Will the 2008 Election Affect The Canadian Comic Book Industry?
By Hervé St-Louis
October 15, 2008 - 07:32
In September 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked the Governor General Michaëlle Jean to dissolve parliament, breaking his own electoral law fixing elections every four years. The Prime Minister argued that because the opposition failed to cooperate with his minority government, that it was dysfunctional and that it was enough to request a new mandate from Canadians. The arts, unlike many elections before were one of the theme ballot questions of this election, whether the Prime Minister wanted it or not.
Comic books were, of course were never mentioned in this election. This industry is not taken seriously by most of the Canadian public and its elected officials. Yet, it is quite surprising and a good sign of things to come when the Prime Minister has to pay the price for dividing Canadians into regular hard working people and rich artists benefiting from large subsidies. Yesterday’s results of the election gave Harper’s Conservatives another minority government, although it depleted the ranking of his chief opponent, Stéphane Dion’s Liberals. The socialists NDP advanced their cause thanks to a dynamic, but demagogue leader. The secessionist party from Quebec, the Bloc Québécois did not increase its amount of popular vote from the last election, but did gain the majority of seats in the province. Finally, the Greens, did not gain one single seat, but also increased the percentage of voters casting their vote for them from 5% to 7% of the population.
It is tempting for Stephen Harper to want to punish Quebec and the artists that cost him his election. He is a mean spirited man who never turns away from a fight, dividing Canadians, attacking his opponents when they are already down or acting like anything but a Prime Minister above the fray. That Quebecers, which he attempted to charm, by offering them the status of a nation – without any power or anything beyond a symbolic motion in parliament, rebuked him en masse is his own fault.
Although wooing Quebec since 2006, Harper’s Conservative never really made any real concession in his program that would appeal to liberally minded Quebec. He continued imposing his social conservative agenda, of putting 14-years old kids in jail with adults; of doing nothing about the rising amount of handguns circulating; wanted to censor Canadian film makers and artists; and of course wanted to impose a regressive copyright reform that would benefit Hollywood producers but transform Canadians into criminals and relent their privacy rights to corporations.
For these mistakes and his characteristic lack of respect for Canadians – telling them in the midst of the financial crisis that now was the best opportunity to buy stocks when most investors saw their retirement savings melt the week before, Stephen Harper should have been severely punished. Voters, realizing that Stéphane Dion was not the right leader Canada needed, decided, justifiably to give Harper another minority government. He should appreciate his second break.
Harper will be tempted to punish artists and Quebecers. If he does so, he will only damage his chances in the next election and those of his party. It took 13 years for the public to forgive the last Conservative Party. If he doesn’t play safe, he could send his party in political limbo a second time in history.
A few notes to Canadians. That Quebec voted for the Bloc Québécois is not an attack on Canada’s integrity. The fight for secession in the province is over. That Quebecers prefer to send secessionists in Ottawa is their right and not a perversion of our political process. There are not good and bad parties. Most Canadians outside of Quebec are still obsessed with the secession of the province, while that issue is irrelevant in the province. STOP OBSESSING OVER QUEBEC. THEY ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE.
The only thing that could revive secessionism, would be an angry Prime Minister and his cohort, seeking to punish Quebecers for their legitimate political choices, by drastically cutting funding for the arts and culture, weakening language protections for Francophones outside Quebec, reviving the debate on abortion, as one of his candidates did, trying to reduce the protection of minorities in favour of his populist approach to benefiting only those they deem, “real Canadians.” Should Harper attempt any of those or a combination of the above, he would increase the desire of Quebecers to leave his repressive regime.
As for the comic book industry, perhaps for now, we can be glad that none of Harper’s supporters has made any big fuss over what transpires within the page of the average comic book or even attempted to block American, Japanese, or European imports in the country alleging moral concerns over Superman drinking a beer with Pa Kent.
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