Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Canada Votes! And the world shrugs its shoulders...

Americans might well be envious of how quickly and painlessly Canada got through this general election: it was announced a few weeks back, people voted last night, and Canadians can now get on to more important things, like the debate over the new theme song to Hockey Night in Canada. In contrast, the electoral hostage crisis in the United States has become a grueling affair akin to the Bataan Death March.

The Conservatives called for the election, in spite of being opposed to calling for these sorts of general elections, because they couldn't get a majority in Parliament, and hence couldn't get anything done. For me, a government that can't get anything done is not such a bad thing; but as the Liberals are becoming the standard bearer for incompetence in Canadian government, there was some general hope that the Conservatives could break through the deadlocks and recrimination by gaining a majority of seats. I didn't think they could pull it off.

Long shory tort: they didn't pull it off. The Conservatives gained some seats, the Liberals lost some seats, the Greens proved that they're still around, and nothing much has changed. Canadians are not big on changing things anyway; remember that this was a nation defined by their rejection of revolution. And Stephen Harper's claim that Canadians are becoming more conservative seems a bit overblown. They are, probably, becoming more economically conservative; but aren't we all?

The most noticeable thing about elections here is that most people vote, but few seem upset if their candidate loses. Hamilton is a blue collar town, which means (at least in Canada) that people here vote for the NDP (basically, the socialists) who allocate more benefits to working people. Wealthier areas tend to vote Conservative, unless they're like Claire's mother and vote Green to show that they care about the environment. There is a Marijuana Party, whose voters are today saying, "There was an election yesterday? Aw shit!"

But I have yet to meet a Canadian who votes for "ideological" reasons. Politicians here don't really debate about abortion, or gay marriage, or who loves the country the mostest. And Canadians just don't get worked up about elections; it's not the be-all end-all. I've heard more than a few Americans say that the survival of the country is at stake if their candidate loses this election; I can't imagine hearing a Canadian say anything like that.

In other words, politics really is like the weather here: sometimes it doesn't go the way you want it to, but that doesn't affect the rest of your life negatively. But changing the Hockey Night in Canada theme song? That's a crisis.


clairev said...

well my friend i say to you, it's a fucking institution. a canadian institution! and i don't even like hockey, at all.


Holly said...


When did Canadians get the vote??

Rufus said...

Claire: Maybe you should suggest to the NDP leadership that they run on a platform of saving the old theme song.

Holly: As the old joke goes, Canada was the only nation to be given independence for good behaviour.