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

“Who called?”

“The Conservatives.”


“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.

Get the latest story, cultural shock and travel pictures right in your inbox

I don't spam, promise.

I literally don't have the time to write ten stories a day.

Visited 1 times, 1 visit(s) today


  1. Gagan October 5, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Yeah, why is phone and data so unbelievably expensive?

    I mean I could pay for about 4 accounts with top notch packages and really maharaja style customer service, but I just paid that for one account. Wait, you were talking leadership and politics, right?

    1. Zhu October 5, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      Well, you know, priorities… 😉 Leadership and cheap cellphones. That’s what matters to the world, right? 😉

  2. Jeruen October 5, 2015 at 10:53 am

    I haven’t voted for a long time. In fact, I haven’t voted ever.

    The thing is, for the most part, I wasn’t into politics when I was younger mostly because the religion I belonged to back then discouraged voting. They thought that it is against their doctrine to be political, and so when I was growing up, voting and other political issues were not in my immediate vicinity.

    Then I grew up, and exited that religion. However, I still didn’t vote because most of the time, I am an expat, and my vote wouldn’t be valid locally, or have little to no effect on me in the case of an absentee vote. I once tried registering to be an absentee voter for an election in the Philippines. I received the ballot, but after putting some thought to it, I realized that my vote won’t matter, since I am not living there. The issues that are of concern in the Philippines aren’t of concern to me, at least in the short term.

    So yeah, I guess as long as I am an expat, I won’t be voting any time soon, which is sad, because I don’t have a say in what decisions are made in the place I live in.

    1. Zhu October 5, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      I can see your point considering your expat life, especially considering it started so young… you’ve always been an expat. Would you have liked to vote in the US or would you vote now in Germany? It would make more sense than voting in the Philippines, where you haven’t lived in a long time.

      1. Jeruen October 6, 2015 at 2:08 am

        Hmm, I guess if given the chance I would vote in both countries, although looking back, I remember thinking that there were more social issues I liked to have changed in the USA than here in Germany.

        1. Zhu October 6, 2015 at 6:50 pm

          How do you feel about Angela in Germany?

          1. Jeruen October 7, 2015 at 2:20 am

            I have to say she is likeable, even though she is conservative. Though one has to remember that conservatives here in Germany would look liberal in North America.

            That being said, there are still issues here in Germany that I would like changed, but compared to issues in the USA, these are less urgent so to speak.

          2. Zhu October 7, 2015 at 11:04 pm

            French often joke about her because she is conservative and she is… well, German, I guess. Very liberal.

  3. Martin Penwald October 5, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    I should find the adequate links, but Harper himself has a passé close to right-wing groups next to which the french front national looks like moderate. This fascist has to be thrown out the window.
    I see a small part of his speech in Newfoundland, and it was basically the Reagan mantra : low taxes for the richs means lot of jobs for Canadian. Trickle-down economy 101. Since Reagan (and Thatcher), it has NEVER worked to enrich the middle class, au contraire. It works only for the already very wealthy.
    Moreover, he promised 1 millions new jobs if reelected : seriously, what prevent you to create these jobs before, idiot?
    2 options : he deliberately didn’t create the conditions to help these jobs creations, and he is an asshole, or jobs creations depend less of politics than real economy, and he is a liar.

    My advice, same than last time :
    « Votez Con ! Votez Conservateur ! »

    About voting rights, there is a weird thing with Election Canada : if you are Canadian but not resident, you lose your voting rights. It could make sense if we imply that elections are more important for residents, but in this case, why non-Canadian residents cannot vote? It doesn’t make sense.
    Either only Canadians can vote, wherever they live, or only residents can vote, only if they live in the country. But the actual rule is dumb because it is incoherent.

    About Juju : I find that he lacks consistency, I have the feeling that he has the job because of daddy.
    About Tom : his main handicap is that he is not Jack Layton.
    About Liz : I like her, and it was not acceptable she wasn’t invited in one of the recent debate. However, I don’t know what her party has to propose.
    About Gillou : seriously? Gillou? the guy who was the leader of the Bloc Québécois when it was wipped clean from the parliament?

    As long as Canadians don’t vote for Sarkozy nor Harper, it should be good. I don’t care, I don’t vote.

    1. Zhu October 6, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      I am totally stealing that line: “More­over, he promised 1 mil­lions new jobs if reelected : seri­ously, what pre­vent you to cre­ate these jobs before, idiot?”

      I know that Harper used to be more right wing than he is now… at least his federal politics weren’t too extreme. They were… non-existent?

      My impression of “juju” (eh, d’habitude c’est moi “Juju!”) are based on what I saw when I worked for the LIberals. The team back then under Ignatieff was disastrous and I remember him as a good guy, smart and engaging. I may be biased though… the rest of the team was awful.

      I refuse to even see the Bloc as a serious party. I just… the program defies logic. I don’t get it. I don’t get anything about politics in Quebec, mind you.

      Do you vote in France?

      1. Martin Penwald October 6, 2015 at 8:48 pm

        I should register on the consulate website to open my account, but I probably will receive electoral stuff when time come.
        The main problem is to be here to vote, and I refuse to vote through Internet
        (or by voting machine, same problem) :

        However, it makes sense to vote for a French because we have a representant.

        1. Zhu October 6, 2015 at 10:32 pm

          … a represantant who spams the hell out of you. That was my main issue with the last few French elections, endless spam from each party.

      2. Martin Penwald October 6, 2015 at 8:51 pm

        Ah, and yes, the Green Party is more serious than the Bloc, but mainstream media don’t give the Greens the coverage they deserve.
        Note, in Alberta, the NDP governement plans to close the coal power plants (yeah, coal power plant in 2015), so there is an overlap with the Green Party, here.

        1. Zhu October 6, 2015 at 10:32 pm

          I’d love to see the Green Party win in Alberta.
          The odds, however, are… yeah, not good.

  4. Cynthia October 6, 2015 at 4:41 am

    I could have registered to vote Harper out but the borough I would be registered in always votes Liberal (Pablo Rodriguez).

    1. Zhu October 6, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      Is it hard to register?

      1. Cynthia October 7, 2015 at 9:46 am

        I did not try but I don’t think it is.

  5. Alan October 6, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    I like your analysis. I agree that we should have a national daycare plan. The NDP have proposed a $15.00 a day plan with a million new spaces by 2024 but the provinces would have to agree to it.

    Like you, my values are more in sync with the NDP but I will vote for the local candidate that has the best chance of defeating the Cons.
    Until we reform our electoral system, strategic voting is the only way to go. It is ridiculous that the Cons can have a majority government with a minority of the vote. We should have runoff voting or ballotage like they have in France. This involves two rounds of voting where only two candidates survive to the second round. This would get rid of the current vote splitting between NDPs and Liberals. Also, voting should be mandatory like in Australia. This would result in a more representative democracy.

    What was Justin like in person? Did he seem capable? The Cons are making a big deal about his inexperience, saying “Just not ready” but at one time Harper was just a nobody sitting at his strip mall office in Calgary.

    1. Zhu October 6, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      See, this is where I lack experience–strategic voting the Canadian way. I’m so used to French voting strategies (… and they can bomb, like in 2002…), to me the system here is weird because I know the parties but I don’t know my local candidates and frankly, I don’t see what they do for constituents at their level.

      I liked Justin. I met him a few times around 2009-2010 with the Ignatieff team and he was a good guy, truly passionate and knowledgeable. In that team, he stood out as a capable person (but the Ignatieff was pretty lame). I wouldn’t say he isn’t read. To be honest, I doubt anyone is ever ready to lead a country. The same “not ready” excuse was used for many leaders, including Obama, who did fine (at least on the doing the job part, the actual accomplishments depend on the context). But I’m not sure I trust the Liberals. They can swing either way, left or right. And that bothers me. They try to please the crowd too much.

  6. Alan October 7, 2015 at 1:22 am

    We definitely have a weird system. Your local MP, can sometimes help you out it you have a problem with the federal government, but their power is limited and usually, they just toe the party line.

    Talk about weird, if Mulcair becomes Prime Minister, he could also vote in French elections since he is a French citizen. In 2009 his wife ran on a slate aligned with then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right party, the Union for a Popular Movement. As they say “politics makes strange bedfellows”. This would never fly in the US. Poor Ted Cruz gave up his Canadian citizenship even though he never stood much chance of winning. Vive_la_différence!

    1. Martin Penwald October 7, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      Sarkozy is not center right, neither UMP since a long time. Actually, Sarkozy has willingly destroyed the center part of the Gaullist party, negating the legacy of the Conseil National de la Résistance.

    2. Zhu October 7, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      I don’t know much about Mulcair and I didn’t even know he was a French citizen! Shame on me.

  7. Mel October 13, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    I’m not sure I agree that the Cons are not openly xenophobic. All this fear-mongering and bullshit about the niqab would indicate that Harper has totally become openly xenophobic, pitting “us” against “them”. Canada is becoming a scary place under his rule.

    There are lots of websites that can suggest who to vote for in your riding if your main objective is to give Harper the boot. Try or

    I voted yesterday. It felt so good 🙂

    1. Zhu October 13, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      Oh, thank you for the websites, that’s perfect!

  8. Pingback: Thank You for Voting, Canada!

  9. Pingback: Anything But Harper – Election Day

  10. Pingback: Dear Canada, I’m a Bit Mad At You

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *