As much as Coyne nails it with this article, I’m annoyed by his use of a cultural decline narrative to make his case. The reason it’s misleading here—and almost everywhere else similar frameworks appear—is that it depoliticizes the conditions under which parliamentary and democratic practice has shifted in Canada under Harper. Since taking majority office, the Conservatives have adopted a host of specific practices (enforced ministerial complicity, deliberate sheltering of information relevant to the public interest, flagrant disregard for recognized practices of accountability and disclosure, etc. etc.) expressly in the interest of bringing our democratic practice in line with a thoroughly neoliberalized, managerial form of governance where process is sacrificed at the altar of performance measures and efficiency. When we talk about the “degradation” of parliament under the Harpercons, we replace this deliberate hand-wringing with politically inert and culturally conservative teleologies that, despite their best efforts, end up waxing nostalgic rather than truly critical. It’s less “degradation” and more “dismantle.”
Image is everything. When is comes to using a culture as a tool, cities are doing their best to present themselves as the places to be but they seem to be putting the challenges of their current citizens on the back burner. After all, the more you attract the right people, the more your economy grows, the more there will be to go around, right? If Vancouver is any indication, the greater the success, the greater the divide becomes between the haves and the have-nots in our city. Vancouver may yet the Greenest City but it will be one based on profound inequity.