I am angry. And that pisses me off.
The thing is, I hate being angry. Call me Pollyanna if you like, but I’m one of those people who annoyingly insists on finding the silver lining in every cloud, the rainbow at the end of every thunderstorm, pick-a-sunny-cliché-here-and-I’m-all-over-it.
Today I’m just mad. I’m mad that the man leading my country has decided to wage a re-election campaign based on hate, xenophobia and fear. I’m madder still that it looks like it’s working.
It can’t. It just can’t.
The Canada I love can’t give in to this.
We can’t truly allow our country’s fate to rest in the hands of someone who believes implementing a snitch line to report “barbaric cultural practices” is something that Canadians are in real need of.
Seriously. Let’s just forget about a clean planet, affordable child care, livable pensions for seniors, post-secondary education that won’t put today’s kids into debt forever, and an economy that works for everyone while remaining sustainable both socially and environmentally. Equitable taxation? Job creation? Fair voting? Senate corruption and reform? Toss ’em all aside, folks, those kinds of issues won’t win you elections.
What’ll win you elections is trotting out all kinds of imagery about people who don’t look like “old stock Canadians,” shrouding them in black niqabs, and instilling fear in people’s hearts. That’ll get ya votes every time.
It can’t. It just can’t.
We’re better than this, Canada. We’re better than allowing ourselves to be manipulated and brainwashed into thinking that the real threat to democracy comes from some shadowy Other From Beyond – when clearly the biggest threat is sitting in Ottawa, poised to ride to another victory if voters don’t smarten up and do two things.
That’s it. That’s the list. That’s what we have to do, and we have to do it fast.
Because I for one don’t want to wake up on Oct. 20 and realize with a sinking heart that Harper’s oft-quoted “You won’t recognize Canada when I’m through with it” has actually come true.
I know not everyone agrees with me. I know there are people of principle, people of good intention, people who love Canada and want the best for our nation, who will go to the polls and vote for Harper on Oct. 19 because they believe he is the best alternative for our country. (I am saddened that, in fact, the only option for voters who identify with the “right” side of the political spectrum, who believe in economic and/or social small-c conservatism, is one whose approach to democracy is so fundamentally and terrifyingly unCanadian.)
The rest of us have to do our part to make change happen. And now.
I know I can’t change the national outcome. But I can change me.
I can stop being angry. I can not let the politics of divisiveness change the person I want to be.
So this is what I will do.
I will refuse to be angry. I will refuse to be pessimistic. I will refuse to give up on my country.
Instead, I will remember the words of a wise leader whom this country sadly lost one summer day four years ago – a leader who, I believe, could have turned this campaign of hate and fear around.
“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”
I still believe Jack Layton’s words. And I know I’m not alone.
I will take those words to the polls on Oct. 19 (or earlier, if I get around to advance voting). And when I mark my carefully thought-out X next to the candidate of my choice, I will believe in my country’s ability to live those words.
I will choose love. I will choose hope. I will choose optimism.
They won’t take away my Pollyanna self. And they won’t take away my country, dammit.
I won’t let them. I just won’t.