Monday, August 22, 2011

Jack Layton's message to youth

From his last letter to Canadians:

All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

Wearing orange for Jack

I went home at lunch to change. Apparently the only orange shirt I own is a Valdy & the Hometown band one that my dad got at a concert in the 70s. I think Jack would have approved, though.

RIP Jack Layton

For those of you who haven't yet heard, Jack Layton passed away this morning after a long struggle with cancer.

Jack, you were an inspiration. Leader of the NDP - and, for a short while, of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition - the most friendly and personable politician that Canada has seen in a long time. I always liked that you had a PhD but you never seemed to be part of the academic elite, you could sit down and have a beer with miners or steelworkers. I liked that you and Olivia were such an awesome kick-ass political couple, and I loved that you had such a great sense of humour. I hope that’s one of the things they remember about you, and all the awesome one-liners you had in that last leader’s debate this spring. You were always ready to stick up for the little guy, Jack. I loved your awesome mustache and the fact that you were friends with the guys from 90’s leftist comedy rock band Moxy Fruvous. It’s so tragic that you’ve been taken away just at this time, when you’ve led the orange tide to unprecedented heights.

I don’t care if I look like Halloween, I’m wearing orange and black. Rest in peace, Jack.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain

So. It's been a good run. Over the course of the election, I wrote 100 posts (this is the 101st on this blog). And you know what? For all of our activism, the voter turnout only went up by 1%.

Where do we go from here? I could keep on blogging about Canadian politics but now that we're in a majority government situation, there's not likely to be a vote anytime soon so the title of this blog, at least might be a little irrelevant. Also I would have to start taking stances on policy issues not related to youth and student issues, something I've been trying to avoid doing this election because this blog was intended to appeal to youth voters of all political leanings (as long as they believe in the Westminster System...).

I haven't decided on my blogging future. I may just go back to my old blog on feminist issues. Or I may stop entirely.

As for the future of the country? Economists are pleased, claiming that the Harper majority will stabilize the economy. They talk a lot about how this majority means less uncertainty, but I'm not too sure.

Oh, I'm not all doom and gloom like the folks over at The Galloping Beaver.

There will be no sudden declaration of martial law or dramatic day when CPC stormtroopers surround Stornaway or round up dissidents in the night - there won't need to be. That nice, soft-spoken, Christian economist and hockey dad who just wants to protect us from the bad guys doesn't work that way. There will just be a steady drip of manufactured small crises that lead to privatization, deregulation, and "temporary" security measures, until we get back to the good old days of the robber barons.

I'm not that cynical. But I am nervous.

From my perspective, this majority means more uncertainty, not less. Is certainty measured in whether or not there is a clear leader in the House of Commons? One constant you will always see in a minority government is compromise. The parties compromise in order to run the country, which means things tend to run down the middle of the political spectrum, nothing much drastic happens to get either side too riled up. In other words, outside of Question Period, the country is calm. Change is slow and gentle. But majorities can do things--big things--drastic things. And often, in the past, they have surprised their electorate. I find much uncertainty in not knowing what the Conservatives will choose to do with their majority, and yet knowing that they CAN do whatever they choose.

And even if the economy initially stabilizes due to perceived lack of uncertainty--the economy is largely a psychological beast after all--with the strength of the NDP, union party par excellence, how can there not be striking?

A friend of mine, a recent graduate of business school, thinks the country is going to hell in a handbasket. She's appalled by the Conservative majority, hating their social conservatism, and possibly even more appalled by the strength of the NDP and their left-wing economics. Where is my centrist party? she asks.

Another friend sees the rise of the NDP as a positive development. The polarization of opinion in this country is a good thing, according to her, because the parties can differentiate themselves more. Centrist parties and special interest parties like the Bloc have no place in the current ideological landscape.

Can we reconcile all our opposing views? I don't know anymore. We're moving farther and farther away from the conciliatory style, all about compromise and attempted consensus, championed by early prime ministers like Laurier, and more and more towards the down-and-dirty uber-partisan uncompromising two-party republic along the lines of the US. Some people think this is a good thing, and others want to move to Australia.

But maybe my favourite prediction for the future is this. "Stephen Harper is going to pull a Brian Mulroney," said my Awesome Housemate last night. "He's going to do all this crap, and then everyone will hate him, and at the next election he'll lose everything and the NDP will win."

Oh, my inner instincts are warring between delight at the political games and sadness at what this will mean for the parliamentary system I love so dearly...

Results: My Jaw, It has Dropped

Elizabeth May wins her seat; Gilles Duceppe loses his. Tories a majority, Dippers official op. Bloc completely destroyed and Grits nearly destroyed.

Once again. Who said this election wasn't going to change anything?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ontario, West propping potential Tory majority, Quebec picking NDP even when candidates are horrible

On the NDP rush in Quebec: Bloc Quebecois "past their best before date," Jack Layton the first NDP leader to become Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. "You know what, nobody's born a cabinet minister."

My friend found a small NDP frisbee (probably from the last election) while packing. I wonder if it would be fun to take it and fling it dramatically at people's heads while screaming, "ORANGE CRUSH!"

Now they're predicting a Conservative majority, which Andrew Coyne refers to as "a majority coalition of the West and Ontario," unlike Brian Mulroney's attempt to cobble together a Conservative majority with the West and Quebec.

That NDP candidate who was in Vegas for part of the campaign and doesn't speak French is winning in her Quebec riding!

BC numbers are starting to come in. Peter Mansbridge predicts the NDP might hit triple digit seats.

Thinking up clever titles is just so exhausting

Well-known, long-time Liberal MPs are trailing in their ridings--this is NOT a good election for the Liberals so far. It's great for the NDP, they're doing better than they ever have before, even taking the lead in ridings where their candidates didn't put up much of a campaign. If this isn't a sign that people are voting more for the party than the candidate this election, I don't know what is.

Nearly a third of ridings are far too close to call right now, just to keep everything in perspective.

Once again, the #deadpmelxndesk is the best part of the coverage. @PMJAMacdonald: "As the leader of the Liberal-Conservative Party, I'm a bit ambivalent about these results."