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I can't think of a better descriptor for this election night than that.

Basic breakdown of the election )
I've decided what I'm going to do.

For too long, I've been an armchair politician, willing to peddle my vote between several parties on the basis of several factors, never committing to any of them. This is very, very common on the Left in Canada, and while it has its benefits for tolerance and good feeling, in the end it loses elections and costs us a voice. I have ideas. I have things to bring to the table. But they're being heard in ways that don't affect the outcome of elections.

So tomorrow, I'm stopping by my newly-re-elected NDP MP's campaign office while they'e packing up, and joining the party formally. If possible, I'll join the provincial branch at the same time, though it may require a separate trip and fee; then I'll make myself known at my NDP MPP's office. I'm going to volunteer for the NDP for the Ontario election in the fall. I'm going to go to riding meetings and write for riding association publications between elections. I'm going to take my flyers, printed by [ profile] mrs_dm, with me. Provincially, my talking points will be slightly different from my talking points in the federal office, because the responsibilities of the two levels of government are different, but I'm no longer confining myself to slactivism on the internet.

It's time to actually make things happen.

Right now, I'm calling in sick because I've had absolutely no sleep and I'm still not asleep. I can't face trying to stay non-partisan with my students while explaining what a Harper majority means for Canada.
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Jack Layton, as the Harper Conservatives have been talking about him for about a week now:

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Maclean's Bull Meter for political lies is fascinating. I counted, just to be sure there was no confirmation bias going on. If you discount the single-bulls, of which the Conservatives and Liberals each have one (because those are slight twists on the truth rather than outright lies) the Liberals and the NDP are tied at one 3 and one 4 each, while the Conservatives are ahead with 4, 4, and 2.

It's also interesting to note what they're lying about: the Liberals' biggest lie so far is the one about Ignatieff's family coming here from Russia with nothing after the Revolution, so a lie about personal history designed to shield him from Conservative attack ads, while the Conservatives' two 4-bull stories are about a Liberal policy that pretty much doesn't exist and about the danger to the economy of an election. I don't think it's bias to count those as more substantial lies, since they're directly related to the issues at hand, though I do wonder how much of an influence Ignatieff's silver-spoon has on his policies. (I don't think he gets to claim that he's an everyman when his education includes Upper Canada College. On the other hand, I prefer not to vote for an everyman; I think a lifetime spent analyzing international policies and writing lengthy treatises for highly critical audiences of scholars is not bad preparation for being Prime Minister, even if I don't agree with all of his conclusions; I'd be prepared to bet that he no longer agrees with all of them, either.)

At the same site is a promise tracker. It's fascinating as much for what's left out as for what's there. For example, the Conservatives are the darlings of agricultural communities across Canada, but have made not a single promise in regards to agriculture. The only one of the bunch of them promising to do something about the issues with EI (and they are myriad, beginning with the fact that they've set the number of qualifying hours so high that most part-time women, i.e. second-time moms who went back to work part-time after the first, do not qualify) is the Bloc Quebecois. The NDP, traditionally a strong alternative on the environment, has no environmental promises laid out for this election, and neither does the Bloc. The Conservatives are planning to throw money at a panel about hunting and wildlife, which only just barely falls under environment at all.

Some interesting stuff.
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We need electoral reform. Knowing full well that online petitions are worth about as much paper as they're written on, I still signed it, and if anyone knows of a paper copy I will be thrilled to sign that.

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Canada's going to the polls in May. The government fell today. (Yes, it really is that fast. The minimum time frame is 36 days; it looks like the election will happen May 9th, though it won't be called officially until Harper meets with the Governor General tomorrow. He will officially dissolve parliament and call the election.

There's not a lot that's good in this. None of the opposition parties are really ready for an election, and the Conservatives are up in the polls. The economy is still recovering and people generally see the Cons as stronger there than the other parties (though it was the Liberals who balanced the budget and kept it balanced for a decade, and it was the Liberals who protected the bank regulations so that the collapse that hit the rest of the Western World was mitigated here. Meanwhile, the Cons have run up the deficit, cutting taxes where they should have held and increasing spending in at least some of the wrong areas, so I'm not buying that the Cons are strong on the economy.) The ethical issues the Cons are facing at the moment don't seem to be a big deal to anyone off Parliament Hill, mostly because the Liberals have some skeletons in their closet so nobody trusts them to be better than the Cons.

So it looks like we'll get another minority Conservative government, which Harper will bill as a mandate, and use to do more stuff only 30% of Canadians had any desire for him to do.

I'm debating offering to run the Student Vote at school for the fours and fives, but the grade five teacher has run it before and she can do it now. An election is awesome for grade five - that's the year kids learn about government, and the quantity of election materials that come out is always astounding. Free classroom materials! Anyway, I suspect I'll mostly stay out of it this time. I'll vote, but that's it.
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Today is the day, folks - Canada's fortieth general election. The polls open at eight and close at eight, at least around here. Your employer is REQUIRED BY LAW to ensure that you have time to vote if you ask for it.

So, vote.

In keeping with election traditions, I'm not saying who I'll be voting for, publicly, until the election is over, because the campaign is over and it's election day. When I get to school, I'm going to be asking the deputy returning officer setting up in the gym if I can bring my grade fives through to see the polling station - a field trip without leaving the school. And this afternoon when we get home, the girls and I will get my voter registration card and my driver's license, and go across the street so I can vote.

This is important. Even if it won't change anything - and depending where you live, it might not - even if you don't know which party will do the best job - practically everybody has that problem at the moment - get out there and do the thing that generations of people have fought, died, and LIVED that you might have the chance. Do the thing that large swaths of the world still only dream about doing. Participate in the process that Canadians have helped to create in Ukraine and South America and other developing democracies around the world.


Don't take it all for granted. Don't let cynicism overwhelm you. Just get to your local school gymnasium or church hall or community centre or apartment building foyer where the polling station for your neighbourhood is located, and vote.

June 2017



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