I voted for Preston Manning and while I am personally more or less socially conservative, I am not much fond of those who would use government to legislature personal morality or limit an individual’s choice to make any decisions. I am, more or less anti-abortion but I am quite happy to live in a country which has no laws governing abortion and individuals have the right to live out the dictates of their own conscience.
Fiscally, I am conservative, and believe less government is better the better government. Ronald Reagan might have been reading my heart when he said the scariest words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I am here to help”. But what caught my heart was when Preston Manning announced, “The West Wants In.”. It resonated in a way for me, as a former Maritimer and long-time resident of the centre of the universe that very few Canadian political slogans had to date.
My mother grew-up in the back woods of the lower Miramichi, and after a brief stint at an Air Force base in Chatham, New Brunswick, ended up with a whirlwind marriage and found herself on a plane going to live in Toronto. She had excellent typing skills and references from the Royal Canadian Air Force but she had trouble finding a job in Toronto of the early sixties.
No one in Toronto wanted to give a young woman from the backwoods of Miramichi a chance and some even suggested she would have a better shot of landing a job if she looked to the factories rather than the front offices. She persisted and landed the interview of her life. She believed it was going well and clocked in an error free phenomenal accurate typing speed. Her potential employer asked what she wanted as a wage and she quoted $50 a week which seemed to her to be the going wage for typists according to the ads in the newspapers. He told her point blank that because she was from the Maritimes and she should consider herself lucky to get half that. She gathered up her purse, her gloves and her hat, and asked him point-blank to tell her the difference between an Underwood typewriter in the Maritimes and an Underwood typewriter in Toronto. She didn’t get the job but she kept her self-respect in tact.
Now that was Toronto in the early sixties and when I started working 20 years later; I too learned early the value of hiding my regional, religious and ethnic diversity hidden - if I wanted to work in anything but the factories of Hogtown. Not everyone was prejudice against Maritimer per say but there was definitely still a bias against anything which reeked of ‘otherness’ and Maritimer still qualified as just one of my ‘otherness’ qualities. Old bias dies hard in the Centre of the Universe. Part of the reason things started to change was the changing demographics of Toronto by the mid-80. It remade Toronto more as a place where people came to rather than were from.
I instinctively understood the sense of alienation coming from the West. In fact, I held even a certain sense of sympathy for the Quebec separatist movement as well owning to my own personal narrative. Although, living in the Centre of the Universe, what surprised me was lack of responsibility or self-awareness most Upper Canadians held or felt to towards creating and fostering an environment which created this sense of alienation in the first place.
Manning tried to hard to unite the west and find a place at the Canadian table for the West and he believed it was possible for Western Canadians to be full and equal partners within Confederation. I too wanted to support the idea of a Canada which was not divided but united along regional lines. If anything, events in recent days, have only underscored the many regional solitudes held in this land; where the voices of 72 MP’s from Western Canada can be reduced to mere 23 under this Coalition government-in-waiting-to-grab-power-and-not-earn-it.
A coalition of alleged reasonable and fair-minded MP’s willing to work to govern based on compromise for the good of all Canadians but paid for by the impotent voices of a few. A coalition, whose MP’s support based is predominately from one region in Canada, and does not hesitate to give veto power to the 49 regional separatists within our political midst from another region. This is called the value of compromise and accommodation. Well, blow me down and westward. Preston Manning was wrong and the parties of entitlement have proved it.