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.

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Strangers in the Night


After opening our home to a myriad of flying insects on Friday in order to have the new windows installed, Ian and I have since (we believe) killed off or shooed out most of them.  I even feel a little strange about killing bugs sometimes, though some are difficult to pick up and move to an outdoor location.  If I am to prevent my home from becoming an integral part of the Bangkok palace in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, some bugs are going to have to bite the big one.

Imagine my surprise (read:  horror) last night, when our little Brit was indicating that she had spotted something on the ground.  The kittens have an insatiable ability to detect bugs, and while they are keen to hunt them, they don’t do so well on the follow through.  I’m quite certain their play has caused death by shock or heart attack for some insects, but for some reason, they aren’t quite able to squash them into oblivion – and so we have crippled bugs hobbling across the living room floor on occasion.    

Both Brit and Jemaine perform this very strange head movement ritual when they have found a bug on the floor.  They stand over it, looking down…but not just down.  Their heads begin to spin in a strange side to side manner, as though they are recreating that famous scene from The Exorcist.  Actually, it looks a little like this…    

Stewie Griffin = my kittens?

 

 The head spinning kitten being the best indicator of a crawling insect in the vicinity, I went over to check out what it was she was looking at.  Normally we’re subject to normal bugs such as spider, centipedes and the occasional ant.  Last night, however, brought a whole new experience.  As I peered down in front of Brit, I discovered a wriggling little worm.  A larvae perhaps of the flies which we had been so diligent to remove from the home.  A slight chill hit my spine as I saw this little creature moving around, barely visible on our kitchen’s light coloured tiles.  Then I discovered a second…and a third.  Our home was invaded! 

Nothing would kill these things!  They were like super mutant bugs…resistant to anything we sent their way.  We sprayed them with bug spray.  Ian threw them in a cup of water with bleach in it.  Yet still they persisted.  Okay, so I’m lying.  There is something that would kill them…stepping on them.  But the thought of them popping like a giant pimple on the floor just made me wretch, and so we picked them up with tissues and tossed them into the garbage, which was quickly emptied, or threw them into the bleachy water. 

Ian eventually discovered the source of the infestation.  Our green bin – which we both previously knew was not airtight, but hoped was bug-tight – spawned these little demonic beings into our lives.  We like to send our food waste back into the ground…we don’t exactly appreciate when the ground comes back to haunt us.  Finally the bugs were removed from the kitchen…the green bin thrown into the back yard to be dealt with come the morning light.  No sooner do we sit down, there is a loud creaking noise now coming from the front door.  A cricket has made its way into the house now…however, this little fellow was much easier to deal with, as when I opened the front door from outside, he must have hopped out into the darkness, never to bother us again. 

Sadly, this has not been our first encounter with…creatures…in our home.  Over the three years or so that we have lived in our current residence, we have had not one…not two…not even three…but four bats find their way into the house.  The first was mere months after we moved in.  Having never really lived in an older home like the one we are in, neither Ian nor myself have had the good fortune of encountering bats.  Sophie, our only cat at the time, was poking around next to the storage unit on which our tv sat.  As she was very persistent about it, Ian decided to grab the flashlight to see what she was so interested in.  No sooner did he start to investigate, and something flew out, hit him in the head, and flew off.  He assumed it was a bug…a very large bug.  He then rushed into the bedroom proclaiming that something had hit him in the head, and that we now had a bat in the house.  Eventually the bat tired himself out from flying repeated circles around our living room and kitchen, and ended up on our cupboards. 

Bat number 1..."hanging" out in the kitchen.

 

  

After about two hours of putting up sheets to prevent the bat from escaping the kitchen back into other rooms of the house, Ian and I did some breakdance fighting on the floor with some old window screens we found in the basement and managed to coax the bat to fly into the back porch, and out into the night.  It was July…3 in the morning…and we were hot and tired.    

Sometime in August of 2009, our bat chasing skills were tested once again.  Having one bat removal under our belt, we were much more adept at getting this one out.  The problem however was finding him.  After we thought that we had confined him to a small room off of our kitchen, we could not find the bat at all.  Ian was a little surprised when he ventured into the room, shrugged, and then turned around to see this…    

Fuzzy little rat bat...waiting to pounce on Ian...

 

We found a small box and I bravely tried to catch the bat in the box for safe transport outside.  After a couple of false starts, I got him in the box and brought him out to the yard.  Little did I know, bats don’t do so well trying to fly out of boxes.  So I flipped the box over and out went the bat.  Problem solved.  Until about an hour later when a second bat swooped into the living room while we recovered from the first experience that night.  We must have been remarkably quick removing the second from the house though, as I do not recall the details of this one.  Ian and I considered the two visits as a blessing for our wedding from the bat world – we were planning our wedding for a few months later on Halloween.  Fitting, no?    

Most recently, I was commenting to my brother how we hadn’t had any bats in the house for a while, so we were pleased.  I should know better than to gloat.  The night I made the comment, I awoke to a strange swishing noise.  Laying in bed, I could see a dark shadow flitting around in circles above my bed.  Ugh.  Another bat.  Ian and I are now professional bat removers.  This one took ten minutes.    

We’ll probably never see any of these creatures again…we don’t know how they got in…but what’s important as that they got out.  Strangers in the night?  Most definitely…    

I suspect the next bat we see will herald Chris Nolan’s third installment to the Batman series…seems appropriate.