Ask B.E.: Why don’t you write about Canadian Politics?
September 11, 2008
I am Canadian; proudly so. I live, in Ottawa, about two blocks from Parliament. Half of my friends either work directly for the Government, or for a NGO closely affiliated with it. I have gotten drunk, and made out with, bar chicks on the lawn outside the legislature: It is not out of the question that our Prime Minster has seen me rounding third base. Despite this close connection the entirely of my political commentary is directed towards the American sphere. Why is this?…you might, and some of you have, asked. Let me break it down for you.
Why doesn’t that smug Canuck rag on his own fucking country?
Short answer: Stay out of my business!
Longer, less churlish, answer: There are three factors (of varying degrees of dysfunctionality).
Factor #1 – I am addicted to CNN
Previously I referred to American politics as surreal disgrace poetry. I stand by this. There is something so sexy wrong and broken about the partisan posturing, constant scandal, and almost team sport adversarial clash of legislators trying to defeat each other…in lieu of actual governance .
CNN fuels this perception by framing everything so diametrically, and forcing a through line into loosely connected events. I don’t want information when I watch the news…I want narrative. I don’t want to know what happened…I want to know whose fault it is. I love how the hosts bait party wonks into conflict like a box of surly kittens. Everything is charged with this contentious energy that appeals to the pro wrestling fan in me.
Canadian news lacks the infotainment . And realistically: How often do you get to witness the fall of an empire? The scale and tragedy, and inanity, of the American decline is prom queen pissing herself compelling.
Factor #2– I have intimacy issues
I have an awesome family that I dearly love. I see them about three times a year. When you invest in something, that’s so closely a part of you, there is a surrendering of control, and muddying of identity, that I find uncomfortable. I enjoy my iconoclasm, if I start writing about Canadian politics then I become rooted in my environment. I become, in part, the product of the bureaucratic machine surrounding me…my tender limb force fed into its mashing gears.
Thank you, but no. I’ll reserve my investment for abstracts and fictional constructs: He-man won’t rezone my house; karmic reciprocity won’t call badger me into a 2am action rally. I adore Obama, but he’s shares more psychic real estate with Spiderman, than he does Jack Layton.
Factor #3– I don’t know a goddamn thing about Canadian politics
I voted once, when I turned 18, for the novelty of it. I haven’t touched a ballot since. If pressed, I could name the heads of two , of the fifteen, parties that make up our government; I didn’t know who our current Prime Minster was until three months after the last election. In my experience they all run Canada pretty much the same way: Canadians demand continuity, and we select out politicians accordingly. This makes for a consistently stellar country, with a paralyzing boring political landscape.
Also: I strongly dislike Quebec, and boycott anything they are a part of…including the federal government as a whole .
The end result is I am largely indifferent to the existence of Canadian politicians, and posses little insight, or vitriol, that could be mined for journalistic purpose. I suppose I could fake it, but why shill on your own dime?
 It’s like they’ve given up on running the country, and are now just trying to settle some elaborate gentleman’s wager. I find that romantically nefarious.
 My spell checker didn’t bat an eye at the use of infotainment. This surprises and discourages me: my word processor has become a 5th grader with a cell phone.
 I had to look up Jack Layton on Wikipedia to remember what party he rolled with.
 I haven’t done my taxes in nine years. This is not an exaggeration…or political statement, really. I just have difficulties with paperwork.