Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Election Eve In Canada, Are You Awake?

Tonight is the eve of yet another federal election here in Canada. It makes me sad that most of the Canadians that I have spoken with are more excited about the November 4th Presidential election south of the border than they are about the Canadian campaign. I can not blame them for the most part as Obama does make me wonder optimistically if there are still individuals with a vision, without being fundamentalist extremists, vying for political office in the world. I truly hope that Obama becomes the next President of the United States, and that he is the whirlwind of positive change that he has campaigned on.

Obama aside, it appears that the corporate bureaucrats have eclipsed the academics and visionaries in many aspects of society – especially in Canada. This has not limited itself to just politics, but rather has permeated down through various facet's of Canadian society including Education, the Arts, the Legal System, etc. This has been personified to an even greater extent by public apathy and deterioration of grass roots organisations. Standards are lax and accountability is almost non-existent as we allow every aspect of our lives to be run as a business, making our cities homogeneous wastelands of box stores, anonymous neighbourhoods and a non-substantial popular culture that encourages nothing, fails to provoke action and leaves us as benign non-entities. Our society is largely superficial, issues have become seldom pursued fashion statements and the bandwagon rides are uninspired and short-lived like a run in the hockey play-offs.

Take the present federal election. We know that it will be another minority Conservative Government, with a slight adjustment in the opposition forces. There is no ground-swell of public emotion, and voter turn-out will be probably one of the lowest in Canadian history. None of the major issues have taken a back-seat to jabs about Harper's sweater vests, Layton's moustache and Dionne's incomprehensible English. Pathetic.

Let's look at what the issues should have been for starters:

· The Environment. Canada has amongst the world's largest natural resources reserves in the world including oil, water and trees. Drinking water is a non-renewable resource, yet we do little to conserve our supplies. In fact, we allow oil companies to pump it into their wells to assist them in extracting the oil with greater ease. There are viable energy alternatives out there – wind, solar, electric – but once the water is gone…
· Arctic sovereignty. The Danes, Americans and Russians are all vying to make claims on the Canadian north. This would upset most nations to the point of war, but we do nothing.
· Afghanistan. Almost 100 Canadians have died in this war. Our country is divided on the mission. Where is the dialogue and debate that should be making this a major issue? Do the lives of our Armed Forces and all the tax dollars supporting the Afghan campaign not deserve our most astute attention?
· The Current Economic Crisis. I'm not just talking about the present Stock Market crises, but the general erosion of the Canadian middle class. National stability depends on a stable and large middle class. Impoverishing more Canadians leads to increases in crime, lower educations levels and child poverty.
· The decline of Canadian Health Care. Issues of privatisation are huge (or should be), wait times are ridiculous and there are millions of Canadians who can not find a family doctor. This is absurd and I can not believe that more Canadians are not raising this issue with much more vocality. Also, the non pro-active approach we have to health in this country is pathetic.
· National Unity. Regionalism is huge in this country. There's Western alienation, neglect to the Maritimes, Quebec separatism, issues in First Nations communities, immigration issues. Still there is no debate. Canadians should truly ask if we should be a single nation at all and, based on the result of this discourse, develop a framework that will allow all to move forward.
· Social spending. Are some groups getting more than they should or not enough? The Arts? Education? Sport? Welfare? Corrections? Bureaucracy? Regional Development? We require dialogue! Debate!
· Our view of our place in the world. Should we become neutral in the spirit of countries such as Switzerland and Sweden? What are our global priorities?

This is only scratching the surface, as I am certain that I could probably come up with a plethora of other issues. Blame in this area can not rest solely on the politicians. In fact, it is the responsibility of this country's citizenry to raise these questions, debates and force what matters to the fore. Our apathy is what has led us to the current situation. I'm disgusted that we have more fanfare and debate over Canadian Idol candidates or replacing the Hockey Night In Canada theme song than we do about who leads our nation. Perhaps we deserve this benign state of affairs. Perhaps we need a domestic tragedy to wake us from our social slumber. Perhaps "isms" should come to the fore again, and if that comes in the form of fundamentalism, then that is perhaps just be what the status quo need to wake up. Political campaigns are becoming too much like job interviews. We are told what we want to hear, nothing controversial is stated and you can't fire the bastards after they fail to follow through.

Think. Vocalise. Act. Vote!



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