My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

I'll be voting for the first time, and I will not be voting for Stephen Harper

An election looms in my own fine country even as the Americans battle it out for who gets to inherit the Bush legacy. Two and a half years ago, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives inherited the scandal-ridden legacy of over a decade of Liberal government. As usual, getting elected is easier than actually running the country and making effective decisions that improve the lives of its citizens--Harper hasn't been doing either of these things very well. He blames his inability to perform on his partners in Parliament, our three opposition leaders. They maintain that he refuses to compromise, doesn't put the toilet seat down, and until he decides to cooperate, they're moving out and going to live with their mothers.

Er ... anyway, now that we have fixed four-year election dates, the next election would theoretically be in October 2009. However, the Prime Minister still has the right to go to the Governor General and ask her to dissolve Parliament if he believes the government can no longer function effectively. Harper has been rattling just that particular sabre lately, and an election looks increasingly likely. He has met with all three opposition leaders now, but I doubt that any of those meetings was very productive.

The Conservatives have been airing an annoyingly obvious campaign ad on television. I mute it every time it comes on. Those of you not in Canada or lacking a TV can see it on YouTube (warning: contains graphic and disturbing endorsements of Stephen Harper). Notice how the Conservative Party has disabled comments and video responses for the video. Alas, this is not a clean jab--admittedly, disabling comments on YouTube is probably a good idea, considering the average level of intellect you'll see in the other comments.

The ad focuses on how these supposedly "everyday, Main Street Canadians" see Stephen Harper as a leader who is taking Canada in the right direction. I have several problems with this. Firstly, our government should not be about one leader. That's the U.S. shtick. I'll vote for a member of Parliament who I believe will best represent my constituency. However, I do admit that I take the leader of the party into account when I'll vote, and as this entry's title declares, I will not vote for our Conservative candidate, no matter who he or she is.

It's at this point that I must admit I'm a hypocrite. I denounce the attack ads aired by all campaigns; I want them to focus on the issues more than painting their opponents as undesirable leaders. Yet here I am, determined to support a party other than the Conservatives because I find its leader undesirable! Yes, I also disagree with most of the stances of that leader. I still feel kind of dirty though. Curse you, Stephen Harper, and your Kobayashi Maru election!

Moving on....

Secondly, that shot of Harper at the end is kind of creepy. Finally, I disagree with the main message of the ad, and I don't care what these other people say. Unfortunately, I suspect that the Conservative government doesn't care if they persuade me with their bubblegum campaigning. I suspect they only care about persuading those other "Main Street Canadians" (the four that weren't included in the ad) who might not otherwise vote for the Conservatives; the party is emphasizing Harper's pro-citizen reforms: harsher justice, family values, lower taxes, and all that jazz.

Of course, it doesn't help that our other potential Prime Ministers have the charisma or leadership abilities of a shaved llama. The Green Party still hasn't had an elected MP--just recently they obtained their first sitting MP by shopping at a discount Liberal MP store. The NDP get closer to pulling it off each time, but they are still a long way away from garnering enough support to form a government. Not living in Quebec, I have trouble understanding the national relevance of the Bloc((Which is not to say that I disrespect the concept of Quebec as a nation or Québécois as a culture. Please don't throw poutine at my dad's house.)). So we're left with the Liberal Party of Canada, just as corrupt as the Conservative Party, but slightly more palatable because it's not the Conservative Party--just as the Conservatives were slightly more palatable last time because they weren't the Liberals. It's how our elections work. ;)

I want an election, if only to kill the horrible copyright bill that's in Parliament right now. In addition to that, I dislike the cuts that the Conservative government has made to programs designed to promote Canadian culture and Canadian artists abroad. A person more paranoid than me might see these actions as a form of sneaky censorship. It's a good thing I'm not paranoid, no sir!

At the very least, if the Liberals form the next government, we can make fun of Dion's accent. Remember when we used to do that with Chrétien? Good times....