Like most Canadians, for me this has been a less than stellar summer. In the spring we were warned to brace ourselves. The summer, we were told, was going to be hot and dry but promises by the weather office are not the kind you can take to the bank. They are more like, "The cheques in the mail" and those other hollow promises.
Saskatchewan is usually pretty hot anyway. Most summers we wait for our lawns to turn brown to we don't have to bother cutting the grass any more.
So we waited for that hot dry weather through June, July and August but, much to our chagrin, it was a no show. OK, so it got hot for a few days in September. Whop-dee-do.
So here it is October. It is cold, rainy and windy. In most of Canada when winds pick up to 90 km they talk about close to hurricane force winds. Here on the prairies we say, "Bit of a breeze out there eh"
I can take the wind out there but I must tell you, I was more than a bit pissed about that snow icon that turned up this morning in the corner of Leader Post's weather page.
It looks like the beginning of a long hard winter. At least things seem to be back to normal.
Canadians have a government led by that nerd we all hated in high school run a cabinet filled with Mike Harris Conservatives and Reformers. And still they lead in the polls. I like to think it isn't that Canadians are stupid. It is,simply put, because the opposition parties are unraveling at the seams and are offering us no meaningful alternatives.
The NDP are just where the government wants them, doing well enough to cause the Liberals considerable damage by splitting the centre - left vote, but low enough in the polls not to worry about. Try as he might Jack Layton simply cannot win over the hearts and minds of Canadians. It is more than the mustache. People just don't like him. Nobody is listening to Jack any more.
The Federal Liberals must be scratching their heads and asking themselves some pretty tough questions. Have you seen the polls? How could they screw up so badly? What the hell went wrong?
It isn't so much what went wrong as it is that those guys just can't seem to get it right. The once "natural ruling party" can't seem to pick a real leader. Lets face it, Dion was a disaster. You think they would learn from that. But no, instead of picking Bob Rae who actually has the ability to connect with Canadians they choose Micheal Ignatieff who, lets face it is a bit of a cold fish.
Canadians are a hard bunch to please and truth be told, a bit hypocritical about it all as well. We mumble on about how Ignatieff once supported the invasion of Iraq as a reason why they won't vote for the Liberals under Ignatieff's leadership all the while supporting a Prime Minister who, had he been in power at the time would have sure as hell sent Canadians into Iraq, no ands, ifs or buts.
The Coderre affair isn't doing Michael Ignatieff much good either. Already in trouble after a lackluster performance over the summer he didn't need problems in Quebec. Denis Coderre claims he is speaking out for the good of the party. "Hold still Michael while I slip this knife in." Codarre's hissy fit has caused the Liberal real aggravation. Michael claims he isn't taking this personally but a brief visit to Coderre's website shows that it has be wiped clean of everything but a riding map and a brief biography.
So here we sit. We have a right wing Prime Minister with a mean spirited, bullying style, changing what it means to be Canadian bit by bit.
Election talk is off. We don't have to opposition party strong enough to give Harper a run for his money so, here we are between a rock and a hard place.
Some days I despair.
I see that Brad Wall's telecommunications company SaskTel is at it again. Canadians already pay some of the highest cellular telephone charges in the world and we were told by SaskTel this morning that rates are going up again. This time by about $8.00 a month.
This announcement which was on page D1 in the Regina Leader Post and which was ignored by most media, comes the day after SaskEnergy announced to much fanfare, a $5.00 monthly reduction in natural gas rates. So Saskatchewan residents' Crown Corporation costs come out as a net loss.
What is missing from even the minimal reporting this story got was a comparison of what Canadians pay for cell phone service as compared to other countries.
This summer we flew top the UK. We bought a cell phone from Cell Phone Warehouse in Edinburgh. One of our many choices along Princess Street. The phone, plus £10.00 worth of air time cost us $27.00 and change. We called Canada about 8 or 10 times and there is still a £6.00 credit on the phone and it hasn't cost us another cent.
I pay more than that every month and on a recent drive to Ontario and Quebec the service was so bad I wondered why I actually pay SaskTel anything.
It is kind of funny to read SaskTel President and CEO, Robert Watson's excuses. He claims all in all that Saskatchewan customers still get a good deal. I think not Robert. You are hosing consumers.
How do you spell robber baron Brad?
Ok, who really wants an election?
Jack Layton obviously doesn't. He has no where to go but down and with the Liberals talking tough, Jack has had the tables turned on him. He can't afford to risk an election so now he has to prop up Little Stevie, taking his turn to look like a hypocrite. As a further incentive he must know that the next election is most likely his last as party leader. He wants to stay put.
The saber rattling in the Liberal camp has reached a frenzy but it a pretty fair bet to suggest that Micheal most likely doesn't really want to go to the polls either. Try as he might over the summer to capture the hearts and minds of voters. Canadians just haven't jumped on the Liberal bandwagon. All the posturing is about taking his turn at bringing the government to the brink. He can't back down and be viewed as soft like Dion so he has to bet on Jack folding and supporting the right wingers.
It is a high stakes game.
So, who wants the government brought down? My bet is that a majority of Canadians would like to see Harper and his gang out of there, after he only got about 30% of the popular vote last time around. Canadians don't want an election unless it is pretty certain that Stevie and his gang are going to be shuffled off stage. After all, what is the point in having an election to give us the status quo? That is simply a wasted opportunity.
My bet is that the only one who really wants to go to the polls is Stephen Harper. At this point, he is likely to win another minority. In the worst case scenario he might take 40% and win a majority. The odds must look good from where he stands.
It is the proverbial rock and the hard place. Collectively, 65% of Canadians don't support this government but we are stuck with it because no other party can dredge up enough support to take over.
First we need a working coalition, then we have to change the system.