(The) two basic strategies are: on the right, "People are swine -- endorse my position, or join them in my estimation"; and on the left, "people are essentially good at heart, can't you see that, you sick fool?" -- David Mamet "Bambi vs Godzilla"
There have always seemed to be two solitudes in Canada. First it was French and English. Then it was East and West. Now it's Left and Right.
We lost our bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council Tuesday, polling fewer votes than Germany and Portugal.
The days leading up to the vote were marked by Liberal Party of Canada leader Michael Ignatieff urging the UN's member nations to deny his country this international honor to illustrate the world's displeasure with us and particularly the foreign policy initiatives of the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
This struck me as somewhat petty.
Imagine, if you will, that Mr. Ignatieff was a Toronto Maple Leaf fan (which he could well be since he more or less hails from there right now). And let's say his beloved Leafs were knocked out of the Stanley Cup Finals by the Montreal Canadiens who then went on to face either Phoenix or Nashville for the mug, both teams a lot of us feel should rightfully be housed up here.
Piqued that his hated rival might snag some Glory, would Mike be telling the rest of the world to cheer against the Canadiens?
Well given that he wouldn't want to alienate the Quebec vote, of course he wouldn't. But I guess he felt it was okay to alienate those who might like to see Canada receive a little more recognition on the international scene.
Of course, the more rabid of Conservatives blamed Ignatieff for the loss, giving him far greater credit than he probably deserved. But it was the media coverage following the vote by the completely unbiased CBC that caught my attention.
CBC Journalists continually made the point that several nations (predominantly in the Middle East and Africa) were indeed unhappy with Canada. In the Middle East because of our recent condemnations of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah and refusal to embrace the concept of Israeli Apartheid. And in Africa by those who don't like how much harder the present government has made it for them to collect foreign aid.
The vote was followed by what felt like an interminably long Liberal Party press conference where the point was repeatedly made that we have drifted very far from the traditional "Canadian values" the rest of the world has come to know and love.
For those of you a little fuzzy on what those particular values are (or were) they can be best summed up by a famous Canadian beer commercial you can find here. Basically, we're not Americans, we don't live in igloos, we're proud of being Peacekeepers -- and we like our beverages homebrewed and cold.
Occasionally a clip would appear with a representative of the government stating that we lost because the Harper Conservatives refused to compromise their "Canadian values" of supporting human rights, defending the only democracy in the Middle East and making sure our foreign aid dollars were wisely spent.
As you can see, we have two widely different ideas of what constitutes "Canadian values" these days.
CBC followed the press conference with its regular schedule of early evening round table discussions, continuing to exhibit its lack of bias by interviewing panels comprised of former Liberal cabinet ministers and UN Ambassadors as well as foreign policy experts from the other party of the Left, the NDP.
The discussions mostly confirmed that the rest of the world doesn't like us much anymore because of our "mean-spirited" government, which doesn't reflect those traditional "Canadian values" of peace-keeping, not being American and not offending Middle East extremists or corrupt African dictators too much.
I don't think the igloo thing was really all that important to anybody.
Overall, the point was we're being especially un-Canadian by not saying "Sorry" to as many people it isn't our fault we upset as we used to.
These hours of discussion meant that the CBC didn't cover three stories which were being reported widely elsewhere today.
1. Police in Thailand made 155 arrests in cracking a human trafficking ring preparing to ship a freighter loaded with Tamils to Canada.
You may recall that a couple of months ago a similar ship arrived in British Columbia where our "mean-spirited" government didn't welcome them with open arms because they weren't sure if they were refugees or Tamil Tiger terrorists or victims of human trafficking.
Despite the fact that nobody on the ship could ID either the Captain or any member of the crew, according to CBC Journalists and their roundtables, the government actions did not reflect our traditional "Canadian values."
2. The last session of Parliament was marked by acrimonious debate as opposition MPs and Senators attempted to prevent several tough-on-crime bills from becoming law. These MPs and Senators pointed to Statscan crime statistics showing an annual decline in the crime rate as proof such laws were just "mean-spirited" and counter to traditional "Canadian values".
However, it seems the real numbers, when not being parsed or spun reveal that violent crime is actually up 316% and overall crime up 131%.
Odd how CBC spent most of the summer defending the necessity of gathering statistics and then doesn't report findings as stunning as these.
3. A few months ago, Michael Ignatieff made a point of not offending China by bringing up human rights abuses during a trip to Beijing. And despite being one of the first to congratulate Barack Obama on his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, he still hasn't said a word about the one just awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
I guess, in the end, it comes down to whose version of "Canadian values" you embrace. And I know it's hard for a lot of people to give much consideration to the values of those long depicted as being on the lunatic fringe of Canadian politics and especially the people who'd vote for them.
People like those who live in Brock, Saskatchewan near the border of "red-neck" Alberta and who continue to elect Conservative Members of Parliament. Before that, they even elected candidates from the even more evil, insensitive and "mean-spirited" Reform Party.
What urban dwelling, politically correct and/or sensitive Canadian could ever share the "Canadian values" people like that embody?
Last month, 29 year old Owen Strutt of Brock, Saskatchewan, already banged up from a rough summer, promised his elderly parents Lois and Ken that somehow, some way, he'd get the harvest in. Unfortunately, Owen was killed in a truck rollover two weeks ago, apparently after swerving to miss a wild animal crossing a lonely country road.
His parents were devastated, of course. Doubly devastated, since they would lose this year's entire income along with their only son.
But their neighbors wouldn't let that happen.
And last weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, 30 of them left their own families and turned up at the Strutt farm and in one very long day took the entire wheat crop off 1000 acres.
Others in the community stored the grain and brought meals to the men working the fields.
If we really have two different sets of "Canadian values" in this country, one espoused by politicians and one somewhat opposite that is reflected by the actions and character of a bunch of prairie "red-necks", I think I know exactly which one I'm more likely to embrace.