January 25th, 2006 by Potato

I suppose I should say something now that the election is over. It’s been a few days since my last post, but I just haven’t felt up to writing the last few days, first because I was terrified of my… “procedure” and then because I was recuperating by playing lots of video games — and it wasn’t as bad as I feared. After about 8 hours all the pain went away and I could pee again. And last night I could feel the exploratory tendrils of illness infiltrating my body, and sure enough this morning I’m fairly sick. I woke up and had all sorts of weird hallucinations and scared the cat. My throat is killing me (my tonsils are so swollen it’s hard to burp even!). The one saving grace is that my nose isn’t running.

Anyway, the election.

Obviously I’m not a fan of the Refoooooorm/Conservative party. I just simply don’t think that many of their ideas are good for Canada. We’re a great country that stands on records of strong social programs that provide a minimum acceptable quality of life and level of care for everyone, with welfare, health care, government pensions, and even a profit-sharing system for artists with a copyright levy on blank media. The cost of all this is of course, high taxes. It’s a price that for the most part, we seem willing to pay (though our tax burden would be lower if we hadn’t inherited so much debt). The Conservatives, however, seem to hate the idea of taxes; or perhaps they just want to buy votes with promises of tax cuts. Either way, they seem to possess great potential to rip out the very heart of our country for minor reductions in their tax bill.

Consider the day care issue that came up during the election. The Liberals and the NDP were both promising to work towards some sort of national day care program (setting aside the fact that the Liberals had already promised that in previous elections), but the Conservatives were instead promising to scrap the program and “give the money to you, to spend as you see fit.” Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to has seen that as a poor idea, yet people without kids, or who could already afford day care loved it (vote buying, after all). Others seemed oddly afraid that the government would be setting up creches to indoctrinate/brainwash their children behind their backs and from a very young age. While it’s a possibility, I think it’s more likely you’d see that sort of thing in a low-cost religious-based day care, or (if there is such a thing), a private day care covertly owned by neonazis. I’m not sure if the parties had settled on the form of subsidized day care yet: I know one proposal involved having the government simply pay for facilities, and getting parents to run it as a co-op (so a few parents would take 1-3 days off work each month to man the day care). In a situation like that, I doubt government indoctrination would take place (but who knows what the parents of the other kids might be teaching!).

At this point, I’d like to quote Rick Mercer:

Like so many Canadians I was appalled by Scott Reid’s comment about the proposed Conservative child care plan. In case you have been living under a rock and missed it, Scott recently quipped that under the plan parents could choose to spend their 25 dollar a week child care allowance on beer instead of child care. Clearly Scott is wrong. We all know that in this country it would be impossible to find a parent who would spend 25 bucks a week on beer. For starters a case of beer costs more than 25 bucks. A case of domestic is about 35 bucks and the trendier imports cost even more. I happen to know this because I drink beer. I don’t have kids so I have no idea what child care costs. I admit I’m surprised that 25 bucks a week will pay for daycare but what do I know

I know around election time people jump down politician’s throats for the most minor of tongue slips or blog posts, but I still don’t see what was so bad about his criticism of the Conservative plan. Their planned child subsidy is simply not sufficient: the amount of money is “beer & pizza money”, that’s the order of magnitude it’s on. I didn’t hear his whole speech so he possibly didn’t say it as I understand it, but I don’t think anyone would suggest a (good) parent would spend government money on beer instead of on their kids, but the fact is that $25/wk is not enough for day care. If you can already afford day care, then you already have money allocated there, and the government money is just a bonus in your budget that you will, in all likelihood, spend on beer & pizza (or equivalently, something frivolous for your child, like a video game every two weeks). If you can’t afford child care, then this money is not enough to make the difference between getting daycare or not. It doesn’t really give anyone “options” — it just doesn’t “discriminate” against families that can afford to let parents stay home with their kids (that is, it buys the votes of those stay-at-home mom/dads who are too selfish to pay into helping single parents get daycare).

Sure, government day care does encourage families to send both parents back into the work force to make money without having to pay for child care, but I seriously doubt that minor factor is going to tip the balance in a parent’s decision to go back to work. Odds are a dual-income family will be able to afford day care anyway, and will send their kids to a private day care (since I doubt government day care will make much of a dent in private ones — there’s always a way to improve over the free government version and get people to pay).

Anyway, back to the election as a whole.

I really didn’t want the Conservatives to win. Note that I don’t call them the tories (when I can help it). While that is the accepted short form for the conservative parties of the world, these simply aren’t your grandpappy’s progressive conservatives. They’re scary. I was really hoping for an NDP minority in this election, counting on a protest vote similar to what happened in the Ontario provincial race of 1990(?). The Liberals really did need a kick in the pants, too many of them have developed manifest destiny complexes after being in power for so long. I have no illusions of the other two parties being any less corrupt than the Liberals, though in different ways: while the grits siphon money to their friends, the NDP would doubtlessly throw good money after bad propping up companies that employ CAW members, while the Conservatives will certainly be giving big business, rich people, and americans as many concessions as they care to ask for… the greens might be different, simply because no one has given them enough of a chance to bother trying to corrupt them just yet. I’m sure we could get one good term out of them. But the NDP/Green vote I was hoping for really wasn’t there this time around, and it’s because so many people are just so damned afraid of the conservatives.

They got a minority government anyway. Hopefully they won’t screw things up too much before we get another shot at getting someone else in power. I also hope that they see this slim minority as a signal that they are not free to be goddamn fascists, and to hold off on most of their controversial promises. My delusional mind continues to hold out hope that the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc can form a workable coalition to keep the worst of the legislation out (and maybe even push through some of their own, such as the child care issue). Though we’ve fallen a long, long way if we’re depending on the Bloc Quebecois to save the federal government. However, if we can convince the rat bastard separatists to just abstain on everything (or equivalently, instruct half their party’s members to vote one way, the other half the other), that’ll actually put the power in the hands of Liberals/NDP, leaving Harper as an ineffectual talking head. I kind of like that plan. In fact, I’m going to write some letters to Gilles Ducepp and all the other BQ members this weekend. Hopefully they won’t throw them out just because they’re written in my heathen language.

Bloc Quebecois + Conservatives. Damn. We’re so fucked.

Anyhow, I’ve been supporting Fair Vote Canada (linkage on the right) hoping for some sort of electoral reform that will make it easier to deal with the 4 national parties we have on the go. Strategic voting is rampant, and it’s extremely difficult for new parties to move up over the years. First-past-the-post really encourages a two-party system, and while that’s what it’s boiled down to in many people’s minds in many ridings, that just doesn’t work for me. In two-party systems, it almost always comes down to who the lesser of two evils is, you hardly ever get to vote for someone you believe in, even a little. On that note, I’ve got to get me one of those “Why pick the lesser of two evils? Vote Chuluthu!” bumper stickers.

Anyhow, there are a number of better systems to chose out there. I think pretty much any of them would be better than what we have now, however, I’m not a big fan of some of the proportional representation systems. I prefer something like a single transferrable vote, because I think we should maintain the tradition of voting for people rather than parties. This is important both to punish individual members who do not represent you well, despite being in a party you believe in (or can at least live with), and because it encourages independents.

Look at the Sam Bulte issue. She was corrupt as all get-out, one of the worst Liberal offerings out there. She didn’t move to her riding, she accepted dubious donations from copyright lobbyists while she was working on copyright reform, and when she was found out and asked about it in the candidates’ debate, she flipped out and called her constituents “zealots” interested in downloading music, and later threatened to sue when evidence against her began to pile up (at one point, she quoted the CRIA verbatim, using its wrong & misleading statistics, further indicating how deep in their pockets she was). Thankfully, in this election she was tossed out in favour of NDP Peggy Nash. With a multi-member district using party lists, you might not be able to vote for the other Liberal MPs without also supporting her.

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