It’s disappointing when a government screws up so badly it unites the press. There’s precious little for a blogger to contribute when pundits, left and right, unanimously don their outrage hats and fulminate in harmony.
The G8/20 gabfests in the little town of Huntsville, Ontario, and the larger small town of Toronto (June 25-28, 2010) are a case in point. The billion dollar price tag for security surrounding the events affronts on every level: fiscal, governmental, humanitarian. So much so that even right-wing, rah-rah-war-on-terror media are crying foul.
What’s left to add when googling reveals no quip or barb, no bitter rant, no outraged parody that hasn’t been already made? Not much, except my observation that the billion dollars, as reported, has been creeping upward. The estimated figure now is one-point-three billion. Point-three doesn’t sound like much, but do the math. Point-three of a billion dollars is three hundred million—not a figure you round down, or render as a sneaky little fraction.
The explanation for Stephen Harper’s government spending such an obscene amount to host the G8/20 meetings is, according to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, merely “...the cost of Canada’s role in the world.” Flaherty further states, “...Canada is playing a very important role in the world and Canadians have to decide if that role is worth playing.”
Why, one has to ask, if it’s up to us Canadians, were we not consulted? More importantly, what is this very important role the Harper government believes we play? Does it differ from the one we used to play? Was that one insufficient? Is being who we are no longer good enough?
The answer, I believe, in the minds of our elites, is no, being who we are just isn’t good enough. A discontent with Canada as Canada infects our present government—a massive political inferiority complex—and it started in the eighties with Mulroney.
Philosopher and historian, John Ralston Saul, once took aim at Brian Mulroney (in Reflections of a Siamese Twin) and scored a bulls-eye when he pinned him as “...that vivid incarnation of colonial self-loathing.”
Colonial self-loathing is a feeling that your country isn’t good enough, measured by the standards of the metropole, which, these days, is the United States. It leads to overcompensation, transparent imitation, and a predilection for posterior osculation.
By and large, Canadians aren’t happy when our leaders act that way. Mulroney’s pro-US lovefest at the time of the first Gulf War not only brought about his downfall, but decimated the entire Progressive Conservative party—a lesson Stephen Harper either chooses to ignore or is too stupid to have learned.
It all comes down to political penis envy. Following Mulroney’s lead, a succession of Canadian leaders have made it clear they feel that Canada’s great strengths—our role as peacekeepers and mediators, our willingness to embrace diversity, our commitment to the welfare of all citizens (as witnessed by our social safety net, now in tatters)—don't measure up to the donkey dong down south. Men like Ralph Klein, Mike Harris, Stockwell Day, and Preston Manning wrapped their policies in words like tough love, common sense, and competitive free markets when they really meant “we’re scared of looking girlie.” Like two-bit thugs, they dressed in borrowed swagger, hoping to impress us with their manly politics.
Nobody was fooled. Not on the world stage, at any rate. Worse for that cabal of wannabes, no one gave two hoots. It takes a Pearson or a Trudeau to attract the world’s notice.
Quite frankly, the “very important role Canada plays in the world”, the one that’s worth a billion three, is nothing more than self-aggrandizement based on feelings of inadequacy. And the delusion is being bolstered by an expensive bit of grandstanding that's worthy of a banana republic. The money being spent has little to do with security. G20 summits have, since the Battle in Seattle, been universally reviled. If you really want to hold them without fear of protest, do so where the protesters can’t gather, someplace where security’s already tight.
Or better yet, pay attention to the fact that everybody hates you and stop holding them.
As for Stephen Harper and his cronies, I have only this to say: Since President Hu Jintao happens to be in Ottawa right now, why not ask him about penis enlargement? I understand the Chinese are world leaders in the field. The cost of adding inches won’t be in the billions, I assure you.