Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Canada Awoke from a Long (and Real) Nightmare…

00 canadian federal election 2015. 201015

The above map is based on census units, not ridings… it shows the largest vote-getter in a particular area. Canada has a “first-past-the-post” system, so, a candidate with a minority of the vote can win, so long as they’re ahead of all others.

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First off, I want to say that you’re all amazing. I’m scrolling through my feed this morning and everything I see is intelligent thoughtful commentary on the outfall of last night’s election. We seem to be collectively experiencing such a mix of thoughts and emotions, from the tremendous relief of waking up in a country no longer governed by a corrupt heartless tyrant, to sadness about the seeming loss of ground on the left. We’re overwhelmingly thoughtful and anxious about the new government and especially its leader, Justin Trudeau.

I have to say, I didn’t give the Liberals a lot of thought this election. In fact, my riding didn’t even have a Liberal candidate after she withdrew last week, though she managed to take a chunk of votes anyway since Elections Canada wasn’t able to remove her from the ballot. My vote was NDP from the beginning and it never wavered, so I spent very little energy looking into the platforms of the other parties. Now, I want to know. Who is Justin Trudeau? What kind of person is he? What kind of leader is he? How will he steer the course of this country for the next 4-5 years? Should I be hopeful or pessimistic about where we’re going?

I’m old enough to remember the Chrétien/Martin years. I harbour no illusions that this is a revolution. In some ways, one can see it as a return to Canadian politics as usual with the ball landing in the Liberal court for their turn again. However, I have to say in all honesty that the only moment during this campaign where a party leader made me feel anything deeply was during his closing remarks in the first debate. He spoke about the heart of Canada and Canadians, about hope and optimism, and I felt him. He meant it.

I think he’s a good person. I think he has heart and he cares about this country and its diverse people. I think if he was sitting at my dinner table, we’d agree on more things than we’d disagree on. He may not be as far “left” as I’d like in that he still believes in capitalist economics, but from where I sit, he’s about as good as we’re ever going to get in a Prime Minister. I like him better than Mulcair, who I never could warm up to anyway, and I can’t say after looking into it further that I think his policies or platform are in general less left than the NDP, at least under Mulcair. He’s promised to withdraw Canadian soldiers from armed conflict, to restore environmental protections and increase them, to reform the electoral system, to restore funding to the CBC and Canada post, and to rebuild relationships with Canada’s First Nations. Therefore, I think we did good last night, and I think we still have lots of work to do.

Nevertheless, for now, I’m honestly overwhelmed with tears of relief. I feel like we just won the fucking lottery and cured cancer at the same time, as ridiculous as that is. I feel irrationally overwhelmingly grateful for this man who has stepped up to take back our country from Harper. If he enacts even a fraction of the platform promises he made, Canada’s going to be a profoundly better place than it was yesterday. If he does nothing at all but prevent further damage, Canada’s still going to be a better place. Moreover, I trust that he’d do something more than that. He has a young family and a wife who reminds me a lot of myself. He has promises to keep and I get the sense he’s the kind of person who’d do his best to keep them. At least, I hope he will.

To quote Jack Layton:

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

I think we changed the world for the better yesterday. Thanks everyone.

20 October 2015

Facebook

Occupy Calgary

https://www.facebook.com/OccupyCalgary/posts/894065244004128

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Left is Making a Comeback

00.02k 12.10.11 Political Cartoons. Occupy Wall Street

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Are progressives on the march? Some days, it sure looks that way. From the EU to the Americas, progressives… Liberals, Democrats, New Democrats, Liberal Democrats… increasingly seem to be pushing back the blue conservative tide. It wasn’t always thus. Less than two years ago, I wrote a little book called Fight the Right (It’s an excellent Christmas or Hanukkah present, by the way). The subtitle of Fight the Right was A Manual for Surviving the Coming Conservative Apocalypse. That was the book’s central theme… that conservatives, from Europe to the Americas, were increasingly winning elections. A couple of years ago, conservatives were on the ascendancy, for all sorts of reasons. They were better funded, thanks to their well-heeled big corporate backers. They were better organised than at any time in their history. The corporate rightist media adored them. The politics and economics of the era seemed to favour them, too. Moreover… up here in the Great White North, at least… there was plenty of division and disunity on the left, and lots of splitting of the vote. The right was taking advantage of that, election after election, and coming up the middle to win.

Two years ago, there was a rising right-wing tide everywhere. From Rome to Riga, from Maine to Miami, from Whitehorse to Witless Bay, conservatives were the team to beat. The right governed most of the EU, with nearly all the EU’s 28 member states being ruled by conservatives. In Canada, conservative parties ruled the roost in BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, and of course nationally. There were (then popular) right-wing municipal bosses, like Rob Ford. Down in the USA, the Gallup poll reported that just about half of all Americans considered themselves conservative… or very conservative. Only a tiny percentage of Americans… a miserable 20 percent… called themselves “liberal”. Well, that was two years ago. Times are a-changin’, to quote the bard. In the USA, despite facing a Republican challenge financed with billions of dollars, Barack Obama came back with a convincing victory. In the EU, many of those conservative leaders… in Italy, in France… are gone. Here in Canada, Conservatives can’t seem to chip away at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s popularity. Despite spending buckets of dough on attack ads, and despite lots of nasty politicking, Trudeau’s maintained a healthy lead in the polls for many months. The NDP’s Tom Mulcair remains competitive, too. That’s just the temporal world.

Even on the spiritual level, it seems like progressives are winning the day. A year ago this week, Francisco became pope… and he immediately became the world’s most influential progressive leader, challenging the Roman Catholic Church’s orthodoxy on everything from capitalism to gay rights. Pope Francisco has been a revolutionary, in almost every sense of the word. He’s hammered the greedy excesses of capitalism in apostolic exhortations. He’s suspended bishops who’re more into those who have bling, rather than those who have nothing. Just recently, the pope was in glowing stories on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine… did you ever think you’d live long enough to see a pope on the cover of Rolling Stone?

Rumours of the left’s death were premature, to say the least. My own prediction of a right-wing hostile takeover wasn’t entirely correct, either. The ideological pendulum… which was careening off to the right… is now swinging back to the centre, and the left. There are all kinds of reasons for that. Post-recession jitters have faded. Stimulus spending worked. Austerity measures are increasingly unpopular. Voters are just plain sick of conservative policies and politicians. Whatever the reason, one thing can’t be disputed… progressives are getting competitive again, from the Vatican to the EU to the Americas. Those on the right? Check your rear-view mirror. That’s the lefties you see… and we’re getting closer.

14 March 2014

Warren Kinsella

Calgary Sun

http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/03/14/the-left-is-making-a-comeback

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