Freeze and thaw

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Me­dia’s At­lantic re­gional colum­nist; rus­sell.wanger­sky@tc.tc. Twit­ter: @Wanger­sky.

It snowed on the crisp brown leaves I’ve failed to rake up, and it froze on the wind­shields of the cars on my street, whiten­ing the roofs and bright­en­ing the early morn­ing. It’s pretty, that first snow.

Not one scrap of it was un­ex­pected. I know this cy­cle in­sid­eout, no sur­prises: th­ese are the haz­ards of be­ing older, let alone the way time tele­scopes and makes that cy­cle seem to hap­pen ever-faster.

My Twit­ter feed was pos­i­tively breath­less the next day, as jour­nal­ists and writ­ers (I fol­low dol­lops of both) gushed and frothed about the of­fi­cial ap­point­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and his cabi­net. They cheered Stephen Harper’s of­fi­cial res­ig­na­tion with as much fer­vour as Munchkins cheer­ing the death of the Wicked Witch of the East in “The Wizard of Oz.” (One Tweet ac­tu­ally said “Ding, dong, the witch is dead.”)

For me, pol­i­tics is like the re­verse of the myth of Sisyphus: po­lit­i­cal ad­min­is­tra­tions start at the top of the hill with a huge boul­der of hope, which they care­fully and con­sis­tently spend their man­dates rolling down­hill to the very bot­tom.

I’ve watched count­less ad­min­is­tra­tions slide into aged self-ser­vice, their pub­lic-ser­vice ar­ter­ies hard­en­ing and their vi­sions fail­ing.

I saw John Turner, whose hands were tied about stop­ping the Pierre Trudeau gravy train of diplo­matic ap­point­ments and priv­i­lege.

I watched the Mul­roney gov­ern­ment, elected to change things, slid­ing into near-Nixo­nian dis­trust of ev­ery­one and every­thing, all the while shed­ding courtiers mop­ping up the gravy of po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age with both hands. I saw both Jean Chré­tien and Paul Martin ad­min­is­tra­tions gov­ern this coun­try as if by right, hand­ing out sinecures while their hang­ers-on gorged on the mil­lion­dol­lar scraps that fell from the po­lit­i­cal head ta­ble.

Then there was Stephen Harper, elected to change a cul­ture of en­ti­tle­ment — a gov­ern­ment I truly be­lieve was dan­ger­ous to this coun­try — but one that, on top of big­oted small-mind­ed­ness, still man­aged to fall into the tried-andtrue school of self-ser­vice.

I see your ap­point­ment of re- tired politi­cians as diplo­mats, and raise you a Duffy, a Wallin and a Harb.

Then there are the pro­vin­cial ad­min­is­tra­tions. I don’t have enough fin­gers to count the ad­min­is­tra­tions I’ve watched that started with hope and ended with politi­cians in­tent on pen­sions, pa­tron­age and pork-bar­rel­ing.

Ev­ery­one starts as self­less agents of change and then changes into mere agents of self­ish­ness.

It’s a two-way street: a New­found­land politi­cian and or­ga­nizer once told me, and I’m para­phras­ing here, “Ev­ery­one gets into pol­i­tics think­ing they have some­thing to of­fer. Ev­ery­one leaves hat­ing the elec­torate.” (I took out the swear­words.)

Don’t class me as pes­simistic; what I am is prag­matic.

I’ve seen this movie a dozen times be­fore, fed­er­ally and provin­cially, and the end­ing has al­ways been the same.

Will the lat­est crowd do bet­ter?

I sin­cerely hope so. Prob­a­bly, in the short term, they will.

But I’ve had high hopes be­fore.

It snowed Tues­day night. It must, and it will.

When you’re old enough, you know that March comes, too.

For gov­ern­ments, as well as win­ters. And all too quickly.

I don’t have enough fin­gers to count the ad­min­is­tra­tions I’ve watched that started with hope and ended with politi­cians in­tent on pen­sions, pa­tron­age and pork-bar­rel­ing.

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