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

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