THUNDER BAY, ON --- August 22, 2010 ---- For this, the first of I hope many political columns to come, I had prepared to write a quite serious piece about the Harper Government’s decision to close the prison farms from the angle that because of climate change, we are actually going to need more people who know how to run a tractor, not less. You’ll be reading, I hope, that take on a present issue quite soon.
But I stopped myself literally as I was about to write the title. This is after all the first column by me to be published by Lake Superior News, for whose back I am truly grateful to piggy. As it presents itself as Your Trusted News Service, I thought about that word Trust. It does imply an honesty of communication - no hidden motives allowed.
Therefore, as this is a political column and therefore an opinion-based beast, if you’re going to trust it, you’re going to have to know precisely who’s behind it. I say this not with the effect of: ‘If you agree with me, you’ll like this; if you don’t, you won’t.’ Disagreement, if only to sharpen the edge of one’s contrary opinion, can make for healthy reading. The best political speech I ever heard in my life was delivered by Margaret Thatcher - the admiration pretty much ends there.
More to the positive point, my belief is that you need to know the tack of my political views in order vto assess the weight of what I discuss. Put more simply, if I write that Stephen Harper is running Canada lately like a Tammany Hall Mayor, is that an exception to my usual opinion of Harper, or is is the rule?
It’s the rule. I am not an admirer of this government, although I will say that Harper fought the good fight in attempting to persuade Obama and others that putting a ‘luxury tax’ on the major banks was a punishment on the honest designed to bail out the dishonest. Well done. But in general, he’s Boss Hogg with a blow dryer and a sweater.
This does not lead me to swoony enchantment with the Liberals either. To me the most interesting thing about the dog sniffing the public is doing with Michael Ignatieff is that they have been told repeatedly that Iggy is a really brilliant and admired guy because he has all kinds of really brilliant and admired ideas - but they don’t choose to discuss those ideas because many of them are directly contrary to general Canadian public opinion. He was a hawk on the Iraq War for example, which certainly must lead to awkward pauses in the conversation on those evenings when Ignatieff and Jean Chretien share a table.
By any sensible standard I should be a New Democrat. They are the only party to take the truly crucial issues of the environment and the danger of globalization prominently. Every party in both Canada and the U.S. has a wonderfully written policy about climate change - they pull it out of the drawer when asked to present their credentials. The Soviet Union had a constitution so lovely it would make your heart sing. Its principles were ignored as well.
Still, there is a remaining and lingering aura about the NDP that makes them seem like the CFL next to the Conservative and Liberal NFL. Great time, fine players - but when the going gets tough and the tough turn pro (passim Hunter Thompson) the pros are in the two elder parties. When Bob Rae, a former NDP Premier of Ontario for God’s sake, joined the Liberals it felt like a bar mitzvah or a confirmation. He seemed all growed up finally.
So I remain a dissatisfied left-of-centre non-card carrying Liberal - which sits me with most of the country. But i will call ‘em as I see ‘em.
Lastly, I’ve decided to call this column Politics for Joe as a bit of a tribute to my late father Don O’Hearn. You can hear a brief clip of his brief career in radio news here. Otherwise, he wrote a column on provincial politics (and believe you me, politics in Ontario can certainly be provincial) for some thirty years. He always wanted to write a book called Politics for Joe, where he explained to the reader how politics, which Churchill called the only game fit for adults to play, really works.
I guess I’m going to have to write the darn book for him, column by column.
In closing, let me know your thoughts and ... hang in there.
By: Hubert O'Hearn
For Lake Superior News