blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Canada's new start

Canada has refreshed itself and chosen a new government. Mr. Harper and the Conservatives have just been defeated by the popular vote. Last night it was fascinating to watch how the "red wave" of Liberal success swept across the map of this vast country, starting in Atlantic Canada as the first results came in. (Chris didn't see this, being busy teaching "airmanship" to PPL students at the RFC's ground school, but I was glued to the online screen.) Once the results started coming in, it wasn't long before the CBC's team of commentators could predict that Justin Trudeau would be our next Prime Minister, with a majority of seats to his credit. Through the unusually long campaign, this summer and autumn, none of the pundits in the media seem to have thought that would be possible. At times, the three main parties were neck-and-neck in the horse race to Election Day.

As usual, it turned out to be all about personalities, in the end. Mr. Trudeau had the body language of a winner, the others not so much, nor were they as good looking. This is a cynical comment, but I'm afraid such things do count, especially among female voters.


The other thing that counted, though, was that Canadians, male and female alike, have had time, this year, to consider the priorities. Last week, a young woman in Vancouver wrote an open letter to Stephen Harper, which has been shared widely through the social media. It seems to sum up what a majority of people have been thinking lately:
I live in BC with my husband and two little girls. I grew up in Calgary and have many friends and family members there. I’m white and in my early 40s. One of us is a stay at home parent, so we benefit 100% from the direct deposits in lieu of a National Childcare Program. We also benefit 100% from income splitting. And we can afford to take advantage of the increased allowance in our TFSAs.
In other words, we’re the picture of the family who benefits the most from your economic policies.
But we’re not voting Conservative on October 19th. 
You see, you’ve misjudged us. We enjoy our standard of living, we work hard for it but it’s not the only thing that matters to us. 
You assume we don’t care about our First Nations neighbours, or Canadians trying to bring their family members here from war torn countries. That we don’t care about less fortunate Canadians, our veterans, or scientists. You think we don’t mind that to save a few bucks and balance the books we axed the census, dumped decades of research from our libraries, cut funding to CBC, under-spent our budgets in important departments and closed coast guard stations. You figure we no longer want our lakes and rivers protected and that we don’t understand that climate change is a far greater risk to our way of life than Barbaric Cultural Practices.
You’ve underestimated us. 
On October 19, we’re not voting for our bank balance [...]
The general perception is that the Liberals under Trudeau will care about more than our savings, and that this is no bad thing, because, when all's said and done, the country's soul is more important than its material wealth.

I remember, in the autumn of 2000 when I was not yet a Canadian citizen, sitting in a hotel room with my mum, watching the broadcast of Pierre Trudeau's funeral and seeing his son's oration over the coffin. Having studied the play Julius Caesar at school, it struck me that this was a Shakespearian moment, reminiscent of Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears ... I'm guessing that even then that young man was thinking of stepping into his father's shoes one day. I notice that Justin Trudeau used the words My friends,... an awful lot in his acceptance speech last night, as well. He seems to have quite a gift as an actor, but that's to be expected in a successful politician. One thing I do like about him is that he has worked as a teacher in secondary schools; you can't teach without the ability to sympathise with others' needs or be an imaginative listener––exactly what Mr. Harper was incapable of doing. It's promising that we're now going to have a PM with those qualities.

As Bob Rae says in the Globe and Mail,
by the end of the campaign Mr. Trudeau was seen by Canadians as the hardest working, most compassionate, most willing to listen, and most capable of learning.
I didn't vote for the Liberals, by the way. I anticipated that the Liberal candidate in our riding would win anyway (he did). At the door of the polling station I was still in a state of indecision. The NDP candidate was a worthy person too, a young woman who had lost her job by taking part in the contest, but when it came to the point, I voted for the Greens. They happen to be the party whose views most coincide with mine.

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