Why I’m voting Liberal

As most Canadians SHOULD know, we are already in the advanced polls phase before the official polling date of October 19th. Besides 1 election where I voted Green, I’ve always voted for the Liberal Party of Canada. Last election, I was tempted to vote for the NDP but after attending a town hall meeting with Michael Ignatieff, I was persuaded to remain “in the fold” as it were. I am reticent to use labels, I find myself firmly in the camp of Progressives and Liberals on the left of the political spectrum. I admire many of the policies Scandinavian countries have implemented in their socialist democracies. This will open myself up to criticism from the right but also elements of the left who [justifiably] will claim the Liberals are center left and occasionally complicit with the Harper Conservatives.

Understand, I don’t agree 100% with the positions of the Liberal party. I took the CBC election test and surprisingly scored highest in support with the Bloc Québécois (82%), followed closely by the remaining leftist parties (all within 5%). The Conservatives were dead last at about 20% or so. This test does not weigh the importance of each position to the elector. Otherwise, the main electoral platform of separation of Quebec from Canada would lower my support for the Bloc considerably. Had Bob Rae not denied the Liberal Youth wing’s request to excise the Monarchy from our Constitution (and Trudeau not addressing it either), I would have liked to see this as an election policy issue.

Harper’s excesses are just too awful for me to ignore. The Trans Pacific Partnership is among the latest odious deals, if history repeats itself, which would be obfuscated from both Parliament and the Public. That it is now becoming a significant talking point in the democratic primary should raise red flags to any progressive or leftist. Trudeau, to my latest knowledge has taken a neutral stance towards the deal, waiting to actually see what is in the deal before commenting. Mulcair has stated the NDP will not vote in favour of it.

I also disagree with bill C-51. Along with the Niqab, it is a “dead cat” issue meant to scare Canadians and promote Islamophobia and hate of Arabic cultures. I desire a secular government, but part of being a secular nation also requires for us to be tolerant (within reason) of our citizenry’s religion so long as it is not harmful to others or the general public.

So far, it seems I would favour the NDP’s position over the Libs but there are positions I feel Trudeau has been more genuine and forthright on. Mulcair is a career politician while Trudeau was more or less pressured into politics because of his family name. I am too young to have known his father other than by reading old newspaper articles or watching archived videos. So I fail to understand the vitriol Conservatives have for him when they make statements like “I’ll never vote for a Trudeau.” Certainly, our parents do attempt to instill their values and opinions upon us but should you not at least be open-minded and hear what he has to say first? Ronald Reagan’s children are staunch leftists and even “the Kipper” wouldn’t get elected in a Republican primary today. Instead we’re subjected to the bumbling Bush brothers.

PRIORITIES

I personally feel the most important election policy issue is electoral reform. The First Past the Post system is broken and it needs to be altered or scrapped altogether for something else. Although the Greens supported it first, Trudeau has championed it despite historically not necessarily being to his party’s advantage. There are certainly disadvantages to a proportional representative Parliamentary system with the potential of extremist far left and far right parties getting influence on a national level. However, liberalism requires an open discourse and I feel these ideas will be easily countered (as they have largely been over time) in the public domain.

A healthy democracy is one with an engaged electorate and a strong stable of choices. Under Harper, we’ve seen low turnouts due to voters being turned off of politics by his numerous schemes. Voter apathy is significantly responsible for the recent excesses thus forming a vicious cycle. Mandatory voting, more advanced voting options, removing first past the post and removing the voter suppression laws will return us to being the status of role model of democracy Canada once held on the world stage. Once this issue is tackled, Climate Change and everything else will be dealt with in a sensible manner rather than burying our heads in the [tar] sands.

MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION

I’ve never consumed drugs myself unless one counts caffeine and alcohol as drugs. They have been legal since well before I was born so they aren’t illegal substances. I will not recap the numerous studies on addiction, the effects of cannabis, positive social benefits, nor the horrendous toll of human life the drug war has taken. This is a no-brainer. As always, the Conservatives tow the same line about the subject…

How about the parents actually talk to their kids about drugs ?

And now Harper is campaigning with Rob Ford. Yes, THAT Rob Ford. I joked on Facebook the Conservative strategy was sound. Rob will protect the kids from drugs by consuming it all himself. A true martyr to the cause.

As Portugal has demonstrated, the best way to help people on drugs is legalization. Their drug addictions rates have gone down, not up. More people seek rehab when they do not have to fear criminal prosecution and the stigma of addiction is gone. When we as society can openly discuss these issues without hyperbole or condescension but rather empathy and seriousness.

What would have otherwise been a minor electoral point (in the past there was a political party with the sole platform of legalizing cannabis), has backfired on the Conservative attacks and become a secondary issue.


DEFICITS & THE ECONOMY

I don’t know when it happened, but people associate deficits, the debt and the economy as more or less the same thing. While they are connected, you can have a great economy while running deficits and a terrible economy while balancing your budget. Under Harper, we’ve had huge deficits and an average economy despite what he claims, and now he finally balanced the budget by gutting the government, stalling on Employee Insurance payments and other expenses to win points in the election. And economists project we are in recession as as cherry to top the shit sundae. The NDP promises to balance the budget, expand some social programs and only raise taxes on corporations. I agree with the latter, but in a global economy I have a sense this may or may not work. Further, Mulcair hasn’t detailed exactly what the strategy is. Trudeau and the Liberals, have been honest and stated they would run modest deficits (in comparison to the Conservatives) in order to repair the damage of the past decade or so and to rebuild the economy. You can dismiss this as setting the bar low, but I am of the opinion deficits in the current economic climate are a given.

SOCIAL POLICIES

I used to think of myself in the cliche of “socially liberal, fiscally conservative”. I quickly came to realize how stupid and contradictory that statement was. Without the fiscal support, social issues will not progress as unfortunately there are too many who hold on to antiquated views which are harmful to many in society. If you believe in a social democracy, it must be one for all citizens, not just for some. The Conservatives have failed in all these aspects except for enabling LGBT couples living outside of Canada easier access to divorce.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Ideally, I’m hoping for a weak Liberal minority requiring the NDP and Greens to pass any legislation while the Conservatives go full on crazy American republican and make themselves un-electable to the reigns of power under a new proportional representative or other form of electoral system of government. The NDP will push the debate to deny ratifying the TPP and under public pressure the Liberals will not form a consensus with the Conservatives. Electoral reform will repeal the “Fair Elections Act” and institute policies similar or promote what I wrote above. Perhaps in the following election, I and my fellow Canadians can then vote Green to help save the environment.

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