Tuesday, January 24, 2006

“In a democracy everybody has a right to be represented, including the jerks.” - Chris Patten

Fortunately, my fellow Canadians have chosen, in their wisdom, to hand the jerk subset of the Conservative party a yoke with a very short leash, at least until they can prove their lack of inherent jerkiness.

If they can.

Husband and I voted together, over lunch, as we always do in every election, federal, provincial or municipal. "Molly" voted in the afternoon. "Mohammed", who isn't a citizen, was working as a scrutineer Monday evening after his day job. What a country! ("Don't you have to be a citizen?" Molly's sister "Anne" asked. "Nah," I replied. "We prefer disinterested third parties count the votes.")

We gathered in the pub to watch the election returns come in - "Rob" threw the coverage up on the big screen they use for hockey games and suchlike - politics as the ultimate spectator sport. Caesars seemed both appropriately political and appropriately Canadian refreshment.

Rick Mercer had a wonderful pre-election special and ran a great spoof of the attack ads the Liberals ran against Stephen Harper:

"Stephen Harper has plans for Canada.
Scary plans.
Stephen Harper has a dragon.
He keeps it in a shed.
Stephen Harper drinks his own blood.
He really does. We can't make this up.
The Liberal Party of Canada: Let's see how badly we can lose this thing."

Download the ad here (click on "A message from the Liberal Party of Canada") and/or see his rant on the election here (click on "Rick's Rant for January 23, 2006").

The polls closed locally at 8:30 and the local returns, plus those from Newfoundland which had closed a half-hour earlier, began coming in. The Atlantic Provinces pretty much held the line, God bless us, and the Conservatives gained only two seats here at the end of the evening.

As a result, we were in fairly good spirits as we waited for the polls to close in Quebec and Ontario and Manitoba. Those of you familiar with Canada know that the great bulk of Canada's population, and hence the largest number of Parliamentary seats, are in those provinces; and all indications were that they would make the significant shift that would hand the Conservative party either a minority or majority government. This year the polls there didn't close until 9:30 Eastern time, or 10:30 Atlantic (our local) time, due to some incomprehensible plot to ensure that Atlantic Canadians perform poorly on the day after an election due to sleep deprivation.

By 10 pm I was out of gas; I finished my drink and headed home to watch the rest of the reporting in a horizontal position with a couple of cats to comfort me. Husband elected to stay at the pub for awhile with a few friends who'd just arrived, so I struck out for the five-minute walk home alone, into the heavy snow that had begun falling.

Things were almost eerily quiet. There were no cars, no people on the road, just the hush of a gentle, windless snowfall. In house after house I passed, families were gathered around televisions tuned to the election coverage. There was an overwhelming sense of anticipation; that somehow, whatever the result, we would be a slightly different country tomorrow.

I thought about how in so much of the world, as Brian mentioned on this blog, elections mean guns and riots and people risking their lives to vote; and I thought of Tiannanmen Square where young people were gunned down like animals for asking for the right to vote; and was awed at this quiet miracle of democracy which would doubtless result in a change in government through peaceful and cooperative means.

I was heartbroken when Paul Martin announced, in his gracious concession speech, that he would not lead the party into the next election. He was, my co-worker "Molly" lamented the next day, "a good guy who got the job he waited for all his life and found a huge steaming pile of dog shit left on the office carpet". But he is throwing himself on his sword for the good of the Liberal party, and he knows it and we know it.

All right, Stevie boy. You get your shot. And the Liberals, NDP (who showed well, bless them) and Bloc will keep your neocon social tendencies in check, thank God.

Now: enter Frank McKenna, stage left.



Blogger Yearning 2 B said...

It's good to know that my homeland hasn't gone crazy like the one I'm living in.

Don't even get me started on Bush... seriously, don't even THINK about getting me started...

5:22 p.m.  
Blogger Carl said...

Eerily quiet? You're getting pretty used to being a cyborg, aren't you?

Or did you maybe never get used to deafness?


2:06 a.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Carl - wonderful comment. I think the latter - never got used to deafness. And the "eerie quiet" of a winter snowfall is the 'non-sound' I missed most of all...

Cousin - Just don't give up your citizenship... that way you still have *some* flexibility... and I understand Canada's still thinking about annexing the Turks and Caicos at their request :)

9:31 p.m.  

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