Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2021/ Early Federal Election Feelings

Early Federal Election Feelings

Fair warning: I am angry, and I will be writing a number of unkind things. Furthermore, looking back at my 2019 election posts I realize I am repeating myself a lot. So be it. Feel free to skip this one.

So Trudeau pulled the trigger and called a completely unnecessary election during a pandemic, on the grounds that it offered him the best chance of receiving a majority government. In no way did he call this election out of the best interests of Canadians; it was solely to benefit the Liberal Party.

Most likely, Trudeau wasn't wrong. Now that we are mostly vaccinated we are feeling pretty happy the government has wasted millions and millions of dollars on doses we won't even use. Trudeau's government was in no imminent danger of falling, but we might be over the vaccine high by then. If Trudeau waited until next year he would be competing with the provincial Ontario election. So off to the polls we go, in service of the Liberal Party.

It's such a Justin Trudeau move. He says nice things and then acts with deep cynicism, knowing full well that he has limited our options.

I am furious. I am furious at everybody. As I age I am getting more furious at these political parties and their election shenanigans. I have not paid much attention to the election so far and honestly I don't want to. I do not even want to tune into all-candidates meetings, because the idea that we elect local MPs is fiction. We elect warm bodies who parrot the talking points their party leaders give them. The vast majority of people could not care less about their local candidates. And although sometimes local MPs and MPPs can make a difference (Catherine Fife, Laura Mae Lindo, Elizabeth Witmer, even Andrew Telegdi and Stephen Woodworth in their own ways), this is the exception, not the rule.

Our governance systems in this country are broken, and they are getting worse. We all know this. Former politicians admit it openly. But when they are in power or trying to get elected they pretend that the system somehow works and that our voices somehow matter.

Party Thoughts

I despise the Liberals and actively do not want to vote for them. I have not forgiven (and will not forgive) the electoral reform fiascos of 2007 and 2015. I have learned never to trust a Liberal.

If I had my druthers a lot of Liberals would lose their seats. My ideal outcome would be for the Liberals to barely hold onto a minority government, ideally requiring BOTH the NDP and Greens to stay in power. That won't happen, but that is what I want.

But as bad as the Liberals are, the other parties are worse, and it is not as if we have much choice in the matter. Either the Liberals or the Conservatives will form the next government, and the Liberals know that. They also know that if the Conservatives seize power they will immediately scrap the carbon tax.

Supposedly Erin O'Toole has some lip service to climate change in his platform, but if he does not have the backbone to keep the carbon tax then why should we believe anything else he says? The carbon tax is not perfect or even that good, but it is a concrete step towards reducing carbon emissions that will work. If you cannot hold onto that much then what hope do you have of making the drastic adaptations we are now facing from climate change? Unfortunately, enough Conservatives are still in denial that even if O'Toole himself is willing to take some action, his power base will not allow it. I guess Alberta will have to burn for a few more years until his voter base shifts.

Maybe more importantly for me, the Conservatives were behind the 2011 robocall scandal. They have never been held accountable for this, and they are unrepentant. Sure enough, the Ontario PC party has been sending deceptive invoices to solicit money from their supporters. ("But that's the Ontario PC party, not the federal Conservatives!" you exclaim, as if there was no relationship between the two and Mary Henein Thorn did not run for both.)

I am still furious at the Greens for violating my privacy. Also their party is in disarray. They found the most woke diverse party leader they could to replace Elizabeth May, and then -- whoops! -- a good fraction of the party base could not tolerate a Zionist Jew as leader. I expect Elizabeth May will keep her seat; I do not know if they will elect anybody else. We will see if Annamie Paul will even have support/money to campaign across the country.

I don't know if I am as furious with the NDP as I am with the Liberals and Greens, but I am not happy that Jagmeet Singh is trying to have it both ways with the election ("We didn't want an election and would support the government, but now we are going to win it!") I do feel most of the NDP socialist solutions are mostly stupid, although I have not yet examined their platform to determine how stupid they are. Usually the NDP answer to everything is "tax the rich and spend like there is no tomorrow", which I am skeptical about given the deep hole we have already spent ourselves into thanks to COVID.

The only way I can forsee the Liberals doing worse in this election is if a different party (the Bloc, probably) does better in Quebec, or somebody else sweeps the GTA. I don't think either will happen. I suspect the prairies will go solid Conservative again.

The Conservatives had more votes in the last election but won 24 fewer seats than the Liberals. If the Cons can distribute their vote just a little better, they could easily form government and could conceivably get a majority. Erin O'Toole is portraying himself as a moderate, so unless he alienates all of Alberta I think he has a good chance.

Local Candidates

I dislike Bardish Chagger. She betrayed her community to roll over for the PMO on the electoral reform issue, and I do not forgive her for that. It is great she has leveraged her oppressed woman of colour status to decreasingly important cabinet positions. (I guess I should not say that. As Minister of Diversity and Youth she signed the contract that led to the WE Charity scandal, which cost Bill Moreau his job. Let us never say Chagger has never accomplished anything in politics.) I am sure Chagger is nice in person (they are all nice in person) but I want her to lose her seat.

I dislike Raj Saini. He has been more-or-less absent in the local community and he is a perennial backbencher in the party. Furthermore his campaign deceptively sends out "A vote for the NDP is a vote for Stephen Harper" literature at the end of every campaign. I want him to lose his seat.

I note that the Conservatives are running a bunch of women in local ridings. This surprises me. Usually the Conservative up their diversity numbers by nominating women and minority candidates in unwinnable ridings, and then proceed not to support those campaigns financially. Is that how they feel about Waterloo Region, or are they finally changing their tune? I cannot believe they are giving up on Kitchener-Conestoga (which was a longtime stronghold for Harold Albrecht) but sure enough Carlene Hawley is running there.

In Kitchener Centre we have Saini, Mary Henein Thorn for the Conservatives, Mike Morrice for the Greens and Beisan Zubi for the NDP. Ugh.

Thorn has run for the Ontario PCs in 2018. As I have previously disclosed, I was briefly a coworker at the cult, and she seemed nice enough. But I really hope she has improved as a candidate. In the 2018 election she was utterly mediocre -- like Peter Braid bad. There is a reasonable chance she will be our MP, however.

Just as in 2019, Mike Morrice really wants to win this. He is in an early lead in the lawn sign assault, and many of his lawn signs are on private property. He no doubt dug deep into his databases and identified a bunch of people to put up lawn signs early. But he needs more than local support in hippie neighbourhoods to win. He won the lawn sign assault last time too, and still finished about 10% behind Saini.

Without a viable Green Party and a viable leader he is effectively running as an independent. He nudged out Stephen Woodworth last election to win second place in the riding, but circumstances are significantly different this time around. Woodworth was a polarizing figure, for one thing, so his loss was Morrice's benefit. I don't think he gets that advantage this time around. Last election I was quite concerned about him splitting the vote, and this time I ought to be as well.

Morrice would probably do fine as an MP. He is totally a politician -- he will tell you what you want to hear. He sounds genuine but I mistrust him. He recognises me on the street, which is disconcerting. There is no question that he has the organizing skill and fundraising muscle to get things done. I remain unconvinced that I should vote for him, especially given the way the Greens violated my privacy.

Then there's Beisan Zubi. Sigh. She is young and brown and tech-connected and woke. She ran for Regional Council in Waterloo in 2018, when she did her best to throw Jane Mitchell under the bus. Telling Jane Mitchell to step aside for being in power for 18 years and leaving both Jim Erb (who had been a councillor before) and Sean Strickland (who has been a municipal politician since 1997) was pretty interesting. Also interesting was the timing of her missive, as if she had no choice but to accuse Mitchell for being racist because she allegedly referred to Zubi as an "ethnic". You know what? Maybe Mitchell did not use woke language. Maybe the situation was even worse and Mitchell behaved poorly to Zubi. I remain suspicious that this particular attack was not made out of social justice but out of political calculation, and as far as I am concerned those are the kinds of tactics Zubi (and the NDP) love to invoke. I would bet money that Zubi attacks the Greens for not being diverse enough, and that she finds some way to accuse Mike Morrice of being a racist. I am still steamed about this (and I would be doubly steamed if Zubi attended the municipal women's campaign school that Mitchell helped organize). I do not appreciate these tactics and I will not be voting for Beisan Zubi in the next election.

Issues

Here are the issues the mainstream media has told me should be at the top of my mind.

Climate Change

Well, this is it. We have frittered away the last 40 years pretending that climate change was not real and we did not need to do anything about it. We have had record-breaking summer after record-breaking summer. We have seen the arctic ice melt and not return. Fort McMurray suffered from wildfires. The pine beetle ravaged BC forests. Now BC is on fire and northern Ontario is on fire, and we facing droughts and floods and storms, and now we are finally starting to believe climate change is a thing. Go us.

Too bad we are still fighting about whether there is anything we ought to do about it. If there is one thing that has become clear, it is that Canada is a petrostate, and our pocketbooks make us incapable of entertaining the idea that maybe we shouldn't be trying to extract every drop of the tar sands out of the ground while it is still worth money? That's the Liberal plan. They mouth nice things about planting two billion trees while continuing to support pipelines and expanding the tarsands. They want to have it both ways, and maybe if they were treating climate change this seriously 40 years ago (or even 15 years ago, when St├ęphane Dion was sporting green scarves) they might have had some wiggle room. Now we are on fire.

And that's the Liberals! I don't even want to imagine what the Conservative plans are.

International treaties are federal jurisdiction. The federal government has some power to do something on this file. What they are doing (and what they have been doing for decades) is a lot of lip service and precious little action. Now we are moving into a phase of climate mitigation, and nobody is prepared.

This is one area where I am embarrassed to be spouting my mouth off. I am not allowed to be this angry if I do not even know what the intended plans are. I do remember reading the Liberal plans and being woefully underwhelmed.

Debt and Spending

I probably should not be concerned about this, but I really am. We spent an enormous money on this pandemic. Every level of government spent way beyond its means. At some point that debt will come due, and in the meantime I am really afraid of deep austerity. How are we going to fund climate change mitigation (never mind anything else like healthcare) if we are so deeply in debt?

One can always point to debt as an issue, but somehow we managed to get into historic levels of debt to keep society from cracking apart during COVID. The numbers are astronomical, and we were already in considerable debt already.

People who support increased government spending point out that the federal government has the power to wish money into existence. That is fine and good as long as we don't enter an inflationary spiral.

From a personal standpoint, I am worried that inflation is going to wipe out my savings and leave me destitute. If we take on austerity measures then I won't have government largesse to support me either. (Yes, I am aware that if Canada does what I want and abdicate from its position as a petrostate, there will be even less government largesse available.)

From a societal viewpoint I think about all the cases of long COVID and the incredible incoming burdens on our healthcare system and I despair.

Housing

Yes, there is a housing crisis. No, I am not convinced that the federal government can do much here. They may be able to fund some affordable housing programs but I do not see what else.

On a personal level I am deeply concerned about what I will do once I lose my current housing. At most I have a few more years; in the worst case I could be out in a couple of months.

Indigenous Rights

I am not nearly as enthusiastic about this file as others are. I have a lot of problems with the narratives and their implications. Nonetheless, I am with Cindy Blackstock in being furious that our governmment continues to wage battle after battle over indigenous rights in the courts. They are fighting survivors of St Anne's School in court over the release of documents, and it is disgusting. Regardless of what past sins we have committed, can we at least not perpetuate those sins now?

The other aspect of indigenous reconciliation that really bugs me is disparities in educational funding for indigenous kids vs everybody else. There appears to be an obvious solution to this: get the federal government out of children's education, and subcontract the work to the provinces, so that indigenous kids can get the same support everybody else does. I guess there must be a lot of problems with this idea, because nobody seems to want to go there. It does not help that a good number of woke Indigenous activists don't acknowledge that provinces exist; they want to negotiate with the Queen (oops. the Crown) personally. But is also the case that the federal government has the ability to fund indigenous education at levels comparable to the provinces, but chooses not to.

I do not know how to feel about the atrocious state of boil water advisories on reserves. I am definitely angry that Six Nations reserve just next to Brantford does not have universal access to clean water. Six Nations is not a fly-in community. There are plenty of smaller communities near it who do have access to clean drinking water. It is one of the richest reserves in Ontario. How in the world is this happening? (And to what extent am I culpable, given that I live on their territory?)

Holding Grudges

Why am I so angry? Why am I holding grudges from 2007 and 2011 in an election being held in 2021? Am I not aware that every party makes mistakes and eventually you have to forgive everybody so you still have somebody to vote for?

Maybe the things I hold grudges about (electoral reform shenanigans from the Liberals, misleading robocalls from the Conservatives, microtargeting by the Greens) seem like no big deal to you, but they are really big deals to me.

The conceit of voting in a democracy (especially a FPTP democracy) is that if nothing else we can "kick the bums out" when they have become too corrupt. The problem is that when we kick out the red bums we are left with the blue bums, and then when we kick the blue bums out we are right back to the red bums. There is no accountability here, which is exactly how the Liberals and Conservatives want it.

A few days before the election Saini is going to pull out the "A vote for anybody but Raj Saini is a vote for the Conservatives" schtick again. He is not entirely wromng, but you know who is to blame for that? Raj Saini is to blame for that, along with all of his Liberal friends. A pox on them. They will never allow the system to be changed in a way that might inconvenience the Liberal Party, and they think they can get away with that indefinitely without facing consequences. I do not feel that is something you can be angry at the Liberals for only one election, because it affects EVERY election. A pox on them.

Now let's talk robocalls. Misdirecting voters to phony voting locations was a new low. It was electoral fraud. If I had any reason to believe the Conservatives had turned a new leaf, then maybe this would be forgivable. But they clearly believe that deceit is an acceptable fundraising strategy, and except for Michael Sona nobody was held accountable. This is also not something I am willing to forgive after one (or even a few) elections. A pox on them.

Now let's talk microtargeting. This is in some ways the most insidious practice, because there is nothing illegal about it. For some inscrutable reason Elections Canada tells the political parties where we all live, and then the political parties cross-reference that data with whatever other information they can scrape up about us to classify us as voters. Based upon that classification, they then work to either encourage our vote or dissuade us from voting altogether. The three main parties all do this (how else do you think the Conservatives knew whom to robocall in 2011?). All of them are despicable. A pox on all of them.

This is utterly common practice, but it is despicable. These people are supposed to be governing us, and that means governing ALL of us, not just those who can be brainwashed into supporting them. Encouraging voters that do not support the party in question to stay home is psychological manipulation, and I do not understand why we accept it so cavalierly. We are all freaking out about facial recognition and unethical AI, but we are okay with this? I am not okay with this.

The Greens were supposed to be a different kind of party. Instead they are the same as the other parties, except with more flaky left-wing nutjobs. I am deeply disappointed by this. I remain furious that my personal privacy was violated, but I am much more concerned about the bigger picture here. If you microtarget voters who are the most likely to vote for you, you are choosing to ignore voters who don't matter. Who are those non-voters? The poor and the marginalized, which get stomped on by governments no matter who is in power. That is not a just system, and it is not a good way to govern a country. But the political parties carry on as if there will be no consequences for doing this.