Thursday, October 16, 2008

From Insurrection to Election

When it became clear that the Conservatives could smell a majority in Parliament, I began to get nervous, jittery, perhaps even a little faint. The concept that this band of Alberta cowboys, Ignorant 19-year-olds, Crazed Anti-abortionist Moms and disgusting Oil Barons could have undisputed control of Canadian Law caused my spine to twist on it's base and fold me back into a contorted near death pose.

Gone would be the lax court treatment for Canada's archaic marijuana laws. Gone would be any hope whatsover of cleaning up the already propped up economy that continues to vomit cancerous wastes all over our lands, our air, our oceans and our own personal bodies. Onward would come privitized health insurance, greater involvement in Bush's wars, harsher sentences for victimless crimes and all sorts of other horrible things.

Around this time, my friend and associate Andrew Paul of SEE Magazine contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in being in a roundtable discussion about politics. Of course I accepted.

At the time I had just begun a job, that I was swiftly fired from, and was given a phone call by my local New Democratic Party. Suddenly unemloyed and eager to stop the Conservative Majority however I could (which amounted to trying to stop them in local ridings, a daunting task when you consider the Conservatives swept the entire province last time around) I signed up and began doorknocking.

Doorknocking is what you could call the rawest and purest form of politics. There's just you, your little pamphlet, your smattering of points on the candidate you just met ten minutes earlier and why they're the best choice for the riding, and the nazi-redneck's rottweiler chasing you across the yard.

Actually, for the most part, people are pretty Canadian around here; they come to the door, even if they're on the phone, and listen to you say your piece, and politely tell you no. Quite pleasant, really. However, you always get those bad apples who slam the door in your face, call the police on you or bug you for cigarettes.

Personally, I have no problem with people smoking tobacco whatsoever, it's when I have to continually deal with people asking if they can buy a cigarette off me that gets kinda annoying.

The other day, while waiting for the bus, I saw a homeless looking guy inhaling finesse hair spray, on the ratio of once every eight minutes.

So night after night, I braved the scary unknown yards and apartment buildings, knocked on doors, took down numbers, turned fence sitting Liberals (which I myself was) and generally did my best to take out two Conservative MPs - Rahim Jaffer and Peter Goldring, both notable for having done absolutely nothing in several terms of office.

By the time election day came near, I was pretty confident that in the two ridings I was in, the NDP had a chance of turfing the Conservatives, stopping two seats from going blue. Granted, two seats out of 155 needed to not be Conservative is merely a drop in the bucket, but it's a needed drop.

So then the article in SEE comes out.

Now, the consensus I've had is that this article was a bad move by myself, but I still don't see what is so horrible about anything I said besides the fact I wasn't towing the party line. The article was about young adults and what they thought, not about young adults representing political parties.

But, someone in the NDP didn't see things that way, and when I went into the office for that final push over the Thanksgiving day weekend, I was informed I was no longer needed.

So I took the rest of the election (3 days) off and cast my vote.

In the end, one of the New Democrats I was plugging, Linda Duncan, defeated Rahim Jaffer by 442 votes. The other, Ray Martin, lost to Peter Golding by over 8000 votes.

Sitting back and watching the election, two things became clear to me. One, we, the very divided left, had managed to hold the Cons to another minority despite our own infighting. Two, when the Liberals take the worst loss they've had in over fifty years, they still end up with double the seats that the NDP managed to get with what was probably their strongest campaign ever.

Similarly to when the PCs and the Reform split back in the 90s, the left now sees the same symptom - when the larger, dominant party is weak, the other parties grow exponentially.

Chances are this is as close to a majority that either the Conservatives or the NDP are going to get; the Liberals are going to turf Dion and either Ignatieff or Rae is going to take the helm, and either of those leaders should have enough presence to restore the Liberal Party to a higher seat count within two years. Unless the Liberal party bankrupts itself in the process.

Either way, that's going to be the politics to watch over the next year. Let's see if the Liberals can reinvent themselves.

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