I know we don't have as a deep political divide here in Canada as has developed in the U.S. and maybe that is why we have become so complacent, why it seemed no one even bothered to vote in the last election. But, of course, we will have another one sooner rather than later since that is the way minority governments inevitably come to an end. So what can we do in Canada to get voters out and "Rock the Vote?" We have movie stars and musicians who are cool and who young people listen to. I probably couldn't name current ones at my rapidly advancing middle age but but I know they are out there. Why can't we make it cool to vote, cool to care about politics? I know we won't have a inspiring "Yes We Can" candidate like Obama. But hopefully the Liberals will be able to choose someone from their rat pack who can speak both official clanguages and who will be able to challenge Harper.
It seems like the NDP always seems to have a leader whom people agree would make a good Prime Minister if only he was the leader of the Conservatives or the Liberals. Remember Ed Broadbent? I think he had the highest approval rating and got the most seats ever in the house for the NDP, but of course he was head of the NDP which, in our left-leaning society, is pretty far left. And while they have managed to govern successfully in a number of provinces, let's just not discuss the Ontario NDP governement. But how can we not when Bob Rae, the NDP Premier of Ontario, namesake of the hated "Rae Days" is running for the leadership of the federal Liberal Party. That is Canadian politics for you. Party lines do become blurred quite often which, Belinda Stronach aside, isn't always a bad thing.
So finally we have one of those good guy NDP leaders in the running for the chance to be in the running for PM. His main rival? A former Harvard prof. Not a bad match for Stephen "Reach for the Top Contestant" Harper.
See, we Canadians, have always (well, almost always) had smart people running for office, they just aren't always the most inspiring. Trudeau aside, and I don't think that Justin or "Trudeau Lite" is quite up to the challenge and I definitely think that Ben Mulroney should keep his day job. But if our leaders can't get us excited about voting then maybe Jim Carrey could, or Mike Meyers, or the guys from the Tragically Hip or the Bare Naked Ladies or a few hockey players. I hope that when the next election rolls around someone out there in the marketing world figures out that if we are going to keep this democracy thing going that we are going to have to get the Gen Xers or Yers or whatever the 18 to 30 year olds are called, excited about the polical process in our country. Let all those smart university students who are away from home, often in another province, know how they can still vote. Make it easy for them. Make it exciting. I know we don't have computerized touch screens or levers to pull like at a casino, but the old "put an X next to the person you want to be in government" isn't such a bad system. At least our elections, of late anyways, haven't ended up being decided by the Supreme Court.
We have seen, leading up to and during the past eight years, what can happen when people stop caring who is running their country. The Americans got what they deserved in George W.
Twice. But this last time they woke up and people got out to vote because they believed it mattered. The change may not come about right away, as Obama has said, but they have taken the first step and hopefully, for all our sakes, it will come.
In Canada we can sit by and complain that we don't have a leader like Obama but someone once said that voters get the leader they deserve and until we start acting like we care we will be stuck with just that.
A Medieval Town of Books: Hay-on-Wye, Wales - After our back-to-back sabbaticals in Tokyo and at Oxford University, I've been busy offline, settling back home in Maine. During our year abroad, my pro...