Friday, June 20, 2008

The Two Sides Of The Coin

(Or: Let Me See If I Can Confuse You About Politics, & Kung Fu Panda)

As far as political moves go, this is an interesting one. The Prime Minister of Canada has given Muskoka a $300,000,000 gift: a resort in Huntsville has been named to host the 2010 G8 summit.

Those who understand Canadian politics will know that a) the current government is a minority government and can be toppled at any time, and b) in general, Ontario is leery of the Conservative Party, which actually was the merging of the Canadian Alliance (which used to be the Reform Party) with the Progressive Conservatives... if you're confused, it's okay. In general, what it means is that a western-based party merged with a dying party to try to be more acceptable to Canadian voters all across the country.

The Liberal Party has long run its campaigns by trying to incite fear in the population - that a Conservative government would result new policies against gay marriage, etc. That having a Prime Minister from Western Canada is a big, bad, scary idea because... I don't know why. Some sort of east-west thing. By electing a minority Conservative government the Liberals were taken out of power, but the Conservatives weren't given a free pass. They can't do whatever they want. The great thing about minority governments is that it makes them cautious, and the politicians actually listen to the people, because if public opinion sways in favour of an election (or against whoever leads the minority government) the opposition parties will make sure that they get a non-confidence vote through in parliament and then the government will be dissolved and an election will be called.

As long as the ruling party is keeping the majority of Canadians happy, or at least not sufficient upsetting them, they get to form the government.

Stephen Harper became the Prime Minister in January 2006. As Wikipedia says, most minority governments last less than two years, so the fact that the Conservatives have remained in power for 2.5 years is quite an achievement.

Truth is, there is constant speculation about another election, and to be honest, I don't think anyone will want an election in the early part of 2010, because of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Now, cottage country will be hosting the G8 in the summer. Harper has just handed Ontario a lovely gift, and more specifically, Muskoka, and it couldn't have come at a better time. With the strong Canadian dollar and the lagging US economy, tourism has been hard hit in Canada, and regions like Mukoka make their bread and butter off of nothing but tourism. Sure, there are cottagers from Toronto and other parts of Ontario, but with the strong Canadian dollar it's also tempting to take that trip to France or Italy or wherever, because it's more affordable.

We can't have government handouts for every little thing that comes along, but Harper has found a way to offer a location for the G8 that can be secured in much the same way Kananaskis was in 2002, preventing demonstrations and the kind of unrest that has plagues other G8 summits.

Whatever else you want to say about him, Harper is pretty smart. This pretty much ensures that an election will fall between November 2008- 2009.

Which means that Harper is actually determining when his government will return to the polls, instead of being at the mercy of the opposition parties.

Like I said, smart.

Not as sensational as the US presidential election. If you want it all in a nutshell, Scalzi's done a better recap than I've seen anywhere. And if that leaves you in any doubt about where Scalzi stands, he clarifies here.

For the record, nobody wants to read my rant about the racial slurs Fox has tossed out at Michelle Obama. And if you want me to put it in a nutshell, it's that kind of behaviour that gives fuel to the fire for non-Americans who think Americans are narrow-minded. I don't believe this kind of behaviour represents the majority of Americans, and it's sad to me that the extremely poor judgment and bigotry of a few paints the rest of the country in a poor light.

And if that still isn't clear for anyone, you don't ever say that kind of shit around me.

Kung Fu Panda

I'd give this movie an A. Sure, it has a lot of the traditional hallmarks of the quest, and parallels can be drawn to Star Wars and Harry Potter and half a zillion other movies, but there were several things about this movie that made it work extremely well. One was the fact that they didn't overplay it. The story was told in a tight fashion, and if a hint was dropped, it was dropped once instead of beating you over the head with the obvious. As far as kids' movies go, it's one of the better ones I've seen in a while. No heavy reliance on potty humour and pop culture references to make cheap laughs. Lovable Po wrestles with his own insecurities and fears while dealing with the initial rejection from the very people he's idolized.


Grant McKenzie said...

I find it odd that I never heard any U.S. broadcaster ask Mrs. McCain: "Since you're blonde, skinny and white, don't you think your perspective of America might differ slightly from Mrs. Obama's?"

Sandra Ruttan said...

Grant, if someone asked Mrs. McCain that, I'd about die of shock. It baffles me that people can't comprehend - when it's such an issue it's being talked about in the media every single day - that race affects how people are treated and their experiences. I'm not saying it's right, just that it's reality.

It's part of the reason I wanted one of my characters in my series to be Native, and in Frailty there's a little bomb in there about racism and discrimination. It's not the major story but it's there nonetheless.

Honestly, I'd be proud to be in the US when they elect their first president of colour. The woman thing doesn't phase me at all - Canada's already had a woman Prime Minister - but to see Obama elected would be an incredible thing. I quite like Michelle Obama. I think she's an intelligent woman, down to earth, and principled.

John McFetridge said...

Other countries go to war so they have elections - we'll do anything to avoid one.

Deomcracy, eh?