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Maxed Out: The politics we deserve?

Oh dear.
maxed out sept 2022
The Canadian political soap opera carries on...

I bridle every time I hear or read the word “woke.” Partly because I don’t know what it means... exactly. Partly because the people who use it don’t seem to know, either. But ignorance being bliss, it doesn’t stop them from tossing it about, generally as an epithet, generally as a right-of-centre put down for anything and everything perceived of as left-of-centre or “progressive,” another word whose meaning I’m not entirely certain of.

That said, I almost found myself saying it—certainly thinking it—when I read about the latest federal Green Party (RIP) machinations. 

Actually, I was somewhat surprised to discover there still was a federal Green Party. Who knew? I thought I remembered them shuffling off into oblivion when they dumped their most recent leader, Annamie Paul, after she and the “leadership” of the party held a circular firing squad as a result of her epic defeat in the last election. For those of you who don’t remember—and who could blame you—Ms. Paul led (sic) the party to the event horizon of death, garnering a mere two per cent of the popular vote, down from its former seven per cent, in the 2021 election. In her own Toronto riding, Ms. Paul came in a distant fourth.

I’d hoped the totally irrelevant Greens would have the courage to fold the party and blend silently into either the Liberal or NDP camps since their sole ace up the sleeve, the environment and its own fight for survival had been embraced by all parties, including the Conservative Party, albeit with an inexplicable blend of misgiving and denial.

I was wrong. Apparently there is a campaign, race being too strong a word, for leader of the Greens. There are actually six people who would like to lead the Greens. And if you really want to show off your depth of political trivia, there are still two Green MPs. They hold caucus in a little-used parliamentary closet.

Four of the leadership hopefuls and Mike Morrice, one of the Green MPs, issued a joint statement condemning the party’s president, Lorraine Rekmans, not long ago. In response, Ms. Rekmans resigned her post.

Her crime? She “mis-gendered” the party’s interim leader, Amita Kuttner, in a Zoom meeting. Kuttner—and I’m not about to assign either pronoun or identifying title—is transgender and nonbinary. Fair enough; everyone gets to forge their own path through the minefield of genderality. 

Ms. Rekmans issued an immediate apology for her faux pas, but apparently that was not enough. She had committed the most grievous of transgressions. She had made a human mistake. She had carelessly tossed out the wrong pronoun. She entered a social purgatory from which there is no salvation, no return, no forgiveness.

Oh dear.

In a letter obtained by the Canadian Press, Ms. Rekmans claimed her optimism for the Greens had died, that the party had, “no vision for a better future, but only an effort to look back and settle old scores... while the planet burns.”

Observers who follow the Green Party—both of them—were of the opinion the party couldn’t sink any lower than its 2021 tiff over Israel and the Palestinians that saw Jenica Atwin, one of three Green MPs, cross the aisle and join the Liberals after part of the membership attacked Ms. Paul’s pro-Israel stance while they favoured the Palestinians, terming the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza apartheid. I’d go into more detail but only at the risk of putting you to sleep. Yawn.

But wait. Elizabeth May to the rescue. Rescue? Yes, Liz is running again for top Greenie. But with a twist. And a threat. The threat is to leave the Greens and sit as an Independent, along with Morrice, who joined in the Lizzie Fit, if the party postpones the leadership race because of the turmoil described above.

The twist is Liz only wants to be a co-leader. She and Jonathan Pedneault, a 32-year-old human-rights activist from Quebec, are both in the leadership race and have formed a mutual admiration society, both agreeing if either is elected leader she or he will appoint the other as co-leader. Kind of a job-sharing thing, because only one can actually lead the party while the other gives it CPR to keep it from completely dying.

As if that’s not enough political soap opera, officials with the Conservative Party, shortly after the Queen died, said they’d “rethink” how they’d announce their new leader the coming Saturday. With the country going into a period of official mourning, the leadership organizing committee vowed to respect the protocols and find an, “appropriate, respectful way” to celebrate the coronation of Pierre Poilievre. 

It didn’t take long for them to realize the appropriate, respectful way was to shamelessly leverage the commentary about the Queen’s unwavering commitment to country, a phrase heard over and over again at the Saturday night gala. Heck, they’d already rented the convention centre space and sold a whack of tickets... and after all, the Queen was dead, long live the king.

So Pierre was coronated and graciously had his wife introduce him. She did such an admirable job of channelling Horatio Alger, presenting both herself and PP as colourful, rags-to-riches, jus’ plain folk, even I thought I may have misjudged him as an opportunistic populist catering to the rabid right. 

But I didn’t. He’s still mini Maxime... but with a better haircut. The protest convoy folks are still his kind of people. He still believes Conservatives can learn a lot from Quebec nationalists, vigourously assert their rights and grievances against Ottawa and, “stand up to wokeism,” by which I presume he means ignoring the Constitutional rights of English Quebecers, discriminating against non-Christian religions and forcing immigrants to subjugate their cultures to the pure laine way of life in La Belle Province.

And just to be fair, the Liberals, or at least Justin Trudeau, spun the Wacky Wheel of Political Fortune when he announced he planned to lead the Liberals into the next election. While not quite dead man walking, JT currently has more baggage than a jumbo jet bound for a holiday destination. Blissfully, he’s as unaware of it as he has been of so many things, so many times, over and over again in his scandal-plagued leadership.

At this point—and I won’t go near the insanity of Danielle Smith’s run for leader of Alberta’s UCP—I’m ready to roll up a Pique and smack the first person who says we get the politics we deserve. 

None of us deserve this.