My dear fellow Canadians, I am sitting here at a table, adorned with the leftover accoutrements from St. Patrick’s Day, in Tantallon, Nova Scotia, in a house that my uncle designed and built with his bare hands. I grew up on this land, three acres of it, in the woods, on a lake where I used to swim and learned to canoe in circles and where my cousins and I once pretended to be Lost Boys on a tiny island that my family calls “Amandaland” because I am an only child. I’m sitting here in the Canada that is most familiar to me and I am filled with the love of it. The people of Nova Scotia are so kind, they are not the friendly Canadian cliché, they are gracious and open hearted down to their souls. We care about people here, we genuinely care about people, and that is something that I learned as a child was a value of the Canadian people. I was taught that Canada was committed to peacekeeping. I was taught that Canada took responsibility for the environment and took pride in our bountiful resources. I was taught that our country was made better and stronger by its bilingualism and the province of Quebec that reflects beautifully the plurality of people who first settled this land. I was taught a deep respect for the Aboriginal peoples who were here first and that in honouring their culture, we honour our communal past. I was taught that (even though I was a girl) my future was limitless and bright and that I did not have to think in terms of gender, race, religion, color, or “country of origin” when it came to Canadians, because we celebrated our differences and stood side by side under the flag of the maple leaf.I was taught that the world looked to Canada as a leader, as a friend and as an ally, and as one of the moral compasses in the world, that sought to do right by humanity.
Everywhere in Canada I have been, I love. Prince Edward Island, homeland of my ancestors, my heart beats on your red shores. New Brunswick, I feel like I have been there so many times, and each time I’m there, I discover something delightful and new. Quebec, I love your spirit, I love your sense of culture and identity. Ontario, you are beautiful and oh so kind to me. Edmonton, you inspire me endlessly. Vancouver, luscious rain forest city of peace and love. I have friends from across this land, from cities and towns of orange, red and blue. I believe that our country is great. I believe that the people who live here are filled with integrity and intelligence, skills and abilities and that our diversity is what makes us rich in character and compassionate in heart.
Yet, I admit, I am scared for the Canada that I love, not because I think that the conscience, the values, the beliefs and ideals of most Canadians have eroded, not by a long shot, but because I worry that many Canadians feel disempowered by the government, and feel useless in their ability to change the outcome of this impending election. My aunt thinks that all three of her choices for Prime Minister are liars and jerks, she has grown so sick and tired of politics in the decades long before these individuals even came to the forefront, that she is completely apathetic. She has washed them all with the same brush before they opened their mouths and refuses to *really* consider anything that any of them say. She doesn’t worry about Harper because she thinks Ignatieff and Layton are just as bad. This is what makes my stomach churn and I know this kind of election exhaustion is running rampant.
I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, because it’s none of my business, but I do hope that you will make an informed decision. I am worried about the potential of a Stephen Harper Majority Government because I believe he is slowly eroding our democracy. I believe he is ruling Canada like a dictator and that he is making decisions that are only profitable for white, rich, corporate men. What is the most important is that you vote. Please vote. It is the most important thing that you can do. Please, do some research into Ignatieff and Layton before you dismiss them as being corrupt liars and morons. Debates are not designed to show politicians in a positive light, they are constructed purely for ratings and sensationalist quotes, please, visit their websites, read their platforms, make an informed decision. Harper does not have a majority in this country, and if every single person who is able in the country voted, we could find ourselves with a government that is really able to instigate change and one that reflects the people that we are, our values and beliefs as Canadians.
Please don’t get run down by cynicism, please, if you don’t want Stephen Harper to be your Prime Minister, it is detrimental to the cause to go around attacking the other candidates. It is too bad that Ignatieff and Layton can’t admit to agreeing with one another since their platforms and the essence of many of their values are so similar. The voters must unite and crusade together. We are Canadians, we are known for being docile and polite, but it is time for us to get passionate, it is time for us to get angry. We are entitled to be angry at Stephen Harper. He is making a mockery of our government and he is showing blatant contempt for you, the Canadian people. Think of how many people in other parts of the world literally fight for the right to vote against corruption in their countries. We are so lucky, and every time we grow apathetic and let the world happen to us, we are taken everything that our good fortune has given us completely for granted. Democracy erodes slowly over time, this has happened to many countries in the world throughout history, many with terrifying end results, all because of apathy. WAKE UP, CANADA. Don’t say you don’t know. Don’t say you don’t care. Don’t say you don’t have time. Don’t say that you can’t make any difference. You can. You do. You have the power.
A Note To the Young: Be Loud. Be Political. Be Passionate. Be Angry. Crusade for Justice. Make videos. Write songs. Post on YouTube. Post on Facebook. Talk. Talk. Talk. Debate. Ask Questions. READ. Get Your Friends Involved. Storm Rallies. Get Media Attention. Listen to Bob Dylan Tunes. Pretend it’s 1964. Tear Down the Walls. Change the World. You can. If anyone can change the course of this election, it is you. Force the old white dudes to see and hear you, to listen to you, to address the issues important to you and if you think our country’s prospects are fucked up, boot the jerk in charge out on his ass!!!!
A Note To the Media: Put those stupid polls in context. YOU ARE FUELLING A NATION OF DEJECTED CITIZENS by continually sensationalizing these polls and Harper’s lead in them. Make it known that these polls are taken from a survey of only about 1,500 people (I have friends with more “friends” on Facebook than this!)—the polls are taken from telephone surveys that are reaching a very specific demographic (and excluding those who are not home days/evenings, who do not have landlines, who don’t have time to speak to pollsters etc). YOU ARE HELPING HARPER WIN BY MAKING MORE THAN HALF THIS COUNTRY FEEL LIKE THERE IS NOTHING THEY CAN DO TO CHANGE ANYTHING. THIS IS WRONG. THOSE POLLS ARE SQEWED. ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO VOTE. STEP UP AND SHOW SOME BALLS. ASK THE TOUGH QUESTIONS, NOT FOR RATINGS, BUT BECAUSE CANADIANS DESERVE IT. RICK MERCER DOES, YOU SHOULD TOO.
A Note to Canadian Celebrities: WHERE ARE YOU? Would it kill you to jump on YouTube and to at least encourage your fans to go out and vote on May 2? Arcade Fire has taken a strong stand, which is sure to influence, or at least spark debate with a younger demographic, where are the rest of you? You have influence. Your voices can spread far wider than ours can on our little blogs and Facebook and Twitter pages. Please. You don’t have to align yourself with anyone- just encourage people to get out to the polls!! It is important.
My friends, I want to wake up on May 3rd in the Canada I grew up in. I cherish it. I am so proud of this country, I am so proud of *US*… please keep making me proud by actively participating in our democracy. May 2nd, 2011, Vote.