Campaign Season

Posted on March 26, 2011

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I know what you’re thinking: What kind of antisocial loser spends his Friday night blogging about Canadian politics? The answer: The same kind of antisocial loser who spent his whole Friday day watching three hundred and eight people yell at each other on CPAC. So yes, I am blogging about politics on a Friday night. I may or may not have a glass of whiskey in front of me while I do so. Deal with it.

I’m excited that there’s an election, but also terrified that a few scattered polls are currently predicting a Harper majority. As promised before, I plan on doing my part to avoid that. The three posts I promised a week ago are being shelved for the time being. So far as I am able, I will blog every week day about issues relevant to the campaign. I will tear apart every Conservative attack ad I get my hands on, and offer my analysis of the policies and opinions and statements and scandals that form a typical Canadian federal election campaign.

Full disclosure: I am volunteering for the Green candidate here in my riding, so I am far from impartial. But then again, I never intended to be impartial. I’m going to get my one partisan advertisement of the way right now: You should all check out Michael Dewar. He’s the Green Candidate for Halifax and a pretty great all-around guy. His Facebook page is here and his twitter feed is here. The great thing about a Green vote in Halifax is that there is not the slightest chance of handing the riding to the Conservatives. Megan Leslie has the place pretty well locked down anyway, so vote according to your convictions. And consider making your convictions Green. Especially if you live in the ridings of Saanich-Gulf Islands or Halifax. And let that be all I say about Mike Dewar. While I will not censor myself to avoid sounding partisan, I encourage you to call me out if I’m not giving sufficient reasoning for my support of the Greens in the coming weeks.

I want to spend a moment discussing the virtues and vices of partisanship. It’s very easy to become cynical about political parties. The Liberals have been decidedly lacklustre, both in government and in opposition. The NDP promise some great stuff, but all too often fail to deliver. Le Bloc Quebeqois ne s’occupent a vous si vous ne parlez pas francais. The Greens can’t even get themselves elected. And the less that’s said about the Conservatives, the better. When one party offers themselves as the answer to the sins of another, it is therefore very easy to dismiss them with a wave of the hand and a chant of “Liberals and Tories, Same Fucking Story”.

I’d like to try and convince you to fight that urge. At the heart of all anti-partisan rhetoric lies a fallacy of false equivalence. It is true that a government lead by Michael Ignatieff (and he is the only sane option for Prime Minister we have at this point) would not solve all the many problems faced by our country. It would probably not even solve most of them. And it would create many problems of its own. But to suggest that the Liberals’ many imperfections come anywhere close to the Conservatives’ contempt for democracy, determination to undermine all Federal spending that doesn’t buy weapons, and secret tea party leader is just silly. I’m not saying that you have to support the Liberals. I’m saying that you should support a party. And since there is no Cynical But Well-Intentioned Progressives’ Party of Canada, you’ll have to pick either whichever one of the existing parties best approaches your political views or whichever party has the best chance of beating the Conservatives (more on that in a future post), and work with them. And by ‘work with them’ I mean actually get off your ass and help. Donate. Volunteer. Put up a lawn sign. Knock on doors. We progressives are going to have to bust our asses if we intend to get that maniac out of 24 Sussex. Choose a party and do your part.*

That being said, it’s important not to get too wound up in your particular choice of party. There are significant ideological, practical and personal differences between the Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois, and the Green Party. It is possible to imagine any one of them being the lone voice of sanity against all four other Canadian parties. You probably have an opinion as to which party that is likely to be, and I’m not going to try and change that. What I will say is that this election demands an exercise in priorities. We have to get Stephen Harper out of office, and until the Wild-Rose Alliance goes federal, we’re stuck with the disadvantage of a divided Left facing a united Right. If liberals get caught up in petty partisan struggles, then we will all lose.

We need to pull together here, or we’re all screwed. If Stephen Harper can take advantage of the cynicism and infighting of the Canadian Left and give himself a majority, then there won’t be much Canada left in four years. Let’s get to work.*

*Unless you’re a Conservative supporter. In that case, feel free to stay home and play video games until mid-May at least. As your party leader said, this election is an unnecessary nuisance. You’d be better off not participating.

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