— by Bruce Mason —
Staying informed about our political life has always induced headaches, varying in severity. These days, the frequency of temple-thumping migraines caused by out-of-control elected officials requires a warning: “Political awareness may be harmful to your health.”
Active citizen engagement – an essential ingredient in democracy – has most often led to heartache. Now, add another common symptom: stomach ache. The unhealthy dog’s breakfast of our sick-making political diet is a smorgasbord of betrayal in which lying is government policy.
Pick your poison: The shameful lack of honesty and accountability in housing affordability and homelessness, historically unprecedented inequality, deceit in First Nations reconciliation, the history-making Mount Polley spill and the big, ugly, gob-smacking, gut-wrenching whopper: Trudeau’s decision to not reform our screwed up electoral system, as promised and promised, but broken, like so many others.
No wonder we hold our noses in the polling booth, dutifully and naively voting “strategically,” with a faint hope and prayer, while swallowing sugar-coated, watered-down, self-serving policy.
Contemporary politics no longer serves people. Civil servants don’t either. And our electoral system should be mercifully put in some special land-fill, so toxic as to be unrecyclable.
Last year’s Trust Barometer – an annual survey by the Edelman firm – found only 43 percent of Canadians trust government, down from 53 percent a year earlier. This is the first time in 17 years that Canada joined the ranks of “distruster” countries, in which more than half of citizens distrust their civic institutions. It’s not unreasonable to expect another 10 percent drop in our forced nation-wide descent into dystopia.
Related to our unprecedentedly sad political state is the fact that a whopping 80 percent of Canadians say the country’s elites are out of touch. Really, no kidding!
Dumb like foxes, Trump, Trudeau, Horgan, Ford, Notley and the rest of our envious ‘betters’ in this sorry political mess have grabbed hold of the brass ring dangled by the filthy rich. Yes, in fact, they completely own and control – of, by, and for – government. And the privileged and entitled assume that we, like them, care only about our wallets and that we can be suckered, so cheaply and easily. Forget the fact that politicians work for us and our common good, or should, and may once again if we reform, or follow, world-wide best practices.
What were once called newscasts are now referred to as “shows.” A massive industry has risen from the cold ashes of once-proud journalism, fund-raising, and honest political campaigns. Money-grubbing handlers and shills intentionally deprive us of access, accountability and accurate information. We are distracted and conned by fluff, our attention deflected from historically obscene levels of inequality, climate disruption, ever more studies of deadly fish farms, an unnecessary and increasingly expensive dam to flood invaluable farmland, contempt for First Nations, including murdered women, so-called tax relief scams, a tripling – tripling! – of communications staff by former Mayor Gregor Robertson, ties to casinos by another past head honcho at 12th and Cambie, Larry Campbell, or God help us, Gordon Campbell.
Meanwhile, the so-called richest among us not only don’t pay their fair share, but pay virtually nothing at all, except unfair wages.
“Follow the money,” Deep Throat advised those who dug into Watergate. Make that “dirty money,” today. And you no longer have to dig much to see we have hit rock bottom.
If you do nothing else in what little remains of 2018, vote for proportional representation. The system, not just the players, must be fundamentally changed, wrested from those who rigged it for their fit and exclusive survival.
Show up to support proportional representation so your vote counts, now and in our endangered future.
Bruce Mason is a Vancouver and Gabriola-Island based five-string banjo player, gardener, freelance writer and author of Our Clinic.