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Canada Votes 2011 – Learning how to find your political soulmate

17 April 2011


I will admit that I love elections. In the last 5 years, we’ve been privileged enough to have 3 general elections. Do you realize how lucky we are to have this opportunity? Most Canadians have only been lucky enough to an election every 5 years. What do I love about elections? The maps, the debates, the rescheduling of debates to allow Canadians to watch the debate and playoff hockey games, the zingers, the campaign promises which are like an early Christmas present.

What do I dislike? When people have an apathetic or negative view about the democratic process.

Common opinions I hear about federal politics have been:

  • I am voting for the less of two evils
  • There is no political party that represents my view
  • I have to use strategic voting – voting for one party to prevent another from gaining power

You would never hear these situations being applied to finding love or a soulmate:

  • Can you imagine a Disney movie where Snow White has the option of marrying one of two evil princes? That script is probably in draft mode.
  • Or a guy who thinks there is absolutely no one in the world that is compatible with him? Even though it can seem like that there is always someone out there.
  • How about a woman strategically dating a guy to avoid another woman from dating him (actually, this sounds like a reality TV show)

If you ask me, we look at love and politics through different standards, a different paradigm, but I think they should use the same. We date people because we are usually looking at their good qualities. We often vote for political parties because they are not as evil.

When we are dating someone everything seems perfect at first. As time passes on you begin to see the flaws. Some of these flaws are big problems, some are small. After we discover these flaws we often evaluate if they are a deal breaker or not. For example I don’t smoke, so for me smoking is a big problem in a partner. I also don’t drink alcohol, but I would consider drinking a small problem. Everyone has accepted some kind of flaw in a partner. Probably not the case with politicians.

Election debates often revolves around several hot topics. I did some research and noted the following:

  • economic management
  • health care
  • jet fighters $9 billion (1 iPad for every 2nd Canadian in case you need a reference)
  • pensions reform
  • environment

In one case I may relate with the Conservative party for economic management and pensions, and disagree with their environmental platform and plan to spend $9 billion dollar for fighter jets. For the last two issues I may be pro NDP. How do I vote for? This is where you need to separate the big problems from the small problems – if you have MBA friends they would call this Structural Decision Making. It is easy to say voting for Conservatives will waste $9 B in tax payer money on these fighter jets. But how about the NDP? They will definitely not waste $9 in jet fighters, but maybe they will create a government programs that will create $18 B in inefficiencies? Do I even agree with the NDP’s economic platform? Voting on these complex issues can be difficult, but we need to vote based on what we value most, what is important to us.

How do you think any sane person would answer the following questions?

  • Do you want to retire without a pension? No.
  • Does you want to destroy the environment? No.
  • Does you want lower corporate taxes? No.
  • Does you want to be unemployed? No.
  • Does you want to kill babies? No.

The difference amongst party leaders is that:

  • Some will answer “Hell no!”
  • Some will have a different idea of how to get the job done

If I am a Baby Boomer I should be more concerned with a Political Party’s stance on healthcare and pension reform, as opposed to jet fighters. That vote will differ from someone who is on the opposite spectrum – young, healthy, starting college and university. These are two very different voices, but each must be heard in the democratic process.

In summary, as eligible voters we need to look for reasons to vote for a party instead of reasons why we shouldn’t vote for a party. If we had a political party for every voice in Canada, we’d have 33 million political parties. Try to work with minority governments in that situation.

Our country faces tough challenges, and we always have limited resources. We need to separate the “BIG P PROBLEMS” from the “small p problems”. We all want to create a better country for everyone. Unlike the US, we are blessed to have more than 2 dominant political parties. Parliament may be fragmented, but at least we have a better chance at finding a political party that resonates with our values and our voice.

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