The Man Behind The Curtain (has no clothes)

Graphic Eric Bent

This year is set to be full of headlines and blog links clogged with mudslinging and giddy political punditry from our neighbours to the south, as we enter the ever-important election year where every politician’s every move is designated newsworthy.

And while it’s fun to watch a ballsy libertarian butt heads with a raging homophobe and a moderate Mormon that nobody wants (even with that pray-the-gay-away lady and the lecherous pizza mogul out of the game), it’s important not to let GOP theatrics distract from issues closer to home.

Unlike their Commander-in-Chief, our Prime Minister has quite a dominating force over the legislature. Stephen Harper holds the kind of sway in his government that Obama could only dream of, with a House majority and political alignment with the Senate, further solidified with seven new appointments by Harper last week.

The ‘Safer Streets Act,’ also known as that omnibus bill full of policy shot down when the Liberals were still the Opposition, was passed by the House of Commons before the holiday break and is expected to become law before the snow melts.

Those calling for prison reform and mental health advocates lose political legs to stand on when the party with the ultimate deciding power has declined to listen, and Harper certainly isn’t afraid to make use of the opportunity presented to him.

So what are we given for the next four years? There’s an ideology at the helm that hasn’t seen this clout and unity in decades.

We’re seeing a political dynamic in Canada that is unprecedented; not only is this the first majority government elected since the days of Jean Chrétien, but it’s the first right-wing majority anyone alive will remember that doesn’t have to toe the line with Quebec.

We’re left with a government that will spend $7.5 million to celebrate the Queen’s queendom while doing little more than auditing and third-party management over a Canadian First Nations community in a state of emergency; a government that seems to only focus on job creation if it caters to big business or oil enrichment.

We, the youth who shall inherit this country, need to stay aware of government maneuvering, arguably more so given the speed with which bills can be passed and our current Parliament.

The new Opposition is in its formative stage, an exciting time where us youngsters can bring ideas that old political dogs might brush off as idealistic or revolutionary.

Though we may not have the teams of writers standing behind highly paid pundits to provide us with entertaining cynicism with which to consume the news, this is our future. We’re the ones who will have to deal with long-term issues repeatedly brushed under the big blue carpet.

Four years is a long time, but it’s our responsibility to stay informed as to what’s happening under our noses.

­— Colin Harris
Fringe Arts Editor