Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Open Memo to Ontario Voters

All polls indicate that Ontario, especially Toronto, will once again be voting en masse for the Liberal Party of Canada. Do any of you understand why this makes Westerners question your sanity & intelligence?

Listen online to any Western Canadian talk-radio show and you'll hear an endless stream of irate Westerners ranting about separation. It's easy to dismiss such folks as redneck yahoos but I do feel they're much more representative of the majority than one might realize. Take me for example. I'm a well read, well travelled Vancouver-boy who has lived in several locations in this country:

  • Lynn Lake, Manitoba (2 years)
  • Sudbury, Ontario (5 years)
  • Victoria, BC (3 years)
  • Montreal, Quebec (18 months)
Yet my views about separation are very similar. It's not the preferred option for me, but it is an option if some fundamental things don't change soon.

Call me naive, but I've long thought that there's an unwritten contract between the people and the government we elect. Forever and a day the people have held up their end of this agreement, but for decades the federal government simply has not - at least not from the perspective of a typical Westerner. The fact that many in the Liberal party no longer seem to recognize that they're only in power at the privilege of the people is going to come back to haunt the future of Canada. I'm positive about this.

Out here in the West, the call for separation will almost certainly come from Alberta first. If/when this occurs, I for one will be pushing for B.C. to join them. I am not anti-Canadian but I am against all governments that have absolutely no semblance of accountability.

6 comments:

Asher Hunter said...

So lets see if I understand this: you're saying we should change the way we vote based upon the worry that the West might not like the way we vote?

Last I checked, people are allowed to vote according to their conscience. What you are saying is essentially extortion: Vote our way, or we leave the country.

Its the equivalent of saying "play the game my way, or I'm taking my ball and going home".

Is that the kid you want to be?

PelaLusa said...

Asher, you make a very fair point and I appreciate you making it. I do. During the Quebec separation campaigns of years past, I pretty much asked the same question.

But let me throw two other questions at you:

1. Can you understand and accept that sometimes things happen to a group of people - be they ethnically or religiously or geographically connected - that gives them every right to say, "Enough is enough, we want independence?"

2. What do you think it would take to get the people of Ontario to collectively stop electing a majority of Liberals?

Anonymous said...

I wonder: if you find you’re going down a road you don’t want to go down with a group of people, are you bound to continue? If you find they’re “going off the rails”, according to your values, must you stay with the team? If your co-workers are chronically supportive of unethical behaviour, must you stay with your company? If you’re continuously being sucked dry by your wayward cousin, can you not at some point disown him or her?

Are we forever attached at the hip with a population who want to live their lives differently from us? I don't believe it must be. At some point we politely agree to disagree and go our own way. It's probably more healthy & harminous for all concerned.

Slovakian friends tell me, for example, how people in both their country and the Czech Republic get on wonderfully, since they parted company.

MW

Asher Hunter said...

Pela, thanks for your response, and I'm happy to see that you weren't angry. I usually don't bother making political comments, because the blog owners often react with anger. From your blog, I suspected you're an intelligent and open minded person; I'm pleased to see I was right.

To answer your questions: first, yes I can understand that a group of people may want independence. I can't help but feel that, in this case, its the easy way out. I believe that Canada is the greatest country in the world. After long study of other countries and political systems, I can honestly say I love my country.

Is it perfect? Fuck no. There are huge problems, idiotic politicians, lying political parties, and more. Despite these flaws, the country has done great things, and deserves a chance to grow and thrive.

When I hear someone call for independence, to me it feels like someone who cuts the lifeboats because the boat is leaking; despite the fact that the bilge pumps are handily taking care of the water, and there is no danger of sinking.

As for your second question, Ontarians have been voting liberal for some time, but consider our history. We used to vote PC all the time, and then the PCs turned around and burned us badly.

We voted NDP once (I am an NDP, by the way), and the guy turned around and fucked up royally. People are disillusioned.

To me, Canada is like a family. And when things go wrong in a family, you can either dig in your heels and fight back, or you can move off on your own and disavow your blood.

If the West wants to leave, then I would be very sorry to see them go.

PelaLusa said...

Asher,

Thank you for your response. When a couple breaks up and one person leaves the home, it is a sad occasion all around - for both people, for the kids, and for their friends. In the past I always used to say, "I'm sorry." But I've thought about this a LOT in the past few years and now no longer use these words. Instead, I focus on the realization that there must have been good reasons for the split, and if both people involved feel that they tried to make it work then good on them for moving on with their lives.

Quebecers have clearly not been happy with the relationship for a long time. More recently, neither have Albertans and British Columbians.

In the case of Alberta & B.C., I simply don't believe that anyone can honestly say that Westerners haven't been legitimately crying out for years about the gross inequities in the relationship; not whining, just stating the facts.

Here are some of the things we've complained about for at least the last 25 years:

1. Ridiculously high taxes
2. A broken judicial system
3. An unelected senate
4. An overgrown federal bureaucracy
5. No accountability amongst politicians or bureaucrats
6. Complete fiscal mismanagement
7. A federal system that punishes those who work hard and provides no incentives for continual underperformers to ever change

I've lived in your province for 5 years (Sudbury) and very well understand the mentality of Ontarioans. As individuals you're fine people but collectively you are clearly deaf to the rest of the country.

Forgetting about the past, please do tell me what it would take for people from your province to stop voting Liberal. Would a huge sex scandal amongst first ministers with minors do it? Would even more theft from those at the top do it? Would a declaration from them that Canada is going to become a Marxist state do it? Though my specific questions are somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the general premise of my question is quite sincere.

Jan de Groot said...

Hi,

I have lived here in Vancouver for 35 years, before that in Toronto for 6 years, and raised in Regina.

I like the Liberals, federally anyways (the provincial ones are fruitcakes). They are socially progressive and fiscally prudent. A good combination, in my opinion. This country isn't perfect but better than most others, and we got like this by being socially progressive and fiscally prudent. Unfortunately, the Liberals are the only party that has those values. If the old Progressive Conservatives were still around, the Liberals would be dead in the water, but there is too much "Reform" in the Conservative Party now. Who wants another corrosive abortion/death penalty debate.

I would like to respond to your points.

1. Ridiculously high taxes

They are not that high compared to many other countries, including the US, if you look at the whole picture. No death duties, no tax on the capital appreciation of your house. Besides, I believe you should pay your own way, not leave it up to your kids to pay back your debts.

2. A broken judicial system

Our system is built around the idea of minimizing the recurrance of crime. A lot of times it doesn't work, but a lot of times it does. The US system is built on revenge. A lot of times it doesn't work either. I definately wouldn't call our system broken, but of course it could be improved.

3. An unelected senate

I agree on this one. Give the regions more clout in Ottawa by having a system somewhat like the US.

4. An overgrown federal bureaucracy

I don't know if it is really. I just wish they would move quicker.

5. No accountability amongst politicians or bureaucrats

There is actually. It's called an election.

6. Complete fiscal mismanagement

Compared to the rest of the world, we're doing great. The Americans are going into debt way faster than even Trudeau did in his heyday. That country is technically bankrupt. If you want to see complete fiscal mismanagement, just look south.

7. A federal system that punishes those who work hard and provides no incentives for continual underperformers to ever change

I think most people work hard, and do OK. If you are talking about a lack of support for entrepreneurs, I think you need look no further than the big 5 banks.Those guys are brutal.

I don't think you can score many points calling Easterners "insane". Our local politics are really nuts.