Goin' to Mouseland

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When it looked like we were going to have a spring election, I threatened to post this once a week thoughout the election campaign. I probably should have posted it once a week throughout this campaign. Canadians need to read this story on a regular basis.

The Story of Mouseland

It's the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.

They even had a parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats.

Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Canada for the last 90 years and maybe you'll see that they weren't any stupider then we are.

Now I'm not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws -- that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren't very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouse holes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds -- so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.

All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn't put up with it any more, they decided that something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats.

Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: "All that Mouseland needs is more vision." They said: "The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouse holes we got. If you put us in we'll establish square mouse holes." And they did. And the square mouse holes were twice as big as the round mouse holes, and now the cat could get both paws in. And life was tougher then ever.

And when they couldn't take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black one's in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.

You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.

Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, "Look fellows, why do we keep electing a government made up of cats? Why don't we elect a government made up of mice?" "OH," they said, "he's a Bolshevik. Lock him up!" So they put him in jail.

But I want to remind you: That you can lock up a mouse or a man but you can't lock up an idea.

--Tommy Douglas, 1944

There was an addition to the original story made by By Christopher Levan at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Unitarian Council on May 19, 2000.
The proverbial cats have gotten wiser and fatter, hired new spin-doctors and reverted to some old ways.

They have declared that enlarged mouse holes are the wave of the future. Too many mice have been cheating—holding back or hiding. We make the mice more self-reliant and vigorous if more cat paws are scratching their otherwise lazy behinds. Implementing programs using politically correct vocabulary — "opportunity" "skill sets" "retooling," "life style enhancement," we open up the mouse colony to all comers.

When the dust settles, these inspired initiatives add up to more wounded bodies and frightened rodents. Any mice that complain are of course, just a special interest group and can be disregarded as hopelessly biased. After all, the cats can no longer afford to subsidize small pickings from the mice population and without larger mouse holes the whole feline economy will collapse.

In addition to inspiring more vigour among otherwise recalcitrant mice, the country's cats have joined with cats around the world and agreed that some important issues need to be taken out of the claws of local authorities and given to international feline societies. So mouse hole sizes, feeding rates, local micely customs and other important matters will now be handled at a higher council. So, it won't matter if the mice elect themselves into government the really important issues will still be decided by fat cats—most of whom don't run for office anywhere.

In concert with these new reforms, the cats sold the responsibility to regularize certain more minor domestic issues—care of sick mice for instance— to dog syndicates who function as profit centres. They have no interest or responsibility in the welfare of the mice population—not really. They are just offering a service—pay as you go. If canines get too greedy, their avarice will be checked by the market—supply and demand—as the mice decline in health and numbers the dogs will naturally adjust their standards.

Finally, some of the cats are appointing cat public corporations to carry out all new mouse hole protection and maintenance. The elected cats are no longer in charge—it's specially appointed cat committees that all have a few token mice one them, that make the decisions on whose claws to clip. So when the mice complain about the lack of surveillance or protection of their mouse holes. "Gosh," say the fat cats, "That's a terrible pity, but its no longer in our hands. We don't make decisions, just set general policy."

"You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice." There are those among us who believe that electing a Conservative goverment in this election will change something. It will - it will change the colour of the cats.

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Do nothing and nothing gets done.
Move and you force changes to occur.

Liberals are scandal ridden, but fat, happy and complacent. They believe nothing at all will happen because they convince people not to move.
Those who do not move can expect more of the same.

More scandals, more woes, and more corruption.
Those who move will see changes in the liberal party, beginning with the ousting of Martin.

They will also see shredders working at full capacity on the hill.

But more importantly the new leaders will have a clear message that cleaning up their act is a matter of political survival.

And that is the most important message a Canadian tax payer can send to Ottawa.

And that is the most important message a Canadian tax payer can send to Ottawa.
And there are far less destructive ways to send that message than electing a Conservative government. If electing a Conservative government is the solution to the problem, it wasn't much of a problem.

It'd be nice to be able to see a cat for what it is but nowadays it's hard to tell who's really a mouse and who's just a cat in mouse clothing. Sure there's your obvious cats who are much, much too fat to be a mouse but what about the smaller ones who are "fighting" for the rights of mice? Are they really mice under all that fluff? Lately it seems like the only party one could trust to stick to their platform against all opposition is the bloody Marijuana Party.

How very sad, Justthewayitis, how very diminished a role you conceive of for yourself - "a Canadian taxpayer." You have the chance to be a citizen, and you describe yourself as a taxpayer?

The one thing I regret about Tommy's parable is the slander against cats. I think I'm going to have to make an appeal to pogge for a balanced view on the cat issue.

But otherwise, I'm with Tommy and mahigan. mahigan, your closing line there is brilliant: "It will - it will change the colour of the cats."

Looks bad, don't it, mahigan? I think there's another line of Tommy's we're going to need soon: "Courage, my friends. It's never too late to build a better world."

I'm already mourning. A Conservative majority will be so destructive of my Canada, a second one and Byfield's prediction would come true, we won't know the place.

Dana and skdadl- Don't mourn. Fight. There is still a week and a half. It isn't too late to build a better government and send a message to both groups of cats. I have my issues with all the alternatives to the Liberals and the Conservatives but all the alternatives are better than those two. The projections showing a Conservative win that are being thrown around are based on some highly questionable polling numbers. The situation may not be nearly as bad as it appears.

As for cats skdadl, we have have 6 of them collectively known as "the entertainment committee" here at the Gopher Ranch. The only cats I have a problem with are the big fat corporate ones that own and operate both the Liberal and the Conservative parties.

Fight what?

The only political organization in the country I give a rat's ass about is complicit in the legitimation and popular acceptance of the political organization I despise more than any other.

Fight what?

Dana - If the only political organization in the country you give a rat's ass about is the Liberal Party you probably should start mourning. I don't care how much the Liberal Party paid its consultants, advisors and ad agencies on this campaign, they should be demanding a full refund. Martin was never competent to be prime minister and now he has proven he isn't competent to be party leader either.

Why would you conclude from my remarks that I might think the Liberals have been the party to legitimate another?

Layton granted Harper and the Cons the cachet of perceived integrity the NDP has always been able to claim.

The public has told us many times over the years that although they don't often feel entirely comfortable with the policies of the party they recognize the party as being one of integrity, consistency and honesty. Layton and his team have loaned enough of that to Harper and the Cons to *help* them achieve their current no-longer-scary status. After all if the good old earnest NDP don't think the Cons are so scary or wrong that they'll work with them to pull down the Libs 3 stupid months early - well, the Cons can't be all that bad...

That's what I mean by complicit.

Then Jack tries to get some of the ground back during the debates but in the process just looks like a guy who won't play now that the game has actually started.

So who or what should I fight?

Please try and be a good reader and note that I am not laying it all at Jack's feet, I said *help*, *just enough*, *complicit*...

Dana - Sorry for the misunderstanding but since both the Liberals and the NDP have been complicit in making the Conservatives look good (and the Liberals even more than the NDP), it is an understandable error.

Personally I don't like Jack Layton or what I refer to as his New Democratic Party of Southern Ontario. That is a common feeling out here where many life long New Dems including a couple of union organisers I know refuse to do anything more for the party in this election than vote for them.

I won't go into it at length but I think he let Harper play him like a cheap fiddle this fall. I have spoken to a number of party members here whose position on bringing down the government early was that "This had damned well better work or Layton's job is on the line." And I agree with them. It looks like Jack screwed up seriously. Layton should answer to the party membership for his role in what looks like handing the government over to the Conservatives in return for few if any additional seats and a greatly diminished role for the NDP.

That said, it is still a lot less nose holding to vote for the NDP than the Conservatives.

My riding here, North Van.-Seymour, is too close to call. I'm not convinced I have the luxury of voting NDP in a riding where the party has no chance of winning. If Cindy Silver is elected...jesus wept...

Dana - That I can appreciate. The one and only time I ever voted Liberal was an attempt to prevent one of the most reactionary alliance members fro getting elected. Unfortunately, he still won I felt dirty for the next 3 months. I would likely do it again though under the same circumstances. Good luck with this one.

There's an entertaining animated version of 'Mouseland' introduced by Tommy's grandson Kiefer Sutherland available in several media formats here:


It should be required viewing for all Canadians of voting age!

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This page contains a single entry by mahigan published on January 11, 2006 9:53 AM.

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