Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Baking: Lessons in Canadian Politics

I tried baking something new the other day. I read the recipe, I stared at the step-by-step photos, and I thought: the technique is similar, no, is the same as making puff pastry. I can do this. I know this.

Not so fast.

The sugar melted everywhere. The butter broke through the dough. The sugar melting in the fridge was strange. But what the butter was doing was an absolute no-no.

Now I could've continued on, following the technique that I knew, not the steps written out because the photos did make the dough look like regular dough, you know, all nice and smooth and elastic without big lumps of butter falling out and stretching the darn thing. And after all, the technique had to be like puff pastry. It included folding just like puff pastry! I considered "fixing" it, making it look like the dough I knew.

That's what we do in politics. Many of us and the powers-that-be like the familiar. We don't want change. And so we get surreal media discussions about how the Conservatives are in the centre, the NDP are moving to the centre, the Liberals are being pushed out of their familiar centre. Everyone wants the Tories and Dippers to be just like the Liberals. After all, the Liberals are the Natural Governing Party of Canada. They are who we've known for my entire life, for entire generations in a row. It seems unreal to the pundits that what we have in front of us could not be familiar Liberal. Tories and Dippers are Canadian political parties after all. They must be like the Liberals! Else how could they have succeeded?

But I inspected the photos once again, read the comments that included tips over again, stared at my lumpy butter-falling-out dough again, put the dough back in the fridge again and thought about it -- again. And then I realised caramel is usually sugar but this caramel is butter and sugar. Without the butter falling out, there can be no caramel created, no butter melting into the sugar in the oven. The caramel is not the usual. The technique to make it may look similar to the one to make puff pastry, but it isn't the same at all. It breaks all the puff pastry rules.

Tories may look similar to Grits, with their porkery and refining of Liberal ways of running the PMO and grabbing of power and acting like they'll be hogging Parliament for the rest of human life, but they're not. They behave differently. They think differently. They're creating non-Liberal legislation, using Liberal techniques. Different is in the air, and that's what Canadians wanted. (Saying the Tories didn't get a real majority because 60 percent of Canadians didn't vote for them is silly as that's how the Liberals got their majorities too. If you don't like it, clamour for proportional representation in voting.)

As for the NDP, it's amusing watching the media go but-but-but over NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's pronouncments on the economy and oil sands. They're trying and failing to fit his careful long-sound-bite thoughts into the usual Liberal we'll-think-whatever-gets-us-votes-sound-bite method (the one time they didn't, they lost seats and hurriedly tossed out that unusual leader). They insist he must be saying "this" because "this" is what we're familiar with and pronounce he's pitching East against West. He's not. He's trying to create jobs that perpetuate into the future for generations in both East and West. How refreshing. But people are so fixated on the idea that the Dippers too must be like the Liberals -- else how could they have won so many seats? -- that they don't realise the NDP are thinking differently, creating different policies, talking to the media differently, acting differently in Parliament, with decorum no less.


I opened my mind, changed course, and finished making the cake its way. Still, I baked a test mini one first, just in case. The Tory minorities were the test bakes by the Canadian people. They liked. They voted them in as a majority. Now we need to stop talking as if the people didn't know what they were going to get, as if they didn't want something different, that what they really wanted were the Liberals. They did know, they do want change, they don't want the Liberals. But with the NDP winning so many more seats, the question is what non-Liberal way is it really Canadians want?

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