Politics isn’t dumb and lame, but politicians are. Some of this comes down to the fact that each party in power spends a lot of time trying to undo what their opponents did.
The rest just comes down to the fact that, no matter how cool, clever, or empathetic a politician is, at the end of the day they can’t really understand the plight of the regular people they represent—they just capitalize on the emotions and/ or bank accounts of people who, in general, make less money than they do.
Canada’s at a crossroads here, though.
Both the nation and its angriest province (Alberta) are poised to elect conservative governments, fuelled off the back of fiscal conservatives who love oil, and social conservatives who hate anyone who isn’t a straight, cis-gendered white man who was born on good, old-fashioned Canadian soil.
We’re not like this—more than half of Canada would in theory vote for the NDP or Liberal parties. Canada presents itself to the world as a caring and accepting country full of people who are generally pretty nice (the truth runs a bit contrary to this considering, well, residential schools, for example). Alberta’s a bit different in that the uniting of the right—the UCP, born of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Wildrose Party—made strange bedfellows of social and fiscal conservatives.
If there was a viable party that was simply fiscally conservative, without obscure or overt xenophobia, it may seem like—at least—a slightly less regressive way of voting.
But, in Canada and Alberta—and elsewhere—right-wing politicians are putting aside their differences to best the left-wing parties that, as a matter of pure population, would likely receive more votes if they too united.
But that’s bad for democracy, and would bring us closer to the United States’ partisan system, which has grown so bitter and toxic it’s basically a spectator sport for other countries—when it’s not directly interfering in their economies and regimes, that is.
But it’s not like the Conservative Party of Canada (born from an alliance of other right-wing parties in the country) and the UCP are going to split up their ranks anytime soon.
And, frankly, the more progressive parties in Canada do very little to inspire faith—for example, Trudeau (the second one) spouted green ideology during his campaign, but bent and tried to get the TransMountain Pipeline built; though conservatives blamed him for it not happening all the same. And Notley did the same—the conservatives act like the left-wing parties in Canada don’t want these things made, but they do, or at least act like they do, which further alienates some of the people who would otherwise be enthusiastic about voting for them.
Also: It’s not like the federal Liberals and provincial NDP are without scandal. The SNC-Lavalin scandal Trudeau’s facing has seriously shaken confidence in the party. In the head-butting between Trudeau and the Conservatives, Jagmeet Singh has largely fallen by the wayside of public consciousness. That said, everything going on with the UCP—the alleged “kamikaze” campaign against Brian Jean; the resignation of star candidate Caylan Ford—and Andrew Scheer’s seeming reluctance to call out racism amongst his constituency don’t paint the most flattering pictures of two potential majority governments.
It all sounds very bleak—like the loud and bigoted parts of Canada are going to win, not the election but the actual spirit of the country. This is decidedly a possibility.
The alternative parties may seem lame, but you need to go vote all the same.
We’re not going to tell you how to vote—in so many words—but if you care about the future of marginalized humans in this country, about the environment, and about a Canada that governs with policy that thinks about the future and not just short-term gains, you need to go vote with your mind and your conscience.
Canada isn’t the U.S. What we’re seeing now—from death threats to politicians to that dumb convoy to Ottawa—is a very vocal, angry minority of old people who don’t understand that times change, and we need to change with them.
Oil won’t last forever (and, as an aside, Alberta has done precious little to diversify its economy), and all human beings deserve the same rights and opportunities that white dudes have had for their entire—er, the world’s entire history.
So, yeah, if you’re going to fall into despair, at least do it in the voting booth.
Not voting may make you one of the cool kids, but there are parties out there that have members who believe all gay people are going to hell, so apathy and being too good to cast your ballot for a lame-duck candidate who at the very least doesn’t wanna reinstate prima nocta—that’s hyperbole, we hope—kind of stops being a rad m.o. at that point.
So you demand more from your party of choice. It doesn’t matter which party you vote for, make sure you talk to your damn MP or MLA and let them know that they need to do better. Brooding on your own powerlessness is what politicians want—a quiet, inactive populace that just gives up and accepts the lot it’s given.
They need to govern not just with the interests of their parties—or special interest groups—in mind, but at the consent of the governed, and with what little twinges of conscience can still flicker in their jaded, policy-addled brains.
It doesn’t even need to be a leftist party that does it, but a Canada without hate can triumph here—maybe not this election, maybe not the next. But Canadians who care about their neighbours and their children can’t just sit by and let this violent element of humanity win. This behavior can’t become the norm here.
Canada’s not perfect—like, at all—but it can try to be better.
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