Monday, October 19, 2015

Elections 2015

I wonder if Canadians will be able to sleep come Monday’s October 19th Elections 2015 results… If at all. Canadians who have been promoting ABC (anything but Conservative) have taken this slogan to new heights. Songs have been written, poems, satires, editorials, you name it it’s been done.  Social media is on fire, everyone has an invested interest in this final electoral outcome. The prospect of electing another Conservative majority government has mobilized Canadians. It even runs contrary to the long standing tradition of not caring about participating in the electoral process. Whatever you political inclinations, or motives, you can thank Mr. Harper for this. 
"He alone has done the unthinkable--forcing Canadians to look past the end of their noses."
According to Statistics Canada, “…approximately 14.8 million of the 24.3 million citizens on the (2011) electoral list cast a ballot, for a turnout rate of 61%.”  Judging by the early advance poll results released by Elections Canada this will not be the case in 2015.
   Brigette DePape who is currently the Council of Canadians' Pacific regional organizing assistant, hopes to influence her peers into action, "My generation has been accused of being glued to our devices, but we are also using them to bring about change. Inspired by Rick Mercer's rant, 140,000 people, including me, have changed our profile pictures to "I will vote on October 19th."

   DePape’s and others of her generation have not sat quietly during this election.  If anything her leadership has shifted long set opinions about the vote. Clearly the level of apathy remains high but in this instance; the Conservative branding upon the Canadian landscape for the past 10 years was significant enough to demand action.  Schools are staging mock elections. Candidates are invited to speak and engage the next generation about politics. Antipathy is no longer acceptable.  Universities are making the task of voting easier for those who cannot vote on site. The word change can mean many things, and in this case during this election none more important than galvanizing, urging, demanding, every registered voter to do just that—vote.

   Mobilizing the indigenous vote among First Nation’s communities and in urban cities has been intense. Many FNs leaders and Idle No More activists are of the opinion that “opting in” the electoral process will do very little to further FNs sovereigntist agenda.  Self-determination remains the focal issue according to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).  Professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Dr. Taiaiake Alfred remarked in a 2011 interview that, “(FNs participation in Canadian politics) is a sign not only of the failure of our leadership [but] the slow, and gradual and fading away of any real sense of being Native.”

   The idea of nationhood has never been to far from the topic when discussing indigenous issues. While Mulcair promises ‘nation to nation’ relationship building he steers widely from its standard definition-at least from an indigenous perspective.

The Liberals and the NDP acknowledge that FNs have been historically ill served. Both have promised enhanced financial supports in the area of education, training, and infrastructure. Indigenous representation (22) is also significant within the NDP.  As with all parties, promises were made towards indigenous communities.  
“To create a cabinet-level committee chaired by the prime minister, to ensure that all government decisions respect treaty rights, inherent rights and Canada’s international obligations, including the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”-NDP promise platform.
Mulcair’s last campaign stop in Kenora, Ontario reiterates the need for increased federal support were 25 FNs reserves are still living under boil water advisories (17 years for some).  Promises as the one stated above will not solve infrastructure issues. But the NDP platform is far more palpable and clearly identifies indigenous priorities as NDP priorities. Will it be enough to claim all 51 ridings that are within reach of ‘Rocking the Vote’ and give Mulcair and the NDP their long awaited break and form government?

   Judging by the latest polls the Liberals under Trudeau’s leadership seem poised to form a minority government. Many Canadians are of the opinion that minority governments can work. Should the next party win a minority, expectations are high to form government across party lines. Canadian minority governments have poor track records. Since Confederation there are only two minority governments which have lasted more than 360 days. That of Lyon Mackenzie King (1922-25) and Stephen Harper (2006-2008).  

   Somehow this inability, or unwillingness to pursue Canadian interests across party lines runs deeply. The NDP have already stated that should a Conservative minority be successful, it would trigger another election by voting against the Conservative’s first parliamentary budget (automatic non confidence vote). Canadians are engaged and earnestly hoping for the resumption of the status quo or its complete obliteration.  There are no ‘in between’.  

   Monday’s election results will not be the end. It will be the beginning of another messy process where a minority government will be expected to work, or in the event of a clear majority the mandate-- to have the courage to follow through campaign promises. Repealing the first-past-the-post (FPTP) in time for the next election proposed under a Liberal government will drastically alter the way we vote in future elections. And it’s high time.  

   As for the status quo the latest Nanos Poll indicate Conservative national support sits at 30.5%. Appealing enough for some in spite of Harper’s weaknesses as Prime Minister. Is it to protect what is left of the party as a Progressive? Or is it that policies introduced by Harper actually find resonance among the 30.5%? Perhaps a little bit of both?

Touted as the Vote of the Century, the 2015 decision assuredly will indicate in which direction Canada will take. Let us hope that direction is not downwards.

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