Canadian Political Crisis: Citizens React With Disgust, Anxiety

Last week in Canada, three opposition parties united against Prime Minister Stephen Harper, charging he failed to insulate Canada from the global financial crisis.

How did Harper respond? The controversial leader swiftly shut down Parliament -- an unprecedented move that fended off a no-confidence vote he was all but certain to lose.

C'est la vie, democracy!

How did ordinary Canadians reacted to Harper's power grab? I put that question to popular actor/comedian Neil Crone, the Second City Television veteran and stand-up comic who currently appears as radio host Fred Tupper on the CBC television comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie.

Crone told Huffington Post, "Believe me, I'm the furthest thing from a Stephen Harper fan, but I'm really peeved about this turn of events. The three stooges from the opposition parties -- Dion, Layton and Duceppe -- claimed they formed the coalition to oust Harper for the good of the nation. Baloney! They're a bunch of opportunists. This ranks right up there with the Bush-Gore butterfly ballot robbery.

"It seems to me that democracy, which some of us care about enough to oh, let me see, die for, has been hijacked by Harper's opposition. It's true that Harper is an egomaniacal despot. Nevertheless, he is a democratically elected despot," explained Crone.

Harper's prorogation was legal. But was it a good idea?

Canadians are evenly divided on this question. Even more telling, pollsters report an unusually high number of "I don't know" responses. Let me be blunt: a significant number of those polled admit they have no friggin' idea how a parliamentary democracy works.

On the other hand, they do know "Sir Harp-alot" is very political, with a tendency to be controlling. "The Prime Minister almost always acts like he doesn't have to answer to anyone," said corporate sustainability consultant Arie Moyal, who lives in Montreal. Moyal told Huffington Post he hopes Harper gets booted out.

But that is unlikely to happen. Opposition leader Stephane Dion has been almost comically ineffective. His televised response to Harper looked like it was videotaped in his rec room using a cell phone. Previously, Dion led the Liberal Party to their worst popular vote in history. "He's not qualified to lead the coalition," said Joanne Ott, a skin care specialist from Victoria who told Huffington Post she's glad Dion recently stepped aside as party leader in favor of Michael Ignatieff.

All across Canada, anxiety is on the rise -- but not because of the government shutdown. Voters are angry with Parliament for making no progress whatsoever on the economic meltdown, while miraculously finding time to cook up a phony national crisis. One in three Canadians feel they have "lost all control" over their financial future. The country's demographics reinforce their anxiety: Canada has the largest baby boom generation of all western societies except Australia. All those former yuppies are turning into retiring grumpies.

For Crone, it's no laughing matter. "To this country's everlasting shame, we hit a historical low for voter turnout on October 14th. They really should publish the list of no-shows," said the comedian. "And by the way, people, if you didn't vote, shut up. Your bitching about what's happening now accomplishes absolutely nothing."

Canadian actor/comedian Neil Crone