Tag Archives: politicians

Voting for Hope

I’ve been giving some thought lately to what drives change (or not) during an election and I have a few hypotheses that I’d like to muse about and relate them to each of the party leaders in the coming election.

When things are going well, of course people will vote the ruling party in again. But when things aren’t going well, people will vote for change. It doesn’t even matter why things aren’t going well and it may not even be anybody’s fault.

A ruling party cannot campaign on a policy of holding the line or keeping the course steady when things aren’t going well. When people are looking for change, they’ll vote in change. Governments need to at least seem to be listening to people and to give the appearance of change. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing and expecting a different result. If you’re looking for change, you won’t get it by keeping things the same.

We need hope. In difficult times when the economy is stagnate and jobs are being lost, crime rates increase among our youth because they’ve lost hope. The solution isn’t to toughen the laws or build more jails; we need to examine the root causes. Our young people need hope for their future, that they can get affordable education and training, find jobs and affordable housing. When the middle class is losing jobs, or losing their houses, and may be facing an uncertain future or retirement, they also need hope. Hope may very well be the most important thing in any election.

Our leaders must inspire hope. When they speak to us, their words must compel us to believe them, to follow them, to fill us with hope. Not everyone can do this, it takes a special kind of passion and charisma. John F. Kennedy had it. Martin Luther King Jr. had it. Ghandi had it. In my lifetime, Pierre Trudeau had it. I voted for Chretien (sorry) because he had it. I’ll call it the Leadership Gene.

Paul Martin had it. He was a steadying influence that calmed us down and made us believe everything was going to be okay. He connected with voters, as a businessman and as a father figure.

Justin Trudeau has it. The Conservatives can run all the negative ads they want about him not being ready, but let’s face it – he’s just the guy out front – the face of the party. Behind him is a well-oiled machine. They’ll make him ready. He already has more experience than his father did when he was first elected PM. He’s definitely a contender.

The biggest mistake the Liberals kept making in the past was electing intellectuals to lead the party. You can make all the jokes you want about Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, but intellectually they were brilliant. They belonged in the party behind the charismatic leader; they lacked the Leadership Gene. When you combine the lack of charisma with the growing mistrust of intellectuals, it’s easy to see why they failed to gain momentum.

Elizabeth May has it as well. When she speaks, I find myself nodding my head in agreement with most of what she says. She speaks with passion. The party behind her isn’t ready yet though, but I’m looking forward to watching them grow and maybe someday they’ll be ready for her.

Thomas (Tom) Mulcair has a certain amount of it. He’s definitely riding the wave of change, buoyed by the recent victory of the NDP in Alberta. Let’s face it though, he isn’t Jack Layton. We want to trust him, but there’s something holding us back. Maybe it’s the dual citizenship with France. Maybe it’s his history when he was a Liberal in Quebec and supported separatism. Something worries me.

Harper completely lacks passion and charisma (in my opinion), and that will be his downfall. He comes across as cold and calculating. He recites party lines despite being proved wrong time and time again. He appears almost delusional in his denial that Canada is in a recession (despite the overwhelming proof). The party behind him isn’t exactly a stellar example either, with all the scandals and criminal charges. The smart Conservatives have fled the ship; only the original Reformers remain and now Stephen Harper is going to import talent from outside the country to help get his campaign on track.

Peter Van Loan is the incumbent in my area. He spent $60,469 on advertising and printing (2008 to 2009), compared to the average of $47,014. He has spent $362,977 on self promotion for flyers, advertising and mailing costs, from 2009 to 2015. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sick and tired of getting these in my mail every week.

Thanks to Peter Van Loan, $654,747 of our tax dollars has been spent on similar type things over an 11 year period. There must be a better way to communicate in this technological age that doesn’t cost so much, or kill so many trees.

Okay, let me make things a bit more personal. I’m often asked these days who I’m voting for. I am not a member of any political party. I did contribute a very small amount to the Liberals two years ago, but when the Liberal party supported Bill C-51, I destroyed the card and unsubscribed from all liberal emails. Besides, I can’t stand the provincial liberals and they seem to share the same email lists. I didn’t want my support of the federal liberals to indicate support of the provincial liberals.

So, how am I voting? I know one thing for sure – I want the Conservatives out. That’s my bias. I want change. According to www.votetogether.ca that may mean voting for the candidate most likely to defeat the Conservative incumbent in my area.

Other than that, I’m still listening.

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Give Me Back My Canada!

Right before every election, I become very outspoken. So much so that many of my friends and relatives think I’m very politically involved. I’m not. I’m not even a supporter of any particular party. I like to judge each of them each on their own merits and record.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not anti-government either, because that would make me an anarchist, wouldn’t it? No, I’m one of these rare people who actually doesn’t mind paying taxes. We need people to run the government, right? They need to get paid. We also need all the stuff the government is supposed to do – improve our infrastructure, develop our social and healthcare programs – lots of stuff. It takes money.

What I don’t like is wasting money. Or greed. I work hard for my money. I don’t want to give it (voluntarily or not) to be wasted foolishly. Isn’t that reasonable?

Our current federal government believes in trickle down economics which, if I’m not mistaken, means giving tax breaks to corporations who in turn will create more jobs. Guess what? It doesn’t work.

A business owner I know (who shall remain anonymous) is actually a huge supporter of unions (imagine that!), and when we discussed the tax breaks our government was giving businesses, he told me he’d gladly take the tax break but he wouldn’t be creating any more jobs with it. He just increased his profits. He even went so far as to say if the government cancelled those tax breaks or INCREASED his taxes, he’d be okay with it. He said he could afford to pay more.

Isn’t that interesting?

So, we have a Conservative federal government that has operated on the principle of trickle-down economics and what does their record show? I’ve lost count of the number of criminal charges against members of parliament or the senate. Our environmental record is terrible. Our treatment of First Nations people is shameful. Our rights and freedoms are under attack. We have to deal with a secretive, disdainful government (how many times did Harper prorogue parliament? Remember when he was found in contempt of parliament?) Our national resources are being sold off to foreign interests. The economy is stagnate, unemployment remains the same, and we’re actually heading into a recession. Good job guys!

On the other hand, we have a Liberal provincial government who loves to waste money. Cancelled gas plants, the ORNGE scandal, the e-health scandal – not to mention the assets we’ve lost – selling off Hydro One, allowing beer and wine to be sold in the stores, etc. All to “balance the budget”. The provincial debt has gotten so bad, we’ve had our credit rating downgraded. Even the CEO of Chrysler Canada is complaining that the high costs of hydro is this province may force them to leave. But this is the land of milk and honey, isn’t it? So we’re going to give the organizers of the Pan Am games millions of dollars in bonuses, and for what? For doing jobs they already are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars (over $400k to one). Wow. Can I get a 100% bonus too for just doing what I’m paid to do? Where’s the rationale for that?

(Update Sept. 16/2015 – The cheques are being cut now, and  53 Pan Am executives will split $5.7-million in bonus pay – http://tinyurl.com/nwppw26.)

It’s easy to throw other people’s money around I guess. And when we have no more revenue generating assets left, we can always go back to the trough and raise taxes, right?

I’m becoming cynical. I’m starting to believe the reason these people are in politics is because they are incompetent and would not survive in the corporate world. It’s time we start holding our government responsible. It’s time to see politicians charged when they breach our trust. Take their gold plated pensions away when they break the rules.

More importantly, it’s time to elect responsible government. A Government with the interests of the people in mind – you know, common people, working people, people like you and me.

Give me back the Canada I was born into.
Give me back the Canada who was respected internationally.
Give me back the Canada that was a shining example of fiscal responsibility.
Give me back the Canada I used to be so proud of.

I don’t belong to a political party so I’m not going to suggest who people should vote for. Each one of us needs to examine the leaders we have in power today, and decide what type of country we want Canada to be.

What do you want your Canada to look like?

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What’s Your Political Party?

When it comes to politics, I can be very clear in my opinions. That doesn’t mean that I’m not open to discussion or debate though, but sometimes I don’t think I make that clear enough. Let’s face it – I am not a political expert and I know I often disagree without necessarily knowing all the facts. I’d love to know the facts.

My opinions are formed through things I have learned, through historical experience (let’s face it – I’m old enough to have known a lot of different types of government in my life), from what I’ve learned from other people with different knowledge and ideas, and from reading the opinions of others for whom I have tremendous respect.

I’ve never understood the kind of people who vote for a particular party, regardless of who the leader or candidate was, simply because they’d always voted for that party, and maybe even because their families have voted for a particular party for a couple of generations.That’s so American though! As Canadians, let’s be smarter.

When my daughter was approaching voting age, she asked me how someone knows who to vote for in an election. My advice to her back then is advice that still works for everyone. I asked her to think about the kind of person she was and what she expected of her country, then to listen to each of the various party platforms and then vote for the party that was promising to provide that kind of country or those values.

Some people vote for a party because of a single issue, but I think it’s important to understand each of the issues.

Some people are afraid of change, especially in times of turmoil. Is it just a coincidence though, that we seem to be having a “time of turmoil” in one area or another before the last few elections?

If you’re waiting for the “perfect” time to change a government, economic or security wise, let me suggest there never will be a perfect time. The right time is when you really want change. As the author John E. Lewis once said “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

I know it’s easy to attack the person currently holding the office and maybe you don’t think that’s fair. Wouldn’t you agree though, that it keeps the governing party from getting too comfortable? If they KNOW that they’re going to be watched, measured and judged, don’t you think they might start coming through on some of their election promises? If you screw up in YOUR job, wouldn’t you expect to be let go eventually? Sure, the company might worry that it’s going to take a new person some time to get up to speed, but if they end up being better at the job, isn’t it worthwhile then?

Listen, I’m not suggesting who you should vote for. I’m going to continue examining my values and beliefs, and expressing my opinions, and everyone else needs to do the same thing.  Between now and October 19th, each of us needs to do three things:

  1. Figure out,
    • What kind of people are we and what do we expect of our country?
    • Which party’s platform better matches our values?
  2. Make sure:
    • We’re not voting on a single issue.
    • We’re not voting based on fear of any kind.
  3. Go out and vote. Because every vote matters.

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Ethics Lost

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ethics and morality that exist in our world today, or not.

We’ve been through Bill Clinton having oral sex in the White House, the Jean Chretien’s Liberal Adscam, Stephen Harper’s Conservativea circumventing the election rules, Martha Stewart’s inside trading, the head of Canada Post forced to retire because of outrageous expense reports, Brian Mulroney making deals with criminal people while in office, Worldcom’s accounting fiasco and the resulting aftermath, and so on and so on.

And now the Toronto Catholic School Board trustees, living high off the hog while they operate the school board on a deficit. Expenses such as car allowances, cell phones they’re allowed to keep, Dominican Republic vacations, extravagant dinners, and gold plated benefits. Even lingerie was expenses – now how does that relate to education?

Recently, Ryerson University wanted to expel a student who put together a study group on Facebook to solve an engineering problem they were supposed to work on individually. The school called it cheating. HELLO!?!?

Why are we surprised when we catch our children cheating or even wandering into grey areas? They see the news, they know what’s happening. It’s become the business style du jour. Grab what you can before they kick you out – if they catch you!

Call me naive, but I expect more from our government than having them act like pigs at the trough. I expect more from major corporations than having them think up more creative ways to screw us. And I really expect more from a group that puts a religious name on themselves. They’re greedy, selfish, pigs, marauding as pious Christians, which makes me sick.

I’m more sympathetic in situations where someone steals (call it what it is) because they are in financial need, but these are people who are already rich – looking to get richer. The people who end up paying are the poor and the working class.

How long are we going to take it? The only way to approach this situation is to start charging people AND SENDING THEM TO JAIL!! At least our children will then realize that it’s wrong. We need to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. Let’s throw out the corrupt politicians, and charge them for their misdeeds, or at least for breach of public trust. The laws were created for all of us, but authorities seem to leave the rich alone while they harass the rest of us.

Have we become such a complacent society that we will just keep taking this? The one thing I really hate about getting older and wiser is that I don’t like what I’m learning – what I’m seeing and hearing. I’m becoming disillusioned.

Am I the only one that feels this way?