Remember when you were a kid? You looked up to your older siblings with a kind of wonder and enchantment bordering on hero worship? You wanted to hang out with them, copy how they act, who they hung out with, and what they did. And if you were honest with yourself, you knew you wanted to be them. Not you.

No. You don’t remember being like that? Me neither. Not because I didn’t do it. I did. But, I didn’t have an older sibling. I was the oldest. And believe me neither my sister nor my brother looked up to me or admired anything I did. I was far too nerdy for them to even pay attention to, let alone copy or respect. But that’s not my point.

Even though I didn’t have an older sibling, I admired certain friends. Did you do that too? I know. It sucks to admit it. But it’s good to be honest. Don’t you think? For whatever reason, I looked up to people who I thought were more popular, smarter, skinnier, better looking, more athletic, or better spoken. Whatever the reason, we’ve all had that experience where we wanted to be someone else. Correct?

So in a way, we shouldn’t be surprised that Prime Minister Harper allowed the American government’s spy agency to conduct widespread surveillance in Canada during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits. Mr. Harper has been trying to copy our neighbour next door since he came into office.  Think big jails, tougher sentences, the abolishing of the gun registry, and the emergence of CSEC (Canada’s spy agency) as a few examples. And don’t get me started on the American-style politics of rewarding friends (think of the appointment of the Canadian Mint Chair Jim Love now implicated in setting up tax havens) or the obfuscation we see in the Senate scandal. The Prime Minister refusing to answer simple questions with honest answers, the Senate closing down debate and refusing to allow witnesses to testify reminds me of President Bush and all that fake information surrounding the invasion of Iraq.

This latest revelation about allowing another agency to spy within our own country makes me question whether we’re a sovereign nation or just the envious, mindless kid next door who just wants to please the object of her admiration, at any cost. When was the last time we, as an independent country, thought for ourselves? Oh, wait, yes, I remember. The Liberals were in power then and they adamantly refused to join the Bush government in the invasion of Iraq. And yes, Stephen Harper sat in the opposition’s chair at that time and fought hard to send our troops into Iraq. Thank God, he wasn’t the Prime Minister then, leading us into a war on a big heap of phoney evidence.  

I understand wanting to be like the popular kid in school or your big brother or sister. Sure. When you’re twelve. As adults, in responsible positions of power, this government should strive to do and be better.  As Churchill said, Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it. Or if Mr. Harper doesn’t like that one and insists on being like the other kid, why not emulate the best rather than the worst in others. Epictetus said, The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.


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