If you go by Ellerslie Rugby Park and see a small tree in the back quivering, that’s probably my dad.
He was a big contributor to rugby in Edmonton, so his ashes are buried beneath that tree. And the tree would be shaking because I’ve just come back from voting for a Trudeau.
Trudeau … even now, a small lingering part of me wants to turn my head and spit on the ground. Just instinctively, like when people in movies talk about bad omens or Lord Voldemort. You see, as a longtime Albertan, that name conjures up a lot of bad history. But the Trudeau my family loathed was the father of the one now running for office. Pierre Trudeau, as lauded as he is in other parts of the country, was remembered only as the one who brought in the National Energy Program. The guy who crushed the economy in Alberta. The man that nearly destroyed our family business – where my parents literally had to go from 30 staff and 200 contractors to 3 staff (including the two of them) overnight.
And yet … and yet …
That was a different time. And this is a different Trudeau.
Do I love the new version? No. I’m frankly a little skeptical about some of their platform ideas. I don’t know if Justin Trudeau has the political acumen yet to handle some of the challenges ahead. I have issues with some of the new ideas coming out of the Liberal party. (An 18-month parental leave? It’s hard enough to cover off a position for a year!)
But be that as it may, I am so disappointed – at times disgusted – at what I’ve seen from the Conservatives over the course of Stephen Harper’s tenure that there is no way I will support that party. Google will give you any number of lists why not to vote for the Harper government, so I won’t go into detail – but I’m fed up. I hate him claiming fiscal responsibility when they managed to take a massive surplus and run into 10 years of deficits. I’m disgusted at their cancelling the long form census – because it means that the stats that should be driving business and government decisions – instead of ideology – are no longer there.
While you can’t realistically blame the current government for oil shocks that are going on around the world, it is very easy to blame them for walking away from every environmental accord Canada ever signed – which basically destroyed the social license for us to get our oil to market, both across Canada and internationally. Oilsands emissions are a miniscule fraction of the carbon production of the world (especially compared to coal-fired power in the US or China), and the producers working in Alberta are among the most responsible in the world. But the Harper government’s willingness to destroy our country’s credibility on the environment takes away our ability to tell that story.
And I hate that Stephen Harper made me unload on a fellow member of my Rotary Club. Ok, to be fair, Stephen Harper wasn’t actually there. But when the polite lunch conversation started with, “Well, I think Harper’s the only one who has this whole Niqab Issue right, how about you?” there was no way I could not share my thoughts – that it is a petty issue that matters to all of two women in Quebec and while it may be worth discussing, is about #1847 on the list of things that should actually decide an election. That it comes across as a divisive, cynical, craven ploy from someone who has found out that he can’t run on his own merits.
Do I like the niqab? No. To be honest, it weirds me out a bit. But then again, so do vows of chastity and white socks with shower sandals. But do I think that discussion deserves to drive the election? No way. And when even as dyed-in-the-wool a conservative as Conrad Black rails on the Harper Conservatives in the National Post for making this an issue, you have to know there is something wrong.
For all of the uncertainty around Justin Trudeau, their campaign, at least aims to fix many of the wrongs in the past ten years. They talk about banning omnibus bills — those massive, US-style undertakings that bundle up tons of controversial items into one big bill — with a wrapper of something good. They plan to bring back a truly independent parliamentary budget officer — so that decisions that are made can be backed with facts. They plan to stop wasting government money on partisan political ads. These all might seem like tiny things. Things that policy wonks obsess over. They’re also the things that have allowed the current government to get away with abusing their power.
And yes, I know, there is a third option to vote for. But as an Albertan, I have just seen too much of Thomas Mulcair playing different parts of the country against each other. I am not one of those who think the NDP in Alberta have wrecked the Province. I have a lot of respect for Rachel Notley. But Premier Notley has shown an acumen and sense of the importance of economy that I haven’t seen in Thomas Mulcair. I’m skeptical of their ability to balance the budget with the promises they’ve made – it just feels like they don’t know or aren’t telling the truth.
And if you don’t really like your options for leader, what’s the next best choice? Your local candidate. And in the end, that was what drove me to start that tree in Ellerslie shaking. Randy Boissonnault, who is running for the Liberals in Edmonton Centre, is an entrepreneur, has started at least two charities that I know of, has run Ironman triathlons, and is fluent in both French and English. He is intelligent (a Rhodes Scholar, actually), articulate, and has a firm grasp of Edmonton’s needs. He deeply understands policy and challenges. He makes things happen – he was part of Don Iveson’s campaign for mayor. And he is on the financial team for Justin Trudeau – which means that even if I’m unsure how much the leader has developed, I know he would have outstanding support. The Liberals have attracted other outstanding candidates in Edmonton too — people like Amarjeet Sohi and Karen Liebovici, who have been excellent representatives for the city — and people who have clearly connected with Trudeau’s leadership.
Besides, my local Tory candidate is a smart guy, but he’s replacing a veteran politician. Best case if he’s elected is that he becomes a rookie back-bencher who is given no influence whatsoever in the tightly controlled government that Stephen Harper runs.
So that brings us back to the family Trudeau. And with apologies to my dad, that’s the way I needed to go to make my Canada the kind of place where I want to raise my kids. I have to believe it’s a different time – and that this Trudeau has learned from the past. If he hasn’t, I need to try to put the people in place who can guide him and represent us – and get our country back to where it needs to be nationally and internationally.
Please vote on October 19th! For information, please check out http://www.elections.ca/home.aspx