The Electoral Landscape From Where I Stand
For some of us, it’s a foregone conclusion we won’t be voting for Harper in October. I myself can’t stand his supercharged militarism, endless tax cuts for the richest corporations, reduced services for veterans and the unemployed, starvation of the healthcare and education systems, and cover-ups of complicity in Afghan torture and a secret payment to a senator.
I also reject the Harper brand of corporatism – the policies that favour petro-state profits over First Nations consultation, the environment and the climate; and bind the delivery of international aid to unfettered opportunities for voracious Canadian mining companies.
In addition I detest Harper’s savaging of democracy – seen by omnibus bills, the proroguing of parliament, the in-and-out election spending scandal that occurred right here in Kelowna, the robocalls affair that took place in 247 of Canada's 308 ridings, the unfair Elections Act, attacks on charitable organizations and labour unions, the creation of two-tier citizenship, and anti-terrorism laws that support a secret police and diminish our constitutional rights and freedoms.
Further, I’m appalled by Harper’s focus on ideology at the expense of evidence – for example, with his crime and punishment agenda, with his muzzling of scientists, and with his destruction of the long-form census, gun registry and scientific libraries.
Not least, I refuse Harper’s peculiar arrogance – his ability to sneer at his opponents and at the Canadian public even while his ship is sinking, and his ability to tell us with a straight face that the ship is actually on an even keel. Economist Jim Stanford is the latest to provide proof there’s no other time in Canada’s post-war economic history in which the economy has performed worse than it did under the Harper government, and that things went sideways long before the global economic crisis of 2008.
That out of the way, we now need to ask ourselves who we’ll vote for. But some amongst us hear the sound of one hand clapping, which is to say they think there’s no one up to the task.
They are cynical and calm, believing that all politicians are corrupt, that the sully world can be transcended, that we might even make ourselves and our world through whole foods and yoga and collective practices.
Or they are disillusioned and angry, believing there’s no party that will represent their views on the urgent need for system change, not climate change, and on the need to condemn relentless Israeli aggression against Palestine, including the occupation itself.
To the first group, I would say transcendence is impossible. Whether we like it or not, politics determines the contours of our lives from the moment the alarm clock goes off. Do we have a job to go to, how much are we paid, is there equal opportunity in the workplace, is public education adequate for us or our child, can we afford daycare for the youngest, will we ever pay off the mortgage, do we have clean drinking water, is the country at war, will climate change kill us? These are outside our control – and they matter.
To the second group, I would say the big problem with the disillusioned is they mistake elections for revolutions and are disappointed with the choices. Elections are not revolutions! Go vote in October, because elections can bring a modicum of much needed change, and then go write a letter, call your MP, or join a blockade. The idea that democracy is to be exercised once every four years is a poverty-stricken vision of our rights and obligations as citizens.
To Canada’s youth in particular, I would repeat the words of broadcaster Linden MacIntyre: "People who have power want to keep power, and you represent the peril of change." Recognize the power your overwhelming demographic numbers bring, and deploy it.
On October 19, I will be voting NDP – not because I have undying affection for Thomas Mulcair or an absolute ideological attachment to the NDP, but because that party has the best electoral chance of effecting regime change in Ottawa.
By any calculation, Harper must go.