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May 9, 2011 / mike54martin

Post-Election Blues

I have been struggling with how to respond to the Federal Election results. As a New Democrat I am elated at Jack’s success. But a big part of me is worried about the impact of four years of a Harper Conservative majority. Unlike others I take little solace in the demise of the Liberal Party. In some parts of the country they were the only allies we had and replacing a red seat cushion with an orange one will not make any more room on the couch.

I have watched, read and listened as all sorts of people, from the right and the left read the tea leaves and made great pronouncements on what it all means for Canada. I for one do not have a clue yet what it all means but some things ring true for me. Here are a few of them.

This was a strange election that produced a result that almost everyone got wrong. I don’t blame the pollsters and pundits, they didn’t know how to respond to the Orange Wave any more than the rest of us. Most of the media just went along for the ride. Them I do blame. The media did more to undermine democracy and democratic institutions by following Stephen Harper’s lead than anyone else. They spent the first half of the campaign allowing him to make the election about an imagined coalition (that would have been both legal and constitutional if it existed) and dismissing any and all calls to hold him to account for his contempt, corruption or callous acts towards women, workers and “not the right kind” of immigrants. They then finished the job, at least in the print media, by almost unanimously endorsing his call for a majority.

I also had the feeling during this election campaign that we on the left were talking to ourselves. Occasionally a voice from the CCPA or Judy Rebick on a CBC panel would speak to the broader world but for all my blogging and reading and writing I felt that I was only reaching my Friends on Facebook. It was great moral encouragement for me to get 5, 15 or 22 “likes” but these people already believed most of the same mantras as I had been reciting for 20 years. Facebook and Twitter may be a catalyst for change in the Arab world but if we keep on just talking to each other I don’t think we are even causing a ripple in the great Canadian conscience.

I also felt proud and excited as young people gathered in Vote Mobs to promote democracy and the women in the Stephen Harper break up videos were awesome and inspiring. But the small uptick in voter participation does not yet make a youth wave and even though women did much better than men when it came time to casting their vote for a positive future, none of the above was a game-changer. At the end of the day we are still left with a Conservative government that is promising a ‘kinder, gentler, machine-gun hand” and is likely to be harsher and swifter in its attack on our precious democracy.

Perhaps the saddest response I have had to the election results was from my son who is doing his PhD inAlberta(Edmonton-Strathcona). He said that his is so dismayed that he is thinking about leaving the country. I still don’t have a good reason to tell him not to go. I will write again soon about the way forward but I’m just not there yet.

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One Comment

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  1. rick ruscoe / May 14 2011 12:19 am

    It’s good to hear the voice of reason.Making persons accountable is the only cure for this greed, fear, and brutality.We must do what we can.

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