Sunday Wrap-Up

A couple quick thoughts at the end of a quiet Sunday. First, Iran. Wow. This weekend the country had influential hardliners sowing the seeds for the arrest of allegedly defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossien Mousavi. The editor of a big-deal newspaper apparently called for him to be arrested and tried as a U.S. spy, which is nuts. Meanwhile, at the protest end of the spectrum , a group of Iranian clerics called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election illegitinate. In Iran, the opinions of cleric--even fringy, reformist clerics--matters. (Guardian)

Second, Dave Batters. The former MP was laid to rest in Regina yesterday. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in attendance. (StarPhoenix).

Copious words have been spoken about the tragedy of metal illness which is at it should be. It's awful that the clinically depressed Batters committed suicide, and horror, heartbreak and sympathy are the correct responses.

But...I feel like a hostage on this tragic story. Like it's rude or self serving to point out the obvious conflict between this poor man's free-wheeling economic politics and his own frailties.

I'm going to anyway.

Batters was one of the current breed of politician (found in large numbers in two federal parties) who relentlessly champion smaller government and paying less tax. He may well have been an incredibly likable and charismatic guy, but he belonged to a fraternity that almost seems to make cancelling public programs a point of pride.

I firmly believe we have a weaker, more vulnerable and more intolerant country as a result of these political attitudes being regarded as acceptable.

Just think about it--in the last 30 or so years we've seen the programs that used to give Canadians some security underfunded and stressed: healthcare, social services, affordable housing and inexpensive university, unemployment insurance. Batter's former party has even tried to shut down very successful programs like Vancouver's needle exchange clinic because they have simpleminded, one-note ideas about how human beings are. (Pretty damn nervy, given their comrade's unspecific history of substance addiction.)

Everything's "tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts" with Canada's politicians. Everything's enslaved to this simplistic idea that people need to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" rather than rely on government.

And I have no doubt whatsoever that a lot of people have been hurt by that.

Dave Batters couldn't pull himself out of his depression. He couldn't pull himself to safety. Will substantial new funds be dedicated to treating mental illness in the wake of Batters' death?

I doubt it. The current bunch would call that "socialism".

Rest In Peace, Mr. Batters.