At times, this election campaign has made me really cranky. With politicians. With the media. With other Canadians.
But it hasn’t had all been bad. To my surprise, some things have actually been inspiring. Who would have expected that?
Votes mobs: The enthusiasm of youth
Inspired by a Rick Mercer rant, vote mobs are groups of young people who swarm political functions or other public spaces, encouraging people to vote.Will they actually turn around the typically dismal showing of voters under 25? I don’t know, especially that the timing couldn’t be worse for university and college students.
But regardless, they’ve left behind a nice YouTube legacy, like this one from McMaster:
Civil online debates: Yes, we can
The typical comments section on most political articles (or YouTube videos) tends to make you despair for humanity as a whole. But under this article in an American online publication (decent in itself) is a bunch of really well-informed, civil, intelligent comments from what seems to be across the political spectrum. (Until a spammer joins in at the end. Ah well, better that than a troll.)
And though I’m biased from knowing the blogger, the non-partisan Procedure and politics has been a nice oasis of rationality, showing that you can calmly dissect how politicians and the media sometimes get it wrong, all without calling anyone a “stupidhead”. (Also a great place to learn about Britain’s upcoming referendum, if you were wondering about that. Or maybe you didn’t even know they were having one?)
The return of oratory
I’m a sucker for a great orator. Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, John Kennedy… I don’t know if these guys were great leaders. But they sure talked nice. I loved listening to all of them.
In Canada, we haven’t had a great federal orator since… What… Pierre Trudeau, I think?
Or so I thought. Until I actually started listening to Michael Ignatieff speak. It started at their platform announcement, part of which I watched online. This was in the midst of all the commentary about Harper’s “bubble” — not taking questions, hiding from the public. So to see Ignatieff speaking so easily, so clearly, sans notes or teleprompters, answering questions from everyone, at such a strategic juncture—I was kind of impressed.
But it was only after coming back from vacation, having missed the debates (where, I hear, Ignatieff didn’t do that well), I found this YouTube video getting a lot of play:
That I became really really impressed. I liked what he said. And how he said it. And apparently, that wasn’t even him at his best.
I started to wonder if I was just in some weird Liberal spell here, when Rick Mercer (him again!) commented on a similar experience:
And then there was Prince Edward Island, where, in a curling club, Ignatieff showed off a set of skills I had no idea that he possessed. From a pure showbiz perspective he killed. Speaking without a teleprompter or notes he gave perhaps the best speech I have heard since watching Gen. Rick Hillier address the troops in Kandahar.
His speech also inspired this non-partisan song on voting for what you believe in–“Rise Up Canada!” (A song for Canada’s 2011 Federal Election):
Of course, people like Blair, Clinton, Obama, and Kennedy all had such personal charisma, their elocutionary skills were just icing on the cake. With Ignatieff, it’s the whole cake. In this day and age, that seems to not be enough. But damn, it’s nice to hear anyway.
Creative protest: Hanging with the cool kids
I like civil debate, and I like neutral calls to vote, but I have picked a side. So, I’ve also appreciated the many people, much more creative and eloquent than I, who have to the same conclusion about who they are voting for, and produced online materials as to why. There’s tons of it, but I’ll just mention a few. I’ve already tweeted about Shane Koycan’s powerful “Wasted Votes” video. (He’s the spoken-word poet who appeared at the Olympics by the way: the “We Are More” poem.) I also enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s comparison of the Conservatives to a vaccum salesman who insists you buy his product, but won’t tell you the cost.
And this mock ad—Too Smart for Canada—made me laugh out loud. So close to the actual ones, some people think it’s real.
The NDP surge
Of course, we don’t yet know if this will stick and have a real effect in the end. All we can know for sure, is that among those that were polled, there has been a shift. In Quebec, the NDP has risen considerably; that has been spreading to other regions. And why does this please me?
- It’s thwarting the ambitions of both the Conservatives and the Bloc, my two least favourite parties. Although I don’t believe it will turn out that way, one poll actually had the NDP + Liberal seat count at greater than the Conservative–without the Bloc at all. That would be good for Canada.
- It shows that many Canadians will respond to a positive message. (Even the NPD “attack” ads were kind of chirpy positive.)
- It shows what a political leader can achieve when not hobbled by two years of personal political attack ads run by the party in power. (Why is it even legal to run election ads between elections, by way?)
- They’re the only major party talking about electoral reform, one of my pet issues.
I’m not afraid of NDP policies or what them having more power might mean. All evidence shows that the NDP becomes very pragmatic once handed power. And if you look closely at what they’re proposing, it’s full of caveats that gives them plenty of wiggle room to ensure Canada does not become a deficit-ridden, high-tax, socialist mess.
But this is in no way changes how I plan to vote. The conditions, for me, remain the same. Local polls show no evidence of an NDP surge. Plus, my local NDP candidate is a 27-year-old with no political experience at all, whereas the Liberal one is a past MP with a record for actually going with his conscience against his own party, which is a rare thing indeed. And another thing I view positively.