The Conservatives, aka the Tories - Canada's extreme right-wing party - chose the next election date wisely. Not only were the elections announced with very little time for each party to prepare its campaign, they selected a date at the end of the same month as the United States, knowing very well that our minds would be just as much, if not more, focused on our Southern neighbours then in our own land. The result? Some may even temporarily forget about it!
This election will have a very similar effect on us as when Obama first campaigned against Bush. As some of you may already be aware, Stephen Harper is known as Canada's George W. Bush. During his first term, which coincided with Bush's second term, he was accused of undoing several beneficial Canadian laws; of shutting down the parliament at the most crucial time for the country's citizens - the beginning of the financial crisis; of ignoring the pleas of Canadians regarding the decisions taken to support the tar sands and other damaging or non-profitable businesses; of injecting massive sums of taxpayers' money into unnecessary projects and purchases, such as the 35 billion jet fighter contract (and we still haven't received the final tally for that one, which could very well be higher); and the list could go on.
From a vegan's point of view, his platform is devoid of any interest to me. Most of his so-called accomplishments are simple and do not compensate for the quantity of damage done to our country. He signs free-trade agreements with other countries as though they were about to go out of fashion - often without even consulting, nor informing, the country - which leads to further destruction to the environment since these countries do not care whether they abide to their own laws, much less to international laws. The latest one, the Canada-China free trade agreement (FIPA - Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement), which was kept secret to everyone, including all parliament members - Senate, MPs, etc - would give China full rights to do whatever they want, including disobeying our own laws by allowing them to sue the government through secrete tribunals whenever it intervenes in their businesses and would bind our country to that agreement for decades, perhaps up to the year 2042. Our most treasured asset - our virgin nature and the beauty of our landscapes - could be destroyed in a matter of a couple of decades, and could bring about the elimination of several endangered species by wiping out their habitats. To make matters worse, even Environment Canada - the department responsible for any environmental legislation - has suffered major cutbacks recently, including the group that created the UV Index and discovered the holes in the ozone layer, saving millions of people across the world. Harper's decisions are extremely risky for everyone, and his plan is to ensure they aren't known until the very last minute, when it is often too late to go back on the decision.
What does this leave us with? Thankfully, we have a larger array of important groups to choose from in our country than in the US. First, the Liberal Party, which traditionally sits a little right of center, has other ideals that can help Canadians make a more balanced choice of leader. Unfortunately, our latest liberal leader, Ignatieff, left the party after an embarrassing attempt to force the Tories out of their lead. Even though there are Court cases not settled yet in relation to phone fraud and election cheating – by misleading people towards false voting stations – the issue has not yet been cleared since the Court will not allow the cases to be fully taken care of. Furthermore, a new leader has not been chosen yet, and although many predict that Pierre Trudeau’s son, Justin, will win due to his father’s popularity and Justin’s 6-week lead over the other contenders, we have yet to see the results. My take on this: Justin is an environmentalist at heart and cares for the citizens of this country. He has shown more dedication to Canadians than the leader of our country. But, with the heavy loss from the blow taken from the last, forced elections may prove to be tough to surmount. And, since the leader is not yet in place, a specific platform has not been written out.
Next, we have the NDP. They were the main opposition in the last elections and made an incredible campaign. Recently-deceased Jack Layton, who suffered from cancer in his hip that spread during the last few days leading to the election, and finally took his life just a few weeks after his victory, proved to us that a leader who believes things can change for the better can make it in our government. Mulcair, the current leader, has very large shoes to fill, but kept a similar philosophy as his predecessor, putting Canadians first and the environment as an important part of his campaign. Directly opposing Harper by declaring himself an ‘environmental radical’, he cares for the oceans through which the oil pipelines would be built, should the project come to fruition. They also have en extensive list of fights that they took on to oppose unfair laws and projects taken on by the Tories.
And last but not least, the Green Party Rep – the one and only at the moment, but this could change as they are announcing how another riding may get a seat – is, by far, as the name states, the strongest fighter in the environmental field. From endangered species, to forests, to oil spills, this woman is dedicated, heart and soul, to the protection of wild animals, lakes and rives, the ocean, and every other aspect of nature imaginable. However, this was not the only fight that Elizabeth May took on with Harper. She also fought against FIPA tooth and nail, spelled out the reality of Canada’s economic crisis, and was the only member of parliament present for every single debate that went on in the House of Commons – an incredible feat, to say the least, since she could be there for up to 36 hours straight, fighting mostly with the Tories to keep Canadians’ demands and preferences known. And although she did not manage to win – at times she was alone on her side – she did not give up. The only party with a full platform available at any time – not just for elections – and the most complete one available at the moment, putting even the ever-so-organised Conservative one at shame, she details every aspect of her campaign clearly. She is a refreshingly honest leader that listens to what the citizens want and keeps an eye on the opposition when they lead the country in the wrong direction.
The term in the title, ABC, stand for "Anything But Conservatives" and was popular mostly among left-wing organisations and activists. Harper causing such enormous damage to the advancements made by NGOs and non-profits, our fight was to keep him from being re-elected at all costs - meaning that our strategy was to search for whichever party would win in certain ridings if we promoted that party over the Conservatives, most having voted differently than they would have had this proposal not come up. However, the well-known phone scandal ensured the Tories' re-election and the country now awaits the results of an election which is headed towards another four years of brutal leadership that may very well throw Canada's reputation down the drain. Some are asking for a coalition to be created between the NDP, the Liberals and the Block Quebecois again to fight this giant that seems to take the same ilegal measures as his chum, Bush, to win.
I invite you to read each platform carefully (those that are up), and choose CAREFULLY. Please vote wisely.
Please note that the Bloc Quebecois platform was not included here as it only applies to the province of Quebec.
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Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)