I guess I’m what you’d call, politically speaking, part of the fluid middle. Which means I like to think when I vote. It’s not a matter of tribal affiliation, or religious conviction, it’s a matter of informed choice. And the choice, each time, is about both principles and context.
Which makes me, by definition, the polar opposite of the red meat and potatoes, visceral, ideological partisanship of the Stephen Harper Conservatives – who, please god or the electorate, will be tossed into outer darkness come the next election. One thinks of Oliver Cromwell’s admonition to the Long Parliament: ‘Be gone, for all the good you have done here!’ Or words to that effect – my history may be a little shaky here, I admit.
Still, you gotta love the PC’s, nonetheless, if only because they’re good for a laugh, sometimes. I mean, nobody does shrill, like they do; nobody does strident. And all the little mini-me’s parading and vying to outdo one-another, in Stephen Harper’s Cabinet, marching like Duracell bunnies to His Master’s Voice – well, aren’t they a treat, too? So cut them some slack, folks. It’s just entertainment.
Take, for instance, the matter of the muskrat. A question of national importance, I’m sure you’ll agree. What happened is this. The RCMP – the Mounties, to you and me – recently took a decision to phase out most of their traditional winter fur hats, or tuques – made, as you have correctly guessed, of muskrat fur – in favour of a more animal-friendly material. Officers working in the most extreme cold would continue to be issued the traditional furs.
Well! Did this not stir the righteous indignation of Harper’s Minister of the Environment (who is not, obviously, the Minister responsible for the RCMP) who rose in the House, in response to a prepared piece of bait from a fellow Conservative, to exclaim, with vengeful glee, that the historic fur hats “will not be discontinued, despite the efforts of the radical animal rights activists.”
Wow. Take that, you – you activists, you! Splutter, splutter. I almost can see the spittle drooling from her mouth, as she vents her contempt for people who dare to think differently, who hold to the democratic right to – well, to be activists in the cause of something they believe in. Frankly, I don’t care about the musk-rat fur-hat issue, either way: but it is revealing, don’t you think, to see how much angry bluster a little activism – there’s that dirty little word again – can inspire in a Canadian Minister. I mean, it tells you something about them.
The other tidbit from the week’s news is also about bluster and stridency, and about the temptations of posturing. In this instance it fell to the Heritage Minister (not obviously someone with responsibility for the military) to inform the House that there was no doubt in her mind that Canada must participate in military action against Islamic State: “These are people who are violent and brutal and they have decapitated journalists, they have raped and brutalized women. That is all we need to know to know we need to stand up to them. This cannot be allowed to continue,” she said – according to The Globe and Mail.
Well, ISIS or whatever they call themselves are a vile, depraved, vicious lot, without question, and not really Muslims at all, for that matter. And I would like to see them stopped as much as anyone – as much as Shelly Glover. But there are at least two questions here which need to be answered. The first is, of course – and the question is being debated, as it should – is whether bombing these bastards from the air is the best thing to do, in the circumstances; and indeed, whether there is anything practical and useful that Canada can do, in the circumstances, that would not actually make things worse. Bomb them to oblivion, if that’s what is needed – but let’s be sure, first, that this is the best of a limited number of complex and mostly unsatisfactory choices.
But the more egregious aspect of Ms Glover’s comments is this: the implication that Canada should, everywhere and anywhere that it comes across people it doesn’t like, whose behaviour it profoundly (and perhaps rightly) objects to, ‘stand up’ and start bombing. “These are people who are violent and brutal … that is all we need to know to know that we need to stand up to them.” Really? Is that Canada’s foreign policy, these days? Is that Canada’s Defence Doctrine?
Well, no, of course that’s not what she meant. It’s just a case of speaking loudly and carrying a teensy weeny little stick, that’s all. The inversion, you might say, of Teddy Roosevelt.