Tag Archives: Canada Votes

Democracy’s Last Stand

Canada votes tomorrow. Today, I’m avoiding the radio and the television. I’m sick and tired of hearing and seeing the attack ads. I’m sick and tired of the last desperateillegaland immoral attempts to sway public opinion. I’m sick and tired of what our government as become over the last decade.

As you know, I have more thoughts on the matter and I have been trying to articulate them in this space over the past few weeks, but I don’t think I could write it any better than the Mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi, did in his opinion piece to the Globe and Mail.

As mayor of a city that has much to lose, given the state of oil prices and whathaveyou, Naheed doesn’t write of economics, or budgets, or trade policy. He writes of what it means to be Canadian. That’s the message I’ve been trying to get through.

Before we start nitpicking about dollars and cents we have to have serious conversations about respect and common sense. Respect for our democracy and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and common sense as well as respect, compassion, and understanding for our neighbours and the millions of disenfranchised souls woven into the fabric of our nation.

Doug Ford, speaking of his brother Rob at a Conservative rally held last night for, and attended by, Stephen Harper had this to say about respect:

“I’ll tell ya, Rob came up with this phrase, but nothing I can remember in a federal election is any more important than respect for taxpayers.”


Really, Doug, how exactly is respect being shown? I’ll save everyone the Google search and tell you. It’s being shown by tax cuts to the very rich and mystery math to the average Canadian that will result in a pennies on the dollar savings – if anything at all.

I am a taxpayer, a big one as it turns out, and I certainly don’t feel like I’m being respected. In fact, if feels like quite the opposite, and I don’t know about you, but to disrespect me is to disrespect my neighbour. I’m funny like that. I actually give a shit about someone else every now and then.Canadians are tired of the short-sighted, specialized treatment for a select few while the rest of us wander around wondering what has happened to the country we call home. I much prefer the Louis C.K. speech he gave to his daughter:

Louis C.K. gets it, why can’t Haper?

It’s a telling sign when the former owner of the nation’s most conservative newspaper comes out and pens an open letter saying that our Prime Minister has overstayed his welcome. In fact, with the exception of FOX News North (a.k.a Sun Media, a.k.a Quebecor) you will be hard pressed to find a Canadian publication willing to come out in support of Stephen Harper. You know who did, though? Forbes. That they are so far the most vocal supporter speaks volumes, you know, on account of Forbes being somewhat well-known for only giving a shit about money. I am surprised they didn’t just come out and say, “If you’ve got a lot of money and only care about your bottom line then he’s your man.”

The thing is, something tells me that the 1% will be just fine without him. Just a hunch. I say this because financial success for businesses of all shapes and sizes occurred under previous Liberal rules just as they have under Conservative ones. Plus, both Trudeau and Mulcair are very smart individuals surrounded by other very smart individuals who spend a lot of time figuring this stuff out. To say that either one of them would recklessly march this nation into financial ruin is insulting.

Call this a panicked plea to the masses.
Call this a last stand against the selfish and greedy.
Call this an attempt to appeal to the kind, tolerant, good-natured human we know lives inside of every Canadian.

I don’t care what you call it so long as you do the right thing in the end.

And if you do nothing else today, read Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s words and ask yourself what means the most to you, to your family, and to your neighbour. Then, go out on October 19 and vote accordingly.

~ Andrew

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If You Keep Doing What You’re Doing

It has been said that the definition if insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I prefer, “If you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you get”. Even a child understands that in order to get a different result you have to try something different. If you don’t like what Mom has to say what do you do? You go and ask your Dad, of course. Can’t get your friend to steal you that cookie? Get your little brother to do it. Ask enough of your friends to lick the flagpole in the dead of winter and one of them will most certainly do it. But for some reason, when it comes to elections Canadians seem content to let the same thing happen over and over again and then raise their hands in disbelief when they keep getting the same result.

Canadians want change. Hell, even in the last election almost 60% voted for a party that didn’t end up running the country for the next four years. Now, those numbers are even greater with almost 70% of the country ready to vote for a party other than the Conservatives.

But, with our broken first-past-the-post system we’ve got the Conservatives on one side, and everyone else on the other, with those 70% of the votes split among three main parties: Liberal, NDP, and Green. Well, guess what? An entirely plausible scenario will see the Conservatives win a minority government with their piddly 31or 32% support.

So, people are trying to organize voters into a strategic collective, the biggest being LeadNow / Vote Together, a popular one called Strategic Voting, and my personal favourite, Anyone But Harper. These sites will tell you who to throw your support behind to upset the Conservative candidate and help guarantee a change in government.

I think this is a stand-up idea. The parties aren’t cooperating and forming a coalition so let’s force their hands. In order to make the system work, you have to work the system.

Many people are on board with this but for those who aren’t I am hearing a lot of, “Vote for what you believe in”, “Vote with your conscience”, or probably the worst one I’ve heard so far, “Vote with your heart”. Ugh. Give me a break.

Whether your beliefs, your conscience, or your heart, if you’re voting for any of these reasons you may feel better about it, but in the majority of cases you’re not changing anything. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Thanks to the Conservatives your party of choice doesn’t even get the $1.25 or $2.50 or whatever it used to be.

This is the principle reason voter turnout has been so low over the past few years. Only that’s changing now because people are realizing that if they vote together they can implement change. Sure, it’s not ideal, but if you keep doing what you’re doing…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pxG4yd8U3U]

Then there’s an oft-quoted phrase, “People get the government they deserve.” Only we don’t deserve this. A clear majority has spoken and yet none of that matters. Why? Because our system is broken. Well, guess what? All three major parties trying to unseat the Conservatives have come forth saying that if they get into power they’ll introduce electoral reform. Can you imagine that? Finally, a system where if you cast a vote it will mean something.

Now, my friend Jim wrote a good post on not voting at all and how that should be a viable option for certain individuals or groups. He made great points but I’m going to counter with this, and it’s a little more hopeful outlook: incremental change is better than no change at all (or a violent revolution).

Doing nothing helps maintain the status quo. Even if it means voting against your interests I am proposing that you vote for incremental change and take the first step toward freedom. It reminds me of something that my dad said to me one day when I was complaining about some first world problem. He said, “Play by the rules until you’re in a position to change them. But when you are, you’d better well change them.”

Mary Angelou said something similar: “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”

Too many of us just accept the lot we’re handed and too many of us just sit on Facebook and complain about it. Face it, the game is rigged. Millions are disenfranchised and the only thing we know for sure is that if we stay on this course it is not going to get better. Again, short of taking arms and rising up, which I hope not will not be necessary, what options are there?

Boil the frog.

You could just toss the frog in the pot and be done with it (the revolution option). It’s messy but sends a statement to all the other frogs. I think it breeds more hatred between frogs and frog boilers that will not abate for generations. Plus, the frog will likely realize what’s going on and jump out. Then you’ve just got one really pissed off frog and a pot of boiling water that he’s pissed in (you can’t even use it for tea!)

Or, you could put the frog in cold water and turn the dial up, bit-by-bit. It takes longer, but in the end you’ve still met your objective and you’ve done it gradually and without any nasty scars and burns. The frog just dies, quietly, peacefully, thinking it’s just having a nice warm soak after a hard day’s work catching flies and whatnot.

The best way to turn this country around and start the process of change is to make an incremental one right now. We’re never going to have a better chance than October 19, so on voting day cast a ballot and turn that dial up a notch. If we have to, in the next election, turn it up again. And so on. It won’t take as long as you think. In fact, with as much support as there is for electoral reform, your chances are good that in the election after this one you will get to cast the vote you want and have it count as well. For this election at least, you’re going to have to vote with that end goal in mind.

Sacrifice a bit of what you believe in now for a chance to get what you deserve some time soon.

So, sorry Green supporters. Voting Green will make you feel better, but it won’t change a damn thing. You’re electing one member of parliament. That’s it. You have 5% of the vote nationally though, so why not put it to some use? With a ranked ballot or proportional representation, you stand a chance of having way more than one MP next time around. Small price to pay now considering what you have to gain because if you keep doing what you’re doing…

For the Liberal or NDP supporters, the math is easy. If the other party is ahead in your riding then vote for them (assuming you’re not leading. If that’s the case then everyone vote for them anyway just to make it a sure thing). Otherwise, if you keep doing what you’re doing…

To all the Conservative voters out there I only have one thing to say. You’re telling almost 70% of the country that they don’t matter. You’re telling us that the status quo is the way to go. At best, you’re telling us that you think that because you’ll be okay that we’ll be okay too. At worst, you’re telling us that you don’t give a shit if we’ll be okay at all. To you, I’m asking you with as much conviction as I can muster, please stop doing what you’re doing. Put your social conscience ahead of your tax breaks. Show us that you’re true Canadians.

~ Andrew

(Note: the views expressed here are my own and are in no way affiliated with any other individual or organisation)

Intolerance, Hatred, and Fear

Here we are just two weeks from the election and the Conservatives are pulling ahead. Why? Intolerance, hatred, and fear (also: racism, bigotry, ignorance, prejudice, and xenophobia).

Less than a month ago Stephen Harper hired Lynton Crosby (possibly illegally). Lynton is a political strategist known for identifying “wedge issues” and getting politicians to leverage them  on the road to electoral success. Since he was hired we have heard about:

  • “Old stock” Canadians
  • Niqabs
  • Barbaric cultural practices

And guess what? It’s been working. The message is clear: you should be afraid. Fear those who have different skin colour. Fear those who worship differently that you; whose faith you don’t understand. Fear those from different parts of the world. Fear those that are new.

Old Stock Canadians

You know, those who have been in Canada since the beginning. No, not the First Nations. Pay no attention to them. Not even 1000+ missing or murdered aboriginal women are worth talking about. What Stephen Harper means by that is old, rich white people.


There has been lots of talk about these. So much that it’s erupted into a maelstrom that no one could have predicted. Well, Lynton did. A dozen or so women a year request to be allowed to wear the niqab at the citizenship ceremony. There’s an easy solution to this that was looking the Conservatives in the face, but they chose a different tactic.

Barbaric Cultural Practices

There’s already a law passed (in November 2014) that makes certain cultural acts illegal (child, forced, or polygamous marriages and gender-based family violence). More illegal? I thought Canada’s laws on these sorts of things were already pretty clear. Now we need an entirely separate law just to highlight our collective displeasure of these things? More laws are the answer? Seriously? Further to that, if the Conservatives get elected they’ll staff a tip line where Canadians can call in if they see any barbaric cultural practices taking place.

The message is clear: you should be afraid.

You should fear those from afar who will stop at nothing to get into Canada, marry off their daughters, steal your culture, and bomb your church.

Intolerance, hatred, and fear. If you’re a Conservative politician these are your most valuable tools. Lynton Crosby knows it, Stephen Harper knows it, and according to the latest polls a large number of Canadian voters have been caught up in it. Hook, line, and sinker.

If you’re a Conservative voter, at best, you’re accepting of the use of these tools as electoral tactics. At worst, well, you find fear mongering to be an admirable quality instead of something that should be eliminated from this election, every one after that, and from our society as a whole.

If you even have the slightest inclination toward racism, bigotry, ignorance, prejudice, or xenophobia Stephen Harper is playing to your fears and wants you to know that the only protection around is the Conservative Party of Canada.

Here’s the truth:

  • The only “old stock” Canadians are the First Nations. 
  • There is a perfectly reasonable solution for the Niqab at citizenship ceremonies. 
  • There are already laws in place for the crime of practicing of something culturally barbaric. 

It’s all just a distraction to keep you from realizing that you have nothing to fear and you really don’t need Stephen Harper at all.


Helpful Links:

~ Andrew
(Note: the views expressed here are my own and are in no way affiliated with any other individual or organisation)

What are YOU voting for?

It’s election time here in Canada – the longest campaign in 90-something years at a whopping 11 weeks (compared to 5 from 2011). The three major parties are fighting tooth and nail for your votes in what promises to be a three horse race with a photo finish. The rhetoric is as thick as pea soup and the party leaders are shopping around their policies to anyone of voting age who will listen.

But, what if I were to tell you that none of that matters?

Let me clarify. Policies matter but there are a couple other (really important) items that we should square away before we go nitpicking over taxes and spending and other such things.

Here’s our friend The Policy:

The problem is that policies aren’t created in a vacuum. There is ‘stuff’ that comes along with it. A couple layers of really important stuff. Stuff that, if you put policies first tends to get put at risk. It’s a delicate balance that is difficult to maintain .

So, what we end up with is something that looks like this:

Hey, if the top layers crumble at
least we have our policies, right?

It gets worse though. What we actually end up with is something that looks like this:

Once this starts to tip, the whole
mess comes tumbling down.

Either way, it’s a precarious state. So by only looking at the policy part of the picture, what are you sacrificing? What’s at risk because you’re focused on a different part of the triangle?

Two things:

  1. Rights & Freedoms
  2. Democracy
Rights and freedoms are found in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If you are Canadian you are entitled to them. Full stop. They are not up for debate or vote. The Charter is upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. In a nutshell, these fine folks make sure our lawmakers and justice system stays fair and equitable. I’ve represented this as a layer called “Constitution”:
The U.S. has one of these too. They’re pretty serious
about it, as anyone with one should be

Democracy is all the wonderful stuff that happens in a free society. In Canada at the federal level, it involves Parliament (the House of Commons) and the Senate (the Upper Chamber, a.k.a. the house of “sober second thought”). Members of Parliment (MPs) are elected and Senators are appointed by the Prime Minister. These are all the fine folks who create or change laws and draw up all those wonderful policies everyone is such a fan of. I’ve represented this as a layer called “Government”:

Democracy happens here
(or at least it’s supposed to)

These two items are the very important layers on which policies are built, not the other way around.

This is how things shape up; the playing field for the most important game you’re ever going to play:
Why can’t we just have a nice right-side-up
triangle? Is that too much to ask?

So before you vote you should take a long, hard look at if everyone is on level footing. If one party breaks away and starts playing by a different set of rules, then everything they do afterwards is, in my opinion, not worth a squirt of piss.

Back in 2011 I blogged a lot about the election and I tried to keep a pretty even keel about it all. This time around things are different. Why? Because I’ve seen Canada’s Charter disrespected too many times in the last 9 years to stay quiet any longer. Because I’ve seen our democracy whittled down to nothing. Because our foundation is cracked and our system is broken. Not all of that is the fault of the current government, but the lion’s share of it is. 

So, let’s take a look at the PM and his band of merry Conservatives and see how they have treated the bottom two layers of that triangle – the important layers – the foundation of our free and democratic society.


Not a very rosy picture. It doesn’t take long to notice that Mr. Harper and his MPs don’t exactly have a healthy respect for our constitution.

Grade: FAIL

Government / Democracy:

  • The only Prime Minister to ever be found in contempt of Parliament
  • Two separate Conservative convictions for improper election spending (2006 & 2008)
  • Conservative conviction for election tampering in 2011

One has to wonder what they have in store for 2015? 

This would be a good time to pull out a quote from Stephen Harper himself. He said this of Liberal leader Jean Chrétien in the wake of the sponsorship scandal:

“He is the leader and a leader is responsible for the actions of the people he leads.”

Wow. If we put that statement to the test against the laundry list of crimes against democracy and Charter violations Mr. Harper has some explaining to do. The Conservatives have three separate convictions for crimes against our democratic system and Harper himself was found guilty of contempt of parliament. Now that’s what I call leadership! 

But it gets even better:

  • The “fair” elections act. This gem actually makes it harder for people to vote and ties the hands of Elections Canada (oh, and takes polling station volunteer selection out of their hands altogether) 
  • Lack of meaningful debate and expert testimony for Bill C-51
  • Massive omnibus bills – lumping in completely unrelated legislation in together. Two, in particular, were several hundred pages and involved over 100 different pieces of legislation 
  • Oh, let’s not forget about the misuse and abuse of the Senate
All of the above, and then some are wonderfully summed up by The Tyee in these two articles: 

Grade: FAIL

Can we just call the last 9 years a momentary lapse of reason? 

Remember, all of the above should be considered before we even talk about a single policy. Quite frankly, a government that behaves this way is an insult to democracy and anyone who actually votes for it might as well look their children in the eye and say, “It’s okay to be a bully so long as you get what you want in the end.” 

Wake up! The ends do not justify the means. 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojf18wT_Xtk]
Is it only a dream that there’ll be no more turning away?

There is good news, though. If enough people vote together we can at least start rebuilding our democracy from a solid foundation. Elect a government that supports and encourages a strong, hard working democracy and it will implement policies that benefit Canada as a whole. Targeted policies implemented on top of a false democracy only benefit a privileged few. Maybe you’re okay with that? I am not. I care too much about my neighbour to spit on his shoes and then lie right to his face and tell him it’s raining. 

Don’t spit on your neighbours shoes. It’s a really shitty thing to do and it’s very un-Canadian. 

This time around, make better choices. Me? I’m voting for the candidate in my riding with the best chance of beating the Conservative. Many others are doing this as well and there’s a great organization out there that can help you make the right choice. Together we can change Canada for the better.

Most of all, be careful. It’s dangerous out there:

Helpful links:

~ Andrew 
(Note: the views expressed here are my own and are in no way affiliated with any other individual or organisation)