The fashion for fed-bashing
Events appears to be conspiring today, north and south of the 49th parallel, to get us thinking about why we even need a federal government.
In Washington, as I write this, talks are still continuing in a budget impasse that could see the shutdown of the U.S. federal government at midnight tonight. In Canada, meanwhile, the Conservatives have just released a platform that's apparently a blueprint for a much smaller federal government, according to Jim Flaherty.
Over the past 20 years in Canada, through Liberal and Conservative governments, there's been a general agreement that Ottawa is too big, too fat and too out of touch with everyday citizens' lives. The less we get of Ottawa, the better -- that's pretty much the general consensus. Even the New Democratic Party has picked up on that anti-Ottawa sentiment in this campaign, with its Ottawa-is-broken ads. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, meanwhile, often highlights the fact that he's not a career politician, as if to subtly remind people that he's not part of the "Ottawa problem" either.
All of which raises the question of why we may be having trouble getting people interested in the current election. Why pay attention to a contest to install people in a big, fat, broken, irrelevant institution?
And that's where the Washington budget impasse comes in handy. Have a look here at all that will be affected south of the border if the federal government shuts down tonight in the U.S. It's not exactly irrelevant or out-of-touch stuff. Useful to remember, in the midst of a campaign when it's not exactly fashionable to talk about Ottawa's role in people's lives.