TORONTO - Twenty four years ago – forgive me, it seems like only yesterday – a former editor-in-chief of the Corriere Canadese lamented that, in the aftermath of the Referendum campaign in Quebec, Canada seemed to be flailing about in a hyper-partisan political environment.
He hoped, despairingly, that the partisanship that so eroded civil discourse in Italy would not insinuate its cancerous influence in our society.
He noted that the public discourse was increasingly about “tearing the other guy down” than about o¥ering studied alternatives.
In that climate, partisanship was/ is more important than substance; “spin” more impactful issues. Individuals chosen for political o¦ce merely because of the colour of their brand, and not the value of their offerings.
Denigration of others and blind loyalty to “the cause” – the Party – began to exclude all other considerations.
The Country, its collective goals, the aspirations of its citizenry seemed to give way to narrow pecuniary interests often veiled by partisan talking points designed to obscure, obfuscate and otherwise hide less noble objectives.
Talk shows (radio and TV), run by corporate citizens dominated by individuals with a particular political persuasion, nurture an indifferent cynicism that is best described as “we good, they bad; and we don’t need to tolerate them any more”.
The rhetoric is increasingly hyperbolic; the leadership ever less inspiring. The most powerful nation in the world (at least for a while longer), the USA, “elected” a President whose own supporters and Cabinet Ministers have identified as a “moron”, taking care first to describe the level of idiocy with well-placed profane expletives.
He’s a hero to many, a political role model to others. Even here in Canada, those in position of authority have opted to “suspend judgement” on Trumpism while parroting his style and goals. It’s all about “putting money in your pocket”. Or, more refined: cutting taxes for those who yearly earn 300 times the national average.
Their followers follow the targets almost slavishly. Justin Trudeau, who, with carefree dexterity seems determined to show he can survive politically suicidal tendencies, has become the locus for all animus generated by Provincial Premiers. These are quickly discovering that the sword of Damocles hovers over everyone with simplistic solutions who occupies a seat of authority.
Jason Kenney will soon discover that Trudeau is not the factor that determines the price of Oil nor indeed the investments in its production. Better to go on bended knee to Trump whose decisions re Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Libya and “fracking” in the USA have more impact on supply and cost.
Doug Ford is discovering that his “austerity” is not only provoking civil discord and opposition, but that he is undoing what Ontario had achieved as recently as 2017: the recognition as the 3rd best jurisdiction in which to do business.
To claim to do otherwise is to abandon positive steps to improve on the performance of his predecessors, for the sake of scoring some cheap political point. It is all too reminiscent of the practice among ancient societies to equip the recently departed with gold coins so that they could pay their way to the great beyond.
Pointless for the deceased and futile for reconstruction among the living.