Perhaps the only thing more offensive than the way Stephen Harper has changed Canada is the fact he's done it without the support of anything approaching a majority of Canadians.
Under our "first-past-the-post" electoral system, it's possible to win control of Parliament and exercise enormous power over the country even with only a minority of voters actually voting for you. The democratic shortcomings of such a system have long been evident.
But the rise of Stephen Harper's Conservatives -- with their aggression, their willingness to flout democratic rules and traditions, their indifference to the interests of those who didn't vote for them -- has highlighted the danger of an over-empowered minority in an urgent new way.
With 10 months to go before the expected October 19, 2015 election, the Harper Conservatives are running full out for re-election. Their strategy is simple. First, satisfy the party base, the some 25 per cent of eligible voters who will turn up on election day and vote Conservative. Second, suppress the Liberal vote.
The current incentive for Conservatives to vote Conservative is the so-called "Family Tax Cut." The Conservative tax relief policy will be compared to the "NDP-Liberal coalition" which wants "to increase taxes and wreck business."
I support voting for the most politically experienced and best representative of our diverse and aspirationally inclusive city, the daring one who is explicitly caring, the unapologetic policy wonk and artist, the bicycle pedaller and community convener, the youthful grandmother warrior, Olivia Chow.
But I think we need to realize that there's something even more important in this race than whether Chow or John Tory is elected the next mayor. It is us.
The main and most important thing about this election is getting your ass out to a polling station and voting.
Related rabble.ca story:
Less than a year from now, on October 19, 2015, Canadians will vote, or not, in the next federal election. If the next election is like four of the last five contests, about 40 per cent of Canadians will not cast a ballot on election day.
Choosing not to vote is as good as voting Conservative. If you did not vote in the last election, you put Stephen Harper in the prime minister's office with a majority government.
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Parliament took its summer recess last week. MPs return to their riding looking for signs of support, and indications of dissatisfaction. Political scientists proceed more formally to assess how parties are performing. How many citizens qualify as partisans of one party or another? To what extent do people identify with a party without being a member? And how do we evaluate voter intentions?