Muskrat love and Mountie wardrobe malfunctions

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It’s always heartening to see Canada’s elected officials prosecute the course of our democracy with assiduous attention to detail. And what could be more minutely meaningful to the future of our rights and freedoms than the sartorial decisions of our national police force?

New York’s Fashion Week has come and gone, so we’re on our own with this one. Well, not entirely. Fortunately, there is Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, whom we can always trust to weigh in on the weightier matters of national security.

Commenting in the House of Commons last week about the RCMP’s policy change regarding the hats they issue to constables – that, henceforth, the traditional muskrat-fur toppers will be replaced with woolen toques to all but the most northerly, frostily bound units – the minister said, in effect, ‘no way.’

I wish I could get behind her.

After all, don’t fur trappers account for 95 per cent of the working population not already productively engaged making Leonardo DiCaprio’s life a living hell at Alberta’s tar sands?

And, considering that the trade in animal skins accounts for several gagillion dollars worth of national gross domestic product today (or was that in 1680?) doesn’t she make a point, and, perhaps, isn’t that all we can expect from our political leaders in these the last days of common sense and pragmatic wonder in 2014?

Still, I truly ponder the effects her declaration that the “RCMP decision, which is causing much glee among anti-fur activists, is being overturned” will produce among the voting public. Recent signs are not particularly auspicious for the reigning Tories.

As a recent EKOS Research public opinion poll makes clear, Harpertown has lost much of its mojo among average Canadians. “On a range of issues – law enforcement, legalization of marijuana, foreign policy, and the appropriate role and size of government – a majority of Canadians are offside with the government, the survey suggests,” Mark Kennedy writes in the Ottawa Citizen.

“The electorate is becoming rapidly polarized with a wave of Canadians declaring their political ideology to be ‘small-l liberal,’ regardless of which political party they support . . . Moreover, the poll finds deep discontent among Canadians in key areas: Middle-class anxiety about the economy, a gloomy prediction about the quality of life for the next generation, a dissatisfaction with the ‘direction’ of the government, and a growing distrust of the political system.”

According to EKOS president Frank Graves, “When you have a shrinking, pessimistic middle class, that could become a crisis if left untended.”

Spoken like a true pollster; from the mouth of a babe who loves his numbers. Courtesy of the Citizen, which tabulated the EKOS findings, to wit:

Twenty-four per cent of people surveyed in 2008 considered themselves left of centre. Today, the answer is: 47 per cent.

Sixty per cent in 2008 said police should be able to shove around the innocent if that meant snagging a better chance to protect the body politic. Today, the answer is 29 per cent.

Meanwhile, says the Citizen article, 40 per cent of people polled say “international development and aid should be the utmost in Canada’s foreign policy” . . . 64 per cent surmise that the “incentive systems” in the economy are “broken and hard work is no longer paying off” . . . 57 per cent believe that “the next generation in 25 years will be ‘worse off’ in terms of quality of life” . . . and 56 per cent “support compulsory voting in Canada,” presumably as the best possible method to stave off another long period of political malaise and hat malfunctions at the RCMP.

As to those garments that cops should wear on their heads, this government remains defiantly unapologetic. Apparently, no branch of federal authority has the right to choose how it micro-manages its employees – not federal scientists, not publicly supported museums and parks, and certainly not the Mounties.

The latter had better get with the program, it seems, and slap those muskrat hats on their beans and without complaint. If they’re lucky, their authoritarian masters in government will follow suit.

Or, perhaps, they’ll use them to cover their arses in the long, hard, cold political winter ahead.

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