Okay, folks… this is more than 2,000 words. I’m sorry! Crowfoot and I get really chatty, and this time around it was all so fascinating I couldn’t see any good places to cut! I’ve re-ordered a few comments and responses that got out of sync, and touched up our punctuation and spelling, but other than that… this is how Crowfoot and I talk on an average Friday lunch break.
My apologies for not having posted much over the last couple of weeks. Eloriane is still out on her secret mission holiday and has limited access/time for posting as well. As is common with my writing issues, I’ve hit a complete wall and have been really struggling to write anything apart from a few sentences on threads here and there. I do have a few very rough drafts of things that should (hopefully) be finished soon, that will also (hopefully) be interesting to read. In the meantime I’ve been terribly distracted BY THE POTENTIAL FALL OF MY GOVERNMENT!!
Check it out! Canadian politics has gotten exciting! 😀
We just had a federal election about 7 weeks ago and the sitting government, the Conservative Party of Canada, was about to face a vote of non-confidence in the House of Commons, which means either there’s yet another election, or the opposition gets to band together and rule instead. Imagine if only 7 wks into his second term Bush was faced with having the Democrats run the country instead of him because they couldn’t all agree on his budget. Exciting! However, this isn’t what’s going down (yet) because the Prime Minister has convinced the Governor General (the Queen’s representative who’s non-partisan and gets to decide these things) to simply suspend parliament for more than 50 days. Talk about dodging the bullet.
I’m going to assume that many to most of you don’t really know much about Canadian politics, or the Canadian parliamentary system (the why of this is maybe deserving a post in and of itself). It’s a first-past-the-post system, like the U.S. presidential system, where a party can rule when they only have a minority of the popular vote. There are, of course, a multitude of other differences. The main difference, with regards to what’s just gone down in Canada, is that because we have a multiparty system, a party needs more than a slim majority to effectively lead; they need a large majority. Not 50 + 1, but rather the most seats of any party along with the majority of the total seats available. If the party that wins the most seats does not also win the majority of the total seats possible, then they’re called a minority government. Minority governments need to compromise somewhat and work with the opposition parties in order to effectively govern. It appears to be a way to make sure that if one party wants to do something that is drastically different than what the other parties want, then they really need a decisive majority of Canadian voters behind them to do so. Otherwise, it’s compromise time baby.
I like that.
Yarn Harlot has a great run-down of what’s happened and why. And, of course, it’s not all the bills the minority government brings up for a vote that can get this vote of non-confidence, just the big ones: how the government spends money and whether we go to war. Of course, this can be manipulated by those seeking to just claim power that Canadian voters didn’t give them, and certainly this is one of the things that the coalition parties are being accused of. Protests are happening around the country, both for and against the coalition. Canadian Cynic has a post criticizing the notion of the minority government having a “mandate” from the Canadian voters. And unrepentant old hippie has many posts talking about this crisis – as well as being a great go-to blog to keep track of reproductive rights in Canada. Seriously, if you’re going to click on any of my links – click on hers! She’s awesome.
One of the things pointed out in Yarn Harlot’s blog post and subsequent comments is that the ultimate decider of what’s going to go down is a woman, the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, the Governor General of Canada. While the Prime Minister is the head of government, the GG is the head of state, representing the Queen. Here’s a little example of growing Canadian political diversity: the last two GG’s have been immigrant women of colour. Of course we still have a long way to go – no women of any colour or person of colour of any sex has been elected Prime Minister. And while the Governor General’s role appears largely symbolic, times like these show just how much it also isn’t.
At the end of January, when Parliament is opened again and the Conservatives have to table another budget bill, with the government fall? Will the Coalition stick together until then or fall apart due to infighting? Or, should the government fall, will we just get another election? And if that happens will the Coalition run as such during the election?? I don’t know! Exciting!
No, really, maybe I will.
Check it out: Obama-McCain Tied Nationally!
Now, even if Obama wins, it’s going to take some small miracles to keep me in the U.S. after I graduate. I finish my undergrad in 2012. If I end up going to grad school in film like I want to, I’ll probably want to do that in California, so maybe I’ll stick around for another couple years after that as well. But there had better be a gay marriage miracle across the U.S. between now and 2020, or I’m taking my Canadian citizenship and leaving.
I’ll probably also be expecting a single-payer health care system miracle, a reproductive rights miracle,
an environmental miracle, an anti-torture miracle, a privacy miracle, and if I’m being particularly picky maybe even an international reputation miracle.
I know Canada isn’t the promised land– I have been there, many times– but it is unquestionably better.
I have this internal monologue every time the U.S. does something phenomenally stupid (which is most days, now): I have dual citizenship. The U.S. isn’t my only option. I could get married in Canada. The Canadian film industry is booming, and there’s actually legislation trying to achieve gender parity within the industry, not to mention the requirement that 30 percent of the media shown in Canada be of Canadian origin– it’d probably be easier and require less fighting with sexist assholes if I worked in film in Canada. And fluency in Arabic would still be a useful backup. Actually, that might be more fun in Canada, too, since I wouldn’t be representing the U.S. The Canadian dollar’s getting really strong and it’s an internationally respected country. I love my Canadian family. I wouldn’t have to deal with all this health insurance rubbish. I could be proud of my home country, of my government. With the parliamentary system, I’d never have to “hold my nose” and compromise with my vote ever again.
I could get married in Canada. That’s always the first thought, and it’s always the last one too. Even though it’s the most emotional/least rational, it’s the most compelling. I could get married. Not commitment cerimonied, not married-only-if-I-don’t-leave-the-state-and-maybe-that’ll-change-too, really married.
(I should use that to pick up girls: “Hey, baby! Wanna move to Canada and get married for real? I’m a citizen!”)
Actually, the quietest, shyest little thought, in the middle there, is also highly compelling: I could be proud of my government. The American system is fundamentally broken. The Democratic party doesn’t give a shit about me. If I stay in the U.S., I’m going to be doing a lot of wincing, a lot of crying out into the void, and a whole lot of compromising. This is where I grew up, so I bet if I didn’t have any other options I’d just swallow my pride and take it, and hope I can push things just a little bit farther in the right direction.
Or I could move to Canada. And that idea seduces me. I mean, Canada’s Conservative Party is no worse than our current Democratic Party. But I wouldn’t have to vote for them. I could vote for anyone I liked! Because the Conservative party doesn’t have 50% of the House of Commons– it only has 38%– nothing can be passed unless members of the other parties agree. So the opposition parties have the power to truly influence the direction of the country.
I could vote for the Liberal Party and hope they edge out the Conservative Party– the two are pretty close!– or I could vote for the New Democratic Party, which is even more liberal, and give it a little more clout in negotiations, or I could vote for any other party I liked and if they got even one seat, they’d be involved in the political conversations and my vote would count.
But even if I just voted straight Liberal party line, I wouldn’t have to hold my nose to do so, and that in itself is such a powerful temptation that I think I could leave the U.S. tomorrow and not regret it.
That probably seemed like a long tangent, but I thought the background was important so that my threat could be understood to be truly serious. My long-term plans will probably always include moving to Canada, sooner or later…
But if McCain gets elected, I’m outta this country as soon as I finish my undergrad.
I won’t say, “as soon as the polls close,” because realistically it would be a waste to give up a full-ride scholarship at my rather nice university so I can transfer mid-term to a school in another country. But if McCain is president in 2012, I’ll get my diploma, throw my cap, and drive to Canada in my graduation robes. I won’t stay in McCain’s Americaland a second longer than I have to.