If you want change; be the change. Remember the power of one. If you don't do anything, nothing will change. So do something. Our future depends on it. No act is too small. How will you contribute?
Stephen Harper's reign ended this week as PM Justin Trudeau took his oath. As Trudeau 2.0 picked the persons who will join him at the head table of political power, many in the media trumpet the "most diverse parliament ever."
The election of Justin Trudeau has been variously described as historic. And it was. Another less talked about historic moment was the election of 10 First Nations MPs. Add to this that a record-breaking 54 Aboriginal candidates put their names forward during the election. Each of these candidates ran in one of the 51 swing ridings identified by Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chief Perry Bellegarde. Bellegrade was blunt and clear that the Aboriginal vote could make a difference between a majority and minority government.
International relations with Iran suffered under Stephen Harper. There's a noteworthy Iranian-Canadian community scattered across Canada, which has nurtured prominent artists, scientists, scholars, business people, entrepreneurs, journalists and even politicians who maintain close relations with the fellow citizens living in Iran. Now, as the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau is soon to be inaugurated, Iranians living in Canada and their compatriots at home are wishing for a quick and immediate normalization of the relations between Tehran and Ottawa.
One of the great problems with the "winner take all" nature of politics is the duality of euphoria and umbrage that occurs in the same moment. Even most of the successful MPs don't get half of the votes cast in their riding -- a reality that creates as much division as it does decision.
While some political parties are more responsible for instances of blatant racism than others, no political party has committed to action on combating racism in Canada. Aboriginal and racialized realities of being heavily surveilled, unfairly carded in the streets, and higher rates of violence remain fringe issues.
Restrictive voter identification requirements preventing non-Conservatives from voting were a myth. Rather, voter turnout hit 68.3 per cent, the highest turnout in over two decades. It turns out, when you allow 38 different pieces of identification, people will overwhelmingly use those pieces of ID and just get on with voting.
Had millions of Canadians taken the bait, on Monday evening we could have heard the following from a victory stage in Calgary: "The Canadian people have spoken -- giving me four more years in the job I love, which allows me to make all the decisions. But the Globe and Mail has spoken too. So, to do the noble thing yet again. I hereby tender my resignation. Bye."
If I had a second chance to vote today, Justin, believe me, I would cast it for you. That night, in bed, I looked at pictures of your victory. I was obsessed. For once in my life, politics looked like me, physically. It no longer was a thing filled with old men making decisions belonging to the previous century. But I'm realistic, and thought I had been had by your image campaign. I was another of its victims. After the elections, but a victim, nonetheless. But because of your wife's starry eyes, your kids T-shirts and of you great hair, I became a Liberal. Horrible, isn't it?
While the other candidates primarily focused on personal appearances rather than upping their social media presence, Trudeau mastered both.
"At present, the list of Canadians with whom I would like to have relations now with starts with Sophie, followed by Justin. And then, of course, Anne Murray."
Thirty per cent of Canadian voters (over 5 million) have little to no partisan attachment. By comparison, only eight per cent of U.S. voters swing their party support, and thus the elections. A large non-partisan voting bloc explains the 2015 shift from orange to red, where in a span of three weeks, 1.4 million voters changed their mind from NDP to Liberal. This provides the perfect environment for strategic voting to swing elections. After four years of a majority Conservative government elected against the will of 61 per cent of Canadians, strategic voters became a major voice in this election.
Stephen Harper lost the election not because Canadians rejected Conservative values, i.e., an aversion to big government, bureaucracy and regulation but because he came to be seen against democracy. Conservatives believe in smaller government, lower taxes and keeping the state out of the lives and businesses of citizens. But Mr. Harper sometime during his nine-plus years as prime minister began sacrificing our democratic institutions, especially the media, on the altar of his Conservative government.
If my Facebook feed is any indication, Monday night's tears of relief soon dried into squints of skepticism, at least for some. I think it's a healthy place to be. Neither defeated, nor blinded by optimism, however sincere our approachable and charming new prime minister may be.
Governance is difficult at the best of times because public policy is complex and often entails more than one option and the consideration of a multiplicity of perspectives. Trial and error and mistakes are often necessary for success.
When Justin Trudeau was elected in 2008 it was clear to everyone that he could never be destined for the backbenches. They sat Justin Trudeau directly behind me in the House and for almost three years I got a ringside view of his development. His rhetoric, at times bawdy, nevertheless carried intensity in the Parliamentary chamber. I was asked more frequently than I could count whether he was the real deal or just his father's son. My answer was always the same: both.