Saturday, November 8, 2008

Shut up and vote

As I’ve mentioned before, elections seem to be a national past time for Canadians.   Consider all the provincial elections, by-elections, municipal elections, federal elections and leadership elections in this country.  That’s a lot of voting.

Even for political junkies, all these trips to the ballots get irksome.  Jump’n craw daddies!  In Quebec, we just finished one expensive federal election, and now it’s time for an equally, if not more expensive provincial election. 

With this said, I don’t feel quite as bad as my complaining would have you believe.  In the Canadian political process, we, as private citizens, have very little to do.  A few times a year, we have to drag ourselves out of the house, and down to the polling station.  When there, we present our drivers’ license and put an X beside the candidate we fell will do the least amount of damage with our tax dollars.   This is the only role we as Canadians have in the political process.  It may not be fun, but at least we get to vote against the parties we hate the most.  

If you want things to keep going the way they have been, don’t vote, but if you really want to screw things up for the people in power, get out and vote.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Sermon

And on the eighth day, God created democracy.

I’m going to take this unseasonably warm day here in Montreal as a sign that God is a Democrat.   I can only assume that if McCain won yesterday, the weather would be somewhat different (fire and brimstone on the 401 makes for a nasty commute).  I’m also going to assume that God is a Catholic based on the how gay marriage and abortion faired in this election.

Awake from your slumber lovers of liberty.  Change is on the way.  Health care for out dear friends south of the 49th, and an end to this war are only days away, and the revolution will be televised.  God bless Obama.  God bless CNN.  God bless Wolf Blitzer.  God bless Holograms.

Onward youthful voter!  God holds a special space for ye behind the pearly gates, but first he has one question for ye: where were ye four years ago? 

Rejoice black voters!  When Democratic America cast their ballots yesterday, they were saying sorry for the last 500 years.  Kentucky, we’re still waiting…

What these next four years hold for us, only the Lord knows, but it is safe for us to assert that we’ll be seeing a lot more sunny days these next few years. 


Monday, November 3, 2008

Reflections on an Obama bumper sticker

As I write this, I am riding north along the I-81, heading home from Virginia. I spent the weekend in Arlington with some good friends and anxious ambitions.  We were there to campaign for Obama, the man that has half the U.S. and the rest of the world behind him.  I never read, or for that matter, write in the car because it makes me feel sick, but I would like to type a few things before I return the awful Flying J coffee to the cup from whence it came.  A few miles back, from the cocoon of empty chip bags, coffee cups, newspapers and other garbage I’ve made for my self in the back seat, I spotted an “Obama/Biden” bumper sticker on the car beside ours. 

This is no strange site. After a weekend of going door-to-door handing out Democrat literature, these blue and white stickers have become all too familiar.  But for whatever reason, seeing this specific sticker made my mind wonder.  In Canada, we just had our own little election, and I do not recall seeing one “Layton for PM” bumper sticker, “Dion 08” shirt, or a “Harper: change we can believe in” hat.  Sure, there was an obnoxious surplus of election lawn and street signs, but the parties pay for these, and go to great lengths to post them anywhere eyeballs may venture.  (On a side note, could Gille Duceppe have had creepier mug shot?)   

The Obama phenomenon has cashed in big time.  I, along with the group of Canadians I’ve been traveling with bought the last five official Obama shirts in all of northern Virginia (or so said the guy who took our $100 for the shirts).  I don’t know anyone who would pay for Canadian political paraphernalia, with the exception of my dear friend Anthony Di Domizio.  

Obviously Obama has become a pop icon, loved by his followers at home and aboard, but I don’t know if I could ever see this happening in Canada.  Sure, Trudeau instilled a similar excitement in people, but it was nothing like what’s happening in the U.S. right now.  Canadian elections are general more of a nuisance than a time of national enthusiasm.   I think the consensus is that elections are obnoxious, expensive, and too frequent.  Parliamentary democracies allow for elections to happen more often than does the American federal republic, but it seems like every other year Canadians are dragged to the polls to chose between the party that will create no change, and the party that will change even less.  It is not a surprise that our recent election saw new lows in voter turn out.

Do we need an Obama?  Do we need a new Trudeau?  What will it take to get us to the polls, and stickers on our bumpers?   Why don’t Americans drive thirteen hours to help with our elections?  And why did I drive thirteen hours to help with the American elections?  And why did my friend Alex Leduc try to change his name to Clinton?  

I’ve spent a good part of this drive contemplating these questions.   I’m not going to try and answer them now because one, typing in the car is making me sick, and two, I think these questions are going to take a fair bit of deliberation.  When I come up with some sort of answer, or more accurate questions, I’ll get back to writing.  Hopefully when I do, I’ll be sitting at my kitchen table, slightly less car sick.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Welcome Beginning

Welcome. I am quite fortunate that I get to begin my blog on a high note. The Economic Community of West African States brought justice this week to a part of the world that so desperately needs it. In Niger, the ECOWAS court ruled in favour of Hadijatou Mani yesterday. Sold into Slavery at the age of ten, Mani was forced to bare her master’s children, and was often sexually and physically abused. ECOWAS ordered the state of Niger to pay Mani compensation of $19,750 for not providing her with the proper protection. Slavery was officially made illegal in Niger in 2004.

With this ruling, Mani not only compensated financial, she won her rights.

As I write this first entry on what I hope to become a weekly blog about global political culture, I celebrate the fact that every once in a while, good news finds its way onto the front page.