The TV outlets had wall-to-wall coverage. It was must-see viewing. It was call-the-neighbours-and-make-sure-they’re-home programming. It was the event of the century. It was… the federal budget.
Admittedly, I don’t pay much attention to politics. The only exception for me, and likely many of you, was at the start of COVID-19 when we were glued to our TVs and phones to get the latest updates from officials. Other than that, I have no interest.
So, when the countdown to the budget started – there was literally a countdown – I tuned in because, well, quite honestly I had nothing else going on that day. (“I’m bored so, what the hell, the arguing adult toddlers in Ottawa are on. I’ll watch that.”)
As much as that is a joke, that was the takeaway from watching the budget debate. It seemed that whatever was said by one side, the other had to automatically disagree – no matter what it was.
In recent weeks, I’ve commented how there was solidarity when it came to supporting Ukraine and its war with Russia, but when it has to do with people in our country right now, it’s as if they’re programmed to argue about whatever is discussed.
The politicians live for the applause and standing ovations they get from their respective parties. I don’t know how many of them receive those kinds of gestures from their constituents when they’re at neighbourhood events.
My MP (Conservative) has a reputation of ignoring her community. I had reached out with a query in January and weeks later still had no response. As many do, I went on social media to see what people are saying about her.
At the time she was caught up in the trucker rally in-fighting amongst the other parties so her posts were largely about that. The comments to her posts were enlightening. Sure, you had the goons who were commenting on her beauty while others took shots at Conservatives – and then there was another group: the people waiting for her to respond to them, too.
When I read the legitimate responses, I wondered how politicians can live in such bubbles where they are out of touch with the people they represent – the people who actually pay their salaries.
Watching the budget debate (and ensuing drama) I couldn’t shake that thought of seeing the arguing for the sake of arguing, the applause and standing O’s, and comparing that with the reality that my elected official is so hands-off with the people in her riding. It’s like individually she is powerless but when the hooting and hollering mob surrounds her she’s an all-star.
While the budget affects me (sort of, from what I could tell), it was overshadowed by the elementary-school antics of the people presenting and discussing it. No wonder it happens in the daytime when it wouldn’t affect multimillion-dollar U.S. programming the big Canadian TV networks air in primetime. Scripted drama is so much more entertaining. I’m happy to pay for that.