An election presenting a difficult dilemma
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
Let me confess here and now that I’m completely flummoxed by this election! So flummoxed that for the first time in my life I don’t think I know where I’ll mark my “X’ on the ballot until I enter the darkness of the polling booth.
For a political junkie like me that’s unusual. Actually it’s worse than that. It’s downright scary!
Let me explain. I grew up a socialist. But before you non-socialists turn away, please hear me out. My dad “Monty” worked 44 years at the Cominco smelter in Trail. That old smelter was a pretty hellish place to work back then. I can remember dad coming home from work and mom asking him how it went that day. Many-a-time, dad would say he went to a “memorial.” What’s that you ask. It was a short funeral ceremony on site for a worker that had died from the toxic fumes and lead particles in the air that you breathed at Cominco. But by the time I did my stint at Cominco in the late 1960’s, it was a vastly different operation. The company spent millions, actually over a billion I think, to clean the place up. I won’t go into the details, but if you go to Trail today only a bit of steam comes out of the stacks and the hills are green again with trees planted by Cominco.
Now Cominco didn’t do this entirely out of the goodness of its heart. In part, it did it because it was pushed damn hard by the union, originally the good ol’ Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union, a communist-influenced union at that! But that’s not the point. Today, it’s the Steelworkers that represent the workers at Trail and between them and Cominco they’ve made that ugly, old smelter a safe and reasonably clean place to work and a provider of more than a thousand jobs in Trail and a major contributor of taxes to the government.
In other words, with a little good will, the system can work to the benefit of everyone regardless of their politics. But it takes good will and that’s a precious commodity at any time, especially today.
Let’s fast forward to the present. When you think of the Conservative Party of Canada today does the expression “good will” cross your mind. Not likely. And again, I ask you not to turn away because for a period I was a strong supporter of the so-called Conservative “core” group, namely the Reform Party and I volunteered for them in the 1993 federal election when Preston Manning led the party and Reform won the Edmonton-Strathcona seat. Why was I supporting Reform at that time? Mainly because I’m a fiscal conservative at heart and want a government that’s careful with my money. But you can’t base your precious vote on one issue and when I take a dispassionate look at the four main parties running today some things stand out starkly in black and white.
The Conservative Party of Canada today is not “progressive” in any way whatsoever. Stephen Harper took care of that. Under Harper, the Conservative Party has become a hard-nosed, mean-spirited, fear-mongering party, that like Harper, has ice-water in its veins and little or no compassion for anyone that dares disagree with it. It should really be called the “Regressive” Conservative Party of Canada because under Harper it brought down seven consecutive deficit budgets, involved us in two unwinnable Middle Eastern wars, denies climate change, muzzles scientists, is unsympathetic to refugees, sneers at our civil liberties through Bill C-51 and rejects democracy in favour of executive rule by the the PMO. And when they get caught at it, they lie as most people believe Harper has in the Duffy scandal. Or they engage in thinly disguised racist politics as they’ve done on the niqab issue.
Not a pretty picture.
And then there’s the other parties and none of them are perfect either. That’s why I’ll be in a deep quandary when I walk into that polling booth Oct. 19 and I suspect many will feel the same. This leads to a difficult decision. Vote according to your political principles or vote strategically against the meanest prime minister of our time.
Actually, when you really think about it, it’s not such a hard decision at all.
Harper has got to go.