Monday, November 09, 2009

The Cons and the Great Rural Urban Divide

Well there I was biking down the boardwalk with my friends on a balmy Indian Summer day in November. Skidding on the dead leaves. And it was so excellent I'm starting to think life in Canada couldn't be better eh?

Until I noticed that this year many of the maple leaves are covered in big ugly black spots like tumours. And it just about ruined my day.

Because I couldn't help thinking of Stephen Harper and his Cons and what they're doing to Canada. Corrupting its values. Eating away at its fabric, like a fungus. By pitting Canadians against each other.

Like Great Ugly Leader is doing with the gun registry, using it to drive a wedge between rural and urban Canadians. Stirring up the Great Rural Urban Divide over gun control. Even though he himself once supported it.

Calgary Reformer Stephen Harper surveyed his constituents and found broad support in principle for gun control. He supported the bill at second reading. He then conducted another survey, in which he explained the details of the bill, and found a majority opposed to critical elements. He voted against gun control at third and final reading and faced accusations of flip-flopping and/or rigging the survey to get the result he wanted.

And was threatened by gun nutz.

Calgary Reform MP Stephen Harper, one of only two Reformers to support the bill, has also received “threats against my person or family.” .

But now he's quite happy to join them, as they whip up rural Canadians by claiming the registry only exists because city slickers hate them. Huh?

Because I don't hate anyone...except bullies and bigots. I don't judge people from where they come from.

And it all seems like Canada to me...

If you don't rake the leaves in the fall, you'll pay for it in the spring. If you don't shoot the critter eating the chickens you'll go hungry in the winter.

You know it's bad enough that Stephen Harper wants to change our gentle country into a nastier meaner place. It's bad enough that the opposition can't get more traction out of this health disaster.

Or all the other rotten things these porky Cons have done. But to allow Harper to play wedge politics in a country as fragile as this one, as he does all the time, could turn out to be the biggest disaster of all.

He has turned West against East, rural residents against urban dwellers. He has tried to marginalize women, gays, and artists. During the Coalition crisis he tried to turn English Canada against Quebec. Where will it end I wonder....and how much anger and resentment can a country take before it blows apart?

Which was almost enough to put a cloud over my beautiful Canadian Indian Summer day in November eh?

But not quite...

Because it was too warm and beautiful. And I love and believe in the infinite possibility of this young country too much to give in to despair.

So with that in mind I'd just like to say this to all the decent people in rural Canada.I hate the way some of you are being used by the Harper Cons to drive another wedge between Canadians.

I wonder if you, like me, ever wonder where all this anger and division might lead us?

Because I think I can see where this one is going.

As more and more Canadians ....on all sides.... forget that this country was built on compromise not confrontation... like it was in the United States. And for good reason.

Oh well.... whatever happens in the future, I just want you to know that this city slicker.... from a rural/fishing village so small it makes a small village in Saskatchewan look like Chicago.

Still hates guns in cities. Still believes police officers have a right to try to make their jobs safer. But understands where you're coming from. Desperately wants you to be happy.

And although sometimes it's unbelievably hard eh?

Still loves you anyway...


Anonymous said...

Hello -
What's happening in the west is a huge swell in the numbers of fundamentalist christians, and they are waving the flag of "Distrust those who are not white" and "Gays are not our equals", and the rest of the social conservatives out here who don't actually go to church, have received permission to revert back to the bigots that they were before the "politically correct" movement forced them underground. The conservative movement in Canada is a religious movement. Wake up eastern Canada and start calling it for what it is -- a dangerous group of zealots who are starting to flex their muscle. After the gun registry will be a run a abortion rights.

CK said...

Anonymous paints a bleak picture, but I've been seeing that for awhile now. If Steve is let loose with a majority, we will become like Georgie and Dickie's America.
Let's also not forget, American health care. By the looks of things state side, the insurance companies will have a tighter leash on 'em, so they will make their way here where Steve would be more sympathetic.
Problem is at a time when Iggy's numbers were 'ok', he dropped the gauntlet on Steve and look where it got him: his numbers plummeted below Dion's ever got.
I'm starting to talk to my husband about perhaps moving somewhere less corporatists and neo-con; somewhere like the Netherlands (MY father is a Dutch citizen): Perhaps in a few years (a girl can dream can't she??)

Jennifer Smith said...

Beautiful as always, Simon.

I'm becoming convinced that this is the real reason why Stephen Harper and his ideological allies hate Canadian Television so much. Because in a country as broad and diverse and geographically fragmented as this on, one of the few ways we have of really getting to know each other is to tell each other our stories (seriously - how many of us learned about life in BC through The Beachcombers?)

Television is very good at this because it emotionally involves us in other people's imaginary lives, and so gets us to identify with them. TV breeds tolerance - or at least TV fiction does. Reality TV, on the other hand, puts us in the position of an outside observer, which allows us to judge the people we're watching rather than relate to them.

(sorry, that was totally off-topic - just stuff I've been thinking about)

PeterC said...

So, and here is a question I asked each of the hunters I know locally, did anyone give up hunting / defending the livestock as a result of the long gun registry?

The only person who claimed it affected him, non-specifically I might add, was the local fox news parrot / known racist. Every other hunter I polled, unscientifically, said "No, it cost me another X dollars".

I have heard some collectors had to pay some cash to get some guns disabled.

Basically, the effect on the average gun user? None except they didn't like the paperwork. The only reason this discussion even happened in Canada is because of the NRA propaganda that can not help but make it across the boarder.

I do not currently hunt, but I've been more and more interested in it. I have yet to be dissuaded by any of the reasonable requirements of gun ownership.

[shrug] Much like the real story of health care in Canada, the real story of the gun registry is not what we read about from special interest groups or see on TV.

Anonymous said...

I liked this post as I do all of your writing, Simon and I agree whole-heartedly with what what you and the commenter's say about this issue. This feels like a safe place to express something, so here goes. I very much think, as a faithful and humble student of the teachings of Jesus Christ, that the Right Wing Evagelical's, and others who seek to divide, are deceivers of the worst sort. We are actually warned about them; they come in the guise of 'righteousness and light'. I base this on reading I've done and I wondered if you've heard of a book called "The Family"? The authour was interviewed by Jon Stewart, and he names the names of prominent, powerful men in D.C. who believe and act as though the 'market' (Capitalism) and war is their God-given right to control this world and oppress those they choose. Well, I believe that our intellect and abilities of reason and investigation are God-given to help us to determine the Truth. We are given the ability to put the pieces together and look at the whole picture. Poverty is the greatest violence. We're called to love all, not judge. Which is why I have am appalled with the Harper government and the pattern they have set down. When you look at all the ways they manipulate the system and us, they surely don't represent the kind of Christian I'm striving to be. I feel compelled to speak out about them because a so many of them are frauds. Thanks for listening and keep fighting the good fight, LK.

Jennifer Smith said...


Kudos. I can't imagine how difficult it must be being a peace-loving, tolerant Christian these days. Sort of like being a Pagan hunter, I suppose :) But people like you and Bene Diction and Bishop John Spong and other Christians who truly believe in equality and inclusion give me hope that the real message of Jesus hasn't been lost.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, Jennifer. LK

Simon said...

hi anonymous...I agree with you that these fundamentalists are a real problem.
And I have blogged many times about the number of these intolerants in the Harper government.
But I think the big urban/rural divide in this country is caused by all kinds of reasons....and bigger than the fundamentalist problem. Which is why I consider it so serious and open to any suggestions about how to overcome it and bring us closer together...

Simon said...

hi CK...well I hope you never feel you have to leave Canada, because (a) we would miss you. And (b) as I said in the post Canada is still just a teenager of a country so we can still change it for the better.
I know we can because you should have seen me at sixteen... :)

Simon said...

hi Jennifer...thank you...I quite enjoyed writing that one. You know i think you're right about Harper. I used to think he hated the CBC because he considers it socialized TV. But since he is so determined for some crazy reason to undermine the notion of national government, I think you're right about not wanting us to share our stories. The more we realize we share more than what divides us, the less he is able to use his hideous wedge politics.
But something has got to be done, because as I said in the post, you can't pit one group against another in a country like this one, and expect that there will be no consequences..

Simon said...

hi Peter...well that's what I think too. I realize that if I had to register a bunch of guns I'd probably not enjoy filling out a bunch of forms.
But I'd still do it because I'd consider it my duty as a citizen.One of those little things that helps make the difference between a civilized society, and the kind of violent individualistic society like they have in the U.S.
Especially if it could save the life of a police officer or a paramedic.
But as you point out this issue has been influenced by attitudes in the U.S. where the Constitution gives them the right to bear arms.
And Harper's Cons are driving wedges between good people,just to win votes.
As I told somebody the other day...we used to be the best in the world at coming up with compromises. But these days all we do is shout at each other...

Simon said...

hi LK...thanks for that lovely comment. And you're definitely in a safe space. :)
Although I'm not religious myself, some of my favourite people in the world are real Christians. Like you...and my Mum. People who are kind to others...especially the most humble... help them instead of judging them, and work to make a gentler, safer, better world.
Because if all Christians were like that it would be a better world.
I haven't read The Family, but I have heard about it and it sounds really scary.
My hope is that the decent Christians will be able to use the strength of their faith, to reclaim the real church of Jesus, from those who would pervert his gentle message, and spread hate rather than love...

P.S. I also have to admit that for a model atheist I have an unfortunate weakness for some hymns and Christmas carols. But I blame my Mum for that one... ;)

Oemissions said...

Anonymous said...

Hi Simon. Thanks for the encouraging words. Your most recent post is another reason I will fight what the CPC stands for, as long as I'm able. I look at what they've done, by the word-changing, omissions, exclusions, and policy changes that have changed us from a free society to...well, I heard a very good explanation of Liberalism from the 'Bionic Liberal' and I think that's closest to what the majority of Canada would be happy with. Unfortunately, the CPC propaganda has had a good effect for them, for now. Keep the fight and take care. LK

Anonymous said...

P.S. I liked the song too, he has the nicest Clint Eastwood, from his western days--eyes! We watched him a lot growing up. LK

Anonymous said...

To bad it is simply not true, but don't let the facts get in the way.

Rural vs Urban divide is a myth supported by the popular media which is mainly Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver centric. We hear it over and over again that Canada is 80% Urban. This comes from a 1903 definition which makes a city of 1,000 people an urban center. If we used a cutoff point of 100,000 it would be roughly a 50/50 split between Urban and Rural. When we take into account the rural sections of cities.

The firearms issue has never been a urban/rural issue.