In Ottawa, Every Day Could Be Halloween

And Canadians are looking on with a common reaction to Ottawa’s gruesome infighting: nausea.   


By SEAN BRUYEA | Published: Thursday, 10/31/2013 10:51 am EDT

OTTAWA—Ottawa is a scary place. It is so frightening that most Canadians avoid thinking about the blood-curdling, or is it blood-boiling, antics of Parliament and its bureaucratic minions. Much are the horrors of Halloween in Ottawa than the mere tricks and treats of Throne Speeches.

A politician’s costume is quite unremarkable. Most look like any of us on the outside. However, on the inside, some politicians have conjured the perfect stereotype: self-centred, lusting for power and holding on to that power whatever the cost. Many seek immortality in the pages of history no matter whom they must destroy or subjugate around them, many often charming or at least attempting to charm the unwary.

Halloween and horror give us a monster with the same traits: vampires. They are well-known for their power over death, and over the living for that matter. What disturbs and assaults our senses is the means to that power-filled end. Vampires in feeding their insatiable hunger, assault the body and soul, vanquishing both. Without compassion, vampires sacrifice the living so they may become undead followers of the fanged fiends, those who protect and preserve the vampire’s immortality. Like vampires, many a politician seeks to destroy or possess those around them.

Movie incarnations of vampires in the Underworld, Blade and the Twilight series portray ruling councils of vampires sometimes pitted against ruling councils of werewolves: both humans by day, and beasts by night destroying all in their path, not unlike Question Period.

Humanity continues to live in ignorance, providing food or fodder for the beasts’ battles to maintain or attain power. Such councils are terrifying because the one narcissist vampire or werewolf wreaking unpredictable havoc is replaced by organized bestial domination beyond our ability to meaningfully counter. We are helpless, the ultimate bizarre attraction of the horror genre.

Has Parliament Hill not become a gothic castle where power struggles are fought at the expense of insignificant mortals?  Parliament has transformed into an arena where the party in power no longer seeks to serve the public and the institution. Rather, Parliament itself is served up as a blood-thirsty spectacle entertaining mostly those playing the game, disconnected from the humanity they once knew. Previously open-minded, multi-dimensional humans become subjugated to mindlessly repeat political and bureaucratic rhetoric. They steadfastly seek to destroy each other through most unrelenting attack ads and emotionally empty volleys of verbal violence in the House or in the media.

In this fashion, maybe another popular Halloween beast, the zombie is a more apt metaphor for the underlings doing the dirty work of those seeking power. Zombies are more terrifying than the pointy dentures or full moon mongrels in one important aspect: zombies act without reason, without relent. They appear human (albeit bloody, rotten and/or mouldy) but there is no humanity inside. How often have we wondered what happened to the free-thinking inspired individuals who now sit mouthing “Economic Action Plan” so doggedly as to mesmerize only themselves and exasperate a nation?

But even dastardly daemons have their vulnerabilities. For vampires, setting aside wooden stakes, sunlight has always been a tough cleanser. Sunlight is also synonymous with truth, openness and transparency. These are the arch enemies of despotism, dictatorships and plain old bad government. The light of truth kills or frightens those who would otherwise use the goodwill of democracy for their own narcissistic ends.

For werewolves, a silver bullet is effective undead doggy pest control. Silver has long been treasured for its purity and brilliance, also qualities of light. Luminous truth and transparency are the most powerful weapons we mortals have in battling a walking dead democracy.

To counter zombies, it is not the weapon so much as the target: cut off the head and obliterate the brain. Pop culture would have us use anything from chain saws to wood chippers to achieve this end. Politics is unfortunately rife with such crude weapons which cause needless destruction to those who dare shine light on toxic government. Erstwhile trust-filled Canadians look on with a common reaction to Ottawa’s gruesome infighting: nausea.

Thoughts of cutting off the metaphorical head are a powerful antidote to our disgust with zombie democracy in Canada.

Horror and Halloween also teach of another monster: Dr. Frankenstein’s creation. Victor Frankenstein conjured a beast that terrified and terrorized the common folk. Ultimately, the villagers did not take too well to another human playing god. Their reaction, at least in some films, is a sober lesson for anyone dressing up as the Almighty on Halloween or any other day. The villagers finally banded together to storm the castle and hold Dr. Frankenstein to account. In other film versions, it is the monster who destroys the creator.

Sean Bruyea is vice-president of Canadians for Accountability and a frequent commentator on government, privacy and veterans’ issues.

The Hill Times