13 October 2008

Canadian Election 2008

Just like with hockey, I don't follow much of the regular season play of politics, but I do like to tune in for the playoffs, er, the elections.

I've been watching the debates and a lot of the news since I've spent most of the last 4 weeks on the couch rocking a baby to sleep. Political debates are great background noise because there's a good variety of human voices, which the baby likes, and if you miss 5 minutes here and there it's not like there will be any holes in your understanding of the plot (which makes Lost a bad babysitting choice).

Here's my take on the whole affair:

Green Party
Leader: Elizabeth May. It would be cool to have a female Prime Minister, but novelty is not a good reason to elect someone. I'm sure she'd do an ok job of running the country, but we'll never know. 
Platform: 'We have a plan that will improve health care, save the environment, create jobs, lower tuition fees, reduce traffic, boost the economy, save the polar bears, re-stock the fisheries, solve native land disputes, fund the arts, make old people happy, improve immigration problems, cut taxes, end poverty, improve transit, solve third-world suffering, stop war, and raise everyone's standard of living. And everyone gets a pony.'
Synopsis: Deep down inside everyone knows that if we don't focus primarily on the environment that sometime in the next 5 or 200 years the global standard of living will be reduced to that of moss-eating cavemen. (sidenote: this would actually be a big imrovement for most of the world's population so long as the moss was not laced with dysentry).  
Unfortuanetly for the Green Party, for every idealistic 20-something that is seriously concerned about the future, there are probably three baby-boomers who would personally club a baby seal to make sure that the value of their mutual fund portfolio doesn't tank during their impending retirement. Guess who votes?

Leader: Jack Layton. He's good-looking and charismatic in an Indiana Jones kind of way. If he were running for a different party, he'd probably be Prime Minister by now.
Platform: 'We have to fight to defend the average Canadian family. We need to steal from the rich, and give to the poor! If we make the big corporations pay more taxes, then we can create jobs for everyone. Every hard-working man and woman deserves to have a job. Those evil companies keep laying people off, but they derserve to have a job. We'll make them give you a job. And we'll make minimum wage $15 an hour, because decent hard-working people deserve a break! 
You don't need to vote Green, because we care about the environment, too. And we speak French. Give us a chance to make a difference. It's my turn to be leader. Everyone should get a turn. Let me have a turn. Won't someone please give us a chance?'
Synopsis: The libertarian/communist in me wants to believe that better social policies would benefit everyone, and that liberal education makes people better citizens, and that giving more money to the arts would make the world a better place overall. But I just can't listen to the NPD without hearing: "we want to take all your money and give it away to someone less fortunate." In short: fuck that. The NDP could fund the arts all they want and they'd still make me pay for my son's piano lessons because I make more than $27 750 a year.

Liberal Party
Leader: Stephan Dion. Kind of wimpy and annoying, probably often confused overseas with Celine Dion. I always get the feeling he's only the party leader until mom and dad get back from vacation. Then he has to stop playing games and finish his math homework.
Platform: 'We won't say anything bad about the Bloc Quebecois because we don't want to piss of any french people. The Green Party is stinky, the NDP are yucky, and the Conservatives are evil, evil George Bush-likers, yucky, double-bad. The Liberal Party is the only choice you have. Vote for us because the others are all boogie monster spooky scary... Please give us our jobs back, you know you want to. Stephen Harper will take an American approach and ruin us all. Stephen Harper personally caused the stock market crash, just because he's evil and wants to make your life bad. We even picked red as our party colour so that you'd feel more patriotic when you vote for us.'
Synopsis: Do Canadian's really believe that in a few short years the Liberal Party has cleaned themselves up and straightened out? Does anyone take the Liberals seriously when all they really have to offer is a lot of fear-mongering about the other guys? 
We probably should support a carbon economy, and putting money into new green tech innovation will undoubtedly help Canada's economy and the environment. There's a lot of money to be made in solving our problems here. But hearing the Liberals say they're going to create new taxes but this time it will be a good thing, is like hearing your alcoholic uncle say "so what if I had my license suspended? I'm not drunk, I'm fine. Get it."

Bloc Quebecois
Leader: That other French guy, Gilles Duceppe. Wasn't he in that James Bond movie? You know the one with the motor boats and the laser? What ever, never mind.
Platform: French. 
Synopsis: I don't know anything about them. I don't think there are any French Separtists running in my riding, here in downtown Toronto. So it doesn't matter what I know, I couldn't help them anyway. I won't vote for the First Peoples National Party either. I'm just not native or french enough. Do they need their own party? Probably. But are they ever going to get national support? Note: branding your political party on an ethnicity probably won't get you all the way to the top in the most multi-cultural country in earth's history. Unless you and your people spread out to win all the ridings. Which, ironically, is the opposite of sticking together to keep your ethnicity separate.  

Conservative Party
Leader: Stephen Harper, the current Prime Minister. He's calm and confident and unexciting. Like a school principle. Says here on his resume he's run a country before with no major problems.
Platform: 'The Liberals are no better organised than a school bus full of cats. Seriously, who else are you going to vote for? The hippies? No I meant the NPD. Anyways, we called this election because we can't get a damn thing done with all these NPD and Liberals running around in the House of Commons knocking over our papers and spilling water in our brief cases. Get these monkeys out of our hair for a few years so we can get on with business.' 
Synopsis:  I think 'lower my taxes' is a pretty strong sentiment, especially after they've been doing exactly that for the last 2 years or so. Not a huge amount, really, but 13% sales tax is still better than 15%. If I am ever able to pay off enough of my student debt and mortgage that I can contribute the maximum amount to my RRSP, then I'll be really happy to save an extra $75 a year or so by maxing out my Tax Free Savings Account. Alright! Hey everyone, hotdogs for lunch and I'm buying! No, wait, there are still Liberals in Provincial government sticking health care fees up my ass and downshifting extra costs onto my city's broke government. At least every time they jack up the cost of my transit pass I can write it off. 

In the end there'll probably only be a minor shuffling of seats with no major change. Historically there have been majority governments with only 38.5% of the popular vote, and there have also been minority governments with more than that. It's just a matter of how the votes are spread out in our first-past-the-post system: you can win if almost everyone hates you as long as you get one more vote than the next candidate. Who ever's team has the most winning candidates get's to be the Prime Minister. Until I can prove that dictatorship is really the way to go, this is as good a system as any.

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