Emotional Hangover: The Morning After

A Conservative majority was elected in with barely 60% of the country’s registered voters caring enough to do their civic duty.
For all you cynics out there who bitch about governments then don’t vote, claiming “it doesn’t work anyhow,” you get the government you deserve: A government that legislates as it sees fit because too many of its residents are more pleased to whine and moan about policies than get involved.
It’s devastating.
I don’t know what I’m more angry about today — that some 40% of registered voters never showed up, never mind the eligible asshats who’ve never bothered to register — OR the fact that some ridings had, say, 70+% of residents voting for several LEFT-wing candidates, but because none could amass a sizable lead, a Conservative could win with less than 30%.
Our system is broken. It’s a fucking joke.
I’m forced to strategically cast a YES/NO vote because I’m more concerned with end-numbers and whose figurehead will get into power as our Prime Minister, because Canadians vote for one Member of Parliament for their little pocket of the world, a “riding.” The dude(tte) who wins the “riding” goes to Ottawa and represents that town/city/region, and their “seat” is counted into a total, and whomever’s party wins the most “seats” out of the 308 available then forms the ruling government. We don’t vote for a leader, just our local MP.
Minority/majority breaking point is at 155 seats. The Conservatives didn’t just win, they spanked the Left.
With 167 right-wing seats, there’s a whopping 26-vote lead over the 141-seat TOTAL opposition. That’s four political parties that somehow have to work together and still have about a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding at defeating measures that are likely to throw the Canadian social safety net’s sanctity into question.
I expected the Conservatives to win, and secretly wouldn’t have minded it. I didn’t want a majority. I wanted a weak minority, mostly because I do fear messing much with the national financial mix in a world where the global economy has the stability of hitching a unicycle ride with a drunk.
I’m not a fan of extremism in any form.
I was a profoundly religious child who grew up with bad experiences in the Catholic church, I’ve seen both sides of the financial coin from a first-person-life point of view, have paid for my own education and worked my way through school, have seen what abuse and addiction and crime can do to families, and how long even smart, capable people can be unemployed in hard times. My politics are absolutely shaped by my experience, but as sympathetic as I am to the left, I favour a more centrist view. Too bad that party got smoked like Bob Marley on a fatty last night.
I’m scared of a majority government that stands unsympathetic to most of the issues I hold dear, with a party run by a man who has shown tones of wishing autocracy was doable in Canada, and who is profoundly religious, and who I consider one of the SHREWDEST political tacticians Canada has ever seen.
I’ve said over the years that Harper was like a man on a tight-rope who understands to his very core what the advantage of balance was when faced with a minority government. Has he pushed his limits in the past? Yes, but not often.
Will he seek that balance now that he has nearly a 10% lead over the combined opposition? Heh. Insert cynical chuckle here.
I find it hard to believe a man who tried to rename the country’s government from “The Government of Canada” to the “Harper Government” is likely to squelch any ambitions now that he’s been handed a broad mandate.
I’d love to be wrong.
So, today I’m stuck here with this pretty sullen state of mind as I realize this is the shape of the government until October, 2015. Someone last night said “Cheer up, the Americans suffered 8 years with Bush and got Obama!” I countered with, “Yeah. We’ve suffered 7 years under Harper to get 4.5 more years of Harper. Great.”
Canada’s system is broken on several levels.
Our citizens, with their apathy and refusal to get involved, are a mockery of democracy. You people don’t even deserve to vote. You don’t deserve the advantages of a socialist nation if you refuse to participate in its operation. And that’s what you’re going to get, a lack of social systems, more prisons, and more defense spending, because that’s the platform you elected. You embraced the status quo by choosing to have NO vote.
So, you get what you apathetically chose, Canada.
My parents used to take me along on the odd election day. They said, this is what you do when you live in democracy, you vote. They taught me civic responsibility. Have you taught your kids? Or are you teaching them cynicism and that you have zero power to change the world? Are you okay with that? Are you okay with your friends raising kids that way?
People often say “Oh, we have no real power anyhow.”
Yes, you do. If you, and enough like-minded people, all believe and fight for something, you can get it. Sometimes it’s as easy as putting check-marks on paper.
It’s called voting. It’s powerful. It shapes laws that define everything from how much tax is on your bottle of wine tonight to whether your kid can afford university or whether your spouse will be struggling to pay medical bills after your death like Americans do, or just mourning you like Canadians usually do.
So, way to fuck that one up, you 40% who didn’t show up, and the countless others who’ve just never registered.
The take away I’m hoping to see grow into something bigger?

  • Justin Trudeau won his riding, and as much as he’s been a bit of an idiot in the past, the Liberal party is too important to his family’s legacy for him not to get a reality-check slap in the face and grow up FAST as far as developing a political acumen goes. He’s his father’s son, and I can’t see him not reading this election correctly and growing very quickly from the experience. If anyone can resurrect some of Canada’s dream for its left-of-centre roots, it’s a Trudeau–but the kid has a lot of savvying-up to do. (The whole family in fur coats on a Christmas card. Really, Justin? Sable farmers are a big electoral backer? Slick.)
  • The NDP are more likely to continue in an idealistic point of view, and I think the country needs that with all the crap going on in the world today, and given more time to campaign, they might have turned this election into something for the history books. They don’t have the economic know-how to get this country through tough financial times YET, but they have 4.5 years to really strap on those big-boy pants and get sound policies that embrace reality rather that fairytale finance.
  • A lot of people I see who are smart, motivated, and driven are now wanting to get involved politically, because it’s clearly not happening with the people we’ve got.
  • The chance of Canada’s political system melding down into fewer politics are stronger this morning than they’ve ever been. While I loathe the one-or-the-other system in the United States, the alternative in Canada hasn’t exactly floated my boat either. Maybe less is more in a frustrating political time like this.

This morning, I’m trying not to conjure my inner-Darth Vader and give in to the Dark Side, but it’s really hard to pretend to have optimism about Canada’s future.
Four and a half years… that’s a long-ass time, friends. That’s a big majority.
We need more anger in Canada. The passive-aggressive bend-over-and-take-it nature that seems to come with a Canadian passport really shows up come election time, and it’s tired and old.
We should expect more. We’re Canada, for fuck’s sake.
If YOU care, then you have 4.5 years to make your compatriots care.
No vote is a vote for the status quo.
You wanted it? You got it. Enjoy your government.
Me, I’m just getting started.

4 thoughts on “Emotional Hangover: The Morning After

  1. Tia Sparkles Singh

    Thanks Steff, I’m not eligible to vote yet and I learned a lot about Canadian politics from your post. Not clued in enough to leave an intelligent response to it but wanted to say thanks all the same. Eye opening. Cheers! Tia

  2. Rob Jones

    I feel very surprised and angry about the results of this election. I don’t think that we as a nation now have a right to brag about what a strong social safety net we have. I don’t think it’s now appropriate to trumpet about how dear we hold Canadian culture when we’ve voted in a party and a leader who seeks to Americanize us. I feel like we are a nation of frightened hypocrites.
    I hope I feel better tomorrow.

  3. Lauren K.

    Did our broken system lead to voter apathy or did our apathy (and acceptance of the status quo) lead to our broken system? Either way, this chicken and egg situation has led to a Conservative majority and an NDP opposition. I am scared of unchecked power for the Conservatives, though I am excited to see what this will mean for the NDP. I like their moxie.
    I am trying to make myself feel better by nurturing a (probably very naive) hope that now that the Conservatives do not have to be afraid of a no confidence vote or an upcoming election, they can make policy decisions based on what is best for all of Canada, and not just pander to the demographic they think will vote for them.
    Or maybe, that things will get so abysmally bad over the next few years that the apathetic 40% will wake up a bit for 2015. Sigh. I need a hug.
    Great post, too bad it’s not great news.

  4. nancy aka moneycoach

    In my work as a money coach, my first job is typically to let folks express their anxiety, then help to calm it. Only as they regain a sense of confidence that they’ll “be OK” (sometimes including letting go of embarrassment about things like debt), can they the start realistic assessments of their situation, and make plans to create what they want for themselves. THEN, we can seriously start the conversation about money being used for social good (eg. buying organic, buying local, thinking through consumption) rather than simply to meet real or perceived immediate needs.
    So when the world is full of very real financial instability (whole BANKS and COUNTRIES are truly on the brink) I think most folks’ survival instinct (reptilian core or whatever) kicks in strongly and the biggest thing on their mind is “how can I keep my job and keep my house and get my kids through school”. This trumps even important, but more abstract, things like ideas about democracy and inappropriate uses of our institutions.
    The Conservatives are nothing but “Protect the Economy” (even if the rest of us understand “even at the cost of things like the environment” or “even at the cost of the marginalized”) and that beat the pants off any other more abstract messages (like ethics, or working together for the common good).
    The result? A whopping majority. Would more voters have changed that result? I doubt it – I’m betting most folks who didn’t vote are comfortable with how things have been, and had they voted may have further increased that majority.
    However, as things settle down, and folks regain their equilibrium, I fully expect that on the macro level, just like my micro individual-money-coaching level, our attention will be freed up again to think more broadly than simply “who is most likely to ensure I have a job”.
    By then havoc may, or may not, have been wreaked. Harper is shrewd. He will want to position the Conservatives as the new “natural” party of Canada. He well knows that he has some scope, but not a lot, to change.
    Meanwhile, the best things the likes of you and me can do is what you are doing – engage folks in questions. Support independent media. Convince, persuade of the importance of Big Ideas that far outpace simple “what’s in it for me” politics.

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