Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Le Sad, Le Sadder, Le Saddest: Canadian Democracy in Action, or Inaction

You don't have to reading your friends' status updates on Facebook to know that many artists in Canada are sad about today's election results, which show arts-fund-cutter, Kyoto-hater, surplus-spender Stephen Harper back in the Prime Minister's seat. But it helps. "In shock," "moving to another country, maybe Malta," "disgusted with the Canadian electorate," "upset by the election results," "disappointed in Canadian politics" and "questioning the strategy of not voting strategically" were all up there today on the Interweb.

In short, the artsy left in Canada today is feeling morose. But it's not the worst that could have happened:

Le Sad: Harper wins the west as usual, but another party wins the election. Tenuous party bonds continue to exist between urban and rural areas, and between east and west. Nation goes into recession, tries to get back into Kyoto, left still continues to struggle, etc.

Le Sadder: Harper wins in a minority government. Political bonds between urban and rural Canada, east and west, nearly evaporate. Nation goes into recession, avoids Kyoto (even though climate change has been an election issue for scientists for well over a decade), haggles over a good many other things from daycare to taxation to centralization of government power. Left still continues to struggle, etc.

Le Saddest: Harper wins a majority. Social conservatism wins along with economic conservatism. Reversals or steps towards reversals on abortion, gay marriage, immigration, etc. Spending cuts to many needed social programs including health care, employment insurance, welfare and pensions. Left still continues to struggle, etc.

So we're basically in middle-melancholy, Le Sadder territory here. I agree it's still pretty sad. Here are a few things that make me Le Happier:

1) A graphic showing how little of the vote the Tories actually got:

2) The hope that the dissonance between this graphic and current Tory control will spur the gears of electoral reform in Canada - to join the cause see FAIR VOTE CANADA (thanks again to David Meslin for the image and the link)

3) This Onion article, "Report: 60 Million People You'd Never Talk To Voting for The Other Guy" which manages to make light of the fact that our society seems to be ever more divided. Just as many artists are wondering why people voted Tory, there are many Tories wondering why so many people voted Liberal/NDP/Green/Bloc, right? Ok, that's veering further into Le Sad, not Le Happy.

4) Thinking of ways to try and bridge that idological divide that don't involve joining the Conservative Party. Could it be time for an Albertan-Ontarian alliance? Urban-rural? 416-905? We might need to get real creative here.

5) Thinking "At least it's not a majority!" And repeating.

6) Thinking "Thank god for Quebec and Newfoundland" (which both dropped their vote for the Tories)

Things are much more complex, of course, than this simple list, but offering it makes me Less Le Sad. Merci.

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