Personal. Passionate. Motivated to action. Thanks for sharing, Bob.
Dear [first name field],
This letter is blatantly political, but it is also personal. And urgent. I’ve been watching the federal election campaign with something bordering on despair. In all my 63 years, I have never known a government less in tune with my values than this one – and that is going some. By the polls, most of us feel kinda the same way. But we are divided among four parties, and that may allow Harper and his cronies to waltz back into power.
Skip to the next paragraph if you like, but I gotta get this 100-word rant off my chest: “In two years under Harper, Canada has become one of the worst heel-draggers on global warming. Our military has shifted from peace keeping to war making. Where we once welcomed war resistors, we now turn them away. In April, the Conservatives de-regulated and privatized food inspection, and we know what happened in August. They plan to do the same for the airline industry. Prisons, they say ‘are for punishment.’ And for 14 year olds. They don’t much like the arts and they don’t get the internet. I could go on. If Harper wins his majority, I shudder to think how, well, American, Canada will become.” End of rant.
What – as William Bendix used to say – a revolting development this is!
And yet, something is afoot. I don’t know about you, but I have been receiving dozens of messages from friends and strangers talking about what amounts to do-it-yourself proportional representation. I can’t say I’ve become optimistic, but I do believe there are two effective things we can do.
The first is to make our votes count. We may not have rep by prop (we are one of the world’s most backwards democracies in this regard) but we can fake it. If I lived in Central Nova, I would vote for Elizabeth May in a heartbeat. But here in Nanaimo-Cowichan, to vote Green (or for that matter to vote Liberal), is, de facto, to vote Conservative. Lucky for me, our local MP, Jean Crowder, is good people, and anti-Harper through and through. I don’t have to hold my nose when I vote. (I just have to roll my eyes at Jack’s car-salesman style.) But if the best way to stop the Conservatives was to vote Liberal, this time I would. With glowing heart. (Registered trademark, 2010 Olympics, all rights reserved.)
Fortunately, voting strategically has just gotten a whole lot easier. There is now an amazing website, www.voteforenvironment.com, that is tracking every riding in the country and making up-to-the-minute suggestions on how best to fight Harper. It is the coolest example of Canadian grassroots democracy since the Free Trade comic book.
So that is the first thing to do: check out www.voteforenvironment.com.
And there is another thing just as important. This happens to be a time when our ability to communicate with one another has never been greater. To contact you with this message, I just had to overcome my reticence about doing it. (I’m Canadian, after all.) The rest, nowadays, is easy. If you do it too, if you contact your friends and colleagues, acquaintances and list-mates, and let them know what you are thinking, we could actually affect the results in some key ridings and, who knows, we might even affect more than that. It’s worth a try.