My political leanings vary daily. I read anarchist literature for fun. I’m currently reading Che Guevara’s biography. My religious leanings side heavily with those of the Christian anarchists and liberation theologians and anti-colonial thinkers and practitioners. Since I change daily, I’m usually hovering around Libertarian Municipalism, Socialism, Conscious Capitalism, Marxism and Libertarianism. These are all terms that I barely know what they mean yet seem to describe a way of life that I resonate with and I know I weave in and out of them on any given day. I have somewhat of a political crush on José Figueres Ferrer who disbanded Costa Rica’s military, nationalized banks, guaranteed education to everyone, setup women and blacks to vote and setup a welfare system. All in a year and a half. Scandinavian countries have a particular allure for me especially surrounding education, justice systems and energy. Indigenous relationships with land and towards each other and their struggle of resistance constantly draws me in.
So any hopes I could work up for a federal election in Canada are a pipe dream. I only wish we would disband our military, make education free forever, stop exporting our natural resources and have a more nuanced view towards drugs, immigration, refugees and criminal behavior. Any system that doesn’t put the economy front and center would be preferable so we can stop mainly benefiting our wealthiest and forgetting about our marginalized. Most power should lie in municipal governments and higher level government should be drastically reduced.
All this as a preface to say – voting federally for me feels like picking between Pepsi and Coke to try and make me feel healthier.
Stephen Harper though is too much. From his support of Israel, to blocking free speech, to his ignoring of the First Nation’s communities, to his obsessiveness with money and the economy, to his strong military dependence for an illusion of safety, to his blocking of serious goals of helping slow down climate change and of course Bill C-51 – Harper and his party is one of the worst things to happen to this country. He’s like drinking a 2L of Coke with each meal each day.
Mulcair isn’t off the hook either. I guess he isn’t in power yet, but that hasn’t been great for most people when they get there. His campaign is well executed piggy backing on the disappointment from our current prime minister. Mulcair seems to have taken a very strategic approach to winning, and left behind some values in the process. Promising 250 million to police officers to combat shootings. Shutting up candidates who are critical of Israel as an attempt to bring balance he says. Raising the defence budget by 0.2% of our GDP. He might be more like having a can of Pepsi at each meal. Still not good for you, but not as bad as a 2L.
So one should understand why voting comes so difficult to me, especially if I want to help move Canada in a better political direction. Yes, there is a lesser evil here, but it’s still evil in my mind.
The next place to look is the local candidates and what they would bring to the table, especially at a national conversation level. We’ve got a pretty wide selection this time around. Jason McMichael with NDP. Marilyn Gladu with Conservatives. Dave McPhail with the Liberals. Peter Smith with the Greens. How do you pick which one of these folks you want representing your community at a federal level? I haven’t really figured this out yet. Politically I am probably closes with Peter Smith and the Greens, plus they seem really nice, like the kind of guy you would snuggle up to in front of the fireplace – but it’s just really a symbolic vote – he can’t win. In the provincial election, our NDP candidate lost to the Conservatives by pretty much the same amount of votes that went to Green. So a vote for Green right now is like a vote for the Conservatives. McPhail has a good record here in Sarnia in terms of being involved in business and education. The main problem with him is that he is he is picking up from a pretty failed attempt from the candidate before and doesn’t have enough pull in the rest of the city (namely unions and downtown/arts). Plus his name makes him doomed for failure (pun intended). So to vote for him is also likely a throwaway vote. Mariliyn Gladu is the Conservative candidate and has rallied significant support from her local church community (almost to a point where I wonder if she has much other support at all) and well, she might have the worst video I’ve ever seen for a candidate ever. She has connections in big industry as well. This is also a pretty damning post of her values and what she would actually care and fight for on our behalf. Speaking as a Christian, even still it is pretty repulsive. But she is the Conservative candidate, so a vote for her is a vote to continue everything that is horrible about this country.
This leaves us with Jason McMichael with the NDP. I’ve spent some time with him over the last few months. He’s a highly energetic, motivated, straight-forward and well connected guy. You’d guess he’s slightly ADHD and he might be a bit of a bull in a china shop (but hey, better a bull in Ottawa representing us than our current Conservative politician who is in the running for the least amount of words ever spoken at parliament). He is the only real opposition to the Conservatives since the NDP was the closest competitor in both the last provincial and federal elections. He’s spent time in Ottawa already with his role with the Customs Union and is invested in the downtown community. Politically he would have the most experience. In Sarnia, a vote for him is the best way to remove Harper. So if that is your goal, then that has to be your move.
I read this on a Facebook wall the other day which sums up well how I feel about this (I cannot find it again, so I have no idea who said it)…
“While there is no doubt that an NDP victory would be a step forward, let’s not have any illusions and recognize that the party is not challenging the austerity agenda of neo-liberalism but is in fact supporting it. As an organized labour movement, blind and uncritical allegiance has never served us well in the past and will not do so now. Our task at this time is to continue to organize and fightback against austerity, no matter who may be propagating it. Our task on October 20th is to become the real opposition to whichever party forms government and it has to be on the basis of a clear working class agenda.”
I don’t have any allegiance to Mulcair or the NDP – but it is a step forward from Harper. If we can kill a few less folks overseas, oppress our First Nation’s neighbours a bit less, change our electoral process and slow down our carbon output then I guess that is better for now right? So this year, I’ll be voting NDP, and then I will carry on with my privileged life and continue to stand up for justice and a more equitable system that isn’t saturated in money, greed and a false sense of safety. I recognize that I’m part of the opposition no matter who the government is at this point – but the NDPs will be one step closer in the right direction, the lesser of two evils and slightly easier to oppose when they get into office.