Friday, March 25, 2011

Pulling the Plug

Greetings Friends,

It's official; Canada's Parliament fell today, and in about a month, we Canucks are going to be voting in a federal election. 

Canadian politics has always held more intrigue for me. American-style democracy is like the designated hitter in major league baseball: it takes a lot of the strategy out of the game. A Parliamentary government is all about strategy. As in baseball, if you pinch hit for the pitcher, you'd better make sure you've got your clutch hitter at the plate. And, if you attempt the double-switch, you'd better make sure your .195 hitter doesn't have a shot at getting up with the bases loaded. There's a lot to consider.

I don't want to bore everyone with a primer on Canadian politics. Let's just say it's much more "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am" than what goes on in the U.S. There's going to be some frenetic campaigning, a couple of debates, and then, the vote; all this in a span of about 35 days. No caucuses, primaries or months worth of vitriolic campaign rhetoric to endure. It's all over before you know it. The $64,000.00 question is whether or not Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper will finally obtain his elusive majority in the House of Commons. I'm betting he will. The Liberals and the New Democrats (NDP) are about as charismatic a bunch of politicians as a case of warm, flat beer. Not that Harper is any prize, but the consensus here is that it's better to go with the devil you know, rather than the one you don't. 

The Canadian economy didn't collapse as badly as the American or European economies. Strict banking regulations are what probably saved it; the sub prime mortgage didn't exist up here, so there were no mortgage-backed derivatives posing as cinder blocks in the Canadian stock markets. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty to worry about, just not on the same level as there is south of the border. Canadian political scandals are nowhere near as damning, even though the media would like to think they are. In reality, we are an endearing little country, much as we'd like to be fraught with evil like our next-door neighbours. We usually fly way under the radar, and I've come to prefer it that way.

I am giddy at the prospect of voting. The weight of the world doesn't hinge on the outcome; it's more about shits and giggles - at least for me. I've spent a lot of time trying to understand the fundamental differences between a constitutional monarchy (Canada) and a federal constitutional republic (U.S.). Frankly, I prefer former, because if it ain't working, you can pull the plug. No counting the days until the Iowa caucuses. All it takes is a whole lot of shouting, a chorus of yays, nays, and tea with the Governor General. Then, it's off to the polls. As one of my favourite TV chefs, Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten, is so fond of saying, "How easy is that?" God save the Queen and pass me a pencil.

Have a great weekend.


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