Minority report | Opinion | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Minority report

Editorial by Bruce Wark

illustration Graham Pilsworth

I’m down on my knees thanking god for another minority government, even if it will be led by the unholy, right-wing trinity that briefly called itself CRAP, the Conservative Reform Alliance Party. CRAP summed it up nicely, don’t you think? But they dropped that moniker like a hot turd when they woke up and smelled the uh, coffee. Now I guess we’ll have to call them TRAP, the Tory Reform Alliance Party.

TRAP leader and now prime minister-elect Stephen Harper is the right-wing economics nerd who sits up late worrying about Atlantic Canada’s “culture of defeat.” In his victory speech Monday night, Harper declared that “the best is yet to come” for the region, echoing the old Sinatra tune, “The best is yet to come and won’t it be fine/The best is yet to come, come the day that you’re mine.” Yeah, it’s the same old song, except that this time, Harper may actually try to do something about our lazy, defeatist ways. He mused on election night about giving us more control over our resources—a polite way of saying that as far as his government is concerned, us far-eastern bastards can freeze in the dark.

Don’t right-wingers like Harper realize that the money we get in transfers and equalization flows right back to all those businesses whose head offices and manufacturing plants are in central Canada? Is Harper going to force the likes of the Bank of Nova Scotia and Maritime Life to return here? No, he’d rather natter on about giving us control over resources while the federal government cuts its support for the social programs all Canadians depend on.

Well, the Liberals sure found out how voters in Nova Scotia feel about cutting social spending. In 1995, finance minister Paul Martin slashed support for health care, welfare and post-secondary education. The federal Grits also cut unemployment insurance. In the election two years later, they were wiped out here—a remarkable result in a province that traditionally supports them. Of course, we’ve since forgiven the Grits, who won all six of their Nova Scotia seats on Monday. The Tories also retained their three while the NDP kept two. Yes, Nova Scotians stood pat in the 2006 election. leaving it to voters elsewhere to send the Paul Martin Liberals packing. Poor old Mr. Dithers. Now that he’s getting out of politics, maybe his boys will give him a desk at Canada Steamship Lines, proud flyer of foreign flags!

And here’s hoping that the NDP will persuade the new Tory government to do something about Canada’s creaky electoral system. Once again, the 665,000 people who voted Green have no one to represent them in Parliament. If the seats were allotted according to the percentage of votes each party received, there would now be 14 Greens in the Commons. There would also be 25 more NDP members, while the Tories and Liberals would each have about a dozen fewer seats. That’s why I predict the two old-line parties will resist proportional representation. But here’s hoping I’m wrong.

And maybe the NDP and the Bloc can force the new minority government to explain why Canadian soldiers are helping fight a losing war in Afghanistan. As the Americans pull back, we’re stepping in. Soon, a couple of thousand Canadians will be in harm’s way in a desperately poor country rife with corrupt war lords, drugs, insurgency and violence. The Americans once promised to help rebuild Afghanistan and establish democracy there. But Operation Enduring Freedom has turned into Operation Enduring Misery. Canada is playing along with Uncle Sam’s agenda, putting the lives of our soldiers at risk. The Liberals talked in vague generalities about Afghanistan, dodging the nagging questions about our long-term plans there. Maybe the Conservatives will give us some better answers. After all, isn’t “accountability” supposed to be Stephen Harper’s middle name?

Everyone should be accountable. send email to: [email protected] or on the web: www.accesswave.ca/~bwark .

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