Where We Stand and Where We're Going

Yesterday Canada elected a Conservative majority government. Our House of Commons has 308 seats, and the Conservatives won 167 of then with 40% of the popular vote. The NDP is our new official opposition with 102 seats and 31% of the popular vote. The Liberals, Canada's "natural governing party", suffered a huge setback winning only 34 seats and 19% of the popular vote.

My politics lie somewhere around the NDP/Greens, but I'm not partisan. If there was a party that ran on a platform of evidence-based compassionate pragmatism I would vote for it, but there isn't so I do the best I can. This time I voted for Carolyn Bennett, our incumbent Liberal candidate, because she's clever and effective. It wasn't a difficult choice, because I would have been happy to have Michael Ignatieff as Prime Minister.

I'm not happy about this result; I'm pretty miserable, actually. Stephen Harper's faults are well-documented elsewhere, so I won't go into that. I'm not on-board with the Conservative platform, obviously, and I worry that with a majority they will make changes to this country that lead it further and further away from what I value.

I'm also frustrated with our electoral system. Electoral reform makes my head spin but I understand enough to know that our system is broken and our government doesn't accurately represent us. Dave Meslin can explain it better than I can.

So the question remains: As a citizen, what do I do next?

There's a school of thought that says that everything will work out and nothing will go horribly wrong no matter who is in government. I think this is the school of thought that non-voters follow, because if that's true, why vote?: stuff will work itself out, everything will be fine.

If I followed that school of thought I would just carry on exactly as I have been. Of course if I followed that school of thought I wouldn't have been so upset last night when the results came in. In fact, I probably wouldn't even have watched.

There's another school of thought the members of which are rending their garments today: the CBC is going to be dismantled, abortion and gay marriage outlawed, gun control repealed, mega-jails built on every corner. That school is well-represented in my Twitter feed, but it's not one I subscribe to either. I'm not sure what would prevent the Harper government from doing all that: perhaps they mostly don't really want to, perhaps they fear that the electorate would disapprove and not re-elect them, perhaps there are checks and balances in place that would otherwise stimie them. But I don't believe a Conservative majority equals the Hellmouth opening.

If I followed that school of thought... well, I don't know what those people are doing. Drinking, I guess.

This is what I think. I think things don't just work out fine by themselves. I think they work out because of the hard work of thousands of people writing letters and articles, rallying support (or just plain rallying), raising money, going on TV, and doing all the other things besides voting that democracy entails.

And so I'm going to email Carolyn Bennett's office and see what I can do to help. Help immigrants, help families, help seniors. Help make (keep) this country great.

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