It would seem that I have done it again!

I’ve used a simple facebook comment as a source of inspiration for a mighty long rant and an awful lot of reflection!

As I am sure all Canadians are aware, Canada has just elected a Harper Majority.  Personally, I am disappointed. I asked a friend of mine why she voted Harper (to genuinely gain an insight into what the “majority” of Canadians were thinking). She answered saying that it was because he seemed to do an okay job getting us through the recession and that it was good for her business. She then, asked my why I DIDN’T vote for Harper. I decided to post my answer to my blog, because, well, it has direct implications on the kind of work/volunteer I do, and to some extent, on what is happening in Uganda.

**p.s. In case you don’t get to the end (it’s pretty long), just wanted to say that I am happy to answer your questions! **

Here’s what I had to say….

************

Dear (friend),
Again, thank you so much for your honest answer.
Okay, so I will agree with you that the liberals were not really an option. I also think that the green party has some amazing environmental policies, but that the federal government can not soley be focused on one issue alone (i.e. the environment). And while I support a lot of the Blocs platforms, I wouldn’t elect them for the federal government because they are almost solely interested in the preservation of Quebec; an important voice, but not who I want to be leading my country.

So that for me left the NDP and the Conservatives… however, I was also open to voting strategically in order to oust Harper. There are a few reasons that on a personal level I do not agree with Harper. I don’t know if you know, but I have been volunteering with sexual health education for over a year now on behalf of of an AIDS Service Organization (ASO). I go into schools/community centres/universities and talk to people about the importance of Safer Sex and HIV 101. The approach of this organization, and one that I agree with, is that of Harm Reduction. So, this essentially means that people are going to engage in risky behaviours (i.e. having sex) and so it is our job to make sure that they have the education and the resources to make the best choice for themselves (i.e. that 15 – 24 year old women are at an increased risk for getting an STI because the mucus membranes of their vaginal canal have not fully developed, so to protect yourself, use a condom). Harper has been cutting funding (and will continue to do so) for these kinds of initiatives because the Tories do not believe in harm reduction. They believe in abstinence and a “just say no” approach. Now, I don’t know about you — but to me, this doesn’t seem very realistic. In my opinion, this approach just does not make sense from a public health perspective. **Note: I posted Pisani’s video in my first blog posting **

Another personal story, I was supposed to go to Uganda this summer and volunteer with HIV EP (Education and Prevention). The trip has been cancelled because there has been a civil uprising in Uganda. People were peacefully demonstrating (Walk2Work) because the price of commodities, like food and gas, have gone up over 100% in the past year, about 10% in the last month alone, while the mininum wage continues to decrease. As a result of the walk2work protests, civilians are being shot, arrested and beaten/tear gassed by the gov’t military and are dying in a fight for the access to food. A large (though not the only) contributor to Ugandan food shortages is global warming.

Now what does this have to do with anything?! What we are doing in Canada is directly affecting the rest of the world.  Canada is one of the WORST world polluters in terms of green house gases; due our NATO agreement, we do not even begin to meet the criteria set out by the Kyoto Protocol. Under the Harper Government, reporting on climate change has DECREASED by 80%. How are we supposed to change things if we aren’t allowed to talk about it or if people don’t know about it?

(In relation to Uganda and other African countries, Harper has also closed 6 Canadian Embassies in Africa; severely tainting Canada’s relationship with Africa as a continent as it seems that Canada doesn’t care about maintainin posisitve relationships with different African countries.)

But, back to the environment! Jack Layton, on the other hand, lives in a house that is actually producing so much electricity, it is returning the energy to the grid. He is aware of the importance of environmental issues and is ready to fight for change.

It was important for me to elect someone that I felt would be innovative, responsible, accountable.

Speaking of being accountable/responsible, the reason that we had an election in the first place is because Harper was in contempt of the Canadian Parliament. What does this mean? It means that his party was lying to the parliament about their budgetary spending. I’ve heard that his is the first government in the history of Canada to be held in contempt. I had/have no desire to elect a parliament that is blatantly lying to me about what they are (not) doing.

According to my sources, under the Harper government, we have amassed 55 billion dollars worth of debt, and are giving 30 – 40 % tax breaks to the largest, most profitable companies in Canada (banks, oil) which only deflects money away from the people who need it the most (low – middle class families). I also read that Harper was actually looking to equalize salaries, and that minimun wage has not proportionally increased to inflation in the last three years, actually making low and middle class families poorer — as a student, this directly affects me. Under Harper it seems that the rich as getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. I’ve lived in Brazil — that shit’s not cool!

The NDP actually wants to help small business by giving them a 2% pointage tax cut. Helping out the little guys and not the conglomorates that are already making 700 million dollars profit.

Briefly, there are a few other policies that Harper stands for that I do not particularly agree with:
– getting rid of gay marriage
– privitisation of health care (I mean, it’s obvious how well that is working in the States). *
– wanting uniform sentencing for crimes, increased spending on prisons — even despite the fact that the crime rate has significantly decreased over the past decade.
– tar sands : officially the WORLD’s WORST polluter and a completely unsustainable resource. Why are we not looking at alternatives? Clean renewable energy? (see documentary H2Oil)

* Layton wants to increase the number of Drs and Nurses and make it more appealing for them to stay in Canada!
Here is another long list of reason’s that I, personally, didn’t want Harper to get elected : www.shitharperdid.ca
I don’t particularly like to voting system in Canada — it doesn’t really feel like democracy. I also think that I am not so much voting FOR someone as voting AGAINST someone.  I’d like to see a more fair voting system, and will be interested in seeing how the UK’s referendum on their voting system turns out. For me, the choice seemed obvious — Stephen Harper is NOT my prime minister.I have heard the arguments about Harper “saving” the economy before, but based on what I’ve read… and how in-tact Brazil’s economy has been during the world recession… I believe that social justice and a stable economy do not have to be mutually exclusive.  I do not believe that Harper was the only option.Obviously, there is only so much I can do… the votes have been cast and the decisions have been made. I don’t know if you will understand how I feel, because you voted for the Conservatives, but I think this is going to bring some dark changes for Canada and I feel a little helpless.Obviously, I will respect your opinion though, as it was your vote and your decision. I also want to say thank you so much for reading through this all! I think it is important to consider both sides.

I hope, for everyone, that you were right about the Harper government.

Jade
xx

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