What do Stephen Harper and Hitler have in common?

In so-called Western democracies like Canada, people often complain about corrupt and self-serving politicians but there doesn’t seem to be much fear that an individual could come along and change the very foundations of this country. A fascist government? In Canada? Never! We look at politically unstable countries and assume that we’re immune to the problems they face. But we’re not. All it takes is one person. It’s happened countless times in many different countries around the world. Some of these leaders seize power through a coup or some other violent or underhanded method. Sometimes, they’re elected.

People seem content to rest on the assumption that if a head of state ever did want to transform our nation, we would know. Somehow, we would see it coming. And granted, Harper did warn us that we wouldn’t recognize Canada once he was through with it. How far along does one suppose we’ve gotten at this point? When the Fair Elections Act was introduced, I read that only 23% of those polled indicated that they were aware of the proposed legislation. Something as important as a plan to make substantial changes to our electoral system – and one that was actually being discussed in the media – escaped the notice of so many people. Clearly we don’t even pay attention to the big things.

We’re all very busy and these announcements often occur on Fridays when we’re least likely to notice. And to be fair, so many alterations have been made that it’s almost impossible to keep up. It’s hard to know which ones are worth really worrying about. But that’s the point, isn’t it?

The next time someone suggests we’re overreacting when a new law is passed, another “action plan” is advertized, more scientists are muzzled, or additional research programs or departments are crippled or shuttered altogether, feel free to quote Adolf Hitler:




While we’re talking about Harper and Hitler, I would submit that the topic of genocide is relevant here too. Every iteration of the Canadian colonial government from its inception has either exacerbated or failed to challenge the racist nature of its policies with regard to First Nations and Métis peoples. Not a single major political party has called our government out for what it is: a tool for racist oppression. Even leaders who talk about cooperation and reconciliation are rationalizing the foundations of what is still a paternalistic relationship. The only answer is to decolonize, and that would require the government to relinquish its control over indigenous peoples in this country and thus much of the land and natural resources. Recognizing indigenous rights means abandoning a centralized economic policy that would see the extraction of natural resources as perpetual fuel for a capitalist fire. And every party wants to stoke that fire – but that does not mean that they are interchangeable. Stephen Harper is the ringleader for those who wish to do more than maintain the status quo; he seeks to address the “Indian problem” with far more malice and surgical precision via his First Nations Termination Plan [PDF].  As Russ Diabo details in this presentation, the Harper government is expanding on an aggressive program whose goal is to eliminate First Nations title, status, and rights altogether. How else can we describe this but as genocide in a neocolonial context?


Royal pain: Class worship and social justice

There is a word my legendary English teacher, Shelva Rodgers, introduced me to that I still use. I reserve it for describing those situations that I find particularly vexatious. That world is kerfuffle.

Now, this kerfuffle about the British royal family has gotten out of control again, as it always does. There seems to be a lot of disagreement over whether the event of a birth signifies more than just the physical act itself.

My first concern is that this baby did not ask for the celebrity or the scorn that will be heaped upon him. So let me say outright that I wish no harm to him or any member of his family. It is just as unfair to harbour hatred for people who by accident of birth are born into wealth and privilege as it is to judge people based on the fact that they are poor or otherwise marginalized. Although I don’t know Will or Kate personally, I have no reason to think that they are ‘bad’ people. But the content of their character, or any good they might do, is entirely irrelevant here.

I read a comment by a self-professed anti-monarchist who wrote that he was celebrating because a healthy baby was born to a lovely family and nothing else matters. Perhaps that would be true if I was not having to hear about this everywhere I went. And perhaps that would be true if the reason why thousands of people were gawking at this spectacle wasn’t precisely because of the social status of the family in question.

I know it would be radical to suggest that members of the royal family turn their backs not only the privileges they were born with but also the responsibilities that fall on their shoulders as a result. I don’t think Diana’s life was easy, that it consisted only of photo ops, dinner parties and sunny sojourns along breathtaking coasts. It seems possible that many people liked her not simply because of her status, but more so because she seemed down to earth despite it. Maybe there is something comforting and even dignifying about seeing the humanity behind the privilege.

What really shocks me is how ‘ordinary’ and even underprivileged people are so willfully addicted to this ritualistic idolatry. We canonize figures like Gandhi, Mandela and King for their epic contributions to the well-being of humankind, through their courage, wisdom and kindness. Every day we’re reminded that we are all equal and therefore must treat each other with equal respect. Most of us recognize this understanding of human relationships to be self-evident and inherently valuable, even essential.

Yet the moment the rich and famous are paraded in front of us, all of this wisdom seems to be forgotten. We ooze admiration and envy, some of us probably unaware of a deep-seated jealous resentment. By getting caught up in the media circus and living vicariously through those who symbolize the things we want, we’re distracted from a very important question: Why do we pay so much attention to certain people just because of the positions they hold in society, especially when those positions are purely accidental? Is it that we can’t get over the fact that we could have easily been born to a different family in a different part of the world? Do we secretly suspect that the gods amuse themselves by assigning our births through a cruel lottery? Has religion instilled in people a saviour complex that predisposes us to look up at people rather than inward? Whatever the reason, when we idolize the powerful and the wealthy, we’re perpetuating injustice because we’re actively participating in a system that stratifies us. We do this voluntarily to ourselves, to our own detriment, and to the detriment of others. We betray the truth that no person is more deserving of admiration or praise than any other simply by virtue of the circumstances of their birth, their social status or the wealth they possess.

The medieval era is hundreds of years behind us, but have we evolved? Canada is a constitutional monarchy. We require royal assent to sign certain laws into being. This role is more than merely symbolic, but to be fair, this makes the Queen a ceremonial head of state rather than an autocrat. While Prime Minister Stephen Harper claims that Canada has “no history of colonialism”, however, we nevertheless remain a colony by virtue of this continued relationship. Most Canadians don’t seem to mind. Whether we’re relatively satisfied with the way things are or we’re apathetic, though, it’s interesting that if you express disgust at the royal spectacle, even here in Canada, you’re likely to be branded as negative and bitter.

That people are making such a big deal out of the fact that Kate Middleton is walking around in public with a (gasp!) post-baby belly is absolutely ridiculous. Why on earth should she pretend that she’s any different from any other woman? Good on her for keeping it real knowing how much she’ll be ruthlessly scrutinized – it wouldn’t be the first time.

What troubles me most is that there is no better case to be made for the idea of an elite upper crust ruling the masses than when the masses act like they can’t even govern their own intellects. All it takes is the ubiquity and greed of the infotainment machine and a fickle, excitable throng, and voila – we’re all made to look like a bunch of brainless plebs. This show isn’t over, and someday Chris Crocker is going to lose his shit in a “LEAVE KATE ALONE!” video. You heard it here first. But really, people… be happy for them, but get over it, and for Christ’s sake, leave them alone. They’re just human beings.

There has to come a time when our actions support our highest morals, even when that means not going along with the crowd. Otherwise, what kind of example are we setting for our young people?

Can we finally be honest about the fact that the existence of a monarchy (whatever form it takes) is fundamentally incompatible with democracy and social justice? And that hatred and jealousy are also incompatible with these ideals? Let’s wish the royal family all the happiness in the world – but not because of who they are, and in a fair, reasonable way that acknowledges that they are no better or worse than the rest of us.

Knee, meet jerk…

If you follow message boards or the comments on news articles you’ll notice an abundance of people commonly referred to as trolls. These people are notorious for provoking and spouting off without much discretion. The anonymity of the internet makes this a lot easier to do than, say, making ignorant or inflammatory remarks in front a group of people.

I came across a good example of this the other day when reading comments in response to Canadian Member of Parliament Romeo Saganash being recently booted off a plane for being intoxicated. He quickly released a statement apologizing and admitted that he needed time off to deal with his alcoholism. Instantly people were pelting criticisms and poking holes in his statement. He explained that he had basically been going through a hairy time but that this did not excuse his behaviour. He again reached out to the public via a video apology the following day and posted a statement on his website.

The commentators were not impressed. Oh but he makes such a good salary as a politician! What stress? What is he complaining about? He’s not taking responsibility. Assessments were extended to the political party of which he is a member, as if that has any relevance whatsoever. Clearly an earnest apology is not good enough. You have to be perfect in the first place. Don’t screw up – that would make you human. Most disappointing and irresponsible was the title choice for a blog posted on Yahoo! News: NDP MP Saganash blames “stressful week” for Air Canada ejection. This headline directly contradicts what Saganash was actually quoted as saying in that very same article – namely that he identified stress as a trigger, not the source of the problem – his problem being alcoholism. That’s why he’s getting treatment.

My initial question was, how can grown people suffer from such a lack of logical reasoning? But actually, it’s more that their reasoning is influenced by prejudices and attitudes they’ve developed over time. It’s not that they don’t have the capacity to think clearly; they’re caught in a cycle of applying their established thinking patterns to every situation they encounter. Most people are guilty of this to varying degrees. In a way it’s a conscious choice, and yet it isn’t. Which is interesting when you consider that the people who are so eager to trash Saganash fail to recognize that his actions are also both consciously and unconsciously motivated. As the MP should take responsibility for his actions (which he has done), so too should anyone with the urge to comment.

I get irritated when people have knee-jerk reactions. I think, ‘You jerk! Use your brain!’. That’s when I have to take a deep breath and realize that I’m reacting to someone reacting.

Why do so many people rush to judge? We can’t blame social media because this tendency precedes the internet. And even though we may not always voice our judgments, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist in our minds or that our beliefs don’t influence our behaviour. In this sense, the internet is just showing us what used to be hidden.

I often see people object that they’re not being judgmental, just critical. So let’s lay bare the distinction between the two here: being critical is assessing something with the effect of reaching a negative conclusion, whereas being judgmental is forming a negative assessment before considering the facts.

It’s really no wonder that political issues are so difficult to gain consensus on. Apart from the challenge of making democratic decisions that meet diverse needs, we also have to deal with opposing views while keeping in check the close-mindedness that fosters prejudice and ignorance. It’s a miracle we get anything done (although that too is subject to debate!). Even the courts, which are supposed to be mechanisms of justice and order, fall short of this expectation in part for the same reason.

As for why people are so judgmental, there are many reasons. But it has an awful lot to do with the assumptions we make about why people do what they do, who they are, the characteristics of the groups they belong to, etc. It’s worth noting that people are just as harshly critical of themselves – if not more – than they are of others. While they may not show it explicitly, I think it’s usually evident when a person shows they have a need to belittle or attack others rather than offer a reasoned response to the subject at hand. But this is a mental habit, and one that can reinforce our behaviour to the point that we don’t even realize it. So bringing awareness to this cycle is the first step to being more rational, balanced and fair, thus positively changing our behaviour. Sounds a bit like the process of addiction recovery, doesn’t it?

Assumption and reduction: how poverty and blame make losers of us all

Ignorance in point form

If you find yourself in agreement with this ugly graphic (I mean really, who designed this?), you need to read this.

This image was posted by right-wing Facebook group 100 Percent FED Up. I’m not really sure what the purpose of fully capitalizing the word ‘FED’ is – maybe because those actually benefiting from Republican policy are DEFINITELY not hungry?

You know what I’m fed up with? People judging. Making assumptions. Hating. Placing blame. I urge you to step back and think about what this graphic is really saying before you nod in agreement, because how we relate to each other becomes the basis for public policy. It drives social services, electoral reform, education, labour law, tax law, etc. It affects us all.

The main concern of the graphic above seems to be the question of responsibility. It raises a valid point that there are things an individual can do to affect their situation. There are ways you can make a bad situation worse or better. There are people who have risen above poverty through their own determination. Personal responsibility is ours to take. And taking responsibility doesn’t mean accepting blame for things outside of our control; it just means accepting the fact that you always have a choice, even if only in your attitude.

Let’s look at the claim above a little more closely. Is it true that if you drink booze, smoke cigarettes, take a hit, get your nails done or get inked, you do not need social assistance? Maybe. That’s the only honest answer you can come up with. The implication, therefore, is that the claim rests on assumptions that anyone in agreement is choosing to ignore. How’s that for taking personal responsibility?

Take the example of a welfare recipient who smokes cigarettes. Regardless of financial standing, people continue to smoke knowing how tremendously bad it is for them. Granted, smokers often shield themselves from learning the specifics (I once stood in line behind a young lady who asked the clerk for a different pack of smokes because she wanted one with a less horrifying picture on it) – but the reason they smoke goes beyond moral ineptitude or weakness; nicotine is a very addictive substance. The fact that money is harder to come by for poor people does not override any chemical dependency they may have – and to expect them to be able to quit because they’re poor is ridiculous. Do you think an alcoholic on welfare is going to think, Gee, this costs x amount of money each month, which the taxpayers are shouldering, so I should just snap out of it? Addicts have characteristically low self-esteem and their addictions often further erode any self-sufficiency and confidence they had to begin with. Not to mention the disastrous effects of cuts to drug treatment programs; these services are crucial in preventing both crime that is directly related to the drug trade and crime committed in order to fund addiction. This is but one example of how drug policy affects the poor in real ways. The war on drugs (a massive failure, now to the admission of most world leaders) is inspired by an understanding (or lack thereof) of the particular struggles faced by those most at risk of being affected by the drug trade – namely, the poor and ethnic minorities.

Getting back to the power of assumptions… Let’s say you overhear a person talking about the welfare they receive and you notice that they got a manicure and have tattoos. I understand your point if this seems questionable. I really do. But does it give you a basis for believing that they would not need social assistance if they hadn’t gotten a manicure or tattoos, and that you can make that determination for not only this person but any and every welfare recipient who has gotten a manicure and tattoos? Let’s say you know for a fact that a particular person would make enough money to support themselves if they didn’t spend their money on such-and-such. In that case, they’re clearly abusing the system. But again, they do not represent other individuals who make their own choices and have their own circumstances to contend with. It’s also worth pointing out the sort of expectation we’re placing on a person who goes hungry or has insufficient nutrition, has had substandard education, lives in a neighbourhood rife with drugs, crime and violence, has limited access to healthcare and health insurance and doesn’t have decent shelter or clothes to wear to a job interview (if one is offered). If you consider the stressors experienced by such an individual, you might forgive them a toke, a beer or a trip to the salon. Prematurely judging one person – and everyone else you lump into the same category – is making a huge leap. Not only is it unfair; it’s illogical.

Besides, if we’re going to judge, how does the average person compare? The only difference between a welfare recipient who lives beyond their means and a gainfully employed person who lives beyond their means is that the welfare recipient doesn’t have good enough credit to borrow money. Let’s say you’re a working person who lives above the poverty line but has accumulated so much personal debt that you have to declare bankruptcy. Your creditor can’t get that money out of you so they write it off, which means they no longer count the money you owe them as an asset. Assets on which they no longer have to pay income tax. Tax money that would have ended up in the public purse. I suspect a lot of people don’t realize this.

Here’s another problem with judging others as unworthy of social assistance: it gives your government a justification to deny help to the people who do need it – without having any idea whatsoever of how many of these people might be abusing the system. Does that make sense to you? In a democratic society, are we supposed to let assumptions and trajectory drive public policy, or are we going to make important decisions that affect the most vulnerable with openness, rationality and honesty?

The most troubling implication of the reasoning of the above claim is that fundamentally, it’s the same type that’s used to form arguments that are racist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory. It’s like watching an obese person walking into McDonald’s and thinking, ‘That must be why they’re fat’. If that person orders a mango smoothie and tells you they’re taking their daily walk and have already dropped 50 pounds, what does your assumption say about you?

‘Experts’ and environmental exclusion

Canadians should be paying close attention to their government now more than ever as it employs environmental rhetoric that is alarmingly arrogant and fundamentally undemocratic in nature. According to a Vancouver Sun interview, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver stated that the Canadian government will be limiting participation to members of the public who are “directly affected by major projects” and rejecting input from environmental groups deemed not to have specific expertise. There are several serious problems with this policy approach:

  • In order to make informed decisions, governments must consult with environmental professionals who have detailed and technical knowledge. But we know that academics and scientists are not necessarily subjective and it’s particularly unlikely that a government that has recently made very strong statements regarding environmental policy will select experts who aren’t sympathetic to its goals.
  • If the government is applying a harsh set of rules as to who can have a say, how likely are intervening parties to be taken seriously even if they’re affected or have substantial credentials?
  • What level of participation will the affected public and NGOs have with respect to projects that aren’t deemed major? Naturally, we’d expect even less scrutiny in those cases.
  • How do we know who’s objective? More importantly, what makes an expert an expert, whether it’s an individual or an organization? Who should decide what constitutes sufficient expertise? How can we ensure that vital choices are based on recommendations from experts who have demonstrated neutrality and an understanding of the concerns of all stakeholders, regardless of their financial clout or level of education?
  • How do we determine who judges which parties are “directly affected”? The people who are impacted, specially selected ‘experts’, lobbyists, investors or government officials? This is a key consideration because in the case of the oil and gas sector, for example, impacts aren’t contained; they extend throughout ecosystems and jurisdictions. Airborne particulates are carried vast distances through the atmosphere and settle in the soil and water. Polluted water spreads through watersheds. Contaminants are absorbed by vegetation and organisms ingested by animals (and in turn humans), resulting in the bioaccumulation of toxins. Greenhouse gas emissions have global impacts. Some chemicals, particularly those used in the mining and petroleum industries have very long half-lives so they don’t break down or get processed for many years.
  • Any given ecosystem, while it may affect a particular group more than others, is not the property of any one group. No one has the right to give ‘permission’ to pollute or deplete resources without the consultation of others who may be impacted even decades later. Without fair and transparent environmental assessments and the participation of a diversity of stakeholders (including non-experts and those ‘less’ affected by industrial projects), the parameters that we choose to determine what’s acceptable frame the magnitude of our results – positive and negative.
  • The Canadian government has never been very good at listening to Aboriginals – particularly the PCs – so why should we trust them now? Do I not have the right obligation – not only as a Canadian citizen but as a member of this planet to stand up for those factions of humanity whose voices are silenced and ignored? The officials we elect don’t have the right to tell us what rights we have. It’s for us to tell them.
  • A final but critical point: we are the environment’s sole defenders. We can’t afford to screw this up. Once resources are gone or damaged, there’s no turning back. We need to be absolutely certain that we’re acting in the best interests of all involved, which includes present and future generations, and that we can reasonably justify, mitigate and remedy risks and impacts. Because impacts on the environment are impacts on us. There’s a growing global movement to enshrine the legal rights of our planet (e.g. check out this article). Gone are the days when we could confidently assert our dominion over the earth. Bolivia has already passed laws to this effect and other proponents are forming new discourses around this issue that remind us that we can’t give our planet rights; we can only recognize them.

Take me to your leader

I’ve had a bit of time to float back up from my post-election depression and re-assess whether things are as bad as they seem. For all you non-Canadians, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about other stuff going on in the world. But at some point in the next few years, I have a feeling you’re going to hear increasingly more about us Northern folk. And I’m not confident that it will be positive news.

Positive or negative – these are pretty interesting times. So the morning after a thoroughly riveting federal election, I was horrified to see that the most popularly read article on Toronto’s CityNews was ‘In Photos: The Royal Wedding’. It was the first time I heard myself say that war should win over love. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense that Canadians – especially those in the Greater Toronto Area, whose votes really swayed the results – weren’t glued to the election news. Despite an election that generated a huge amount of buzz on social networking sites and in the public sphere, only 61% of Canadians voted. This figure was only slightly higher than the previous voter turnout. What the hell, Canada? What happened? Were we left blind by the glitz and glam of the marriage of the monarchists or too excited about (or perhaps terrified by the ramifications of) Osama Bin Laden’s execution? I suspect Canadians would have voted (or not, rather) the same way had it been just a regular day.

I’m still pissed off. I hate seeing Stephen Harper contort those cold, reptilian lips into what barely qualifies as a smile. But that’s not what pisses me off. I’m pissed off at Canadians. I’m pissed off at the Liberals who handed the Conservatives a majority government by failing to realize that if they’d sucked it up and voted strategically for the New Democrats (as NDP supporters have been forced to do for them so many times), the Tories may not have been able to manipulate certain ridings (very cleverly, I’ll admit) to their advantage. And I hope that the people who woke up at 4am to watch the royal wedding didn’t vote. Firstly, because I wholeheartedly believe that there’s something wrong with people who care that much about something that has zero impact on their lives. And secondly, because if I find out that any individual was willing to sacrifice their precious sleep for the British royals but couldn’t be bothered to vote in what was arguably the most exciting federal election in Canadian history, I will get mad. Again. And I really just want to go back to being my old chipper self.

I was, on the other hand, impressed at the amount of political commentary from many illustrious thinkers such as Michael Moore, Judy Rebick and Naomi Klein. Much like during the G20 summit, I found Twitter to be a valuable source of news, info and opinion by concerned citizens, media outlets and NGOs. It’s encouraging to see so many people using social networks as a legitimate tool for social change. Social networking is becoming an increasingly powerful force precisely because we’re deciding how we use it, and in so doing, we find new opportunities for not only expressing ourselves but also connecting with each other in a way that even casting a ballot can’t achieve.

People talk about voter apathy. I’d like to think that so many people didn’t vote simply because they’ve lost faith in the process. They have a point when 39.7% of the popular vote produces 54.2% of the seats. Further to that, the Tories won a majority despite the fact that the only other party with any real clout snatched only 9% less of the popular vote. “WTF?!?” was a ubiquitous reaction. So is it really the case that a large faction of the population doesn’t care? Or are they too insulated, brainwashed, selfish, etc. to consider the fundamental nature of right-wing policy? And not just in Canada but throughout the world, in the form of alliances such as NAFTA, the WTO, G8, G20, etc.?

North America is now comprised of a citizenry that has little hope in its governments’ will to represent its needs and even less faith in its own ability to subvert a system that has become so corrupt and inaccessible that change seems impossible. Add to that a public which has been beaten into a stupor, sensitized to fabricated threats and desensitized to what should cause outrage. I suspect our problem isn’t so much that our convictions are wrong or that we lack conviction in the first place. It seems to me that the media machine has simply been very successful at perpetuating confusion, fear and distraction. So I refuse to believe that in this election particularly, Canadians expressed a belief that gutting funding for social services and programs and increasing corporate wealth is going to trickle down into some sort of windfall for the little people. We couldn’t possibly be that dumb. Could we? The fact that we’ve elected a government that among many other things scrapped the access to information database in order to decrease its transparency suggests otherwise. I’m worried because not only will we have a government in power for the next 4 years (minimum) that’s going to do shit like this and worse – but if our lack of basic civic participation is any indication, we’re going to let them do it.

One important fact that this election made obvious is that our first-past-the-post electoral system sucks. Proportional representation is the way to go, although it sounds like people have as much faith in that changing as Harper showing up at the House of Commons in a clown suit – which would probably land me in a straight jacket, since I have a morbid fear of clowns.

Where do we go from here, Canada? I suggest we start by asking what the hell is so bad about a party that stands for reducing poverty and promoting gender/sexual equality, environmental protection, public healthcare and education, Aboriginal rights, workers’ rights and a foreign policy focused on peacekeeping and humanitarian aid.

How we as a country fund all of this is another issue. But is it a question of fiscal management (which the Right likes to say the Left is so terrible at) or is it a question of whether a socially just and balanced society is economically sustainable? Herein lies the crux. If you’re saying that left-wing parties are bad at cutting waste and fundraising, is that endemic to their policy or just a reflection of whichever leadership governs that party at any given point in time? Are people suggesting that right-wing parties are only comprised of accountants and MBAs, or that there’s something about them specifically that makes them better equipped to manage our tax dollars (but Lefties are just a bunch of pot-smoking hippies)? Or is the assumption that post-industrial democratic societies actually can’t afford to ensure that all of its people are employed, in good health and that their rights as well as those of the environment are respected? In which case, why don’t we all just quit our jobs, party all day and night, and watch what happens when the haves and have-nots face off? You don’t hear people talking in the mainstream media about capitalism much anymore – it’s like everyone has been lulled into submission. People just take it for granted that it’s the only economic option, the only system that will ensure ‘prosperity’, even though we have never had more wealthy people on this planet while poverty increases at an astonishing rate. At what point do we wake up and realize that what so-called developed nations have been doing these past decades is not working? And if the Left doesn’t hold the solution to our problems, then why is it that the problems we’re experiencing today happened with the moderates and Rightists at the helm, but they’re the ones we keep electing in our hopes of overcoming poverty and war? We need to question our basic assumptions about what kind of society we want, what truly is ‘possible’ and who is responsible for effecting that change. Hint: it’s us.

With the election over, hopefully Canadians won’t just watch the shit hit the fan and point fingers at each other because we have the biggest decision of all to make over the next few years. The fact that we’ve elected the NDP as the official opposition clearly confirms that Canadians want change. But as soon as the Liberals appoint a strong leader, we’ll be right back to their middle-of-the-road approach, which keeps us breathing but never gives us enough oxygen to rise above our despair. So are we ready for change? I mean, real change? The vast majority of human beings don’t proactively elect to change. We change when we’re forced to. We’ll tolerate all kinds of unbearable situations – bad jobs, unhealthy relationships, corrupt governments – before we face our fear of change and uncertainty. Will the NDP dash what may be their last chance at proving that they can form a viable government? Or will they show us that there really is a legitimate alternative to the status quo?

I leave you with a quote and a video:

“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”

– Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows