Decided


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After careful consideration, weighing the options, putting aside my personal disdain for politicians in general, I have made my choice.
It’s Justin Trudeau.
What put the Liberals over the top for me was their optimism, and the Trudeau camp decision to take the high road in this dirty, smelly election campaign.
I’m tired of secrets and scandal. I’m weary of “veiled” threats against new Canadians. I’m sick of a government that turns a blind eye to the plight of some refugees while cherry picking others to come to our country.
Stephen Harper has made a laughing stock of this country.
He is the national version of Rob Ford, only he’s making all his decisions sober, and that scares the Turkey dinner stuffing out of me.
Mulcair, the great inquisitor, has failed to inspire.
The last straw was last week when he tried to take credit for all of Jack Layton’s hard work.
So on October 19th, I will vote for David McGuinty, who is a good MP.
And I will offer up my ten cents on the dollar for Justin Trudeau.
But with a caveat.
Don’t screw it up.
I’ve placed my faith in the Liberal Party too many times only to be disappointed by the unearned arrogance and entitlement of its leadership.
Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…
We’re counting on you Justin Trudeau.
Don’t make us come and get you.
We know where you’ll be living.

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In Harperland, it’s everybody for themselves


Tough times are Tory times.

It was a saying I hadn’t heard in years but it now has remarkable resonance.

Stephen Harper has been with us since 2006. Back then, I had a good full time job. I lost that job a year later and haven’t had more than a part time gig since. In 2006, I was working in the same field I work in today — medical publishing — editing a magazine for mental health professionals. I was making $46,000 which wasn’t considered great money back then. The not-for-profit sector has always trailed behind the private sector but a lot of us work in the field because the work is meaningful, and we love it.

Today, I am doing nearly the same work, except I’m editing five publications. I’m making $800 a month. That’s because my field — writing and editing — is no longer valued as a profession. Heck, it’s not even a vocation anymore. People who are writing and editing for the federal government aren’t fairing much better. Once they could command $500 a day, now all the writers and editors are languishing, many working for agencies, at $15 an hour.

Tough times indeed.

In 2006, my husband had a thriving video production business. Today, he’s unemployed and applying for minimum wage jobs. Even the car business, from which he recently retired, was once a lucrative enterprise. Today it’s paying lousy salaries thanks to globalization. Cars, even higher end models, are selling dirt cheap and salespeople are barely making ends meet. Early in his car career, Scott made $60,000 easy. This year, he was limping along making less than $2,000 a month. A welfare mother makes more.

Scott quit cars because the job was costing him, financially and mentally. It was soul destroying sitting in the dealership everyday hoping a doctor or professor would come in and buy the complete package, including warranty. His bosses, the managers, were getting rich, of course. He was digging in, unable to pay the professional fees, his cell phone bill, and business cards.

He took another job with a regular paycheque but he was fired for no reason eleven days later. Our future is now more than uncertain; it’s precarious.

Frantically, I implored him to get another car job.

“I’d rather kill myself,” he said. Can’t argue with that.

Today, he got a call to work the 5 a.m. shift for one of the big box stores. He’ll be lucky to make 50 cents above minimum wage. But I’d rather see him work there, than bury his body over here.

This is a sad career ending for a man who is hard working and enterprising, being the old guy with bad knees stocking shelves. Oh well, at least he’ll get benefits, right?

What a joke that is. Sure, you get benefits in retail but you don’t make enough money to pay the deductible. Scott had benefits in the car business, too. I couldn’t afford the annual checkup at the dentist, and the plan didn’t even pay for his glasses.

Still, we’re lucky. At 60, we’ll still qualify for the CPP and we’re part of the cohort that will still get an old age pension at 65. My friend Ed is not so lucky. He’s two years younger, and he’ll have to wait to get his pension til he’s 67.

Sorry Ed, in Harperland, it’s everybody for themselves.

I’d like Stephen Harper to walk in the shoes of some of us who have lost our way financially, spiritually, mentally. Assisted suicide is looking pretty good right now.

I ask myself the question: are we better off since Stephen Harper became prime minister?

The answer is, “That’s a stupid question.”

Election 2015: Why Elizabeth May matters


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Yesterday, I watched CTV’s Don Martin give Elizabeth May a chance to put forth her platform on foreign affairs. I give Martin credit for giving May airtime when no one else will.

Unlike her counterparts who have been given lots of exposure during debates — including Gilles Duceppe who doesn’t really even have a political party or even a seat anymore — Liz has been conspicuously absent during the debates.

I don’t blame Harper, Mulcair, or Trudeau for this. I blame the people who are putting on the debates. And I blame the women at the Munk School, people like Janice Stein, who haven’t pushed to include her. I also blame the media for not making this an issue.

As women, we sometimes are our worst enemies. We stay silent and let the men run things without questioning their motives or their values. She is a legitimate leader of a political party, who has taken her seat in the House of Commons.

And yet, she is ignored by the powers that be. I don’t understand it.

Looking around the federal scene, I wonder. Where is the next Kim Campbell, Barbara McDougall, Flora MacDonald, Sheila Copps, Monique Begin, or Judy Erola? When did women stop being significant on the national scene?

These days, the only time you see a woman is when she’s allowed to perform like a trained seal on a media election panel. Or when she’s ridiculed for being a bad candidate because she said something stupid on social media.

As women, we literally have no voice in this campaign. The only women’s issue seems to be whether women should be able to wear niqabs, and only the men are talking about it.

As a woman, I want the leaders to address why a significant number of women are living below the poverty line as they age. I want them to discuss employment strategies for women like me who raised their children as single mothers only to be left unemployable, pensionless, and irrelevant. I want to hear about what is being done to prevent violence against women in communities like Wilno, where a criminal, out on a ticket, was able to get a  gun and kill three women in cold blood. And I want to know whatever happened to this country’s so-called social safety net.

To me, Elizabeth May is a more than a female leader. She is a symbol that reminds us that women still don’t matter in 2015 — if they ever did.

It’s a double standard, and women should be asking why it’s there.

Tom Mulcair: Blame the beard


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It’s now becoming evident that Tom Mulcair is starting to wear on Canadians.

It’s too bad, really, because Mulcair is smart, he’s a tremendous inquisitor, and he seems sensible enough.

But that and a deflated dollar won’t get him into 24 Sussex.

People just can’t get past the beard.

Canadians should be better than that but we aren’t. Beards do not belong on an election campaign. They are scruffy and smelly and they catch sandwich crumbs.

They might be fine for a grandpa who’s sitting in a rocking chair. And they might actually rock out a hipster who is going for that look.

But that beard is an albatross for Mulcair. He thinks it makes him look distinguished. It doesn’t. It makes him look creepy.

Men wear beards, generally speaking, because they are hiding something: an unsightly mole, a weak chin, rosacea, a cleft palate or bad yellow teeth from too much pipe smoking.

So what is Mulcair hiding?

Everyone has told him that he should take the thing off. Everybody, even his ponytailed French princess has probably urged him to get rid of it.

But he won’t. That makes him inflexible.

In these days when social media is king, every candidate must look their absolute best. Even Stephen Harper knows this.

Liz May, not so much.

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Somebody has to have the courage to tell Mulcair that the beard has to go if he wants to win next time. He’s a smart guy. Whisper the following words in his ear and he’ll get the message, “Richard Nixon.”

It is true that Nixon didn’t wear a beard but he had two other problems that lost him debates. He had a permanent five o’clock shadow and he sweated profusely like he was lying or something.

So dude, eighty-six the beard, and get rid of the back brace while standing in front of television camera. It makes you look like you forgot to take your suit off the coat hanger.

Come on, everybody knows you’re wearing one.

The New Canada: Can I get fries with that?


In just a few weeks, the votes will be in and we will have a new government in Ottawa.

I woke up last night, in a cold sweat, thinking about all this. I have no idea who to vote for. I now realize what the problem is. None of the parties is speaking to me. They are all talking in platitudes, blue-skying it.

As Jack Nicholson once said, “I’m drowning here, and you’re describing the water.”

None of the parties has a real solution to the problems that are threatening this nation. Sure, each of them had a pound of calking weighing down their shorts that could plug a hole here and there. But there doesn’t seem to be a general contractor who can make us a right and proper house.

Put another way, if this election were held on Hallowe’en, we’d all be getting those cheap yucky candies, the ones that taste like ass instead of chocolate bars and chips. There is nothing in their goodie bags that are worth anything.

It occurred to me that there was something missing in all of this.

Not one of the parties, that I’ve heard, has a plan to help Canadians adjust and react to the effect of globalization. Remember that word…globalization…it was the din in our ears during protests at the world leaders’ meeting in Toronto a few years back. A few people went to jail, but mostly their cries were ignored.

Most of us tuned it out because we really didn’t understand what the whole deal was about.

Now we’re feeling it

Globalization is the reason so many Canadians — young, middle aged, old — are in such trouble these days. It’s like we’re all caught in a tsunami and there aren’t any trees to hold on to.

I’ll give you a few real life examples. There once was a time when a person could buy a taxi licence for a horrendous price in Ottawa and feed his family on the proceeds from his job. He only had to take a course at Algonquin College, borrow some money from the rellies, and set himself up. Then Uber came along. Now taxi drivers are out with baseball bats running down hipsters in their cheap Chryslers who are making pennies on the dollar, but making a living still, carting around students and government workers for a fraction of the price of a taxi.

Two years ago, a taxi driver could make a living. Not anymore. Now they’re working at Walmart.

When I was a kid living in St. Catharines, Ontario, if you didn’t want to go to university, you could get a job at General Motors and buy yourself a nice house and raise your family. Today, those good manufacturing jobs have gone to Mexico, and you are working at Walmart.

It’s happening in agriculture, too. I hear that the Harper government is set to announce a new trade deal that will effectively gut the dairy industry in Canada and let the U.S. dump cheap milk into Canada. We’ve always paid a little more for our milk. Now, we can drink it by the gallon for a buck, and buy it at Walmart. Meanwhile, dairy families are raising their kids on the proceeds from mom’s job driving school bus.

No one prepared us for these kinds of changes. There aren’t many unions anymore, and if Harper has his way, there will be fewer of them in the future. He’s already set his sights on dismantling the public service unions. The good unionized jobs have all gone to Mexico and the best anyone can hope for is a career in retail. Thank goodness someone thought to raise the minimum wage.

I’m feeling the effects of globalization in my own life. I’m having to compete, as a writer and editor, with people in foreign lands who will do the same work as me for pennies on the dollar. I could always earn a living writing. Not anymore. I’m making less money today working full time than I did working part-time in high school.

Our young people are suffering the most.

Even those with good educations are having trouble getting jobs. Kids coming out of school with general degrees can look forward to working for the rest of their lives as baristas, bartenders and shop clerks. And they’re competing with old people, who have lost their good jobs, for the 5 a.m. produce shift at Walmart.

See what I mean?

In the good old days, Canadians could look forward to making enough money to buy a house, raise their kids, and retire. Now real estate is beyond the reach of most people especially in B.C. where the Japanese are snapping up all the condos.

Fewer people today are middle class — the target market of all the political parties — and the most they can hope for is to eek out a living, find a roommate and have a McDrug Plan that will pay for their chemotherapy.

I’d like one politician talk about that in this election.

It’s Up to Parents to Get the Kids to Vote


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The real shame of things is that Rick Mercer and Justin Trudeau are just too damned old to influence young people to make a difference by voting. Ditto for George Stroumboulopoulous.

Even Craig Kielburger is getting a bit long in the tooth.

We have to figure out a way to get the kids away from their video consoles and Smartphones and drag them down to the polls. That’s where you come in parents.

If you have a child who is of voting age, one who is still living in your basement, turn off the electricity on voting day, or cut off their phones. If you have a voting age child who does not live with you, threaten to ban them from Thanksgiving dinner unless they agree to vote in this election.

If your child has half-a-brain, sit them down and explain why voting is important. Remind them that it is because of this government (Harper et al) that they are still working part-time at McDonald’s, and only then because the Harper government was forced to shut down the Foreign Workers program that paid people from other countries slave wages to take jobs away from Canadian workers.

If it helps, explain voting like you would a Role Playing Game (RPG). Here’s the premise. Your adult child wanders through a wasteland armed only with a valid SIN number and police record check. All the factories are closed because of globalization. All of the food is tainted because  the government has fired all the inspectors. Niqabs are being ripped off the faces of women who are trying to become citizens. All his friends are in jail because of trumped up marijuana possession charges. Everyone else is running around with unregistered long guns shooting at people and all your kid has is a SIN number and a valid police check.

He has no way to communicate anymore because he can’t pay his phone bill and his parent can’t pay it either because they have lost their good government jobs. The world is all smoggy and awful, the water is full of Zebra mussels and he is forced to wear a mask. All the scientists meanwhile are locked up in a building somewhere, their mouths taped over and muzzled.

Your adult child’s task is to save Canada. And the only way to do that is to vote. Save the scientists. Save the planet. Let the niqab wearing woman get her citizenship. Free his friends from Harper’s prison.

He has a decision to make. Will he carry on the same path, the road to ruin. Or will he finally embrace hope and change and take the road less travelled.

Which fork in the road will he take?

Whaddya think?

Might work. It’s worth a shot.