Flashbacks: September 2012

Attention Margaret Wente: feel free to steal as much of this column as you like. I know times are tough out there in that Ontarian welfare ghetto known as Toronto, and Lord knows it wouldn’t be Christian of me to hoard all this A-material to myself while lesser columnists go starved for ideas. So fill yer boots missus, ‘cause this harvest season we’ve got a bumper crop of news.

Holy smokes b’ys, it’s election season again south of the border. As expected (because American politics are nuts), the race is neck-and-neck between Nobel-laureate Barack “infinite Drone War” Obama and Mitt “I literally strapped a dog to the roof of my car on a cross-country vacation once” Romney.

Remember the good ol’ days? Things were much simpler then.

If you, like me, thought 2008’s The Sarah Palin Show set the bar for horrifying presidential election campaigns, you were wrong; Romney’s gaffe-prone awkwardness makes Stephen Harper seem like a legitimately warm and charming human being.

As governor of Massachusetts Romney basically invented the healthcare reform package he’s now campaigning against, his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention was upstaged by an elderly movie star yelling at an empty chair, and in the last two weeks alone he came within a hair’s breadth of blaming Obama personally for murdering an American diplomat in Libya and was caught on tape explaining to a closed room of millionaires that he really doesn’t care about half the voting population. It’s a safe bet Obama’s laughing all the way to the bank on this one—when he’s not drone-striking his way into America’s heart, he’s just Biden his time.

Don’t stare directly at it. The cuteness is just too much.

Regardless of how things turn out down south, up here we’re stuck with at least another three years of the Harper Government, and now that the House of Commons is open again we can all remember just how dreary that reality is.

Other than some very silly claims from the Conservatives that the NDP’s cap-and-trade carbon tax scheme would destroy Canadian jobs (despite it being the exact same policy the Conservatives themselves held a few years ago), the first major debate to crop up in the House this session is about abortion. Tory backbencher Stephen Woodworth’s bill—which would aim to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate the question of when exactly life begins—was shot down by in an overwhelming 203-92 vote, but it’s more than a little disquieting that the Minister for the Status of Women stood in the House and voted to throw women’s reproductive rights in jeopardy. Couple that with a Science Minister who doesn’t believe in evolution and a Labour Minister who would love nothing more than to grind unions into the dust and you’d almost start to wonder about how, exactly, this country’s being run.

Meanwhile, the federal Liberals decided to remind us that they still exist and announce that Justin Trudeau was finally going to ascend to his rightful place on the party’s throne. Is this a last, desperate shot at glory before the party is absorbed by Thomas Mulcair’s Big Orange Machine, or are we standing on the cusp of a new Trudeaupia?

But while it might be smooth sailing for the Tories in Ottawa, here in St. John’s things are a little less rosy. It’s been a rough month for our own boys (and gals) in blue; polls have the approval for both the Premier and the party slipping, they’ve had the first floor-crossing in the House of Assembly since it was part of Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood, and they just can’t shake off the stink of spending the summer ramming through the most regressive access-to-information laws in Canada.

A newly proposed $24 bill.

To make things even worse, now it turns out MHA David Brazil may have played fast and loose with funds originally allocated to go towards Adult Basic Education programs in his district. While Brazil probably hasn’t done anything wrong (at least, certainly not as wrong as, say, former Liberal MHA Walter Noel’s penchant for spending public money on liquor and ladies-wear), it’s still a faux pas to go around signing cheques with no oversight and paying computer programmers with beer less than a couple years after we arrested a bunch of politicians for doing those same sorts of things. That said, if Dave wouldn’t mind kicking a couple cases of India my way, I’ll make sure to spend my next column filling you guys in on what a fine and handsome man he is.

I feel your pain Wayne. It’s going to be a long winter.

Finally, I’d like to call a brief moment of silence for the NHL lockout. In a dark night of the Canadian soul like this one, you’ve gotta wonder whether or not nationalizing the National Hockey League is really such a bad idea. Sure, it may not have helped the Soviets beat us in the 1970s, but they also probably never went years without hockey seasons either. Failing that, of course, you’ve gotta wonder why Harper hasn’t legislated the players back to work yet; if Hockey Night in Canada doesn’t qualify as an essential service then, by God, what does?