Yet Another Canada Day

I wasn’t feeling particularly patriotic this Canada Day*, and not just because I’m in France. You see, I had the opportunity to describe the Harper Government to my Norwegian friend, and it filled me with shame.

“Our Prime Minister has cut funding for the Space Agency. He doesn’t believe in science.”

“I see.” He replied.

“And understand,” I went on, “that when I say that Stephen Harper doesn’t believe in science, I don’t mean that he doesn’t believe in Global Warming, or Evolution, or any specific scientific theory. I mean that he doesn’t believe in science. They had a vote in the house of Commons on whether public policy should be informed by scientific research. He ordered his MPs to vote no.”

“And he’s pretty much destroyed all environmental regulations in Canada,” said another Canadian scientist**. “When you write to your Conservative MP to complain, you get form letters that are full of lies about how he’s really been increasing funding for science. It’s very Orwellian.”

“Wow. How did he get elected?”

Now I was forced to describe Canada’s terminally stupid electoral system. “In Canada, you don’t need a majority of support to win an election. Each riding is given to whoever wins a plurality of the vote. So if you have four left-of-centre parties agreeing on most things who attract 70% of the vote between them, and one right wing party than attracts thirrty percent of the vote, the thirty percent party wins. Oh, and if you get a majority of the seats, then you essentially have absolute power until the next election.”

“Oh,” chipped in the other Canadian, “and he cheated in the last election. It was proved in court. But they didn’t overturn the result because they couldn’t prove that he won because he cheated.”

“That doesn’t sound like a very good system,” said the Norwegian.

“It’s really, really not,” we agreed. What followed was a lengthy litany of everything terrible that Harper had done to permanently screw up the country, and excoriation of his slobbering moron supporters.

So yeah; I don’t believe in celebrating countries just because I happened to be born in them. If I am to praise Canada again, then it will only be if Canada once again behaves in a praiseworthy fashion.


*Indeed, and  accounts that I have read of appalling behaviour by gangs of drunken revellers have turned my stomach firmly against any overt displays of patriotism.

**Harper’s support amongst scientists is effectively nil. Which is fair enough when you consider that Harper’s support of scientists is also effectively nil.


About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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10 Responses to Yet Another Canada Day

  1. zinemin says:

    This is indeed a VERY stupid electoral system. I’m baffled.

  2. Lindsay says:

    Wow. Here I’ve been blaming the two-party system for much of the horribleness down here in the USA, but this is a terrific explanation of how the same horribleness can happen in a multi-party system.

    How do the Norwegians do it?

    • The problem isn’t really that we have multiple parties, so much as it is that our electoral system really isn’t designed to accommodate them. Norway has a system of proportional representation in place to ensure that the percentage of seats that parties control in parliament is as close as possible to the percentage of the votes that they receive; this leads to fewer distortions like the one we presently have in Canada.
      That said, I don’t actually like this system all that much either, as it people are voting ofr parties, not candidates. I would prefer a system of run-offs, or a single-transferable vote, so that no candidate can get elected with less than 50% support.

  3. Helena says:

    Having been born in Norway and currently living in Texas, I can surely appreciate both your friend’s reactions and the idiocy and atrocities committed by our respective governments. Rick perry is our harper equivalent–I find myself disgusted with his behaviour regularly.

  4. n8chz says:

    Canada is looking to me more and more like a petro-state, which is sad in a way, but of course so is Norway. If you must be a petro-state, you can be an Iran-type petro-state that exports crude and imports gasoline (which is stupid), or you can be a Norway-type petro state that is home to the highest taxes on gasoline, and has a sovereign wealth fund. That smart, but not quite as smart (in my opinion) than being the kind of nation that survives primarily by its wits (creative capital, to say it the trendy way), and maybe a less central role for the sale of its natural resources.

  5. ChrisCQC says:

    And then you’ve got the U.S., where “laws of nature” are argued in supreme court cases. I want off this continent. Like seriously, is there anywhere on earth with good human rights or do I have to buy an island and start a commune?

  6. Pingback: Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion | Clarissa's Blog

  7. Pingback: (The Day After) Canada Day | voxcorvegis

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