Category: Politics

Our Entry for Alternate Lyrics to O Canada

By Fooey. Sing repeatedly round and round and round, with great feeling. Don’t let your mother sing along. She will only irritate you.

O Canada
O Canada, we stand on God for thee, true save our land, glorious and free, from far and wide, O Canada, we stand on God for thee, God feed our land, glorious and free, O Canada, we stand on God for thee, true save our land, got fee-ba laaah, glorious and free, O Canada, we stand on God for zeeee!

My Children Reflect on President Obama

Conversation (paraphrased) with children on way home from school today re Barack Obama’s inauguration:

Apple-Apple: We cheered for Barack Obama. The lunch-room helpers did a poll about who was glad George Bush got hit in the head with a shoe, and everyone was glad. [note: No teachers were present; the lunch-room helpers are in grade four or five.]
Me: What was this poll?
Apple-Apple: repeats above, approximately.
Me: Huh. Well, no one has thrown a shoe at Barack Obama yet.
Albus: That’s okay. He would stop the shoe with his magical forcefield.
Me: Umm … Barack Obama doesn’t have actual magical powers.
Albus and Apple-Apple: Yes, he does! He has lots of powers. Super-powers.
Me: Well, you’re right, he does have lots of power. But no super-powers. He’s not magical.
Fooey, piping up: That’s because he isn’t real.
Me: Well, he actually is real.
Fooey: No he’s not. He’s on tv!

Reverie

So Stephane Dion is on his way out. A CBC commentator had a great line about his political career. She said that cats have nine lives, but Dion seems to have nine deaths–political deaths. I’d heard his address to the nation via radio, and it sounded a bit stumbling, but okay; only seeing a clip the next day on the television did I realize how truly awful it was. Poor man. What an ignominious image to have define your political career: his face was out of focus. It was like he’d already been condemned to political purgatory, ghost-like, blurry, trying desperately to communicate his good message. 

I feel a bit that way myself. Not the good message part; the out of focus part. Exhaustion’s blur. There are entire days when I feel too interior, like I need to be shaken, woken from this dream. But, then, it’s a pretty sweet dream. Yesterday’s reveries: Rolling out cookie dough, flour-covered children, Fooey piling pink icing on top of a tree-shaped cookie, slowly devouring it, licking icing off the counter; snow falling, fat flakes; pushing the stroller through uncharted sidewalk snow; pretzels in the church basement; Kevin home by naptime; rolling out stretchy pizza dough; utter chaos just before supper’s served, hungry children weeping, fighting, and pretending to explode various inanimate objects; Fooey eating two bananas instead of pizza; washing dishes in hot water; nursing a baby to sleep in front of the television; So You Think You Can Dance, Canada; tea with honey. If I weren’t writing this down right away, the whole of yesterday would disappear utterly. That’s the blurry bit. That’s the part I can’t reconcile myself to. How fast it’s passing.

Yelling at the Radio

Trying to write this afternoon. Not getting much accomplished. Can’t blame Stephen Harper for everything, can I?? I’m so thoroughly caught up in today’s news that instead of polishing metaphors in this story, I’m composing letters to members of parliament. This morning, Stephen Harper visited the Governor-General and asked for and received a prorogue, which means the operations of the House of Parliament are suspended for seven or eight weeks, at which point, the Conservatives will likely have to face a vote of confidence on the budget they say they’ll introduce at that time. In the meantime, they’re planning a full-on, well-financed publicity campaign, and lots of polling. (Haven’t heard a peep in that plan about reconciling with the opposition). Apparently, that’s how you get the pulse of the people: you poll them. Guess what–I’ve never once been polled; but I do vote. That’s how you actually go to the people. You hold an election.

Nobody wants one. 
Brrr. It’s cold out there today, bits of snow falling, icy sidewalks, dim skies. CJ screamed all the way to school in the stroller. He plays strange, now, with adults who are not related to him. The pout and hesitation, the crumpled face and widened eyes, the whimper, the yowl and crocodile tears flowing picturesquely down his cheeks. As soon as he’s back in my arms again, he ceases crying, then quickly turns to check on that Other Person, to see whether they’re still there. Yup. Then back to Mommy, burying his head in my shoulder. Then checking again. He’s a tightly wound little fellow, all kicking legs and flinging limbs and excited energy. He’s going to need a lot of outdoor time as he grows. Sports. I love how he’s drawn to children about Fooey’s size. He approaches them quite differently than he does strange adults. I think it speaks well of his relationship with his big siblings. Fooey sang to him the whole way to school, to try to calm him down; and sometimes it seemed to be working. She loves to make up topical songs.
Maybe she can make up one for me with the word “prorogue” in it. A verse with, “Calm down, Mommy, and stop yelling at the radio,” would hit the spot too.

Cooperation Over Conflict

Well, not much has changed. Parliamentary crisis, I mean. Just waiting. Stephen Harper was on TV tonight addressing the nation and sounding not one teeny tiny bit willing to change his tone to conciliation. He probably thinks he IS being conciliatory, for heaven’s sake. Stephane Dion had his usual trouble with English, but I still like this guy. Cooperation over conflict. Listen, if someone’s willing to try that mode of operation, let’s go with that.

At our house, we like to strive for cooperation over conflict. I get that it’s hard. I get that sometimes even three-year-olds cannot bring themselves to say those really powerful words: “I’m sorry.” I get that sometimes six-year-olds are “just so mad, I couldn’t help myself, Mommy!” I get that sometimes seven-year-olds “don’t know why” they did what they did. I get that these emotions belong to all of us, even as we grow older and attempt to grow wiser. Sometimes sorry really sticks in my throat, too. But you’ll never even inch toward cooperation if you can’t take responsibility for at least part of the trouble you find yourself in. That’s been my mantra around the house these past two days: yes, I get that you’re upset with (fill in the blank) because it’s not fair … but let’s think a little harder here. (I am now thinking of a specific incident, walking to school, and having to share the sidewalk with a lot more snow, and therefore the kids plus stroller plus me are getting squeezed; Apple-Apple was infuriated because things had changed and she didn’t like it). Let’s find a plan that will work for everyone. It won’t be perfect. You might not get to do everything you want. But you have the power to make changes, even small ones, to better your lot. And hitting doesn’t count as power.
Babe’s awake. I’m outta here.

Prorogue, and Other Words You Didn’t Think You’d Need to Know

Calm morning with Fooey and her playdate actually playing together, while CJ napped long and hard (he woke at 6am crying, perhaps from a nightmare, and couldn’t settle after that). I cooked a tomato sauce for supper and shopped online. I keep meaning to blog about our attempts to continue to source local food without the help of our summer CSA box, and Nina’s buying club, but truthfully, I haven’t been able to find satisfactory replacement. It feels very cobbled-together. As mentioned before, I often order groceries online for delivery (for a modest fee), but the supplier isn’t particularly locally-oriented. The main pull of that service is the delivery of bulk items not easily hauled home in the stroller, not to mention the convenience. It’s a huge time-saver. Aside from that, we’ve been using the Saturday Kitchener market as a local-food source; but when Kevin’s working on the weekend that’s not feasible (no, I’m not heroic enough to take the bus with four children to the market in order to haul home fresh meat, carrots, eggs, and cheese!!!). I also frequent our local organic store, Eating Well, in uptown Waterloo; but they don’t always carry local foods either. The big grocery store within walking distance has improved recently, often labelling local produce as such. There should be a variety of local vegetables still available despite the cold weather … hot house tomatoes and cucumbers; those tough greens; carrots, potatoes, beets, turnips, cabbages, winter squashes, onions, leeks (??), help me out here, I know there are more. Parsnips, sweet potatoes.

Cold cellar update: The onions we so carefully stored this summer did not all survive … we lost a few to rot. I think the basement is too warm for their liking (they aren’t in the cold cellar because they aren’t supposed to be stored with potatoes, which we have in abundance–those are doing fine). We also have a whack of garlic stored in there, and a giant pumpkin that needs dealing with.

But, really, what’s on my mind tonight is this parliamentary crisis. I actually started to feel anxious about it tonight. I fear Stephen Harper’s ruthlessly divisive nature, and worry he will say and do anything to stay in power, even if it means inflaming incendiary tensions between fellow citizens–gee, not “even if”; I think for him that’s a means to an end. Right now, he’s painting a whole bunch of people (the majority of voters who voted) as commies and separatists, and claiming a coalition government would be illegal. It’s not. It’s not necessarily a great idea, but that doesn’t make it illegal. It’s hard to imagine this unlikely coalition coming together without being goaded into action by Harper’s tragic personal flaw, which is his utter lack of grace. He couldn’t quite believe the election hadn’t handed him a majority. And he behaved as if it had. Instead of seeking common ground between parties and creating stability (in everyone’s best interest, including his own), he kicked a little sand.

I thought I’d be all for this coalition; but I’m not, exactly (not exactly against it, either; horribly waffling). I think they’ll have a tough time getting along with each other, which will make it hard to create and sell coherent policy, and that could really turn citizens against the left. It would require us all to be quick studies in how coalition governments work (likely messier than what we’d become accustomed to with that string of majorities), and I’m guessing Canadians won’t have the patience for that, what with this full-blown “Global Economic Crisis.” (Is anyone else really really sick of that phrase?).

My best-case scenario would be that this stagnation jumpstarts the move toward proper proportional representation–genuine electoral reform. And that Stephen Harper steps aside as leader, say, tomorrow, and the Conservatives present us with someone who is conciliatory, gracious, and eager to work with opposition parties. If the infuriated, abusive, downright frothing at the mouth Conservative MPs I’ve been hearing on the radio are representative, that’s a fantastically tall order. (Jim Baird??? James Moore?? Even Tony Clement sounded like he might blow a gasket). I hear Jim Prentice is the best they’ve got.

The coalition has gotten along in theory and in practice so far; but let’s be brutally honest, the divisions are plenty, the Liberals are in the midst of a leadership race; it would be crazy hard to pull off long-term. If Harper doesn’t personally step aside, they’re the best chance we’ve got for stability, and they should have the chance, but … Yah. I’m a little anxious. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. It seems to be changing by the minute.

The good news is that the American ambassador to Canada (Wilkins) doesn’t even plan to brief his president (W.) on these goings-on; so it’s small potatoes in a world of crisis.

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