The news is very strange this week. Body parts in the Ottawa mail. The sentencing of Charles Taylor. And that thing that happened in Florida earlier? It’s all a bit apocalyptic – stuff out of dark thrillers and horror movies – and the grey weather that is Vancouver’s May (not to mention the tornados and flooding in Montreal) underscore a world coming apart. It’s just one of the moments that feels like the end is nigh, and it seems fitting in that case to go out in the city tonight and make noise with a few hundred other people against the austerity measures in Quebec and (more importantly) at all levels in Canada.
A news poll earlier this week has shown a distinct shift to the left over the past year, which is welcome news after the beating we have all taken at the hands of governments attempting to siphon off decent wages and working conditions to ensure greater profits at the hands of the 1%. But still, the Tories proceed with outlawing the CP strike, ramming through the Ominbus bill containing dozens of anti-environmental and anti-social provisions, and generally showing us how much they hold Canada and its people in contempt. While it’s too far away from the next federal election to really know what might happen, three more years of heavy-handed rule can only hurt the Conservatives…. particularly if this leftward re-assertion continues.
Personally, I don’t care which parties win the provincial and federal elections over the next few years – because all parties lie in the end no matter their best intentions. But what I do hope for is a return to the kind of social democracy that Canada has enjoyed in the past – one which values a good pension plan, a clean-ish environment (we’ve never had a great record on that as a resource-extracting nation), the preservation of heritage and wild space, decent health care and social services, and a tax system which ensures it can all be paid for. I’m not sure why that seems so impossible these days when Canada has survived in that manner for decades – the balance being one of compromise on all sides instead of one side trying to crush the other. But it’s totally possible, of course. It’s totally possible to envision and fight for a better world, a fairer and more just place to grow old and raise our children. It’s just a question of shaking off our doubts and carrying on, against the backdrop of apocalypse perhaps, but towards something better that we create.