Economic Turmoil, Squabbling Politicians, But Still No Cholera
So, a Canadian, an Indian and a Zimbabwean walk into a bar.
“We also have a crisis in my part of the world,” the Indian chimes in. “A terrorist attack in our beautiful city of Mumbai killed more than a hundred people, and it seems increasingly likely that a group based in Pakistan was responsible. The mood between the two countries is becoming dangerously hostile.”
Both of them look expectantly at the Canadian.
“Er, our economy hasn’t grown very much this year,” he mutters into his single malt. “And our parliament has been, you know, prorogued… We might even end up with a coalition…” He shrugs, lamely. “You know. A crisis. No cholera yet, though.”
I don’t intend to downplay the real pain associated with job losses and other manifestations of economic turmoil, or the frustrations of seeing our parliamentarians behave like a pack of overtired fourth graders. Stephen Harper’s belligerent partisanship in the latest round of squabbling has been particularly ugly and deplorable, although the “coalition” parties have been less than constructive in their single-minded attacks on Harper’s jugular. The result has been a political mess unprecedented in Canadian history, at least in detail, and some unfortunate side effects such as the exacerbation of tensions between the west and Quebec.
Still, the jötnar are not exactly marching on the walls of Asgard. I’ve never been thrilled with Michaelle Jean as Governor General, but she made a reasonable decision by agreeing to prorogue parliament until January 26. Perhaps Harper’s near-death experience plus a few weeks of reflection on all sides will engender some willingness to compromise when the MPs return to the chamber. In other words, the safeguards built into our constitutional monarchy are keeping the ship of state afloat, and it would probably float well enough even with an unwieldy Liberal-dominated coalition at the helm. Indeed, our friends in coalition-prone countries such as Germany and Italy might be forgiven for wondering why the possibility seems so disconcerting to some Canadian commentators. The worst that could happen is probably an election early next year, but we’ll grin and bear it if necessary. There still won’t be any cholera.
This brings me back to parts of the globe that are experiencing real misery. Whatever may be happening on Parliament Hill, Canadians should stay aware of the misery in Zimbabwe and the deadly tensions on the Indian subcontinent, not to mention the awkward situations in Sudan, Somalia, Thailand, and other current and potential trouble spots around the globe. I’m sure I’ll find more to say about the Mumbai (alias Bombay) incident in a few days or weeks, once further information about the identity and motivations of the attackers becomes available. For the moment, let’s simply avoid forgetting what a real crisis looks like.