Province of fools

Province of sheep
Province of masochists?

For the second time in a row the Liberals have scored an absolutely crushing election victory in Ontario. Other gun owners and Reformers have tried to paint a happy face on this bleak outcome. They add up Reform and Tory votes, then declare "We would have beat them in X number of ridings were it not for splitting the vote." They brag about the Reform Party's recovery from 7% in the polls in Ontario in March to 19% on election day.

So what. This is akin to saying we ran a good race for a fat guy with asthma and bad knees. All that matters in the end is the number of candidates you succeed in sending to Ottawa, and there is no denying the magnitude of the Liberal victory here: 99 out of 100 in 1993, then 101 out of 103 in 1997.

Are the Liberals actually this good? Of course not. Chretien is looking more and more like a compulsive liar. He lies about major issues such as free trade and the GST. He lies about trivial things like being unemployed in his youth and talking to homeless people.

The dollar is only a couple of cents above its all time low. Unemployment remains stubbornly close to 10%. Personal and business bankruptcies are near record levels. Clifford Olson got his day in court. The Liberals have repeatedly raised taxes while off loading expenses to the provinces. Our military is an underfunded, scandal plagued mess. Most of Chretien's major ministers were embarrassments, from the shrill and obnoxious Sheila Copps to that smarmy weasel Allan Rock and the arrogant and bombastic Doug Young.

Their election campaign was unfocussed and lacking a raison d'etre. At no time were they controlling the agenda. Chretien looked old, confused, and tired. They made a major strategic blunder when they judged the Conservatives, and not Reform, to be their principal opponents.

Yet still they won in Ontario. And not just a win, but a win by a stunning, overpowering, landslide. So great was the magnitude of their victory that even Liberal strategists were shocked. Shortly before the writ was dropped one prominent Liberal confided it "would take a miracle" for the Liberals to match their 1993 showing in Ontario.

In no other area of the country did they come even close to gaining a majority of seats. Were it not for Ontario the Liberals would be the official opposition. Despite absolutely shameless pork barreling, Chretien won his own riding by less than 1,600 votes. Everyone else has figured them out. Why can't we? Are we a province of sheep, a province of fools, or a province of masochists?

Many of my friends have suggested only idiots could give such an overwhelming mandate to the Liberal party, and my first inclination was to agree with this assessment. Upon further reflection, I have decided this is not the case. A true idiot is not cognizant of the issues. I believe most people in Ontario are. We know Chretien is a liar and the dollar is worth seventy two cents. We know about Clifford Olson, Karla Homolka, the Somalia inquiry, and the near referendum disaster. We know Chretien bypassed candidate nomination procedures and stacked the Senate with Liberal sycophants. We know we lost five hundred million on the canceled helicopter deal, sixty million on Pearson airport, and two million to Brian Mulroney. We just don't care.

Are we masochists then? Do we actually enjoy being abused and lied to? I don't think so. True masochists would have kept the Tories in power. We do not like being mistreated. It is just that we are usually willing to overlook it.

In truth, we are a province of sheep. Such things as freedom and individual rights are meaningless abstractions to most Ontarians. All that matters to them is mortgage rates are lower than they were a few years ago and unemployment levels have gone down slightly. As long as the economy seems to be improving, they will overlook such things as lies, incompetence, and the abrogation of basic rights. The typical resident of Ontario would vote for a syphilitic dog, if the dog was the leader of a party that was lucky enough to govern during a period of economic expansion.

Joe C. W. Armstrong, in his book "Farewell the Peaceful Kingdom" declares "Canada's long term prospects for peace and fulfilment are dim. I see little evidence to suggest that Canadians feel anything other than a profound mistrust, or even contempt, for freedom...Canada does not suffer a leadership crisis. She suffers a crisis of citizenship."

When I first read this book two years ago, I judged Mr. Armstrong's assessment of the character of Canadian citizens to be excessively pessimistic. I truly believed the Reform Party would elect eight to ten MP's in Ontario, with the Tories picking up a similar number. Of course I knew that was not what most polls were saying. But I had confidence enough of my fellow Ontarians would pull through to limit the Liberals to a weak minority. I was wrong. Mr. Armstrong's only error was to speak as if all Canadians were equally servile. There are areas of the West where free men form the majority. Unfortunately, they are not numerous enough to overcome that giant herd of bleating sheep called Ontario.

The next five years are not going to be pleasant for anyone in Canada who values their freedom. The only thing we have in our favour is that there will almost certainly be some kind of disaster within this period of time: a major recession, a collapse of the dollar, or the separation of Quebec. When this happens, the sheep in Ontario will turn on their masters, just as they turned on the Tories in 1993. Perhaps this is the best indication of how far our country has sunk, when the shock treatment of a major calamity is the only thing capable of shaking us from our lethargy.