EDITORIAL: U.S. woes could be ours

Canadians shouldn’t laugh too hard watching the political debacle that has shut down the U.S. government for the past couple of weeks.

Canadians shouldn’t laugh too hard watching the political debacle that has shut down the U.S. government for the past couple of weeks.

True, their situation couldn’t happen here. We would have a non-confidence vote, and trigger a new election and a new government. But our government system has its own problems.

The vastness of the U.S. economy coupled with the size and relative wealth of their population tends to magnify the scale of their political and social problems.

Canadians should look at the divisive political/social structure there as a warning of how problems with our political system could grow if unchecked.

Let’s face it, politicians no longer represent the views of their constituents. American politicians tend to represent big money special interests. In Canada, the Senate is a patronage tool with a healthy dash of corruption and in the House of Commons, it’s a rare thing for any MLA to vote against their party’s line.

Impossible then, that Canada will ever see anything like the civil war the U.S. has between their Senate, Congress and the president. In Canada, the prime minister has few barriers to getting his policies or those of the party enacted.

That puts an incredible amount of power in the hands of the prime minister, his cabinet and the party elite. For example, since 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s conservative government has been muzzling scientists and defunding scientific inquiry.

Widely available facts have long served as a check on political power; educated, aware people tend to ask questions like ‘why?’ But an uneducated populace is easily swayed by people/politicians pandering to their prejudices.

A vicious circle leading to the situation we see in the U.S. today, where the Tea Party draws support from a large, unquestioning portion of the electorate for their extremist views.