Conservatives say yes!
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

I have been spending the last few days trying to sort out my feelings after this election.  And my feelings about what I want to do going forward.

There have been a lot of positives to take away from this experience. By saying that, I mean that starting up this blog has allowed me to connect with a lot of different Canadians. Over just a few weeks, I’ve gained 98 followers. You have been amazing - thank you for reblogging my posts, for commenting, and for giving me suggestions for other posts.

I’ve really enjoyed making this blog. It felt good to do something to try and engage with other people and report on things that I have found troubling.

But before I get too self-congratulatory, I have to admit - I’m now questioning the approach that I took. When I look back, the posts that I’m most proud of are the text-based posts, where I really tried to calmly and logically pose arguments (Dear Canada), ideas (The C-Word), and opinions (To the bully, the spoils).

The political dialogue in this country has taken a troubling turn - and this is true of all sides of the political spectrum. Members of all parties have taken an “if you’re not with me, you’re against me” attitude. An attitude that promotes fear and divisiveness.

And I am just as guilty of it.

When I first started this project, I saw an opportunity to use the “Conservatives Say Yes” theme from Stephen Harper’s March 27 speech to point the finger back at him and his government.

But this week, I’ve asked myself: What is the difference between Conservatives Say Yes and Mr. Harper’s attack ad theme Just Visiting? Or Not a Leader?

If a political leader had put out this blog, I would be upset with them.

I looked at Stephen Harper, and I saw a bully. I still do. But when I started this blog, I took an approach that was just as bully-ish. I tried to fight fire with fire.

But now, I realize that that’s silly. Think about that phrase for a moment. You shouldn’t fight fire with fire. If you fight fire with fire, everything burns.

From now on, I want to be sensible, and fight fire with water. The answer to the troubling dialogue that’s going on now is to start a new dialogue - one that renders fear-mongering and bullying irrelevant.

In the near future, I’m going to start a new blog, where I will do my best to be informative, but not inflammatory. Concerned, but not closed-minded. Critical, but not cynical.

This post marks the end of this blog. When I start my new project, I will reblog it here, so that you can find it and follow me if you like.

In the meantime, I sincerely thank you all for reading, following, reblogging, commenting, and interacting. Not having been on tumblr before, it was wonderful to read my dashboard and see all the different ideas and thoughts, some political, some not, that you have all put out there.

This has been a really positive experience for me, and I’m excited to move forward with the kind of dialogue that I would want to see from members of all sides of the table.

To the bully, the spoils

First off, I want to thank everyone who read this blog. In the next few days, once I have had time to really sit and think about this, I will write one last post to cap this project off.

In the meantime, I’m struggling with this feeling that bothers me.

It’s not the worry about what’s to come in Canada. I didn’t wake up this morning in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The sky isn’t falling, and I don’t need to leave the country. Sure, there will be policies and changes in the coming years that I disagree with. But that’s life. That’s democracy.

What bothers me most right now is not the power that Mr. Harper has, nor what he’ll do with it. What bothers me is how he got it.

Make no mistake, Stephen Harper is a bully.

He has spent the past five years, election time or no, bullying the people with whom he’s supposed to work. Cooperate. Compromise. No wonder things have been so unstable in the last few years; how was our government ever supposed to be stable or functional when the one with the most seats was too busy picking on the smaller guys?

If you’ve ever had to deal with a bully, either when you were a kid at school, or as a grown-up in the workplace, you know the toll it can take on you and your wellbeing. Bullying is not ok. Its effects on children, adolescents, and adults is profound.

Last night’s election results are comparable to the school bully being made principal. To the workplace bully being made your boss.

And what’s worse, the promotion was made by our peers. Canadians looked at Mr. Harper’s behaviour and found it acceptable. They rewarded it.

A Prime Minister should be a role model. Someone who Canadians of all ages can look up to. And the role model that we’ve decided to give ourselves and our children? A bully.

That’s what bothers me most.

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The C-Word

There’s a word out there. A word that offends a lot of Canadians. It definitely offends our Prime Minister. It’s the C-word.

Apologies to many of you out there, but I’m just going to come out and say it. Coalition.

Stephen Harper has been trying to make us believe that coalitions are terrible, reckless things. I disagree. And frankly, coalitions should be a non-issue in this election. And here’s why:

1. Cooperation is not a bad thing

The concept behind a coalition is simple: The majority of elected representatives working together to form a functional government. Overcoming differences. Compromising. Agreeing. When did these ideals become a bad thing? Personally, I think these are positive values.

2. Coalitions do work

Coalitions work. Take Australia. Or Finland. England is currently run by a coalition government. And you know what? It’s led by conservatives. Germany has a 3-party coalition government. They’re currently the largest economy in Europe, and the fifth-largest worldwide. Coalitions can work. They’re not reckless. Again, they’re elected members of government agreeing to work together for the good of the people they serve.

3. This is how our government works

It’s part of how our Parliament works:

  • You win the most seats, you get first shot at forming a government.
  • And to form a government, you have to have the confidence of the majority of the House of Commons.
  • If you win a majority of seats, that’s easy, because presumably you have the confidence of your own party.
  • But, if you win a minority of seats, that means you have to earn the confidence of the others.

That’s right: You have to earn it, because your party doesn’t represent the majority of Canadians. The onus is on you to reach out, if you want to form a government.

So, if Harper wins a minority, the onus is on him to earn the confidence of the majority of the House. Same goes for Ignatieff, if he ends up in that position. Same for Layton. Same for Duceppe. Same for May. Same for the Neo-Rhinos and the Marxist-Leninists. The same rules apply to everyone.

If the leader of the party with the most seats can’t earn the confidence of the house, the party with the next highest seats gets a chance. Maybe it doesn’t seem like that’s how it works, because this hasn’t happened that often in our country. But those are the rules. And no one is above the rules.

4. Mr. Harper knows all this

Despite what he says now, Harper suggested it himself, seven years ago. Sure, he didn’t use the word coalition. But here are the words he DID use in his letter to the Governor General:

"We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority."

The people he consulted? Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe. The same leaders of the same parties that he’s now denouncing. He can say “that’s simply not true” all he wants, but the proof is available for any of us to see.

5. No MP is a “loser”

Harper has said that “Losers don’t get to form coalitions.” But I’d like to point out that no member of Parliament lost an election. They all won. Each one was elected by Canadians to be a representative. Just because they’re not in your party does not make them losers, nor does it make their constituents any less important. They all have an equal right to be there, to voice their opinion, and to choose to support the Prime Minister - or not. And if a majority of them don’t have confidence in the Prime Minister - he doesn’t get to be Prime Minister anymore.

6. Anyone can form a coalition, even Harper

Finally, and this may be the most important point I make: There is nothing - nothing - stopping Harper from trying to work with any of the other parties to form a coalition government. If he wins a minority, but works with other parties to form the government, that’s completely valid. It may not be the government I personally want to see, but I would respect its democratic validity.

So this really shouldn’t be an election issue. Coalition shouldn’t be “The c-word”. Neither should compromise. Or consensus. Or cooperation.

So I’m hoping that Harper, and the other leaders for that matter, drop this silliness and turn to real issues for the rest of the campaign.