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 [1].

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 [2]. 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 #2I 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 #3I 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 [3], 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 [4].

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?

***

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] I had to look up Jack Layton on Wikipedia to remember what party he rolled with.

[4] I haven’t done my taxes in nine years. This is not an exaggeration…or political statement, really. I just have difficulties with paperwork.

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5 Responses to “Ask B.E.: Why don’t you write about Canadian Politics?”

  1. Carebear Says:

    I don’t really have any hope of trying to convince you or anyone else that our political process is as exciting as the one in the states – they get the extremes and the star power because the current set up only allows two people (just 2, so fucking deal, Nader) – always on opposite sides of the political spectrum – to fight for the top job.

    Canadians, on the other hand, vote for a local representative from any number of political parties that cover not only the hard right and left, but various points in the middle and on occasion, lala land (in the 1990s the Natural Law Party of Canada promised that if elected, they would spread positive healing energy throughout the nation by way of “yogic flying”). I think it’s fair to say that our system demands a lot more from us, and for many, elections make Canadians feel less like they are choosing a leader — which, unless they live in a party leader’s riding, they’re not — and more like they are being forced to do their homework in trying to distinguish one keener political nerd from another.

    Some of the highlights from this most recent parliament include a very strong attempt to provide a legal basis for the criminalization of abortion, and the introduction of a copyright law so restrictive that it would reduce the flow of information to a trickle for all but those with the means to pay for it (public libraries and schools aren’t exactly drowning in riches these days). Sexy? No. Scary? You bet. If I want to know what colour lipstick a pig wears, I’ll watch CNN. But since I want to know who’s clamoring for the right to pass laws that will affect my life in very real, very significant ways, I’ll stick to the CBC.

  2. conundrum Says:

    As a guy who is an American and a news junkie, American politics are ripe with drama, humor, idiocy and salatious events.

    Thus my adoration for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

  3. sulya Says:

    I want to say something brain-burningly brilliant about Canadian politics but not unlike you I am woefully ignorant of them despite having been born and raised in Canada (by ex-pat Americans which is my ongoing excuse for weirdness and ignorance of all things Canuck)…

    I want to say something witty in defence of Quebec because I grew up in Montreal which happens to be a pretty great city whatever anyone thinks about the province… I suppose I could argue that to hate the Federal Gov’t because Quebec is part of it puts you in a space tangential to things Separatist and profoundly Quebecois in spirit and then just duck for cover…

    But mostly – I am still giggling in a too-tired and girlish way about the line:

    “like a box of surly kittens”

  4. engtech Says:

    I can never remember which party Richard Dreyfus is with, either.

  5. Socks Says:

    My co-worker just overheard the following conversation at a Starbucks:

    Man1: [Dude’s name] is translating the debates tomorrow?
    Man2: He’s Harper.
    Man1: Wow.
    Man2: Yeah, we’re all trying to convince him to use a really feminine voice.


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