Marching orders: toe the line. Get in step. Follow orders.

We’re at war. With ISIS, with terrorists, with the Great Recession and unemployment and unbalanced budgets. We’re at war with bureaucracy and red tape; with regulations and restrictions that hamper business and prevent us all – yes, all of us, together – from attaining greater wealth. As a country, and as a nation.

We’re at war, Canada. And as easy as it may be to ignore, or to naively believe, or to mock sarcastically from the sidelines, it’s time to wake up and acknowledge some of the casualties that have come as a cost of it.

There are the Veterans Affairs Canada closures. The muzzling of scientists. The amendment to protect “navigation” instead of the “navigable waters” it requires. The changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and how it reviews environmental assessments. The recognition of the National Energy Board as a “responsible authority” when it comes to protecting the environment. There have been funding cuts to important scientific research programming, and the actual dumping – as in into a garbage dump – of thousands of pages of scientific research and data that can’t be replaced. There’s the rejection and withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that commits countries to take action on climate change.

No, it’s not the full story. But Michael Harris’s reflections on a prime minister paint a compelling pattern of where Canada is headed under the country’s current leadership.

A more recent example is Bill C-51, our needed anti-terrorism legislation (needed, I’m told; for what, I’m not sure.) This builds on top of propagandist rhetoric about the terrorist threats to Canada, and the need to battle ISIS. It builds on billions spent to purchase military equipment that doesn’t fit our needs, and $28-million on an event to commemorate the War of 1812. 

No, it’s not the full story. At least I hope it isn’t. But as unwilling as I’ve been to pay attention to party politics, propaganda, polls and pomp, the biggest shock that came from reading Party of One is that I really, really should. 

Politics is a funny thing. I don’t get congratulated or lauded at work for doing my job. I don’t host expensive announcements to convince my employer, at the end of my week, that they made the right decision in hiring me. With politics, there seems to be so much time and money spend on messaging, ads, events and PR pros to get constituents to believe. There are scare tactics; the horns of war. There’s politicking and truthiness. There’s the burying of information. The restriction of free speech.

It’s a circus. And unfortunately, it’s one we all need to pay critical attention to, rather than be entertained by. We should hold feet to fire, not get distracted by pyrotechnics. 

Party of One is a compelling read, and I encourage every one to read it. And agree, or disagree. As long as attention is paid.

Give the people bread and a circus, to extrapolate Juvenal. With every day a circus, and some time until Canada is without bread, there needs to be a sense of urgency to pay attention now, before the clowns disappear and the bread crumbles up. Let’s not get distracted by the unfulfilling sideshow while our pockets get picked. The joke and the tab, at the end of the day, are on us.

More information on Party of One is available here.


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