Not in Kansas Anymore
I know Corrente's American audience has been checking this site obsessively for my report on the Canadian election debate yesterday, so here it is.
If you're a newcomer it's the missing things you notice first. For instance:
*No mention of "gun rights" during debate on the Liberals' proposed handgun ban.
*No mention of abortion.
*No mention of terrorism.
*No mindless invocations of "free markets" or "class war".
*Most gratifyingly, no invocation of God or the speaker's religiosity, even during debate on gay marriage.
Beyond that, the most striking thing for me was the almost mirror inversion of tediously familiar Democratic me-tooism in the States. Watching Tory Stephen Harper try to one-up the Paul Martin by touting tax credits for using mass transit almost overwhelmed my neurons all by itself, but the high point was watching him try to argue--falsely, I'm sure--that Martin, not Harper, had first backed Bush on Iraq.
This is not to say that the debates echoed the oratory of Seneca and Cicero. Even more so than in US debates, responses to citizen-supplied questions were limited to absurdly brief answers, and no cross-questioning by the debaters was allowed. Still, viewers were spared "what if your wife was raped?" questions and the 2 hour debate covered a fair amount of ground. I do wish pot legalization had figured in it somewhere, however. Issues of privacy and basic fairness aside, as my province's #1 cash crop, bud's potential as a source of tax revenue for the health care system is not just theoretical.
Some things are the same on both sides of the border however. The same day as the debate, our local paper carried an op-ed from the Green Party, which had been excluded from participating. It complained that the election was nothing more than "a referendum between four old-line parties promising variations of the same...."
Damn the stranglehold of the four-party system on Canadian political discourse! What's needed is enough political parties to drive each one's share down to single digits, to Green Party levels. Only then will the Green Party finally be able to break through to the voters, who unconsciously thirst for their message. Where have you gone, Ralph Nader, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you!