Opinion » Maxed Out

Not feeling optimistic about politics? These tips might help



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The third way to be upbeat about current politics is to be blissfully ignorant, either by nature or through self-medication. There's a lot to be said for blissful ignorance. What I don't know won't hurt me is the corollary of Homer's what doesn't kill me will make me stronger. I know tuned-out people and frankly sometimes I wonder whether theirs isn't the less bumpy path to follow. Maybe in my next life.

If, however, you're cursed with a pathological need to pay attention to politics, the landscape in the Great White North is as bleak as a snowy, February day in Churchill. Stephen Harper is transforming Canada into a country fewer and fewer Canadians recognize and is set to begin delivering the coup de grace when Parliament reconvenes. As disheartening as this is, it's easier to follow the path of blissful ignorance and not think about it because there's little anyone can do to change it. With no realistic opposition — a leaderless, near-dead, Liberal party that stands for, well, no one knows what they stand for, and a Cult-of-Jack NDP without Jack — Harper will enjoy the clear field the Liberals use to enjoy... back when they balanced the budget and ran surpluses.

And the outlook is at least as bleak provincially. With only eight months until a spring election, Christie Clark seems to be the provincial NDP's secret weapon in its quest to regain power. You can be forgiven if the name is unfamiliar. B.C.'s stealth premier is a bit groundhog-like. She pops up every so often, looks around, makes an outrageous pronouncement and then disappears again, perhaps to "take the pulse" of the people, which she seems to be able to do with any noticeable interface between herself, her ministers and whatever people she's talking about.

She was notably absent last week when whomever is in charge of finances popped up long enough to give his quarterly outlook. Not surprisingly, the outlook is bleak. With natural gas markets glutted and prices down, the province is facing a revenue shortfall of about a billion dollars. Ms. Clark's response was the sound of one hand clapping. I guess we'll have to wait until the legislature sits this fall to discover what it is her government plans to do to address the "unexpected" shortfall.

Oh, I forgot, she's cancelled the legislative session this fall, a tried and true strategy she learned from Gordon Campbell. When the going gets tough, the tough disappear. But I see her point of view. I mean when you have so accurately taken the pulse of the people what possible purpose, other than having to face embarrassing questions, can be served by listening to what their elected representatives have to say? The fact our MLAs have sat in session fewer days this year than part-time preachers preach is irrelevant.