so…we had an election, eh?

nah, i’m not time-travelling. up here in the Great White North, we cast our ballots two weeks ago. our conservative minority spent millions on an election…that resulted in another conservative minority. whee. curb my enthusiasm.

i’m a bit saturated with election talk this fall, from both sides of the border…though at least the races have been lively. (well, the American race is lively…and historic…and mind-boggling. a right smart honours degree in political science and i’m apparently still too thick to comprehend the true meaning of the word “socialist”. duh me.) up here the election proved largely a testament to the inherent clusterfuck of a five-party first-past-the-post electoral system.

to recap, for the non-Canucks, we have one national conservative party (relatively centrist by American standards), one separatist party (vive la Quebec libre), one traditional party called The Liberals (centrist, campaigned in part on an environmentalist carbon tax platform this time round), one traditional third party called the New Democrats (the closest we come to actual socialists, but still social democrats), and a more recently emergent Green Party (who failed to get any federal seats but did snag a chunk of the popular vote).

all parties had an environmental plan or strategy as part of their platform. for the Liberals and the Greens, it was particularly high-profile. together with the NDP, they captured 51% of the popular vote…compared to nearly 38% for the now-ruling minority government. we don’t do coalitions here much…rather a pity. but the line i’m suddenly hearing from major news outlets is…the environment failed as a political strategy. with all these crazy economic times befalling us, green is dead.

yikes.

the implication here is that because half of Canadians voted for a centrist or left-of-centre party with an environmental platform that was key to their campaign and would entail major changes to current policy (and we’re not even talking here about the Quebecois whose vote went to the separatist party, whose environmental policy aligns reasonably closely to the three aforementioned), Canadians don’t give two shits about the environment. nope, our politics are now solely about keeping money in our pocketses.

certainly, the fact that our national delegates just managed to keep lucrative Canadian asbestos off an international list of hazardous chemicals might suggest that that’s the tone our government plans to run with.

i’m angry about this little turn of the spin. because spin and rhetoric affect discourse…the ways people are able to think and talk about issues, about citizenship, about their lives. and a discourse that green is dead seems to me to handicap a groundswell that’s possibly too little, too late but still all we’ve got to build with in terms of, um, you know, maybe saving the planet. from ourselves. for our kids.

i think the media is doing us a disservice here, simplifying a complex electoral decision down to a “green is out, belt-tightening in” kind of message. particularly because it suggests that green initiatives are inherently more costly at the consumer/voter level…which is not true, as buying less imported crap and purchasing both less overall and locally where possible would be environmentally friendly and cheaper for many of us, if we cut the chaff and really did tighten our belts. the idea that we’re entitled to our current levels of consumption, despite the fact that across many sectors we’ve known for years they’re unsustainable, is at the root of the whole financial bust in the first place.

bah.

Canada will likely see another election within three years. when it comes, i hope that green platforms remain a visible part of the various campaigns…and i hope that even more citizens are willing to accept the notion of a little belt-tightening in order to make those platforms a viable reality. if we haven’t been spun back into complacency about the important things by all this stock market drama by then.

but hell, see…i really am a socialist.**

**okay, not really. i don’t even like pink. but compared to the US presidential candidates – either of them – i’m bleeding red. and bemused and aghast all at the same time by the McCarthyite parody the word seems to unleash south of the border. can anybody explain this to a poor brainwashed victim of socialized medicine?