Westeros: The Canada of the Fictional World
Although some might consider the 13 Districts of Panem to be the fictional incarnation of our native land, numeric similarities aside, there is no better Canada of the fictional world than Westeros, George R.R. Martin’s fictional continent in his Game of Thrones series. Consider the North, a hugely underpopulated landmass, which is larger than all other regions combined. Look at the Westerlands, home of the ruling Lannisters and the wealthiest of the kingdoms thanks to its gold mines—not unlike our western lands, which are rich with black gold, or at least used to be. Dorne is a place that considers itself distinct from the other parts of the continent, demands special treatment and takes offence at the slightest, most inconsequential insult. And there’s also a simmering feeling of Quebec separatism.
The major lakes and rivers of Westeros meander through the Riverlands, lorded over by a vindictive, greedy family whose leader quite simply won’t die; the Frey’s headed by the seemingly ancient Walder Frey. Much to the angst of Frey’s children (constituents) who are desperate to get rid of him, yet can’t seem too. Kinda like how Ontario can’t shake the provincial Liberals no matter what. No one, not even their allies, quite trust them, and their relationship with the leaders of the realm are uneasy at best-something to do with a Red Wedding; which isn’t as fun as it sounds. It’s something that Iron Islanders (and Newfoundlanders) can certainly relate to: two regions that always had a rocky relationship with the rulers of their respective realms. Meanwhile Manitoba and Saskatchewan serve as the breadbasket for our kingdom much as The Reach does for The Seven Kingdoms. While the Stormlands (Maritimes) simply try to survive the nasty weather, which regularly tries to wash them into the sea.
But aside from geography and pre-existing stereotypes, much of the politics of the Seven Kingdoms bears some striking resemblance with politics here, particularly in an election year. Fortunately or not, in our own “You Win or You die” Game of Thrones, you don’t actually die—just fade into irrelevance.
The “Rightful” Heir: “Mine is the Angry!”
Unfriendly, aloof, an experienced warrior, but not a hero… Yes, Tom Mulcair is our Stannis Baratheon. Both mean to be the “First of their Name” as leader of their nation, and in fact already consider themselves as such. Mulcair considers the New Democrats as a Government in Waiting due to their status as the Official Opposition, and contends that all other claims to the throne are illegitimate. Much like how Stannis considers all other claims to the Iron Throne to be null in void. Each man has already started to set up a government—even though they haven’t obtained any potential mandate. Stannis refers to the Lannister contenders to the throne as bastards, as they are (indeed) born out of the incestuous relationship between Cersei and Jamie Lannister. Mulcair won’t publically call the Conservatives inbred—that’s left up to the political satirists. Unlike Westeros, accusations of inbreeding amongst the current administration is nothing new. That’s how we get the crazy policies we have and our lousy, barely competent or comprehensible MPs!
On top of that, both have to buddy up with a strange “foreigner” identified by a certain colour, religion, or culture that the people they seek to rule over are somewhat uneasy about; those who don’t adhere to that religion anyway. There is the Red God Priestess Melissandre in Stannis’ case, while for Mulcair, it is of course Quebec and the blue idol of sovereignty. The people of Westeros aren’t crazy about Melissandre, nor are Canadians crazy about Quebec separatism, but both have gotten their respective leaders where they are today! Yet it just might cost them everything they have.
The Incumbent: “Hear our ‘Balanced’ Budget’”
They’re filthy rich, from the West, don’t put up with dissent, and rumours of inbreeding in their ranks abound: meet the Lannisters and the Tories. Their leaders are Tywin Lannister, The Kings Hand and Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the Westerlands, and Stephen Harper of Calgary Southwest. Now, Harper isn’t blonde (although his wife is) but he is indeed a rich totalitarian Westerner who seeks to control the entire Kingdom, erm, country, from now until the end of time. His people starve, his country is torn by strife, and even his own are starting to question his methods. Wait, I can’t remember if that’s more Tywin or our own Stevie… Unlike the Lannisters, Harper can’t be replaced by a younger sibling if he chokes on a piece of pigeon pie, or gets a bacterial infection from the pollution in the lakes his government didn’t protect.
But while all families have bad eggs, these two also have good ones: people who stand up to daddy and shoot him with an arrow when he’s down, like Tyrion and Jamie, aka John Baird and Peter MacKay. They’ll be back—we know they will—but they’ve got to let the hate from their former liege lord die down before they go slinking back to the Red Keep, er, I mean Green Chamber… Plus, there’s that whole issue where the gold rich Westerlands turned out to be lacking some gold (or black gold), putting our leading family in peril.
The Exile: “Hope and Hardwork (erm, Fire and Blood)”
They had ruled the land for much of recent history, grown paranoid, and lashed out only to be brought to their knees in a brutal rebellion where they were not only tossed from their throne but from their very homeland. They also share the same colour: red. Okay, so the downfall of the Liberals under Martin, Dion, and Ignatief was not quite as dramatic (or bloody) as the fall of the Targaryen Dynasty. At least no one actually died. Nevertheless, being dumped down to third place in the popular vote, and in the House, was very much akin to Viserys and Daenerys (the surviving Targaryean sibilings) having to flee across the sea. After 2011, the Liberals were in exile too and only a threat to the paranoid, like Robert Baratheon or Stephen Harper (their successor’s to power). Stevie, with his Attack Ads and his trusty ally Mulcair, tried to wipe the Liberals from the face of the earth. Since Robert Baratheon’s attempts to use brute force to physically execute the last Targaryeans, it’s no wonder that Harper and Mulcair’s politiking haven’t yet succeeded.
However, out of the ashes rose potential heroes. In each case a child of a former “King”, who’ve been seen to have some firepower, making steady gains for several years in the battle for the Kingdoms. Recently there have been signs that they’ve become stuck. Like Daenerys—who has raised three dragons from hatchlings and is conquering city after city—lately the Liberal’s “Father of Dragons” may have made some questionable choices, but still has a substantial bit of firepower behind him. Dragons always win, but they can leave you with some burns. Both of these beloved leaders (titled so amongst their own followers) have a long way to go before they can be sitting on the throne once more, but may have a viable chance; particularly since the nicer Lannisters (the ones we like) have fled.
Rumours of the citizenry in Westros and Canada sewing banners, and swearing secret oaths of allegiance to their former rulers abound, and are necessary realities if either of these family of fire and blood is to shed the blood of its enemies; not its own. Even having fallen in popular opinion polls of late (from aformentioned bad decision making-like letting loose dragons or voting in favour of Bill C-51) support is still strong for both leaders. There is still a good chance that in the final battle-the dragons could win out!
As Kahlessi Daenery’s once remarked the time is ripe for her return, “The Starks fight the Lannisters and the Baratheon’s fight each other!” With Harper and Mulcair setting their guns on each other as opposed to Trudeau-it’s the ideal time for a return in fire and blood (metaphorically speaking!)
A Friend to All: Greens and “Growing Strong”
House Tyrell rules over the more fertile and verdent regions of the realm. The climate is not as harsh. Their house colours are green and gold and their motto is growing strong. Further the House is lead by very powerful, articulate, and opinionated women. They also are very deft hands at playing the Game of Thrones-even if they don’t want to big one for themselves. Co-operation is imperative for this party, erm family. If you haven’t guessed I consider the Tyrell’s to be the Westrosi Green Party. Tied to nature, innocent in appearance but a lethal threat to their foes; particularly when they agree to join forces. They’ll help someone win-even if they don’t wear a crown themselves.
The Courtiers: “We don’t want you to know whose side we’re on”
These are of course the political commentators and aggregate pollsters, those you see on Power and Politics, Question Period, Power Panel, or read in the papers. They are harshly critical one minute and are kissing up to the next fad or leader a few seconds later. Every fluctuation of the electorate sends them tittering like a Flea Bottom whore. Quite frankly this lot shouldn’t be trusted. It is their manipulating tactics which may tilt this looming war of Three Kings one way or the other. Rosmary Barton, Eric Grenier, Chantel Hebert, Andrew Coyne, and John Ivison are our Varys, Littlefinger, Maester Pycelle, and Lady Olenna Tyrell (not necessarily in that order). True, there may be more apt figures behind the scenes to make a comparison—but like the little birds who twitter to Varys, they are neither seen nor heard.
As Varys once explained “The storms come and go, the big fish eat the little fish and I keep on paddling.” Who will be eating whom has yet to be seen, but at least our political pundits will keep on paddling-beating us to death with opinion polls until the next election! Granted this is how the lords and ladies of our fair land decide who’s winning this Game of Thrones and as Jeorah Mormont says of the Westorosi-Canadians will “flock to whichever side is winning.” Meanwhile, as the Starks always say “Winter is Coming”, and this one will be long and cold, depending on who you vote for and who ends up winning this, Canada’s version of Game of Thrones.