The 12,000 km view 

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Having been away from Whistler since November, I've missed most of a winter (a first). I've nevertheless enjoyed watching it from afar through social media and these very pages, and it was cool to see the season unfold through first fear, trepidation and guarded expectation, to pleasant surprise, the bits and pieces coalescing into a positive stream of people embracing the now, comfortable with the notion that things might be OK after all.

Oddly, I could probably say the exact same thing with regard to how the new government of Justin Trudeau is viewed.

But scanning Canada's political shores for signs of life through a 12,000-km telescope has brought other things into focus — like the humourous attempts of the Conservative Party of Canada to manufacture dirt about the government only to have it blow up in their mean-spirited faces in a way even Rick Mercer couldn't have dreamed up. The media derision currently being heaped upon interim leader Rona Ambrose and the rest of the braying Harperless cons is well deserved: actively hunting for Liberal scandal accounts for 90 per cent of the schadenfreude; another 10 lies in the lack of imagination of this tired script.

Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, expected to serve Canadians and hold the government to account on important matters is doing neither; instead it is politicking and employing people to re-circulate Twitter photos of JT posing with a topless woman at a Pride Parade as if it were some kind of heinous crime. What if he's amoral and immoral? goes the hollow suggestion behind such frivolous muckraking. Fortunately, most see through to reality: what if he's just a modern guy with a strong belief in human rights unencumbered by the prejudices, perceptions and prudishness of the religious right and their conservatwat toadies?

From over here it seems like high comedy when, before the Liberal government is a day on the job, Ambrose accuses them of... oh, pretty much everything... reversing her own positions of years prior in an attempt to spin gold from mouldy hay. But it won't work, as the writing is very much on the wall for the CPC. To have Ambrose blurt that the government needs to do more to help struggling Alberta oil workers by making EI more accessible can only be seen as gut-wrenchingly funny given the vicious attack on working people contained in the CPC's 2012 omnibus bill that changed the EI scheme for, among others, oil workers who are now forced by those rules to accept lower-paying jobs.

Ambrose isn't alone in her hypocrisies: an eastern Ontario Tory MP recently accused the Libs of trying to rig the next election because electoral reform will hurt con chances. "Stop the Liberals from destroying our democracy," read flyers sent by Scott Reid to constituents. Shades of the monthly fear-mongering mail received in Whistler for years from one John Weston, variously stating how the LPC and NDP would destroy the economy (ironically, the CPC did a fine job of that), usurp our democracy (ditto), and create more terror (again, a CPC crowning achievement). Conservative Alberta MPs have — naturally and unhelpfully — also painted team Trudeau as opponents of resource extraction, when, in fact, all evidence suggests them looking to make current resource extraction sustainable, keeping an eye on the future by not wanting to lean too heavily on resources that are clearly finite or carry unjustifiable environmental costs — a model of responsible economics. The government is also accused of an ethics breach for asking Harper appointees to resign after the former leader, in a move decried as old-school patronage, stacked various tribunals, boards, and federal positions before calling an election; because this request has no relevance to the influencing of said appointees' decisions — which could be a breach — it is seriously conflating issues (a con specialty). And finally, there's con MPs rudely shouting down ministers and good ol' Jason Kenny, bloviating friend of xenophobes everywhere, insulting the Minister of Defence by asking for an English-to-English translation of a statement made in the house of commons.

From this distance, the cottage industry of criticism seems to conveniently ignore the Trudeau government's unprecedented public consultation on everything from budgets to bitumen, aimed at fostering more participation and nationship among citizens who must move past expecting government to fix everything and instead use the opportunities provided us to pitch in and help with the fixing. This requires knowledge, honesty and understanding on our parts as well, not wild and unrealistic expectations and blame-seeking.

In being 180-degrees contra the HarperCon approach, it's a pleasant surprise — a new now and the best breath of fresh air this country has had for a long, long time.


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