Prince Harry on a Pogoball, Baby hippos are cute. But get a load of this:
In the early 1990s, CTV broadcaster Eric Malling told Canadians the sad tale of a baby hippo shot by authorities at a New Zealand zoo.
Sad, but apparently necessary, Malling suggested in a special broadcast from down under. After all, New Zealand had big deficits, so there was no money to expand the hippo pen. What was a country to do but blow the newborn hippo away?
Malling’s cautionary tale, which helped pitch an austerity agenda to Canadians 20 years ago, wouldn’t seem out of place today, as we’re once again being urged to hunker down for lean, mean times.
And so it is that the waterfront park at Ontario Place — a summer highlight for tens of thousands of children — has met the fate of the baby hippo, as Dalton McGuinty’s government tries to convince us we can’t afford to provide this healthy, active recreation for our children for the next five years. Also on the hit list — school playgrounds. Some 600 sites may soon be sold off by the cash-deprived Toronto school board. (Not to worry, there are still malls where our children can hang out.)
Those poor children that they plan to shoot. Isn’t there a tonne of space up in Northern Ontario we can use to store the children and not have to tear down a bank or a condo or a Pottery Barn Kids? Wait, if the kids are hanging out at a mall- let me read all of that again. Hippo… New Zealand… CTV… shoot the baby hippo… sell off a playground. Oh, I get it now! The metaphor doesn’t work. It’s a bad metaphor. Linda McQuaig is being an idiot or trying to scare you.
Now, I’m no fan of closing the Ontario Place water park- but I would hardly say that it was cute and that the government shot it. It doesn’t even have eyes. And you know what else I’m not going to compare to baby hippos? 65 year-olds. And I’m pretty sure the Toronto Star is going to get some letters about that.
Meanwhile, at the federal level, the Harper government has just taken away two years of retirement benefits from millions of Canadians, with its decision to raise the entitlement age (starting in 2023) to 67. Harper never hinted at this major change during the last election campaign, but now insists it’s essential to keep government finances solvent — a claim that Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has dismissed as “silly.”
First of all, can we all agree not to say “The Harper Government” anymore? They govern Canada. Also, boy howdy do baby boomers hate Generation X. Am I right? Jeez Louise!
Maybe, and I’m going out on a limb here, it’s because Douglas Coupland (pretty bad) named his book after Billy Idol’s punk band (worse), and maybe, just maybe, Stephen Harper was a big Billy Idol fan until Cyberpunk came out and couldn’t figure out which of these 2 videos was worse, so he condemned everyone born after 1955.
You’re going to the Teminus Zone, baby! You’re gonna… there was an entire cast and crew on those videos. Let’s say at least 60 people, all of whom didn’t try to stop Billy Idol from making those videos. That makes it pretty hard to believe they were “just following orders”.
Hysteria over the national debt is nothing new. In the late 18th century, British economist David Hume predicted that “the endless increase of national debts is the direct road to national ruin” and suggested that Britain’s growing debt left it worse off than if parts of the British Isles had been “seized by Austria and Prussia.”
Now, colour me wrong here: but Hume’s better known as a philosopher, right? It’s not weird to simply call him a “British economist”? That’s like if I introduced William Shatner as “American novelist, William Shatner.”
Or, “Ron Wood, painter”.
Or, “Screen actor, Stephen King.”
See? It’s a bad example. And right after a bad example is a great time to be coy about F-35 fighter jets:
Of course, governments should never risk adding to the national debt by spending on frivolous items — like unneeded, overpriced military hardware. But investing in the well-being and development of Canadians isn’t frivolous. And Canada (and Ontario) are far from any sort of debt crisis.
I wonder if anyone out there would go the “You say tomato, I say tomah-to” route over F-35 fighter jets and children’s playgrounds: of course, the fighter jets are replacing retirement, and nothing is replacing the playgrounds. Literally nothing. Probably not even avoiding another Ontario election within the next year. Even then, we won’t get the playgrounds back.
It’s worth noting that in 1936, during the height of the Depression, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt had the foresight to ignore the debt-mongers and establish a wide-ranging social security system that survives today, providing crucial support to tens of millions of Americans. And Britain, despite record debt levels immediately after World War II, brought in national health care and a comprehensive social insurance system that helped spark the postwar boom.
But today’s leaders don’t want us to focus on big ideas for human betterment. Instead, they want us to believe such dreams are no longer affordable, that we have no choice but to ruthlessly cut government spending.
Can I go on record saying that I hate it when a sales term is used as though it’s ordinary English? What I am 100% sure what McQuaig means is “improvement”, but she also probably says “price point” when she means “cost” when she’s talking to retail employees. You know, to show she knows the “lingo”. Simply voting NDP doesn’t put you on the right side of the war between the brutalizing, omniphobic fear machine that seems to run all contemporary political discourse and rational, issue-minde, debate-starved citizens who yearn for an escape from the chains of ideologically-entrenched mudslinging that seems to insist on calling itself democracy. That’s who the baby hippos are. Not retirees. Not water parks. Not playgrounds. What do you have to say to the real baby hippos, Linda McQuaig?
Baby hippos take cover.