Orange Crush


It’s no secret that I have been a supporter of the New Democratic Party for most of my life. I know socialism tends to scare people. I suppose that it scares the greedy the most. But a social democracy is one of the most ideal political ideologies that aligns to my interests. So it makes complete sense that I would support the NDP.

That said, every year, I do reevaluate party policies in comparison with my beliefs. The political compass websites are quite useful. CBC’s Vote Compass is a decent meter. However, I prefer I Side With. It is an extremely comprehensive questionnaire that breaks down social, economic, environmental, health, foreign policy and more issues, and allows you to answer with a simple yes or no, or gives you the option to choose a more specific explanation, including entering your own response. Based on your answers, you are “scored” alongside each political party, demonstrating where you side with each on the issues. It’s interesting to see just how much you agree or disagree with each.

This election year’s issues – some pressing, some frivolous – have placed me where I expected. Still, my Liberal friends always try to convince me that I am in the wrong with my decisions. There has been a lot of talk about strategic voting. Problem is, strategic voting doesn’t always work. Not to mention, strategic voting is based upon polling, which is flawed. In the United States, Gallup will not be running polls for the presidential primaries after misidentifying the winner of the 2012 American election as Mitt Romney. Generally, they may indicate a trend, but we should not trust them completely.

Here’s a health analogy. As a diabetic, I can test my blood glucose levels with blood from my arm or my fingertip. The fingertip tests are much more accurate, so if I think my blood glucose is low, I shouldn’t be testing on my arm. Think of polls as the arm, and the actual vote as the fingertip. We aren’t going to get accurate results until election day; we’ll only see trends, and those trends might not be a good reason to change a vote.

Let me say this; if everyone got off their arses on election day (or the advance poll days prior to the 19th), we wouldn’t need strategic voting. We are still a left leaning nation. Popular vote states this. The fact that at least two-thirds of polls trend people’s allegiance with the NDP, the Liberals or the Greens indicate that we are not the country the Conservatives have forced us to become. This brings me to my first point.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…I believe the Canadian electoral system needs an overhaul. First past the post does not always indicate the will of the majority, and the NDP have vowed to change this. Mixed-member proportional representation means that Canadians will cast two votes: one vote for their local representative, and one vote for the party they wish to form government. The numbers that count would be the national vote percentage, and representation at the national level would be proportional to the votes cast. What does this mean? This means that while Elizabeth May’s Green Party only received one seat in Parliament, despite receiving 3.91% of the popular vote, proportional representation would see the Greens with approximately 12 of the 308 seats. This is a huge difference and so important to ensuring fair representation of our country.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…I believe in a Canada that is inclusive, welcoming and tolerant. You may have noticed, but there have been oodles of overt racist comments and behavior displayed across the country lately. I’m not saying that I appreciate hidden forms of racism any more, but people are being attacked. Full stop. This is not my Canada. We are not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination. We have a lot to do to make up for the genocide of and continued mistreatment of our First Nations, Inuit and Métis brothers and sisters, but forcing newcomers to our country to conform simply because we are afraid of being “taken over” is bullshit. We are a country of immigrants. I had the good fortune of being born in Canada, but until political borders are rendered null, we cannot shut our doors. Immigration and refugee programs need to be monitored, yes, but we can do better. In fact, we have to do better. People are terrified that we are losing our rights to newcomers, but let’s look at this carefully. We can’t really claim the cause of not taking care of our own is due to newcomers when the current government neglects huge swaths of the population on its own. Our seniors, veterans, First Nations, Inuit, Métis, impoverished and children deserve better. But stop blaming it on the immigrant population.

Tom Mulcair has left the niqab debate in the hands of where it belongs – the courts. And sadly, this has caused a drop in polls for the party’s popularity. Regardless, it proves to me the strength of character of Mr. Mulcair. It was an honourable choice. Canadians are playing right into the hands of the Conservatives. What is more ridiculous is that the Liberals essentially have the same stance as the NDP on this issue, yet have not seen the same effects. But what’s most disappointing is that this is the issue that will choose our next Prime Minister. This is the issue that may win the election. And there are far too many other important issues we should be considering. Issues such as climate change. Education. The answers the families and friends of over 1,200 murdered and missing indigenous women deserve.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…the Harper government has not delivered on the transparency and accountability they promised. Instead, we have seen the following:

  • Election fraud – robocalls, undercover sting operations, spending violations, false stories on opponents, using interns as plants to interrupt other candidate rallies and speeches
  • Media access limits – tight controls on who is allowed to speak to the media as an employee of the Federal government, “media minders” assigned to staff, lack of transparency from election candidates, closed door rallies where no one can ask questions unless they’ve paid the Conservative party for the “privilege” to do so
  • Undemocratic omnibus budget bills – sweeping changes to environmental, taxation, and financial legislation
  • C-51 – the destroyer of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (unfortunately supported by Trudeau’s Liberals)
  • TPP – the Trans-Pacific Partnership as it stands today, has been in negotiations since 2008. Its secret negotiations have been a point of contention for many, causing protests around the world. It will influence the cost of medicine, intellectual property and copyright, threaten the climate and environment, and further extend income inequality. The TPP has much to offer corporations, and little to offer the rest of us.

The NDP have promised to protect the Parliamentary Budget Officer from political interference and Mulcair has stated the “plan will enshrine budget transparency into law.” As with any party outside of the Conservatives, rallies and events are open to the media, and often the public as well. There are no veils of secrecy or walls of construction equipment as we saw in Harper’s most recent visit to Iqaluit. They have committed to repealing Bill C-51 and have announced that an NDP government will not be bound by the TPP. The TPP would have to be ratified in Parliament, but Mulcair’s strong statement convinces me that should he be elected, he will not blindly conform to the negotiated agreement. That’s important.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…I work in protected areas. The Conservative government under Harper has gutted environmental legislation, reduced funding and staffing at Environment Canada, reduced funding for the provinces, and restricted media coverage of climate change through the muzzling of scientists. Fewer watersheds are protected and the environmental assessment process for projects has been all but removed. As the Minister of Environment, Leona Aglukkaq made multiple gaffes on climate change, including her 2013 comment during a CTV interview regarding whether the ice in the Arctic was melting; “there’s always a debate around science and what’s changing.” Where almost every report (including those from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Environment Canada) is in agreement, Minister Aglukkaq can barely even say the words “climate change”.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…when it comes to the voting records of the NDP and the Liberals, the Liberals supported the Conservatives on too many bills and motions I disagree with. The outcome of this election would leave me disappointed if the Liberals were to form government rather than the NDP, but I would not be devastated. That said, I cannot in good conscience, throw my hat in with the Liberal government knowing that they supported items like C-51.

I’m not telling you who to vote for. If you want to vote Conservative, I may not understand it, but it’s your choice. If you want to vote Liberal, that’s also your choice. But if you’re undecided or usually don’t vote, I urge you to reconsider what not voting means. It means that you will be forced to live with the decisions of others. We may still be forced to live with some decisions, but I’d rather say that I fought, than to say that I rolled over and gave up. We’ve gone back and forth between the Conservatives and Liberals for as long as Canada has been a nation, and nothing ever changes. Perhaps it’s time.

I’m voting for the New Democratic Party because…I’m ready for change…

I misread a

I misread a “Be the change” sign yesterday…and I liked what came of it. This is my new Facebook cover photo.

On another note, has it really been two years since I wrote anything? I guess that shows you how important I feel this is.

A Moment of Clarity


The end of 2012 is finally here.  I haven’t been active on the blog, so many of you aren’t aware of this year’s challenges.  Here’s a summary of the biggies:

  • fractured three toes in February
  • depression’s back in May
  • car problems in July – fun because it was during my vacation /sarcasm
  • ketoacidosis at the end of August, hospitalized for a week – Happy Birthday to me!
  • audited by Canada Revenue Service – apparently I don’t live in the arctic
  • stuck in DC during Hurricane Sandy – not terrible, but did miss my second chance to get to Banff
  • returned to Iqaluit just in time to fall and break my wrist
  • not to mention that I’ve been sick off and on all year

Anyhow, I’m not here to complain.  I’m here to say my goodbyes to 2012.  It’s been swell.  Good riddance; don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Now, most of you know I don’t do resolutions.  But I do want to make a point of discussing my hopes for the year.  I’ve got to get ready for the end of the world year party I’ll be attending in a few hours, so I’ll make it quick.

  1. Writing.  There was a good four-month period last year where most of my free time was consumed with writing.  Most of you haven’t read that stuff, and I’m completely fine with that.  But it kept me sane and it introduced me to some fantastic people in the process.  I want to get back to more writing.  I need to do it.  Some people have said that I’m good at it.  Frankly, I like to do things that I’m good at.  So I hope to feel more inspired to keep it up.
  2. Healthy living.  Before breaking my wrist at the beginning of November, I was eating healthier and exercising more.  From about March until October, I had lost about forty pounds.  That’s pretty amazing for me.  But since the accident, I haven’t been diligent about any of it.  I’d say I’ve fallen off the wagon, but that would require a lot of walking to keep up; getting on the wagon seems more conducive to a lazy lifestyle, doesn’t it?  I’ve all but stopped going to the gym and it’s tough for me to prepare what I’m wanting to eat with this gimpy wrist of mine.  But since my wrist is getting stronger, that’s going to change.  I’ve recently become a board member for Atii Fitness (the gym I’ve been a member of for over a year), and that means I also plan to get back on track with my exercising.  And I plan to continue with that healthy lifestyle.
  3. Travel.  I got a taste of travel this year, and I’d like to do more of it.  I’m a geographer, for crying out loud.  I need to see more of the world.  There are inexpensive ways to do it – I just need to find out what they are.
  4. Balance.  Sometimes I get a little too focused on others.  Sometimes I get a little too focused on myself.  This year, I desire balance.
  5. No broken bones or hospital visits.  Self explanatory.
  6. Oh, and maybe a tattoo.  😉  But we’ll see.

Thanks for coming back to this blog on the rare occasions where I see fit to grace its presence with a post.  I appreciate hearing from my blends and blikes even if it doesn’t seem like it.  I miss you guys…maybe that writing bug will bring me back here, huh?

Happy New Year everyone.  Let’s hope 2013 is a good year for everyone!

It's a new day!  Sunrise over Kimmirut, Nunavut, October 2012.

It’s a new day! Sunrise over Kimmirut, Nunavut, October 2012.

Damien Wayne Echols: Free Man


Damien Wayne Echols: Free Man.

I have been following this case for almost as long as these young men were put in prison 18 years ago.  Here is one of the first images of Damien Echols as a free man.  Damien is a man who has been on death row for three murders that many people (myself included) believe he did not commit.

I will be posting more about this case, and the recent developments soon.  But for now, I am just happy that Damien, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. have been released from prison.

The West Memphis 3 are the West Memphis Free…

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?


Every year around this time, people start to feel a little sentimental.  I don’t know if it’s the fact that families and friends are usually together over the holidays, or if it’s the closure of yet another year that makes us want to reflect back on what we’ve accomplished (or not) in the past twelve months.  Regardless, the sentimentality of the season tends to morph into some (often) misplaced desire to better oneself.  What I wish that people would understand is that it shouldn’t take December 31st to make you realize that there may be things in your life that need changing…working on…improving.  There’s no need to wait to resolve to do something.

It’s almost comical to see the commercials on tv this time of year – they almost always have to do with weight loss.  Considering losing weight is one of the top ten New Year’s resolutions on anyone’s list, I’d say the weight loss companies out there are anything but wasting money on them.  Another extremely popular resolution is to get healthier – be it through quitting smoking, exercising more or eating better.  Personal finances are also usually mentioned on the list of resolutions people make – people want to make more money, save more money or just plain get out of debt.  While all of these resolutions are really nice, unless you really just tackle them in the here and now, you’ll probably just get stuck in that resolution cycle of making and then breaking the promise to yourself.  But probably everyone I know has made a list of resolutions at some point in their life…

Even this guy makes resolutions...least he never tried to invade Canada... (Source: Nature's Graffiti)

I haven’t made resolutions in a number of years, but I almost always do spend some time in retrospect towards the completion of the calendar year.  I like to think about where my life is headed, and see if I’m on track.  I don’t really have a five-year plan or anything as stringent as that, but I have a general idea of what direction I’d like my life to be taking.  When I look back on this year, I start to think of all of those things that I’d never have dreamed I’d have accomplished had I tried to imagine them exactly one year ago today.

So instead of coming up with a list of resolutions for myself for 2011, I’ve decided to come up with a list of resolutions for 2010 that I never would have made in my wildest dreams last year.

1)     Get a better job

Don’t get me wrong – my previous job was truly full of opportunity for me.  I learned a lot, and absolutely loved the people I worked with.  I miss them all dearly.  However, I never expected to be able to land a job within the field of study that I spent years of my life in school for.  I’m so excited to get back into GIS again…I love cartography.  This is right where I’ve wanted to be for a long time.  Some people never get to experience this for their whole lives.  For me, being able to land a job in my field within a decade of finishing school makes me feel very fortunate.  My hat’s off to Andrew for putting me on to this opportunity!

2)     Move to a new place

I had some thoughts about moving to a new apartment in the past year.  Perhaps even from Kitchener to Cambridge in order to be closer to work.  But wow!  Who starts the year thinking “I should probably move to Nunavut this year”?  I sure didn’t.  I’m not certain why I never had the thought cross my mind before, especially since, as a geographer, these are the kinds of opportunities that I should probably be looking for.  I suppose that I was afraid of taking such a huge step.  I’ve never lived more than a couple hours’ drive from my family, so out of the territory is a big step for me – especially sight unseen.  It was probably a hindrance to consider relocation expenses, so when an opportunity arises where you don’t have to worry about those, you take it!  And now I live in the Arctic…hmm…who’da thunk it?

3)     Get my blood sugars under control

As a diabetic with a candy fetish, it’s hard to keep good, tight control of my blood sugar.  I never would have expected – even though I recently acquired an insulin pump – that this would be the year where I would finally regain some sort of control over my blood sugar levels.  I’m very proud of myself for reigning in my eating habits a little bit too.  While the pump can help control blood sugar of even the worst of eaters, it takes more than a little bit of insulin to normalize oneself.  I’ve really been trying to behave this year, and it’s definitely helped.

4)     Improve my financial outlook

I have felt for a few years that I’ve been spinning my wheels.  I’ve been slowly trying to pay down my debt, but in not saving any money while doing so, it’s hard to prevent getting further into debt if you have a bad week or month.  This year however, I managed to continue to pay down my debt and open a couple of investment savings accounts to help me look towards the future.  I would like to retire someday.  Really, I would.  This should help.

5)     Become more active

Now that I live in the north, I have stopped driving again.  It goes without saying that I’ve been walking everywhere I need to go (save for a couple of cab rides when I haven’t known where I’m going or have a load of groceries).  I also live on the third floor of an apartment building, so I have stairs I can take instead of the elevator, and let’s face it – every little bit counts.  And these little things add up and help make it easier to just go for a walk when I feel like something recreational.  Hopefully more opportunities will present themselves in the coming months – I’m looking forward to winter recreational activities up here in Nunavut.

6)     Spend more time with my family

This has been a bittersweet year for that.  While I did get to spend a lot of time with my mom, brother and nephew this summer, now that I’ve moved away, that will make it very difficult to see them as often as I’d like.  However, this move has also facilitated my ability to spend more time with Ian considering my commute is effectively a couple of flights of stairs.  It’s very nice being able to come home for lunch and just spend that little part of the day with my husband and our kitties.  I’m sure it breaks the day up nicely for both of us – it’s a change of pace.

So there you have it – my unexpected changes that could have been resolutions, but probably would not have been accomplished if I’d made them last year.  You just really have to do what you know will help you work towards a change – you can’t put it off.  The time for change is now.  Don’t resolve to do something…just do it!  Hmm…maybe Nike had the right idea after all…

Never Say Goodbye


If you’ve been paying attention even the slightest bit to my blog, you know that Ian and I are moving to Nunavut in just over a month.  Since we’ve both jumped into our own personal blogs headfirst in the last few months, we decided to create a new blog to follow our journey north and be a great way for people to keep up with this new facet of our lives.  That and Ian came up with the coolest name for it.  😉

We’d love for you to follow along as well.  So check it out and subscribe…because as the name says, I’ll Have Nunavut