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Voting Harper Out, Step One of the Election

My Voter Information Card, 2015
My Voter Information Card, 2015

“Who called?”

“The Conservatives.”

“Again?”

“Nah, it was the NDP earlier.”

Fortunately for them, it’s rush hour at home, the two-hour window in the evening during which we make dinner, prepare the lunch box and ask Mark to please-stop-being-annoying-we-know-you’re-tired. Otherwise, when Feng has time, he chats to political party members and claims that as a Chinese, he doesn’t believe in the Western concept of democracy.

If I had picked up the phone, I would have probably begged whichever party was on the line to please, give me factual information about why I should vote for them. Engage me, promise me something, anything!

The federal elections are coming up and I still don’t know who I’m going to vote for. I have become this indecisive voter—a strange position for someone who believes in the democratic system, and politics in general, and who chose to become a Canadian citizen to have the right to vote.

So far, the campaign has offered social interactions and new “friends”. We get phone calls from campaign offices, and candidates canvass the neighbourhood. A few weeks ago, the Liberal Party threw an impromptu picnic at the park in the evening, with free burgers, hot dogs, chips and soda. I’m not sure they won any new voters but no one turned down the free meal (and no political speech was given either).

However, we are electing a new head of government, this is a serious matter. I ain’t selling my vote for a free hot dog.

At eleven weeks, this campaign is the longest in modern Canadian history. But it’s fucking boring. Just trying to get factual unbiased information on each party’s platform is difficult.

I want to vote Harper out. I don’t hate the Conservative Party like I hate the Front National in France—at least it isn’t openly xenophobic and racist. I simply don’t share their values. Some Conservative MPs are in favour of the death penalty, some want to reopen the abortion debate (legal in Canada), some want to ban same-sex marriage… and the list goes on reactionary positions on issues of culture, family, sexuality and morality. To me, the Conservative is this patriarchal party that analyzes issues in black-and-white absolute moral categories, with little regard for social issues and those who don’t fit the traditional mould. Sprinkle neo-con Christian values and a love for profits, and ta-da! You get the Conservative Party. Men enjoy a drink, women go back to the kitchen where they belong.

I am so done with Harper. He has been in office for too long now.

“Proven leadership for a strong Canada” is this year’s slogan. But what leadership? What legacy does Harper leave behind? I can’t think of a single accomplishment that makes me think “wow, we really had a leader”. To me, his main accomplishment was winning power and staying in power.

So the logical choice is between the Liberal’s “Real Change” and the New Democratic’s “Ready for Change.”

Let’s change, then. But what do we change?

Should I vote for a leader or for a party? If I vote for a leader, I’d probably choose the Liberals and Justin Trudeau. I like Trudeau. I met him a few times in person when I was a translator at the Liberal Research Bureau. He is young, engaging and passionate. On the other hand, I don’t know anything about NDP’s leader, Thomas Mulcair, elected in 2012. However, if I vote for a party, I think my values are more in sync with the NDP. Yet, their platform isn’t very clear and they don’t seem to have a good global plan for the country.

What do I want, as a Canadian citizen? In the big abstract picture, I would like Canada to be an open-minded country on social issues. I’d like the economy to do better but I’m fully aware that the economy is a very global beast and that national governments have limited power on the issue. I don’t believe in “tough on crime” politics, I believe in solving issues at the root—poverty, social exclusion, etc. Canada has a relatively small population and I think we can make sure no one is left behind.

From a more narrow and personal perspective, I would like to see an affordable national daycare program (Paul Martin had promised it, but Harper scrapped it). I’m okay with paying taxes but I would like the healthcare system to be easier to navigate. The care provided is good but accessing the system is difficult, from finding a GP to enduring five-minute-long rushed visits because the doctor is booked solid. I would like to see less money spent on anti-terrorism programs and more funds allocated to education and culture. I’d like to see more affordable telco options—I can’t believe how much we pay for Internet access and cellphone plans.

I’ll keep on researching. I want my vote to count, and I want change.

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