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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Don't know who won the debates, but that's a short-term question

... although the partisan spin machines are, no doubt, going full-tilt boogie right about now. Who can blame them, really. It's how the game is played, and it's what they're paid for.

Regardless of how this spins out, however, the long-term prospects for the health of Canadian democracy and civil society aren't promising. It's probably safe to assume that we won't see any serious discussion of meaningful electoral reform, for instance. Nor will there be any revisiting of the international bureaucratic / corporate structures we've been locked into. Reinvestment in the social safety net? Don't think so. A truce in the class war? An acknowledgement that it's legitimate for government to act for the common good? Well, you see where I'm going.

No, I'm not saying there's no difference between Harper and the others. But even if God smiles upon us and Harper is denied a majority this time around, it's not as if there's going to be a sudden resolve to undo the damage of the past 30 years.

In that regard, it's back to the tactical versus the strategic. In the short term, our focus has to be on removing Harper, because god knows if he gets his majority, the damage to our country, our society and our body politic will be incalculable. It's pretty clear where he wants to take us. It's clear to anyone who cares to look, and we don't need no stinkin' corporate media for that.

In the long term, though, fixing what's broken is going to be a much larger, wide-ranging project. Indeed, it may be the work of a generation, never mind one or two terms of Parliament. It's going to require a multidimensional reconsideration of how we see ourselves, how we define citizenship, what we mean when we talk about democratic governance, and a fundamental re-framing of a whole range of issues. Informing all these conversations, there has to be one overarching question: what kind of people are we? What kind of society do we want to live in?

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