It is, as of a few weeks ago, election season here in Canada once again. People are upset about this, for a variety of reasons. Some people are upset because they see the election as unnecessary and, if you're Stephen Harper, apparently dangerous. Some people are upset because the Conservative government was found to be in contempt of Parliament. Some people are upset because Canada has three parties that suffer from a lack of leadership. 1
And I get that. I hate the attack ads that the Conservative Party of Canada runs about Michael Ignatieff--I hate that they are personal attacks, rather than attacks on policy. That said, they do resonate--it's not difficult to portray Ignatieff as an elitist blowhard who is out of touch with "the average Canadian" because, well, he comes off as an elitist blowhard who is out of touch with the average Canadian. If he was elected, he certainly wouldn't be the first elitist blowhard to lead our country, and I don't know that those qualities would necessarily make him a bad PM.
This will be an interesting election for a lot of reasons. We have three leaders who are likely fighting the last election battles of their careers: Layton, in addition to his health issues, has yet to lead his party to even Official Opposition Status. If Ignatieff fails to win even a minority government this time, it will be a death knell for him as Liberal leader. Anything less than a majority government means the same for Harper; after two minority wins, he needs to show that he is actually engaging Canadians.2 Then there's the ubiquitous Green Party question: will Elizabeth May ever get to participate in a debate?
We are less than four weeks away from the election. I do not know what will happen in the next few weeks. I do not know what kind of dirt will be slung around, what kind of promises will be made, nor what crazy back room allegiances will be struck. I do know that our system is not perfect and that sometimes it feels very broken.
The other thing that I do know is that I, as a Canadian, am choosing to view this election as a positive thing. I believe in our system of government very strongly. I also believe in democracy and the right of suffrage. I am hopeful that everything that has happened in the world since our last election will serve as a call to arms to Canadians: Vote. Vote because we can, because our constitution enshrines it as a right and a freedom. Vote because others worked very hard to get us these rights. Vote because our country is worth investing ourselves in.
Above all else, I will not let the bastards grind me down. No matter how ugly this campaign gets (and given that the attack ads started before the writ was dropped, I think it's safe to say that it will), I will speak loudly in defense of our system and speak loudly in defense of ourselves. I will not let the bastards grind me down into apathy or subservience. I will stand up and be counted.
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
1 I know I'm pressing at least a few of your buttons by saying that, readers, but I'm calling it as I see it. Your mileage may vary.
2Speaking of Harper, he looks uncannily like my father in this pre-election ad for Conservative jingoism. His hair, glasses, mannerisms, and Beatles mug are all the same. I have no choice but to see this as further evidence of the Masonic-Reptilian conspiracy.