Comforting Words: Canadian Election on My Mind

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Canadian Election on My Mind

Before I get into the main theme of this post, let me first announce that there are exciting developments in this Community.

I have created and will soon officially launch The Comfort Foundation & Ministries! Members of the Comforting Words Community will be informed by email this week when they can access the web site. Bookmark this page and visit frequently throughout this week for a link to the new Comfort Foundation & Ministries' site.

Secondly, nominations for the Comforting Words Woman of 2006 will officially open on Monday, January 15. Submission details are available here and at the Comfort Foundation & Ministries. Be part of the...Affirmation!

    Now, on to what has been on my mind, here is my post for today:

Barely able to speak and coughing like a dog that some cruel person threw sand on, I laid on my couch for most of this past week and watched television.

Much of my attention was on the election campaign that is coming into its final week. As I mentioned in a previous post, politics was (and to some extent still remain) an area of more than passing interest for me. Today and for some time now, although I have not been actively engaged in the political life of any country in which I have resided, that inactivity has not quenched my appetite to understand Canadian politics in general and the dynamics of this upcoming election.

Frankly, I have been fairly ambivalent towards the rhetoric emanating from the mouths of the four major party leaders, although sensing a significant difference between their platforms. The sincerity in each of the leader's belief that his party has the best options for Canada (and/or Québéc) is clear, albeit dogged by the public perception that politicians never speak the full truth.

When we migrated to Canada, without any long or in-depth analysis, I was naturally drawn to the Liberal party. This might have to do with my long affinity with liberal-like parties and movements (including religious) around the world.

However, the New Democratic Party piqued my interest and I have started paying closer attention to its platform and positions. The Bloc Québécois being largely focussed on Québéc was more of a curiosity than a real option that I would need to consider when my time comes to vote.

As for the Conservative Party, one that was re-shaped and re-formed soon after our coming to live here, that is another cup of tea. Admittedly, some of my biases towards political and religious conservatism rose to the surface the first time I listened to the leader of this party.

Which leads me to the point that the choice facing the people of Canada on January 23, 2006 is not an easy or light one. On the surface it might seem that it is a simple choice between a party mired in corruption and scandal, i.e., the Liberals and one promising change, i.e., the Conservatives.

We all know that change is the only constant and therefore it is futile to even try to stop or prevent it. However, I submit that when change is promoted as the primary reason for choice making we are on shaky grounds. What is even more interesting in the campaign strategy of the Conservative party is that while it touts "change" as the motivating factor for a vote against the Liberals, one of its major concerns and objectives will result in the retarding of change.

It is the latter that moved me from ambivalence to resolution. For eighteen months now I knew, like all Canadians paying an iota of interest in the political life of the country, that the Conservative party is dead set against same-sex marriage. Somehow though, I missed the complete implications of their leader's promise to re-open the issue should he become Prime Minister.

Let me state for the record that although I have been in a committed same-sex relationship for the past 15+ years, we are not married and it is not something that is on the horizon for us. This decision was not made because we do not celebrate the legislation passed lst summer in Parliament but is a personal choice - one that many heterosexual couples have and continue to make - we are no different.

Having said that, two things arose me from my ambivalent stupor this week, the first being the realization that the clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that the Conservative leader plan on using to reverse the same-sex marriage legislation is the same one that would be used to disempower the women of Canada in more ways than one.

The second, a comment that to now I have discounted as sheer ignorance, came from an immigrant of East Asian descent. In a television interview, this individual (male) stated that he was seriously considering voting for the Conservatives because of the same-sex legislation.

No, it was not the first time that I was hearing this comment nor was it the first time I have heard a new Canadian say this, nevertheless it jerked me out of my prostrate position on the couch. Some months ago there was a report that the immigrant community was being targetted as prime audience for the anti-same-sex marriage movement. Stupidly I thought that people (myself included) who, for the most part, have left their countries of origin due to varying discrimination would not fall prey to this tactic. It seems I was wrong.

Paulo Freire wrote his classic, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, way back in 1968 but much of his observations remain true almost 40 years later. Here is an interesting quote from that book, which in my view applies to the position many immigrants and New Canadians have taken on same-sex marriage:
"... The oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors... The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped. Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their model of humanity" (27).
This confirms for me another issue, one that I have often said - that there is far more than three letters (ism) that bind sexism, racism and heterosexism. They are bound by an insatiable desire for power and domination one over the other.

It is not my contention that the Liberals are pure - because it is hard to ignore the unfortunate evidence of corruption and misuse of power. Neither is my argument that the Conservatives are devils, hell-bent on turning Canada into one huge Bible belt, with women barefoot, pregnant and back in the kitchen.

Rather, it is my prayer that as Canadians - native and new - go to the polls on January 23, 2006 they choose representatives that are not limited nor limiting as Friere describes:
"...Rightist and ...leftist are both reactionary because, starting from their respectively false views of history, both develop forms of action that negate freedom... "Circles of certainty."(20)
The time has come for a new world, one that not only 'speaks' of multiculturalism, inter-faith, diversity and the full dignity of all human persons but one in which the citizens of the world live as if they truly believe in these ideals.

Canadians, pioneers of some much that has brought peace and respect of the human person and the environment to our world, have a chance to take this one step further on January 23. Time will reveal all things.




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