observations and opinion
At least know WHY to vote
All of the uncertainty floating in the hearts of voters, will be settled in private moments behind a cardboard box. Marks will be made on ballots, later to be dumped onto table tops like the autumn leaves, falling gently to earth in heaps of blue, red, orange and green. And once counted, your uncertainty will disappear, like teardrops into the deep blue ocean. Invisible, impermanent yet oddly eternal.
My guess is that many people – many, many people – will enter their polling station tomorrow with some uncertainty. Many who voted Conservative last time, who dread tax increases and deficit spending but who don’t like Harper, will hesitate. Maybe they’ll stick with him. Many who yearn to replace Harper, but don’t believe the NDP can or should form government, will hesitate: Justin Trudeau? Really? Many who wanted to vote for Mulcair and the NDP will think, jeez, if I do that am I risking keeping Harper in office? So what do I do? Justin Trudeau? Really? Some will admire Green policies or their leader Ms. May but, knowing their vote might effectively cancel out an anti-Harper vote, will stall. Or stay home.
Don’t stay home. Really – do a little homework and make a decision. Go and make your decision matter because, if you don’t, mine really will matter more than it should, in my riding at least. And if you honestly can’t figure out how to vote, maybe thinking about why you should vote, will help make up your mind. So here are ten reasons to vote, one way or the other:
Billy Duff and Jack Watson. Let’s count them as one reason: “veterans.” If you know me, you might have known them. They were both veterans of World War II. They sank years of their youth into the Allied campaign against Nazism. They came out of it different, but at least they came home. My Uncle Billy was the gentlest man I ever met – so decent that he would never bend to my boyish demands to hear stories of the war. He simply wouldn’t speak of it. Jack Watson was the greatest man I ever met. Yet so modest that he would never tell a soul about being in the Army. If you can’t find another veteran to thank for your liberty, go say thanks to them. Vote.
The free press. Free speech. You have it, paid for in blood, sweat, tears and toil. Practised, imperfectly but still well, by our journalists. Say thanks for it, and more important, go do something to protect it. Vote for whoever you think values your liberty most. That’s as good a test as any.
Girls’ field hockey. Personally, I don’t watch it (my kid quit the team to dance) but as they said in Gregory’s Girl, “have you ever seen them play? They’re like wild animals.” We have a long, long way to go to change our society to one that is truly egalitarian. But today we live in the best moment, in the best place, in the history of the whole damned world, to be a girl or a woman. Go make sure that doesn’t change. Go make sure it gets better. Vote.
Astronauts (not just the Liberal ones, but all the astronauts just hatching). Let’s make more scientists and put them on rockets and send them into outer space, and bring them back. Quicker than they got Matt Damon. Good movie, by the way. Go vote for outer space.
Garage bands. The garage band, typically the precinct of adolescent males (but not always) is a great combustion of noise composed of key ingredients: kids who can go to school, make friends, whose parents can chip in to buy them instruments, kids who can go find a part-time job to pay for guitar picks. Kids whose iPhones are packed with artists you’ve never heard of, plus Cream and Thin Lizzy and a pile of surprising oldsters. One or two of these kids is going to rock your ears out someday and even if they don’t, go vote for whoever you think will give them the chance.
Tortierre. “Torture pie” as it’s jokingly known in my house, it’s one of the great Canadian contributions to world cuisine (greater even than poutine, maple syrup and Tim’s). It takes an army of farmers, cooks, bakers, appliance salesmen, grocery store clerks, moms and dads to put a tortierre on your table at Christmas. Substitute matzoh balls, dim sum, enchiladas, jerk chicken, Alberta T-bones and Okanagan wine if you like. Go vote for a farmer. That doesn’t mean you have to give her 3 billion in exit payments from milk subsidies. Just go vote for food. Go vote for the food bank. Take a can of soup with you.
John Diefenbaker. Not a very good PM really – a wildly insecure,sometimes unkindly funny man (he once called Flora Macdonald, a fellow Tory whom he did not like, “one of the finest women ever to walk the streets of Kingston.”) He was mildly nuts but you know what? He gave us our first Bill of Rights – a model for the later Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And he was the first – and so far only – Prime Minister whose surname wasn’t Anglophone or Francophone. That’s going to change eventually, you know.
The Blackberry. I’m not being flip (that’s a pun). RIM’s mobile device may feel like the Avro Arrow of the 21st century, but it created a whole new way of life and work: handheld. There are tens of thousands of Canadian engineers, designers and others, ready to invent and build and make and sell something else that will change the world. Because we have a free market, public education, free trade, open immigration. Someday soon you’ll vote on whatever phone you have. Tomorrow take the walk to the poll. Vote.
Bob Rae. Once a New Democrat, now a Liberal. Once a besieged Premier, sometimes a code word for fiscal imprudence, actually an exemplar of learning, evolving and embracing change. You may curse his name for the way he increased your taxes 25 years ago, or the way he cut your working hours as a public servant 21 years ago. Still, Mr. Rae is a great citizen and was a great Parliamentarian. Go vote for some new great citizen and Parliamentarian. Maybe one who thinks like you, but at least, one who THINKS AND LEARNS AND CARES. (And if you can’t decide who, I know Bob can suggest someone. )
My kid. Your kid. Someone else’s kid. Get up!! What the hell are you thinking, leaving their future up to someone else? Go vote.
It’s a great country. Two soldiers – Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo – died in its service, just a year ago now. If it’s worth dying for, it’s worth voting for.