I only recently fully understood the definition of irony. It’s the notion that one’s understanding and thinking about the world is sometimes completely different to the way the world actually is.
In our political environment irony surfaces frequently. Take for example Premier Alison Redford’s idealistic agenda of eradicating child poverty in five years while in the last month she’s been mired in opposition allegations of influence peddling. Or the irony of the confidence the Wildrose had in going into the recent provincial election, something even suggested by the polls, and the actual result of those elections.
Shimon Peres, the president of Israel, who has been involved in politics for almost 70 years, made an interesting point recently in an interview. The substance of his comments was that politicians can make their impact on the world but often the real world and events take over.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government, for instance, have clearly put their stamp on Canada, from prison and sentencing legislation, to immigration policy, to the way assorted legislation is packaged in omnibus bills, focusing on Canada’s British connection, even more recently to changing the mandate of the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa to a specifically Canadian focus. The direction of their policies is significantly different, in my opinion, to what we have experienced as Canadians in the past.
What will the next two years hold for federal politics? The dynamics, for instance, of how the opposition parties are faring in the polls, makes one wonder if the political realities present almost two years ago are changing. There are so many unknowns. Two years to the next federal election could be a long time. Can the Conservative government continue to push its agenda that often challenges the perception of Canada as a diverse, socially aware and globally temperate country?
Irony is about contradictions. Who we are and who we are asked to be, can create a significant tension in our lives and in our politics especially if the future is unknown. An unknown and pessimistic future can add to the strain.
At Christmastime, the great irony, as the story goes, is of an insignificant child born somewhere in the Middle East, with comparable political and military tensions as today, whose life had a revolutionary impact in the world as we know it.