So… I haven’t written for a while. Several weeks, in fact. Shortly after my last post, way back in July, life got very busy, rather complicated, and kind of shitty. And as I’ve mentioned before, I have a hard time writing when I’ve got a lot of distractions and problems to deal with… which is kind of ironic, I suppose, since I often find writing about my life often helps me sort through the problems in my life.
But in any case, I’m not going to talk about most of the shitty stuff publicly, although there were good things that happened in the past two months: our trip to southern California spend time with The Wife™’s family in person (not just via Skype); swimming in the Pacific for the first time; discovering the weird, heartbreaking, unearthly beauty of Joshua Tree National Park; returning home just in time for the birth of my brand-new niece (healthy and happy, although a few weeks early); and especially the trip to meet our little niece (emphasis on little, the first time I held her she was only a bit over six pounds. I weigh around 300.) It’s been a busy summer despite our tight budget, is what I’m saying.
But the thing that’s been largely dominating my attention, aside from my still-not-successful job search and the money problems related to it, has been the federal election. I was enjoying a quiet breakfast on our fourth morning in San Clemente, reading the news on my iPad, when Stephen Harper dropped the writ on the longest campaign in modern Canadian history, trying to leverage the huge Conservative war chest to outspend his opponents and win another four-year mandate.
It looks increasingly like that isn’t going to happen. The Conservative campaign has been a tightly-controlled, highly disciplined and extremely regimented machine that has proven to be completely unable to cope with a series of public-relations gaffes and disasters, starting with an absolutely damning editorial in the New York Times, the ongoing train crash of the “Duffygate” scandal, proceeding through several Conservative candidates committing high-profile gaffes requiring their removal from the election, to the callous mishandling of the heartbreaking story of Aylan Kurdi a three-year old Syrian refugee whose drowned body shocked the world… and whose family were trying to get to Canada.
The Conservative campaign has been an embarrassing shambles, so much so that they sacked their campaign manager in mid-race and hired an Australian fixer with a shady reputation to get them back on track.
Michael Harris, one of my favorite Canadian political bloggers, has summed up the absolutely disastrous Conservative campaign in his amazing piece The Week that Stephen Harper Lost the Benefit of the Doubt and I highly recommend it.
Basically, Canadians are fed up with Harper’s dictatorial style and want a change. Historically we tend to do that about nine or ten years into any government mandate, but this time it seems to be different. Harper’s vicious, uncaring, anti-democratic style has been laid bare and it looks like Canadians want no more of it. Another Conservative majority is out of the question (barring massive and obvious electoral fraud) and even a minority government is highly unlikely. Polls vary, but right now it looks like a horse race between the Liberals and the NDP… and the NDP seems to be winning.
It’s hard to call an election five weeks ahead of time, so I’m not going to. Anything can happen between now and then… but I suspect that if these trends continue we’ll see an NDP minority government, a Conservative opposition, and the Liberals holding the balance of power.
That would not be an ideal situation: The NDP have a mandate that I want to see passed, especially electoral reform to bring in proportional representation. The Liberals under Trudeau favor “alternative voting”, a style of election which would heavily favour centrist parties as everybody’s second choice… which of course means the centre-right Liberals. But it’s amazing to me that everybody, everybody, except the incumbent Conservatives, agree that something needs to be done about our electoral process.
And that leads into another point I feel strongly about: I’m rejecting the notion of “strategic voting” this election. There’s been a lot of discussion of the “ABC” tactic (Anyone But Conservative) and I strongly disagree with it. I’m pretty sure that whole attitude has contributed to the breakdown of Canadian democracy, and in any case I’m sick to death of compromising my principles in the faint hope that things will maybe get better.
It’s not enough to just vote against Harper, you have to vote for something you care about.
So I’m committed to voting NDP for three reasons:
First, I believe the NDP can beat the Conservatives both nationally and in my riding. I like the local Liberal candidate on a personal level (and indeed I endorsed her strongly when she ran for mayor) but I don’t like Justin Trudeau’s lack of a stance on Bill C-51, nor his seeming willingness to compromise his principles based on the whims of polling data. I genuinely don’t believe that he’s the Prime Minister this country needs… and that has nothing to do with Conservative attack ads.
Second, I believe in the NDP platform, especially their call for electoral reform. If there’s one thing the last twenty years in this country has proven, it’s the “first past the post” is profoundly broken, and exploiting that broken system is what gave Stephen Harper a majority government without a clear mandate from the voters. We need to fix our electoral system, our environmental regulations, and rebuild our economy and our social safety net — and of course shitcan Bill C-51 immediately. The NDP have a plan to do that.
Third, I actually believe the NDP will follow through on their promises, which is something I can’t say for the Liberals. The NDP, even as recently as half a year ago, was the underdog and seen as unlikely to ever form the government. Its ranks are full of young, idealistic people and its leadership is full of politicians who haven’t yet held enough power to be corrupted by it. The NDP is a young, earnest party filled with young, earnest people who honestly believe that they can change the world… and that’s exactly what this country needs right now.
My ideal outcome for this election: I’d like to see the NDP have a majority government (or even a strong minority) bolstered by the Green Party. That would be the progressive government this country needs to heal ten years of Harper-inflicted wounds and get us back on the path to a stable, responsible and prosperous country.
And for the first time in my adult life, it looks like we might actually have a chance to do it.