Our House

The mace of the Speaker of the House of Commons

Stephen Harper, one week into the campaign, has said he needs a majority government to end publicly-funded party subsidies based upon votes received in the previous election. This would open the gates to the Conservative-friendly corporate financing that has ravaged the American political system and flooded Congress with eager shills whose only agenda in government is to make it unworkable. The shrugging off of public interests to corporate ones has also promoted the anti-government demagoguery in much of what passes for political discourse in the U.S. — five minutes with Fox News or talk radio is enough to get the full effect. Such a conglomeration of interests is a monster that devours money and excretes confusion and fear: and it’s not the tip-top tier of society that ends up covered in shit or is reduced to eating it.

This is one of many reasons Harper should not have the majority that his entire time in government seems to have been designed to win. Public financing has insulated the Canadian political process from the purchase of politicians who regard their constituents as patsies to be tricked out of voting in their own interest every election cycle. Many Canadians no doubt regard the nihilist antics of the American right with horror. It’d be a mistake for them to think it can’t happen here.

Like the Republicans Harper emulates, he’s not a conservative. Edmund Burke was a conservative. Benjamin Disraeli was a conservative. John Diefenbaker, sponsor of the Canadian Bill of Rights, was an excellent example of Canadian Tory conservatism. Those who claim the title these days are actually corporatists who have, in a single generation, degraded the notion of “citizen” to “consumer.” Citizens have hard-won rights. Consumers, on the other hand, are always in danger of being stripped clean by insatiable commercial predation. Adam Smith knew it. We have no excuse not to know it too. We’ve been living with the fact of it long enough.

How much more do the most privileged among us need? They’ve already denuded the working class of the little it possessed and are now moving in on the middle class, whose labor has earned it zero percent of the wealth it has generated for the last thirty years. So exactly how much more do they want? There is evidently never enough, no matter how much there is for them to take. It’d be satisfying to say that this kind of greed can only consume itself, which it certainly does. The problem is that it only consumes itself after it has devoured everything else.

That’d be us. But the single advantage we still possess is the knowledge that, whatever Stephen Harper may think government is for, the House of Commons belongs to us. It is not Stephen Harper’s House. It is our House. We are only required to maintain it by deciding who gets to inhabit it and who does not.

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One thought on “Our House

  1. Jonathan Allan

    This post reminded me of a line from Gabriel García Márquez’s Autumn of the Patriarch: “When shit becomes valuable, the poor will be born without assholes.”


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