Monday, May 9, 2011

We Have to Stop Looking for Excuses and Start Looking for Reasons

Other counties have their natural disasters, hurricanes, earth quakes, volcanoes... We call ours federal elections. It's been a week since our man made natural disaster occurred. As of yet, things have not turned entirely into shit. But four years is a long time to mess with a countries internal organs and I have little faith in the surgeon.

Be that as it may. The Government of Harper won fair and square. To say that the outcome is illegitimate is, at the very least, an expression of sour grapes. Our "first past the post" method of electing our Members of Parliament (remember, we elect MPs, not PMs) has been in existence since day one (if you start counting time at 1867 that is) and has benefited parties on both the right and the left.

As popular as he was and with the majority governments he had, Pierre Trudeau never had more than 45% of the popular vote. But no one (well not many anyway) called his governments "illegitimate". So blaming the Con victory on a flawed process is...well...flawed. As well, claiming that the Cons won because of vote splitting on the left is also in error. Remember, all the other parties combined won fewer seats then the Cons, so it doesn't matter HOW people on the left voted, they just shuffled votes and seats among themselves.

Simply put, The Cons were just more able to elect more MPS than anyone else. Why? I'm still coming to grips with this, but the Cons were able to persuade more voters that they were the better party to lead them as we recover from the global recession. Meaning on a day to day, community by community basis, The Cons appealed to more voters as the ones to best look after their interests.

So was this then an indictment on all the other parties, including the notion of a coalition government? or is this simply a matter of the Cons being able to do a better job of marketing? They knew their base, they knew the audience they needed to capture and went after them full bore. Which ever way it is, it's up for the other parties to decide and to act accordingly.

But until that happens, we are stuck with an ultra right wing theocracy of a government because the majority of their MPs won their respective elections fair and square. Ok, maybe not so fair or not so square, but they won them anyway. So we need to stop looking at flawed systems and vote splitting and concentrating on what it was that made the Cons appealing to so many Canadians. Again, still coming to grips with this one. But until this can be identified, we will be doomed to perpetual Right wing dogma.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Canadians Should be Proud of Themselves

Ok Canada, now is our chance. 

In countries of the near and far east, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Iran, Yemen, Syria etc.  Citizens have been protesting, fighting and dying for the right to have free and democratic elections, for the right of every citizen to have a say in the running of their country. Just like Canadians have a say.

At the beginning of this election, I heard all the rhetoric, that this is an "unnecessary election", that Canadians "don't want an election right now".   Well guess what boys and squirrels, that was all a myth.

If that were the case, the NDP would not be virtually neck and neck with the Cons on the eve of the election, something NO ONE with the possible exception of Jack Layton saw coming. And no one saw the possible demise of the Bloc Quebecois who on this last day of the campaign, have the commitment of about 3% of voters in Quebec.   

If this election were unnecessary or unwanted, there would not have been such a huge surge in the Youth vote. Advanced polls would not have seen a 37% increase in voter turn out over 2008.  And women would not have to be fighting a fierce battle for their health and reproductive rights. Not to mention the rights and protection of their children.   

So Canadians for one reason or another, are taking this election VERY seriously. Including the right-wing extremest who are stooping to never before seen acts of intimidation and violence in order to silence any and all dissenting voices... including the media.

There is, in fact, a high level of engagement with the citizenry for this election. So anyone, (including myself in earlier posts) who use the example of events in the east as a method of shaming the Canadian electorate, are in serious error. Canadians do care about their country, and they care passionately. Canadians are engaged, and they do want to make a change for the betterment of their country, whatever that change may look like.

And for better or worse, once the dust settles on May 3rd, the direction our country will be going in will have been revealed. Probably not definitively, but the sign posts will have been clearly planted and the battle for our social conscience will have begun in earnest. And this will be a result/reflection of the level of engagement of Canadian citizens. 

So we should all be proud fellow Canadians. Our voices are being heard and our votes will determine our fate. We might not all be happy with the result. But we have dis-proven the myth once and for all that this is an unnecessary or unwanted election or that Canadians are apathetic. We are far from it. We are as informed or as involved as any county can be in the western world. We are approaching this election as though Canada were playing a gold medal hockey game. Enough said.