On Monday, Oct.19th, we will be voting in the 2015 Canadian Federal Election. I am endorsing Thomas Mulcair's NDP. Often, I vote Liberal, but I won't anymore, as long as they are attacking teachers. The examples, littered though out my blogsite's Teacher Free Speech News Archives are legion [See Links below]. You don't vote for a group that is going after you, it is as simple as that!
The Ontario Liberals began implementing the Neo Lib recommendations from the Drummond report for their provincial "austerity agenda", in response to the post 2008 economic collapse. Since then they have assumed the mantle of the Harris/Eves/ Hudak Conservatives, in teacher bashing and in under funding our world class Ontario education system.
It is totally reprehensible that tax cuts for the same corporate interests that torpedoed the world economic system for sheer financial gain, are now being misguidedly paid for on the backs of our province's teachers, students and schools. [See Links] Of course, these austerity policies have also effected all of the other workers and working families too in Ontario. As teachers, we have a leadership role to play in making it clear that enough is enough.
I understand that education is a provincial, not a federal portfolio in Canada. But quite frankly, from my own involvement with our Canadian Political Parties over the years, I know that a lot of the key players; the money men, the movers and shakers, what have you, are interchangeable at both levels of government.
Furthermore, Canada is not like a grass root model of democracy where we should vote for the best candidate, as was once taught in Civics Class. Regretfully, most have been reduced to little more than seat warmers and minions who say and do as they are told.
I would be willing to grant you that in some rare cases, an exceptional candidate might still exist for arguments sake. However, that has unfortunately not been a consideration in making my own endorsement of the NDP's Thomas Mulcair here today. I have only seen a handful of signs for the local NDP candidate in my home riding, let alone receive a flier or have anyone knock on my door.
Moreover, our country is a plutocracy, so I have little trust that any of the parties can act independently once in power without being compromised by our Canadian Neo Lib interests. They might have a some wiggle room, especially with social issues, at present it seems. Otherwise, in making my endorsement, I am not being highly optimistic.
Provincially, we have been screwed, as teachers, by all 3 main political parties in Ontario, the PC's, the OLP and the NDP. Federally, the NDP are at present, the least tainted and so the best in line for one more very guarded chance. I can't quite bring myself around to not voting at all. Although I must admit, for the first time in my life, I find it mighty tempting indeed! Still, the stakes are just too high for another Harper win. Plus, I still firmly believe that if you don't vote, you can't complain, so colour me orange for the Mulcair NDP.
Looking back to 2011-12 in my Teacher Free Speech News + Views Archive [See Links Below], you will see that I once worked quite closely with the Ontario Liberals as a teacher PAC member. It was very important to implement the educational changes we once achieved, at least in part, following the awful decimation of our schools and profession by the provincial Conservatives. Though I have since soured badly on the Liberals, I still believe that we set a benchmark for how such "cooperation" can work, even though that is clearly no longer the case. It is a tragedy of epic proportions that the OLP has chosen to turn on our core support as teachers. Even sadder that many of our top union "leaders" are now willing to "collaborate" with them in their folly. I will not be party to any of that on sheer principle.
It's a very sad state of affairs that we find ourselves in as civic minded teacher unionists. Federally speaking, I like Trudeau's pluck. The first time I ever voted, it was for Pierre Elliott Trudeau, his dad. However, I doubt Justin is him. This is no time for baby boomer nostalgia and I doubt the same intellectual depth is there.
As far as messaging and media spin goes, and I do believe that our election process has become little more than that, Thomas Mulcair comes closest to appealing to my own middle aged, professional, white, male demograph. He comes across as speaking sincerely, directly and down to earth. Although his mild, reasoned style and manner is a bit of a snooze fest, in contrast to Justin, he has come across well in my books
Unfortunately, in Canada, politically speaking we have a divisive, relatively fluid left of centre split, with basically two thirds of our voters supporting either the Liberals and the NDP. That divides the vote, allowing our Neo Con PC's to come down the middle to win the federal elections for the past 10 years. All they need is their more solid third of the vote, plus whomever else they can somehow manage to pull under their tent.
Harper's US style Neo Conservative US politics, has successfully appealed to a narrow, privileged and entitled strata, that excludes most other Canadians with impunity. An election year of manufacturing discontent in the form of the fear, hysteria anger and hate over ISIS and the so called "Muslim Question" continues to produced enough of a wedge issue to possibly give him just the margin he needs to hang on for another term, the PC record of scandals, democratic shortcomings, and economic bungling notwithstanding.
My Canada is inclusive. It includes everyone, as per our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is absolutely necessary to end this Conservative charade. Like many of my fellow Canucks, I have few qualms about strategic voting, in my case for the NDP, as I often have in the past for the Liberals, both federally and provincially, this time on October 19th.
While inclusivity is, broadly speaking, the main issue for me here, let me focus on two other key ones, that have helped swing my own personal support towards Thomas Mulcair and the NDP:
Canadian Foreign Policy: My blogs on C-51, our so called "Terrorist Act" explain my deep concerns with Harper's Year of Fear and Hate as outlined above in much greater depth. [See Links]. The long term implications of running roughshod over our Charter of Rights and Freedom protections are especially frightening for anyone with any concern for constitutionality, due process and the rule of law. Not too sexy, I admit, but the long term consequences for what's left of democracy in Canada are truly mind boggling!
Prime Minister Harper, in assuming the mantle of our self appointed election warrior chief, has also sent our CF-18 Canadian jet fighters to Syria and Iraq in support of the US's ill considered "War Against Terrorism" there. Canada has little if any direct, independent intelligence for the long, nasty, brutish, dragged out civil wars we are continuing to stir up. There clearly aren't even any "good guys" to support, just lots and lots of really bad ones, take your pick.
PET must be rolling in his grave as Justin plays political footsies with the PC's over C-51, not to mention his continued support for military "Peace Making" as a part of the US stylized "War Against Terror" in Syria and Iraq. Ironically, it is Thomas Mulcair's who is now primarily focused instead on Canada's long forgotten, proud tradition of "Peace Keeper" and the well respected reputation it once earned Canadians as "honest brokers" at the United Nations in decades past. Ironic also, that the 3 C's of the Trudeau era multilateral "Liberal Internationalist Canadian Foreign Policy"; combination, consensus and constraint, now fall firmly within Mulcair's domain.
In all fairness, it might be considered prudent to first try to ween shell shocked Canadians off the Harper terrorist hysteria with the more publicly acceptable, accommodations Justin Trudeau promises to make after he is elected. We just need to trust that the responsible changes will come later. Then again, it was a Liberal Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, who first tried to appease the US "might makes right" mentality by scheduling Canadian troops to Afghanistan, rather than Iraq, after 9/11. Enough of that bullshit!
Peace Keeping, humanitarian aid and Canadian technical expertise in other non military roles served us well the last time a Trudeau was Canada's Liberal Prime Minister. In the most basic of terms, no justice -no peace! If it takes an NDP Prime Minister named Thomas Mulcair to do it again, then so be it! We will be spared a lot of real stupid and tragic grief, when figuratively speaking the birds of war inevitably come home to roost, in the years ahead!
Marijuana: Making marijuana illegal early in the 20th century served the powers that be well, providing a very effective batting iron to manufacture public consent against, while arresting, prosecuting, and jailing the poor and disadvantaged whenever they got uppity. Handily, it also proved useful later on against any progressive middle class lefties who also threatened the status quo. [See Links]
It should come as no surprise that Mr. Harper would prefer us to take off the nasty edge of his vision of Canada by drowning our blues with booze, rather than imbide in the "Devil's Weed", outside of his sop to the Supreme Court of Canada with legal "medical marijuana" program. It's certainly ironic considering that it is now our corporate, big business interests whom stand the most to profit from legalized marijuana! Plus it could quite likely be the biggest voluntary tax grab since the end of prohibition!
Thankfully, Trudeau was quick to jump on the "legalize marijuana" bandwagon. Whereas Pierre lowered the voting age for his election purposes, well, welcome to the new millennium! "The times are a changing", as Bob Dylan once sang! Although the NDP's Thomas Mulcair is now promising to legalize it too, he wants to just go the decriminalize route first. Although that will cause some delays in a change that is long over due, it might well be the more prudent and responsible solution to the terrible mess we find ourselves in.
As Canadians, we need to have a public discussion that's much deeper than the pockets of the new, no doubt eager and huge, above ground marijuana growth industry that is about to sprout up in our country. Regulation can help reduce drug abuse among the young and susceptible. The ongoing game of police arrests, criminal records, bummers, burns and rip offs has clearly failed. Ditto the "Reefer Madness" mentality of Harpers TV and radio ads so reminiscent of the "public education programs" and "discussions" of year's past.
As such, Mr. Mulcair would be doing us all a great public service while it is decriminalized. Then an enlightened public discussion of the changes we need to make could possibly be better carried out as a committed and integral part of a well thought out and complete legalization process. With a Trudeau government just figuring it out as they go along, with supposedly "expert advice" from the new "growth industry", I'm not so sure that is going to happen responsibly afterwards, or while it hits the stores.
Indeed, here's a case in point: will the big business interests think everyday folk should be allowed to grow their own own weed, rather than buy it from the stores? In Colorado, legal marijuana is currently selling for $25 [US] a gram in the stores! Hydroponic Science now allows pretty much anyone to grow their own herb, free of chemicals and other foreign substances at home on their own for a lot less than that! Maybe there is a downside, but do you trust a corporate lobbyist to help the government make that decision in private for you, or anyone else, who more responsibly decides to imbid? We could miss a major opportunity to finally get this issue right! I for one, appreciate Mr. Mulcair and the NDP's more thoughtful and measured response.
So, as you can see, this is why I am endorsing Thomas Mulcair and the NDP. Regretfully, it seems pretty clear as we near the end of the election race that the media and the powers that be have taken a pretty, dire view of an NDP win. However, Mulcair's mild mannered, thoughtful, and sincere presentation certainly seems to have substance, even though he is otherwise lacking in form the pizzaz of a Justin Trudeau. Perhaps that will not resonate with enough voters as push comes to shove. Too bad. Nonetheless, land line based telephone polls mostly seem like a joke these days. It'll be interesting to see how far off they are again. Regardless, I strongly suspect that they will have succeeded in scaring off many potential NDP voters into thinking their vote will be wasted, if they mark an X on their ballot for Mr. Mulcair! I am not heading to the polling booth hoping to vote for a winner just because everyone else thinks he will win. But I strongly suspect I might often be alone with this thought!
My main concern with Thomas Mulcair and the NDP is their embrace of a watered down version of Mr. Harpers and Ms Wynne's austerity policies. One realizes the NDP needs to broaden it's base, so that they seem more fiscally responsible, hence they are adamant that they won't run a deficit, to counter the PC lies and smear campaign. Forget that successive NDP governments and their direct antecedents have proven to produce sustainable, balanced budgets in other provinces over the years, if not in Ontario under Bob Rae. It seems to me like Trudeau has co-opted what should be Mulcairs position; that some deficit spending might be needed in the interm, to protect working families and our social safety net, even if it is just perhaps a sop to the left to get our vote. If Mulcair's spin works, I regret we will need to watch him extra carefully as Prime Minister, as he is playing a very dangerous game of footsies on a slippery slope with the Neo Libs and the Neo Cons!
Regardless, Thomas Mulcair and the NDP have enough going for them to get my vote on Monday. Unfortunately, a Tory is a Tory is a Tory. And nowadays a Liberal is a Liberal is a Liberal. They are all cut from the same cloth, be it the PC's more gruff US style Neo Con maneuverings or the Liberal's more sophisticated and smooth Neo Lib approach. Neither will get my vote. They are both unpalatable to me.
One of the nice things about having my own blog is that unlike other news columnists and writers I can truly say what I think and feel without having it mediated and filtered by any other third party interest; be it the union, the media owners, or any political party. Of course, I will continue to be somewhat of a pariah as a result. Can you even see the NDP retweeting, republishing or otherwise sharing this endorsement with many of the points I think needed to be made? I suspect not, but no matter.
I trust that you, my readers, will mostly be able to appreciate, even if you don't agree, with the subtleties however unsettling they might sometimes be. You are not a simpleton. You can think for yourself. You can even arise to the challenge, when you disagree.
I write on principle. Somehow, I still hope that if enough of us do so, we can still share a necessary half witted public discourse on the important issues that directly affect us all as progressives. No, the sun does not shine out of Thomas Mulcair's butt. We do not live in a black and white world. But you should consider voting for him still. I hope this helps!
My Teacher Free Speech News + Views Archive 2011-15 is @ Here!
Guest Blogger Peter Hasek's report on how Ontario's corporate tax cuts are being paid for by our provinces students and teachers is @ Here!
Read my blog on C-51 and Harper's Election Year of Fear @ Here!
My blog on the legalization of marijuana is @ Canuck Reefer Madness!
See "In The News" from my Teacher Free Speech October News + Views for more on the election @ Here!