Thankfully, our Prime Minister is not a rock star

Graphic by Sean Kershaw

Graphic by Sean Kershaw

It’s not that there aren’t interesting things going on in Parliament – we just don’t know about them.

The reclusive Prime Minister Stephen Harper maintains his power by keeping things private. His crew of cabinet members are a secret alliance party, deciding the fate of our country behind closed doors. Taxes, infrastructure and social policy are topics are open to public discourse, and Canadians who care about these issues are proactive enough to look into it themselves.

Is anyone really complaining, though?

It is refreshing to have a discreet government. It reflects our humility, and the trust we inherently place in our politicians. They don’t need to pull the ostentatious Lady Gaga-esque stunts to win our vote. As long as we get to keep our medicare, low tuition, gun control, and fair drinking age, most of us remain pacified.

Then again, perhaps we don’t crave a more dynamic, outspoken government because we have the one down south to follow like a celebrity tabloid. American politics have a way bigger budget to dedicate to political campaigns, so they naturally become giant, entertaining marketing schemes.

There are also practical reasons for us to be so enthralled with American politics. The U.S. president, the so-called leader of the free world, makes decisions that resonate on an international scale. Our trade economy is so closely reliant on the States’ that if they crumble, we crumble.

Twitter, the fast-growing social network that allows Little Johnny to campaign for sixth-grade president, as well as country leaders to summarize their political platforms in 140 characters or less, is becoming a vital self-promotion tool.

These catchy daily declarations speak volumes about our politicians. While Obama posts about how his former press secretary, Robert Gibbs, couldn’t have been a better BFF, Harper posts a stern and official-sounding statement following the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.

McGill political science professor Dr. Elisabeth Gidengil suspects that American politicians act more like celebrities because their campaigns are much longer.

“The candidates are able to spend huge sums of money to promote themselves, and the major media outlets have more funds to devote to covering the campaign,” she says. “Plus, a presidential candidate is much more a person separate from his party than is a Canadian party leader.”

American politicians campaign not only before their term, but during it as well. Obama must persistently prove that he can fix the damaged economic infrastructure that Bush left behind.

Harper must be doing something right, considering we routinely rank in the top 10 of the least corrupt nations in the world, while the U.S. sits at the 22nd spot, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index from 2010.

Silence is golden, and Harper exemplifies that statement perfectly. It’s great not having to confuse my prime minister for a loudspeaker with no “off” button.

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