Canadian Patience is Wearing Thin

ACORN International Politics

            Calgary           The ACORN Canada board meeting and annual general meeting had gone smoothly.  The members were happy.  We were staying in the conference center at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) on the top floor.  Sometimes it was clear enough to see the outline of the mountains on the horizon.  Most were sleeping well and in good humor.  At least that was the case until the afternoon’s discussion came to the issue campaigns being engaged across the country, and then they let the dogs out.

Part of the frustration would be familiar to Americans, because these are tensions that come from different policy’s province to province, similar to the issues state to state in the USA.  Issues for tenants were carbon copied across the country.  Rents were soaring.  Evictions for demolitions by developers or by landlords trying to increase rents were common campaigns, east and west.  Rent controls were being won, lost, and fought for province to province.  One meeting after another had been held with various housing ministers, but promises were many and actions were few.  Shake it and bake it in the conversation as one leader after another spoke about what they were facing, and it didn’t take long before the lack of a federal housing policy was seen as a source of the problem and the lack of political will by the liberal government was at the heart of it.

Heads were running into the wall on one campaign after another.  Internet for All, where we had won some of the precedent setting victories at access for about ten dollars, were now a patchwork from company to company.  Many had voluntarily adopted the program or been forced by regulators, but speeds were uneven and less than required, up-marketing was common, and excuses and gaps in the infrastructure were standard.  The federal budget had delivered a significant ACORN victory in lowering the cap for payday loans, but any celebration was now shrouded in distrust, with board members questioning the government’s rationalizations for the numbers.

With almost eight years in office, some of the discussion landed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s feet.  The leaders wanted him to do more and break this logjam with more aggressive initiatives from the federal government to help wrangle conservative provinces and leaders, whether in Alberta or Ontario.  Given their own version of the truckers’ blockade and QAnon fan clubs that broke into the politics of Canada during the pandemic, there were other ACORN leaders who cautioned against targeting Trudeau in order to not seem to be falling into the dark hole of the far right which has villainized him.

It all sounded too familiar, even if the temperature was much cooler than we might hear farther south across the border.  The same fear that even if some might feel that Trudeau has reached his sell-by date, just as some don’t swoon for Biden either, the alternatives seemed even more dire, so the discussion proceeded with resignation to deal with our reality, rather than our needs or dreams.