• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)com

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The same, just a bit more so

I didn’t get a chance to write about the Canadian election earlier today, but then again, not much changed. The Conservatives won, again, and it’s a minority government, again, despite the fact that the election was called because the PM called the situation unworkable. Since yesterday I’ve heard the the past five weeks described as both “Seinfeldian” and the “Groundhog Day” election. The Liberals took a bigger drubbing though, and the NDP made some headway, with seven more seats than last time, including the first seat in 20 years in Alberta, and the first in more than 20 years in Newfoundland & Labrador. Was it worth it, financially and otherwise? I tend to think probably not, especially because one of the victims was voter turnout — a record low. Not helped by confusion at polling places over new ID rules, especially at Dalhousie University.

What I find mystifying is that this election was Stephen Harper’s to lose. He was chomping at the bit to call the election, ready with a new warm sweater vest and eager to project a new warm image. For Pete’s sake, he was talking about a majority parliament. But when the PM was handed a worldwide economic crisis on a silver platter, instead wearing that sweater vest day in and day out and setting up a series of 21st century fireside chats with Canadians to show he understands their concerns, he chose to play the aloof stockbrocker tossing out tips — buy low, he urged, and told his mother to sit tight. His loss, Canada’s gain. Now if only we can try to make some headway on Afghanistan, the environment, proportional representation, and a host of other issues.  Probably best not to hold your breath, though.

In the meantime, of course, there’s already talk of a Liberal leadership review, where we get to watch the party implode like an old Alberta hospital.  I’ll just mention for the sake of any Canadian urban elite types reading along that today I heard a couple of older Albertans shivering in their boots discussing the specter of “Ignateef” and Trudeau II.

The one joy in all of this has been watching my children interested and engaged in the process and the outcome, having to pull them away from CBC and the returns last night, and waking up to the news that “It’s a Conservative minority, Mom!” from my not-quite eight-year-old. Here’s to to the next go-round, in two, three, or four years…

9 Responses

  1. I am remiss in my media attention and so Tigger hasn’t been getting as much of this though our little homeschool group did do a couple of sessions on the election. Mat got the kitchen radio sorted out (kind of) this morning because listening to CBC radio with breakfast used to be our way of vaguely keeping up. As I was waking, I heard someone going on about creating jobs in the automotive and aerospace industries as a response to the current economic crisis. Maybe its just me but that sounds like a dumb strategy that results from silo thinking and not really grasping the environmental issues. It is precisely in economic policy that we need to tackle the environment and this government just isn’t going to do that. They are going to pit the environment against the economy as they’ve always done. Unfortunately, I’m not sure either the Liberals or the NDP are willing to grasp that particular nettle either.

    And the LIberals problems seem deeper than the leader, quite frankly. Did they even really fight that election? Is it just my refusal to read the papers that means I didn’t know what they stood for? Or did they not really have a platform that spoke to Canadians? And isn’t that maybe the cause of the record low turnout. Maybe most people didn’t see what difference it made to vote. Depressing but I don’t think low voter turnout has much to do with ID rules. I think it has to do with not being engaged in the issues. And the politicians seeming to be not engaged in the right issues.

  2. How come no one talks about the Bloc? And how they can continue on with 50 seats despite the fact that they will never be a ruling party and that only one province can vote for them. How is this representation, particularly considering the fact that the Greens got 6% (thereabouts) while they get 9% (or is it 10%?). Not that I’d ever vote for the Greens, but still, I couldn’t vote for the Bloc if I tried. There’s something odd there.

    Hopefully they will all learn to play nice together now. But I rather think they’ll all focus on poor wimpy Stephane and what a Bad Leader he was and how it was all his fault really. Nope, they won’t learn from this at all.

    Ignatief? He annoys me so much I haven’t even bothered to learn how to spell his name correctly.

  3. JoVE, CBC on the radio except in the afternoons has been our best way of keeping up, and some very early morning TV news that the kids squeeze in.

    I’m waiting for some Canadian leader to realize that at this point, “the economy is the environment, and vice versa, stupid”. The apparently Canadian habit of waiting to announce a platform until well within an already brief campaign period is rather distressing. The platforms and party positions (and *vision*, darn it all) should be front and center in between elections, too.

    I think the low voter turnout was the result of the lack of the vision, the general idea that Parliament would end up the same regardless of civic effort, and the fact that we were headed to the polls yet again so soon (voter fatigue). I was impressed by the young people who seemed motivated by the Greens and by Layton’s energetic NDP campaign, but I don’t think it helps for *next* time that some were rebuffed this week at the polls. That’s how youthful idealism turns into apathy and cynicism.

    I do think Dion bears a measure of responsibility for the Liberals’ failure because of his early championing of the Green Shift, which was then hastily dumped in favor of …., well, hastily dumped. And it doesn’t help that the Liberals don’t seem like a united party, just a group of collected factions. I’m not sure what opinions are in the East, but on the prairies the sponsorship scandal has not been forgiven or forgotten.

  4. Sheila, I was hoping you’d be checking in : ). My poor daughter tried so hard to understand the Bloc, and why they’re a party and yet there was no local candidate, in fact none outside Quebec. At this point all the Bloc really does is further carve up an already small Parliamentary pizza…

    I’ve heard Frank McKenna’s name bandied about for the last day, but if he was honorable enough to resign as premier as he said he would, I think he’ll be honorable enough to keep his promise to stay out of more politics. Which only proves the adage that the best and brightest occupy themselves otherwise.

    By the way, where is Brian Tobin, she asked rhetorically?

  5. I heard Gerard Kennedy in an interview a while back and he impressed me enough that I’ve remembered his name lo these many months, but I fear he hasn’t the charisma to get to the top. Mind you, I’m still wondering how Stephane made it. I met him once at a parade and Max and I expressed our delight at having seen him on Rick Mercer and he could barely manage a weak smile. His handshake was limp, too. (these things haunt me)

    Did you hear The Current this morning? I thought “Finally! Someone asks some thought-provoking questions instead of whinging on about how more people voted against the Conservatives than voted for them.” I might have to scream and faint if someone says that one more time.

  6. At least that one is over…

    Very encouraging that the kids were following the election. Sarabelle’s teacher commented to me that he was impressed with her political awareness and views on issues. I didn’t mention her latest book requests, though I think he might have approved. ; )

  7. You get the same thing as the Bloc in other places. The SNP or Plaid Cymru come to mind. And some of the same issues about splitting votes and all the rest. I actually don’t have a problem with minority governments at all. A Liberal minority was probably my favoured outcome. I’m not happy with either the Liberals or the Conservatives (that might have been obvious). And though I didn’t vote Green this time, I was a member of the Green Party of England & Wales and might consider them if I were to get more politically active in party politics here.

    But proportional representation is really what we need to make a multi-party system work well (though we’d have to also learn to make minority governments work; maybe the fact that getting a majority would be even harder would do it). What pisses me off is the whole discussion of voting NDP or Green as “splitting the vote”. First past the post voting favours a two party system. But in some ridings it is the Liberals or the Conservatives that are the “third party”. This annoyed me in England, too. I have good friends who are long time Labour Party activists and they were insufferable around election times on the liberals and the greens.

    But yes, in general I want something more radical (in a lefty-greeny way). And you make a good point about vision. In fact, maybe if they all had a vision, I would feel a lot less grumpy about the whole thing.

    This is why I have been known to say that the conservatives have already won. That whole Thatcher-Reagan revolution really shifted politics. And it seems that now the dominant discourse is that government shouldn’t be political (which would require vision) but should be some technical-managerial process about balancing budgets, and managing “the economy” and whatnot. Bollocks to that.

  8. When the Canadian election was called, I half-jokingly predicted results that were unfortunately spot-on. Stephen Harper got his non-mandate at a cost of $80 million At the least the kids got a lot of math mileage calculating what that $80 million goes for; our community centre is rented out as an Elections Canada training centre, so examples are close by.

    Being newish Canadian voters, dh and I have no party allegiance, and as kids are all keen political observers, it was an interesting, though ultimately frustrating, time. Becky, your comment of, “The economy is the environment, and vice versa, Stupid,” is so clear I will spread it far and wide with credit to you. The kids and I listened to Dion on Cross Country Checkup (a weekly Canada-wide call-in show) and determined he was articulate, if you really listened, and full of common-sense ideas, if he could just get them through. Of the two major Leaders, Dion was the only one who talked about some sort of Proportional Representation, among other things. I could also guess that he doesn’t enjoy the baby-kissing of politics, and he’s not a Mitt Romney — tall, big-haired, hockey-dad — while those guys look good on TV, what do they really do in office? (Think Brian Mulroney and his Mountie-lantern-jaw, and the kickbacks).

    On PEI, the Greens, NDP and Liberals had knowledgeable, but not necessarily savvy, candidates. The Conservatives, in all the debates, parroted “No carbon tax!” and repeatedly said gasoline was going to be taxed. Very few mentioned the “Turning the Corner” Conservative carbon cap plan, which would result, undoubtedly, in the same sort of increases the Green Shift would, without the tax rebates. Sigh. They reminded me of Sarah Pallin, willingly spreading misinformation, and Harper’s scare tactics could have based on Karl Rove’s. But maybe I don’t understand the difference between strategy and tactics — lol — wrong election.

    In my myopic Maritime view, I think the sponsorship scandal is considered regrettable but past foolishness. I think a lot of folks out here worry about paying for heat this winter, with the power company asking for a rate increase while selling our “clean” wind energy to the US. It was a wet summer and fall, with lots of blights, so even the venerable Island spuds may not keep through the winter. If it wasn’t such a pretty season, with coloured leaves and fewer biting insects, it would be pretty discouraging. The kids and I can turn our attention south for the next few weeks and see what happens down there.
    Chris in PEI

  9. Chris, I think it was more like $300 million, even more ghastly. I have no party allegiance either, and Tom and the kids are amused that in the last three federal elections I’ve voted for three different parties! You can give me credit for the economy/environment business, but I feel rather silly taking it for something so obvious : ).

    I heard Dion on Cross-Country Checkup (on Sundays I try to stick close to home and the radio all day) and had the same thought — he’s a very thoughtful, very intelligent man. But not a political bone in his body, it seems. I so wish he hasn’t spent the days since the election holed up like this, I wish he’d talk to the country, the reporters and deal with the results in a more adult fashion.

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