Wednesday, January 18, 2006

X Marks the Ballot

You would have to be living under a rock here in Canada if you did not know there was an election afoot. I am no political pundit, but I have one vote that I need to cast. In Canada, we have a Parlimentary system of Government. In The Complete Moron's Guide to Canadian Politics, this means one votes for a local Member of Parliament, who represents the interests of a particular party. The leader of the party who wins the most seats in Parliament, becomes the leader of the country. Although the Canadian ballot is inanely simple ( A 4 X 5 piece of paper, with roughtly 4 names, and one X to mark), my choice is not. I've seen American ballots before, and I now understand why there is all this fuss about chads and such.

I need to vote next Monday, and I am still an undecided voter. This will not please Eric, but I will explain more as I go. On the whole, I am completely unengaged with the political process. I have, in all sorts of ways, have been convinced that the political process is ineffectual, incompetant and flawed on so many levels. This could be my one excuse not to vote. But, I remind myself that it was not that long ago that Nelly McLung and a host of other brave ladies fought a tough battle to enure that Women were "persons" under the eyes of the law and also human enough to cast a vote. So I will. But for who? Or for What?

In High School Poli Sci class, I was taught that one should vote for their MLA, and not the leader of the party. Our MLA is competant (Andy Scott). I fired off a letter to his office a couple years ago when I recieved a news letter about how much money the feds infused into our local (and piddly) Marina. This newsletter touted how this brings money (via tourist dollars) into the local economy. In my irate letter, I asked how this could possibly matter to me...someone who cannot even afford a boat, let alone the fuel to run it. And then I ranted about how I can't even afford consistent Speech therapy for my kid. I asked my MLA how the marina was supposed to really matter. I got a concerned reply, and I was supposed to follow up with a phone call. Of course I didn't. If I were convinced on one level that my ire would really make a difference, I would have. And, yes I know that my apathy, and the apathy of many others like me, help contribute to the ineffectual political system that we share. That is why I vote.

So, if I were only to focus locally, sure, I'd have no problem in voting Liberal. But. BUT BUT BUT. There are many Buts. The Liberal Party of Canada, for those of you under rocks, or who don't listen to the CBC, have recently been embroiled in corruption scandal. Through some creative accounting, federal money, meant to promote Federalism in Quebec (do I need to remind anyone that yes, Quebec still has a strong separatist movement) ended back in the purse of the Liberal party. Baaaaaad. And an inordinate and wasteful amount of money was used to purchase flags and Oh Canada! Eh! billboards. (And I am oversimplifying the problem, also running the risk of being inprecise). Anyway. The Liberal party has dominated Federal politics since 1993. And they have done a few nice things for me. Two recent policical moves come to mind - not agreeing to participate in Iraq, and legalizing same sex unions. At the same time, I think that the Liberal party needs to reinvent itself and assure us that the financial shenanigans of the Chretien cabinet were an unfortunate blip on the radar.

When it comes to deciding the leader of my country I sometimes, use the the Hug factor. Yes folks - despite being totally subjective and completely irrelavent in most political circles, the leader who I imagine that can give the best hug might just may get my vote. Paul Martin's hug would most likely be brief, weak and stiff.

On the other hand, I find Stephen Harper a frightening choice. If he ends up being leader of Canada...gads I even hate to imagine it. (Yet I fear this is on the horizon). I really really really don't want this party to win a majority. If you believe the attack ads, Harper participated in a U.S Conservative think-tank and claimed Bush's agenda was a "light to the world" or something. Scary. He makes my skin crawl when I listen to him. And yes, that palpability and affectivity does come factor in to my decision making process.
Hug factor: Cold and calculated. He'd probably even cop a feel.

I like Jack Layton (leader of the NDP - New Democratic Party). He has stooped to using attack ads, and finger pointing in debate, which does not impress me, but on the whole, I have paid attention to his work in the House of Commons, and I like his style. I've watched the debates, listened to our local candidates and the NDP's political rhetoric speaks to me. And I am the one that they need to pay attention - being undecided and all...He'd probably offer a genuine hug. A nice squeeze. Even a few pats on the back for good measure. He probably also smells like Old Spice.

BUT....

The NDP member in my riding is relatively unheard of. I live in a military community, and let's face it, a vast majority don't pay much attention to us lefty bleeding hearts. Harper was in the region last week, promising sweet deals for compensation to vets who report to have suffered illness from exposure to Agent Orange in the 60's. And with a public inquiry barely off the ground, this is a promise that some in my community are willing to risk.

Do I vote ideologically and ideally? For the party I most identify with? For the guy I'd most like to hug? Or, do I vote Strategically - to keep in the status quo, and prevent the Conservatives from sweeping a majority. How is this vote of mine going to matter?

Is it supposed to be this complicated?

8 comments:

hotboy said...

Personally, when in doubt, I try to vote on the left, but it's hard sometimes to see where that is! But it is difficult sometimes to choose. Hotboy

robmcj said...

Happy New Year Heather, and thanks for the name. A Beer Named Pam.

I like this template a lot more than the last one. I'm superficial that way.

MC Etcher said...

Hug factor! I love it!

Stephen (aka Q) said...

I have, in all sorts of ways, have been convinced that the political process is ineffectual, incompetant and flawed on so many levels..

As Winston Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government … except for all the others."

If I judge by what you've written, I think you should vote Liberal. (And I'm not being partisan here — I don't intend to vote Liberal in my riding.)

You don't want the Liberals to form another government, because the rot has set in; but you can set that out of your mind, because the Liberals are definitely not going to win this election. Now your priority is to hold the Conservatives to a minority, so you'll want to vote either Liberal or NDP.

You don't think the NDP candidate in your riding stands a chance, and in general you feel positively toward the Liberal MP, Andy Scott.

I'm not telling you what to do, I'm just reflecting back what I see in your post.

Eric said...

We need to get porportional representation. That is,if a certain party wins say...10% of the popular vote, then that party gets 10% of the seats in the house of commons. That way, if a person feels strongly about environmental issues, then she could vote for the Green Party. I had no choice but to vote for the Liberals because I am afraid to have the Conservativesin power. Going to Iraq would frighten me.

hotboy said...

Frighten the wits out of me going to Iraq! You couldn't pay me enough. Also , I'm dead old and completely incompetent! Thank God! The eskimos? Suddenly ... what a good deal getting your wages for sitting in a tent all day in the freezing cold with depressing Scottish books to read! Junk the rest. The Real McCoy is alright. Partial, but alright, I think. Hotboy.

Mary P. said...

Our ballots have about ten choices, six of whom nobody's ever heard of...

And we have a Conservative minority. Not such a bad solution. The liberals have held the ball for quite long enough - it's out of such assurity that arises scandel - but a minority will keep the wildest excesses of the conservative platform in check.

It will do! :-)

hotboy said...

Hope the election wasn't too much of a disaster! Hotboy