OTTAWA THIS WEEK - EAST - May 5, 2011
Tories must allow for compromise
tephen Harper’s appeal to the voters to deliver him a majority government did not fall on deaf ears. The Conservatives picked up 167 seats, an increase of 24 seats. The Tory tide once again swept across Ottawa, with only David McGuinty and Mauril Belanger holding on to Liberal seats in Ottawa South and Ottawa-Vanier. In Ottawa Centre, Paul Dewar secured his seat for the NDP. The anticipated surge of NDP support did not hurt the Tories, except in a few ridings in Quebec, where most of the seats picked up by the party were taken from the Liberals. During the campaign, the prime minister warned Canadians that a minority Tory government couldn’t hold on to power and would fall prey to a coalition of the Liberals, NDP or potentially the Bloc Quebecois. Harper’s predictions were alarming with warnings of hits to the financial markets, deficit spending and possibly reopening the Constitution for another divisive debate that nobody wanted. Canadians obviously listened, and Harper no longer faces the spectre of having to compromise
or work to achieve consensus with the opposition. But is that necessarily a good thing? Yes, a majority government will give the Tories the tools to pass legislation that could have been delayed by a united opposition. And as Tory MP Gordon O’Connor pointed out, a majority win will allow the Conservatives to stand down from continuous preparation for yet another election, and focus on the task of governing. But when they were a minority government, the Tories were forced to listen to the ideas of other parties and to compromise. The politics of consensus forces a leader to sift through the ideas of competing parties and incorporate the best parts within his or her own policies. We hope winning a majority won’t go Harper’s head. The Tories often use the word “arrogance” to explain the federal Liberals fall in fortune, they might want to avoid a similar accusation over the next four years. Be a good prime minister, Harper. Listen to other ideas, use the best ones. Remember, in a democracy we elect a prime minister, we don’t anoint a king.
A winter game for all seasons
any factors go into making Canada the unique country it is, as recent political events have shown. On a non-political level, we have Tim Hortons and the Group of Seven and a large group of comedians located in the United States. We have football with three downs. We have three coasts and at least two seasons. We have many languages and very few species of deadly snakes. We have movie theatres that don’t show Canadian movies. Oh, wait, other countries have those too. One of the other non-political things that has been commented upon lately is the fact that our hockey season, the season for a winter game played on ice, now lasts into June. In fact, one estimate puts the last possible Stanley Cup final game as late as June 18. This has consequences that go far beyond sport. Coupled with daylight saving time, it means that many Canadians will be indoors in the air-conditioning watching television while the sun is still shining and they could be outside playing games and getting fit. It also means that a goodly percentage of Canadians, those who avidly follow
CHARLES GORDON Funny Town playoff games, show up for work tired and grouchy, or not show up at all. Productivity declines. Furthermore, children of permissive parents who avidly follow games played on the west coast will be difficult in class unless, mercifully, they fall asleep. This may explain why our children are constantly outperformed by children who come from countries where there is no hockey. These are some of the important social and economic consequences of our obsession with hockey and the hockey owners’ obsession with dragging out the season. As we see from the world news, in most other countries, spring is a time for getting the crops in, playing baseball and staging insurrections. Not here. Which
just goes to show that there is more to the Canadian identity than an unelected Senate and the notwithstanding clause. If the hockey nuttiness ended here, you could put it down to a mild case of national eccentricity – people staying up too late, watching TV when they could be strolling in the spring evening air when it’s not raining. But, unfortunately, there is more to it. For at the same time as the rest of the world is having revolutions, spring planting and baseball games, those Canadians who venture outdoors, are playing hockey. But they’re not playing hockey with ice and a puck. They’re playing hockey with pavement and a ball. Ball hockey interest peaks in the spring because all those boys and girls and their parents want to try out the moves they see on television, except for the hitting from behind and elbows to the head. So out they go onto the street, between televised games, just as the professional hockey season is winding down and many hockey players, in fact, are out on the golf course. This typically Canadian scene causes cars to be inconvenienced and the more fussy neighbours to be upset, leading in turn to another uniquely
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Canadian phenomenon – the complaint to city hall and the police raid on street hockey nets. If you lived in Lusaka, Jakarta or Paris, you would not be aware of any of this. The streets of those cities are notable for their absence of hockey nets. In Canada, the police raids on outdoor hockey nets lead to letters to the editor, phone calls to talk radio shows and a lot of public hand-wringing generally. The rights of kids (and their parents) to have fun are weighed against the right of private property and a uniquely Canadian philosophical battle ensues. This will last until the real hockey season begins again and everybody goes back inside.
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May 5, 2011