On May 2, 2011, Canada voted. I was nervous, I was hopeful, I was trying to be optimistic about the outcome, and I was not prepared for the results.
As the kids say, “I’m so so stoked right now” that the NDP is the official Opposition. Canada has never seen what the NDP can do when given both the power and responsibility to be the main (not fringe) voice of dissent and contrary opinion in Parliament. A party that has often largely been ignored in the past has been granted an opportunity to define itself.
I am stoked for Elizabeth May and the Green Party too. History will be made when Parliament resumes and the Green Party has a representative in the House of Commons for the first time. May will have her work on Parliament Hill cut out for her. It’s work she’s been chasing for years and I say good for her for finally getting a crack at it.
In a weird way, I am a little bit stoked that the Liberals took such a drubbing. As a person, Michael Ignatieff is intelligent and educated and I believe he truly does care for Canada. I didn’t mind the Liberals the last time they governed either (though I was a teenager then so I’m not sure that says much). But after three years of reading my Maclean’s cover to cover and following Canadian politics online, I still had no idea what the Liberal Party, under Iggy, really stood for. Unless Maclean’s simply sucks at their Canadian politics coverage (which I will never believe), it seems to me that the Liberal party did not have a cohesive and consistent message that was memorable or vital to Canadians. A few good ideas? Yes. But a few good ideas do not a political platform make. You can blame many things for the situation the Liberals now find themselves in–the Conservative’s ceaseless character assassination of Ignatieff, a split leftist vote between the NDP and Liberal candidates that paved the way for a Conservative win, voter apathy–but at the end of the day the party just seemed lost to me. Not at all the “natural governing party” the Liberals claimed to be. Obviously they need a few years to get their poop in a pile and now they’ve got it.
I am also giving myself a little high five because the candidate I voted for won and will be representing me and my riding in Ottawa. Congratulations to me.
Now for the nausea.
For the next four and a half years, Canada will be governed by a Conservative majority. Since I align my personal beliefs more towards the political left, the policies of this government will no doubt grate against my socialist sensibilities. Even with an NDP Opposition, a majority gives the Conservatives carte blanche to pass pretty much any bill they like and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
But that’s democracy. Canada voted (well, 60% of us) and apparently the will of Canadians is a Conservative majority. Democracy means you don’t always get your way. Of course, democracy is more fun for me when I get my way, and people I disagree with don’t get theirs, but that’s not how it worked out this time. If I wanted my own way all the time I would need to become Queen of my own tiny isle, and I’m not prepared to do that right now. What really sticks in my craw about this election outcome is that the first government ever to be found in contempt of Parliament is rewarded with a majority. Clearly Canadians are not paying attention. Policy schmolicy. No matter where your beliefs fall on the political spectrum, you deserve a government that will not lie to Canada’s elected representatives.
Unless, of course, you vote for a party knowing full well they were found to be in contempt of Parliament and you just don’t care. Or, if you don’t vote at all. Then, I guess, you get the government you deserve.
I’m disappointed. Being an artist and a woman and a young single person (no middle class family benefits for me right now) who cares about social justice, I don’t think there’s anything in that blue bag for me. I love Canada and I love what it has traditionally stood for. I don’t want these things to disappear.
I am trying to be optimistic. Perhaps Harper’s Conservatives have merely been suffering from an inferiority complex and now that they have the majority they claimed they needed to govern effectively they will, in fact, govern effectively. I can only hope that now that the threat of a snap election is no longer looming they will consider the needs of all Canadians, even artsy fartsy bleeding hearts like me, and not just their traditional demographic.
Or perhaps things will get so incredibly terrible that by 2015 the 40% of eligible Canadian voters who didn’t vote this year will be prompted to finally get off their asses and participate in their country’s democracy. Or maybe I’ll move to my own tiny isle.
At any rate, Layton’s looking spunky these days, I’m sure Harper isn’t actually an evil robot, and hope springs eternal. We might be okay after all. We’ll see.