Spending Millions For What We Already Have

By Jason Menard

Imagine you’ve gone on one of those home renovating shows that dot the television landscape like Tim Hortons locations on a map of Ontario. Now, the twist is that you pay for everything the renovators do, and on the big day, everything is revealed before your eyes.

And it’s exactly the same. Think the censors would let your comments air?

“Yes, the room may appear to be the same, but if you look carefully, we’ve rearranged some of the potted plants. And instead of six calla lilies, we’ve taken two out and put in a pair of tulips. Oh, but we’ve put two new calla lilies in that old bowl of tulips over there, to replace the other two we tossed out.”

You’d be pretty P-Oed, right? Now imagine if the producers then turned around and presented you with a bill for $25,000. Needless to say it would make for some entertaining television.

Now, multiply that $25,000 by a factor 10,000 and you’ll get what the next federal renovation will set the country back. And what will we get for our money? Probably nothing more than a few cosmetic changes and a whole lot of buyers’ regret.

The Conservatives are upset that Alberta premier Ralph Klein said what many of us believe – that the upcoming election will bring more of the same, another Liberal minority. Now, as they say in the sports world, if the games were won on paper we wouldn’t need to play them. But it’s hard to believe that we’re much different than we were back in June 2004, but that’s what we’re going to spend upwards of $250 million to find out.

The opposition parties are treating the election as a game of chance: rolling the dice with our money hoping to strike it big. But the one lesson that any gambler worth his or her salt learns is that although the odds may look stacked in your favour, in the end the house always wins.

The Conservatives, NDP, and, to a lesser extent, the Bloc are gambling that our displeasure over the sponsorship scandal and other political boondoggles will send swing voters rushing to the ballot ready to turf out the long-ruling Liberals. They’re hoping that the electorate will believe that they – the Conservatives especially – are capable of ruling the next Parliament.

Of course, they’re also gambling with the fact that voters will forget that they never learned to play nice and make this government work.

The defining memory of this minority Parliament will not be one of greater accountability, parties negotiating together for the betterment of all Canadians, or the maximizing of a coalition government. No, we’re left with less-than-pleasant memories of implied and expressed desires to grind the wheels of government to a halt, of holding the electorate hostage with threats of forcing another election, and general pettiness and sandbox-mentality fighting in the House of Commons.

And these are the guys and gals we’re supposed to elect in with a minority? I always hated the kids that would only play nice when they held all the cards – do I really want to vote them into power?

Again, we’re stuck at a crossroads in Canada. It seems like years, if ever, where we were actually voting for ideals or picking a candidate that we actually want. More often than not, it comes down to choosing the lesser of two evils. That’s what we had last time around and the Devils in question are still wearing the same masks.

So, as it appears we’re heading to another minority government, we can only expect more of the same behaviour for however long the next government lasts. If we are saddled with another Liberal minority, do we expect any different behaviour from the opposition? And if the Tories leapfrog the Grits into minority power, should we be surprised if the Liberals try to exact some revenge?

We’re headed to more of the same. And if that’s the case, can any party actual revel in what is essentially a Pyhrric victory at best. All parties can only lose credibility and stature through this process and an already-fatigued electorate will only tire further.

Play the safe hand? Shuffle the deck? Double down? Any way you cut it, the result will be the same – the house always wins, and it’s our money that they’re playing with.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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