Thursday, October 10, 2013

Colour It Beige

Lawrence Martin doesn't expect much from the upcoming throne speech. He predicts that it will be a pretty bland document:

If the leaks are to be believed, this Throne Speech will be a bean-counter’s delight, with vote targeting evident in every paragraph. It will feature all kinds of consumer-friendly initiatives, such as addressing excessive telecom charges. There will be support for families. There will be a sermon on how proud we should be to be Canadians – especially under this government.

The speech will have new offerings in areas such as military procurement and greenhouse gas regulation, but the Conservatives are probably right in thinking that there’s no widespread demand for major change.

In the midst of growing income inequality, global warming and no opportunities for youth, the Harper government will offer more of the same. Why? Martin says it's because we ageing boomers rule the roost. We have become complacent in our old age:

The atmosphere is closer to complacency: “It’s come on Canada, let’s go out and paint the town beige,” said pollster Frank Graves. And that suits the government just fine, he says.

Then Martin writes something curious:

There’s the reality that, on a comparative basis, these are relatively good times. There are serious problems: energy markets, falling middle class, collapsing manufacturing base, aboriginal peoples, deteriorating democracy and so on. There’s the usual anxiety about the future. But to stand back from the daily headlines is to see a country in a rare comfort zone. Maybe only in the 1920s and 1950s were conditions comparable.

It may be true that we face no FLQ crisis. And we are no longer officially at war. But good times? We are led by a petulant, small minded prime minister who has the support of 25% of the population. Obviously, the times are out of joint.

Beige is the colour of a country that is going nowhere.

On an entirely different note, I just read that Alice Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize. Like Chekhov, she is a master of the perfect little story. Today is a great day for Canadian literature. And it reminds us that even beige countries are capable of brilliance.


Lorne said...

While I normally enjoy Martin's work, Owen, it is a real stretch to suggest that these are relatively good times. As for the boomers' complacence, I'm not so sure it is so much that than it is a general tuning out of politicians across the demographic spectrum.

Owen Gray said...

And Mr. Harper counts on that civic insouciance, Lorne.

As long as the public is bored, he'll remain in office.