Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No more Mr. Nice Guy

Remind me again why Ken Dryden is not at least leader of the opposition, if not Prime Minister?

Then there’s the blue vest, the “Mr. Nice Guy” ads. Ad firms are paid millions to tell the story their client wants told. It’s much easier for them when it’s a new “product” or a new “person” launch. When the information they provide is the only information - when the public knows nothing else. The problem for Mr. Harper is that the public does know something else. They’ve been watching him for 2 ½ years and Stephen Harper, they know, may be lots of things, but he’s not a “nice guy.”

He’s not. Nice guys don’t cut literacy programs. Nice guys don’t cut funding to women’s groups, aboriginal groups, health and childcare and poverty and disability groups. Toying with them month after month, teasing them with silence and desperate hope. If, they say to themselves, if I don’t say anything, if I just go quiet, maybe I might get something. Please. Then crumbs, or nothing.

Nice guys don’t decide there’s only one voice in this country that matters. Not these voices of our communities. Not those of his own Cabinet or Caucus. Not voices in the arts who get their programs cut because they say things that might make us squirm. Not any voice competent and professional who disagrees - Linda Keen, Adrian Measner, Jean-Guy Fleury - who then feel the pulverizing weight of a Government machine come down on them just so they know: you don’t mess with “the vest”.

Arts groups, literacy and poverty and childcare groups - it’s the same story. Nice guys don’t make the weak weaker and the vulnerable more vulnerable.
Nice guys don’t act like there are Canadians and not-quite Canadians. Those who fit Mr. Harper’s understanding of how life is supposed to be lived, and those, Canadians too - single mothers, addicts, gays and lesbians - who don’t.

And nice guys don’t take someone else’s person, as he did Monsieur Dion, they don’t take their personality, their character, their life, what they’ve worked hard to build, what is decent and substantial and good. What they’ve earned. They don’t take that, twist it, stretch it, caricature and distort it. They don’t buy air time
and in front of millions of people, assassinate it. And pretend, ahh, that’s just politics.
Oh, and the puffin and the poop - oops, sorry. Didn’t mean it. Just like I don’t mean all the other just-as-new ads on the Conservatives’ website, that reach tens of thousands just like the Mr. Nice Guy ads on TV, that are just as abusive as the others in the pre-Mr. Nice Guy time.

If it quacks like a duck, put a blue vest on it, it’s still a duck.

Dryden goes on to say a bunch of other good things - mostly pointing out the small, petty nature of the Harper campaign and the need to address larger issues and provide a vision of a Canada that is greater than the sums of its parts, the notion that the election should be about more than the ability of the Conservatives to buy taxpayers off with their own money.

Seriously, remind me why the Liberals picked Dion and not Dryden, because I'd really like to know. I think Dryden would have mopped the floor with Harper by now. I wish I could vote for him. Say what you want about the track record of his party over the last ten years, Dryden's vision of A Big Canada (someone please find me a transcript of that speech!) is the closest to mine that has been enunciated by any politician since Trudeau.

cross posted from the Woodshed

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