So, an election is upon us here in Canada. For those of you who know me, you won't be surprised to learn that my political leanings are somewhat to the left, and for that reason alone I'd be unlikely to support Stephen Harper's Conservatives. But this time around there's more to it than just my tendency to tilt somewhat away from the right. This time it's not a case of voting for the lesser of the available evils, but rather it's about stopping the Conservatives in their slimy tracks.
Unlike the average Canadian "Johnny Lunchbucket", I actually pay attention to politics and its players between election campaigns. All of the decisions made between elections are the ones that will actually have an impact on my life, so it would seem obvious that keeping abreast of what's happening on Parliament Hill is a good idea. Regrettably, too many of our fellow countrymen are prone to the "we-elected-you-now-go-do-whatever-it-is-you-do-and-don't-bug-us-for-at-least-another-two-years-because-I-want-to-watch-the-Don-Cherry" attitude that the majority seem to think is an acceptable frame of mind. And because so many of us have been in that very frame of mind for the past half decade, we're now in a bigger mess than most of us realize.
First off, we have the curious promise from the Tories that they'll build more prisons, even though crime rates have statistically been in decline. So why would they blow billions on such an undertaking? Is is because they're planning to make more things illegal? And will more of those illegal things be punishable with jail sentences? How about the next time you try to exercise your right to free speech by protesting the G20 circus when it comes to town? What will that get you? Five years? Ten, maybe? Harper is also proposing to end funding to political parties based on the number of votes a party receives in an election. Currently, a political party gets a "per vote subsidy" of $1.75 for each vote they receive. The Green Party for example managed to put nearly $2 million into their coffers as a result of their strong showing in the 2008 election, money that's no doubt proved vital for them to remain in the game. But those subsidies mean that the other parties (the dreaded Not Conservative Parties) are able to more effectively launch their campaigns when elections roll around, which might lead to those other Not Conservative Parties getting lots of votes and thereby endanger the chances of the Harper Government being in power forever. Can't have that now, can we?
I also can't understand how Stephen Harper could call this election "unnecessary". It's a minority government, and minority governments are supposed to call elections after roughly two years in office. It's been two years and six months, Stephen. Sorry, you'll have to pretend you like democracy for a bit longer. Tommy Banks is a senator from Alberta who originally had ties to the Progressive Conservatives (not to be confused with the Regressive ones we have now), and entered his career as a senator on the recommendation of Prime Minister Chretien in 2000. He recently wrote an amazing piece that neatly sums up most of the things that I could rail on about, but he drives it home with such honesty and panache that I'll simply give you a link to the original article: http://alberta.liberal.ca/fr/the-choice-your-choice/ Yes, it's more than a dozen paragraphs in length, but I guarantee you that those paragraphs will be among the most important paragraphs you'll read this year. Please, please, PLEASE give it a read. I don't think we'll like what we're left with if we have to undergo another two or (even worse) four years of Uneven Stephen and his merry band of liars. Just sayin'