Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jack Layton, 1950-2011

I was in a pretty good mood when I got to work last Monday morning. I'd barely sat at my desk and turned on my computer, though, when I got the news: "Jack Layton died."

It shouldn't have been a shock. Anyone who saw his gaunt appearance at his last press conference knew it couldn't be good. People talked about the possibility that he wouldn't return to Parliament Hill in whispers, as if saying it too loudly might cause it to happen.

Maybe in the end, someone spoke about it too loudly after all. Maybe it was just meant to happen this way. Maybe it was just a fluke of nature - a bad hand dealt in the game of life. I suppose in the end, it comes down to what you believe about life, and death.

In the past week, I've been kind of weepy when I thought about it. It's not because of any personal connection: like most Canadians, I didn't know Jack Layton personally; in fact, I never even met the man, or saw him from afar. Although I'm not registered with any particular party, I've always considered myself a Liberal who occasionally votes NDP. I've never lived in his constituency, so I have never had the opportunity to cast a vote for, or against him.

Really, me being weepy about something isn't all that unusual. Don't tell anyone, but the truth is I can get weepy over just about anything - happy or sad. Any strong emotion can elicit tears from me. It's kind of embarrassing.I don't think the subtle melancholy I've felt the past week has been my usual hyper-emotional state, though. There has been something about Jack Layton's passing that has affected me, and made me think about what I really believe in.

The title of this blog has always been tongue-in-cheek. As much as I've considered running for political office, I seriously doubt that my "30 Days of Ben Mulroney" entries are likely to help my cause. Layton's passing, though, does make me think a lot about what I believe.

I believe:
  • That everyone should have equal rights - including the right to marry and raise a family.
  • That every child deserves the best possible start in life. Sadly, this doesn't always happen at home, so our schools, and our community programs are pivotal, and deserve nothing but the best.
  • That healthcare is a right, not a privilege. No one should go bankrupt paying medical bills. Families going through catastrophic illness deserve support.
  • In justice, not vengeance.
  • That higher education and apprenticeship training should be available to everyone. While it may not be realistic to assume that it could be free, there needs to be a better way of making it accessible, without students going into massive amounts of debt.
  • That Canada needs to be at the forefront of finding alternative energy sources, while still keeping costs in line, so that families can afford to pay their utility bills.
In Jack Layton, we saw optimism, and hope for the future of Canada. Not that I'm generally a fan of Stephen Harper anyway, but I just don't see that kind of positive energy from him. He just always seems pissed off and angry. He appears - to me, anyway - like he's looking down on those he claims to represent. Jack Layton never did that. One of the best photos I've seen the past week was of Layton and his wife, Olivia Chow, riding in the Toronto Pride Parade, and looking like they were having a fabulous time.

I want to see Canada have a leader with that kind of vivacity. Not that personality alone makes a leader: you need the brains to back it up; but to see someone leading this country who actually cared what Canadians thought, and what they needed to make their lives better. Isn't that what we need?

As we talked on the day of Jack Layton's death, my husband said, "He was never meant to be Prime Minister." That may be so, but I truly hope that in the next few years of the Harper majority, a leader will emerge who will give Canadians a sense of optimism, and energy. I am so proud to be Canadian. I want the world to be able to see what an amazing country this is, and I want every Canadian to feel the same way.

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we'll change the world."
 RIP Jack.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Election Rant #2: Mid-Afternoon Phone Call

This afternoon I received a phone call that has me... somewhat concerned. It was to do with the election, which is not surprising, given that there is only a week to go.

A very YOUNG girl called here asking if Colin Carrie (our local Conservative candidate) could count on my vote. At the time, because she'd woken me up from a nap and I was worried that she was going to wake up my toddler, I just told her flatly no, that I didn't vote Conservative.

Now that I've had time to think about it though, several thoughts occur to me about this phone call.

A) The call came directly to me, by name (not my husband, and not "Mrs. Hill" which I often get); Dr. Carrie, just because I wrote to you about the potential Quebec violations of the Canada Health Act does NOT make me your supporter. PLEASE take me off your lists! I've already unsubscribed from your preening "Look what I can do!" newsletter.

B) I'm kind of concerned that a girl that young is supporting him. I know some people just SOUND young, but I would be incredibly shocked if this girl was old enough to vote. Is she doing volunteer hours for high school? Does she have ANY idea of the Conservatives' anti-women policies? Is she just there because her parents are going to vote for him?

C) No, no he cannot count on my vote. In fact, I'd suggest exactly the opposite. Oh, wait... I already mentioned that.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Election Rant #1: The Outsider

It suddenly occurred to me this morning, as I was ranting to my husband about an election issue, that I hadn't used this blog in a LONG time, and, coincidentally, that this blog was originally intended for, among other things, my political rants. Hmmm...

So here's the rant of the day:

I am a Liberal. Not an official member of the Liberal Party of Canada, although I am now seriously considering it, just so that I can yell at whomever came up with this hairbrained idea. But I live in an area that is very much NOT Liberal. The last several elections have had a Conservative win the riding. You would think, given the GM plant, that it would be an NDP area, but I haven't seen much of that. However, back in the days of the Chretien government, my riding was Liberal. It seems that it's kind of a "go with the majority" kind of area.

The last several elections, both provincial and federal, the Liberal Party has run the same candidate, over and over and OVER again. Said candidate, Louise Parks, was a councilwoman on the City Council for many years, until she lost the mayoral election this past year. Said candidate is also a very polarizing figure: you either love her or hate her. I've tended towards the latter, and I believe that the majority of the city feels the same way. Something about her just rubs me the wrong way. Perhaps it's just the feeling that, rather than working for the electorate, she's working for her own political ambitions. Realistically (and somewhat cynically) I think most politicians may be that way, but most of them hide it a little better.

Anyway, the Liberals have dumped Louise Parks this time. Originally, when I saw a lawn sign showing another name, James Morton, I rejoiced in that they had listened to my rants (although, since I never expressed my dismay to the local party leaders, I wonder if they've been bugging my house or something...)

But then I saw our local paper, listing the candidates and their backgrounds, and I knew that the Liberals haven't got a snowball's chance in the eternal fires of winning this riding. The Liberal Party, Oshawa riding, have decided that rather than finding a local candidate, they should put forward a Toronto lawyer who lives in Thornhill, but has "signed a lease" in Oshawa. In other words, they think they've brought in a ringer.

Pardon my language, but WHAT THE FUCK?

They honestly don't believe that there is a single qualified person anywhere in the city of Oshawa who could put up a fight for this Parliamentary seat? I believe that Whitby tried this in the last election, and it failed miserably. Oshawa people, if they actually read the news, will NOT be happy about a person who knows NOTHING about Oshawa being brought in to potentially represent their interests. Oshawa is a totally different kind of city - truthfully, it's one of the things that I like about it. Despite being a part of the GTA, it isn't Pickering, or Ajax, or Whitby, and it sure as Hell isn't Thornhill.

I will say that I'm sure he's perfectly qualified to be an MP. Reading about him on the website I'm not totally unimpressed, I'm just frustrated to be backing another sure loss. 

Nice going, Liberals.