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Author Margaret Atwood meets with members of The Globe and Mail's editorial board to talk about culture and upcoming federal election. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Author Margaret Atwood meets with members of The Globe and Mail's editorial board to talk about culture and upcoming federal election. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

At the editorial board

Margaret Atwood, uncensored Add to ...

Mr. Fine: What scares you the most about him?

Atwood: What scares me the most about him? I don't know whether scared is entirely the right word yet. Worries. Causes one to become anxious.

The initial platform was actually quite good, some years ago. And I would like to hear what Preston Manning has to say about all of this. Because, squeaky though his voice may have been, he made some good points. He made some respectable, good points that we all agree with.

And we all agree that government should be more open. We all agree that government should be more accountable. And this government came in on that platform. That's why people voted for them. They've gone back on it completely. This is the most opaque and secretive government, and unaccountable government that we've had in some time. By unaccountable I mean not telling the real price.

Mr. Fine: Unfortunately though, Preston Manning is in our paper today.

Ms. Atwood: ...saying these guys are just great. So what happened to his integrity? I mean if he really believes in openness and accountability how can he support this government?

That was my point: was he lying all along, or has he had a conversion experience?

Karim Bardeesy, Editorial Writer: Political opposition often gains fuel by humour and is often expressed through humour. I'm wondering, in Canada, do we have enough humour in our opposition? Your piece was very funny, but do we have enough...

Ms. Atwood: I'm not a politician. Nor do I shill for any of them, particularly. I'm an independent observer.

Mr. Bardeesy: Perhaps "dissent" is the better word than opposition?

Ms. Atwood: Not even "dissent," I would say "critique." And I have done that in the past. I never actually got a chance with the NDP, but I certainly did it with the Liberals when they were in power for so long.

You can go back and read some of the old comic strips. We actually had quite a bit of trouble with the Liberals in the artistic community because Trudeau didn't want any of this cultural nationalism because he felt it played into Quebec separatism. So he was not very supportive in that respect at all.

Mr. Bardeesy: So, do we need more satire? More comedy?

Ms. Atwood: There is quite a bit of it out there. Don't know whether you trolled the web at all. There's - can I swear? Have you seen ShitHarperDid? Have you seen the one with the two little bears? And there's a whole series now called "Women Breaking Up with Harper" and they break up with him indifferent cities. Even Edmonton. Well, "Women Break Up with Harper Edmonton" probably is the most toughest one, but there's an Antigonish one, a Hamilton one, there's various different ones: "Steve, it's over. You lied to me. You spent my money. You took away my daycare and told the kids to stay at home."

I think the other thing that's really, really worrying is the extent to which watchdogs who serve the public have been shut down. I'm thinking in particular, of the nuclear regulator, who was simply fired. The long form census person who was forced to resign because they lied about what he said.

These are the acts of a dictation-minded outfit. In other words, truth is what we say it is. They lied about the Auditor-General, she caught them out. But this is the tendency, and this is why the Dictate-o-meter is going down, towards the dictatorship.

Mr. Fine: They do seem to lie very badly. That is, they don't lie well. They are very transparent in their...

Ms. Atwood: We only know about the ones where they got caught. So, tip of the iceberg, what else is down there. And the Bev Oda thing - the other thing, of course, that dictatorships always do is it's one rule for the populous, and another for themselves. And the Bev Oda thing was quite outrageous.

Because if you or I did that, we'd be in jail. You take an already-signed document, and alter it so it says the opposite of what the people signing it meant, you'd be arrested, you'd be fired.

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