in which you can believe nothing but dust and ashes.

He was the first American black president and I contrast his legacy with that of the first black president of South Africa. One walked his talk while the other, like most of our political leaders, just talks.

France is led by a socialist who is struggling with the reality that his poorly conceived socialist policies don’t work at the same time that he tries to juggle his somewhat exotic love life. Like Berlusconi, Italy’s former Prime Minister, he tends to think with the wrong head.

This collection of world leaders along with politicians at all levels of government from countries all over the world, have racked up three times more debt than the combined GDP of all countries of the world.

And that brings us to Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

The cycle of deceit and substance abuse continues as yet more videos have emerged showing the mayor apparently smoking crack and making homophobic and misogynist statements. The first time he had to admit he had a problem, he deserved a bit of sympathy but this has become a broken record of self-indulgence, addiction and lies.

He wallowed in his celebrity status despite the fact that it was built on serious character flaws bringing disgrace to his office, embarrassment to his family and dishonor to those who supported him, in particular his brother who stood by the mayor through it all. The fact that he is still mayor exemplifies more than anything else, just how low our standards have fallen when it comes to choosing people to lead us.

And despite what has happened – again; there will be many who will continue to support Rob Ford. They will make excuses for his behaviour just as others do for Harper, Marois, Obama, McGuinty, Wynne, Horvath, Pelosi, Hollande, Cameron, Redford and Christ alone knows how many others.

Iin the end it will be just more noise that signifies nothing and accomplishes even less. We never learn. We encourage and motivate the very things we claim to oppose and even as our society devolves into a form of moral ambiguity the best we can do is to make noise.

As this current crop of inept G-7 leaders back inch by inch into potential armed conflict in Eastern Europe, I keep trying to hear the answer to a question that tries to rise above that noise:

“Are we safer; are we more prosperous, more united or more successful as a result of the efforts of our political leadership?”

I never hear the answer though – there’s just too much noise for common sense and principle to break through.

And that, my friends, is why I needed and took a break.


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© 2014 Maggie’s Bear

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Twitter: @maggsbear – Facebook: Maggie’s Bear – ivmaki@sympatico.ca

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  • oldwhiteguy

    good to see you back. reading what passes as thought has become depressing. I enjoy your informed comment. I have come to a point where I have questions but no answers. rational, realistic policies are needed but we will not see them because we do not have rational people in control. they still function under the belief that giving people something that someone else has produced is the only way to go.

    • MaggiesBear

      Thank you for the kind comment, I appreciate them. I absolutely agree with you about the people in control and we were treated to yet another example of what you describe in yesterday’s Ontario Liberal budget. It’s almost like these people live in an alternate reality, a different dimension from the one in which we live. As bad as that is, however, it’s the fact that so many people continue to support this incompetent stupidity that threatens to make my head explode.