Canada is not your utopia

Canada has once again become the poster child for decency — a pastoral, brave, beautiful and welcoming land

.. Voter turnout is low, typically under 70 percent and trending down despite a bump in 2015 on the strength of a competitive contest.

.. Governments are formed with about 40 percent of those who show up, which means that electoral support for the governing party reflects a fraction of the popular will, and thus so does policy.

.. Young people are regularly shut out of political life.

.. participation in government is rare and representative engagement and diversity in the legislature are low. They gave the country’s democracy a B-, up slightly from a C in 2015.

.. Canada’s institutions are generally fine, but they aren’t flourishing and are subject of abuse or hijacking by populist appeal, as soon-to-be Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently proved with his anti-elite “Ford Nation” campaign victory.

.. disgusting treatment of undocumented immigrants — which Trudeau has called “wrong” — but Canada has its own checkered past and troubling present.

.. despite being imagined as a multicultural haven, Canada has its own history and present of racial discrimination and violence, too. Extremist and racial violence is up.

.. systemic discrimination is a serious problem

.. Toronto, the practice of carding — checking identification on the street, which has been prone to racist abuse — is a blight on the city

..  country’s recent history with refugees, especially during the Syrian crisis, went from grudging to moderately welcoming but inadequate

.. For many indigenous peoples, the portrait of the country as a welcoming and inclusive land is not only untrue but also offensive.

.. indigenous peoples in Canada face high levels of incarceration, communities are suffering from suicide epidemics, and reserves throughout the land lack safe drinking water. Canada itself exists in part on unceded indigenous land. Colonialism in Canada is an ongoing injustice.

..  opioid crisis, homelessness, hunger, crushing levels of personal debt, pathetic levels of social spending or inadequate action on climate change.

.. The country fought for justice and human dignity during World War II and opted out of the reckless Vietnam War, choosing instead to act as a haven for Americans fleeing the draft.

 

Will Canada Elect a Tin-Pot Northern Trump?

Mr. Ford snuck through to the leadership on a voting system that ranked ballots. He won neither the popular vote nor the greatest number of constituencies.

.. But the Progressive Conservative machine is behind him already. It operates on inherited loyalties, antipathy against scandal-plagued opponents, time-for-a-change sentiments and basic self-interest.

.. His infamous brother, when you get right down to it, was only the mayor of Toronto, which is not a very powerful position. Toronto’s “weak mayor” system ensures that its leader only gets one vote on the city council. In Canada, it’s actually the premier of a province who matters.
.. Canada’s Constitution calls for “peace, order and good government”; it is hard to imagine anyone who could fulfill that mandate less.
.. Mr. Ford’s sweep in as quiet and stable a place as Ontario points to a broader global crisis from which apparently there is no escape. Conservatism is no longer a political ideology in the recognized sense, but a repository of loathing and despair. It’s where people thrust their hatred of modernity — of globalism and multiculturalism and technocratic expertise, but also of the democracy
.. By giving high office to buffoons, by choosing thugs as their representatives and by reveling in nastiness for its own sake, the Conservative brand now is principally a marker of contempt for political order itself.

Conservatism has meant many things to many people around the world. Now, just about everywhere, it looks a lot like a raised middle finger; Ford and friends are the latest to salute.