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Why I'm voting for the NDP in the Yukon

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Image: Facebook/Melissa Atkinson

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There are many progressive voters in the Yukon who are agonizing over who to vote for in this federal election.

Thanks to the vagarities of the first past the post system and vote splitting there is a distinct possibility the Conservatives could hold onto the riding. They won it last time by 132 votes thanks to vote splitting between the Liberals and Greens, with a small but important percentage going to the New Democratic Party. This time the votes could be split between the Liberals and the Dippers, with a small but important percentage going Green.

The Liberal candidate, Larry Bagnell, is seen as having a lead (as a recent poll suggests) and there has been a strong push to unite behind the Liberals and vote for Larry. Now he would be a be an excellent choice for the Yukon's MP. He is experienced by virtue of being the Yukon's MP from 2000-2011; he has worked hard for Yukoners in the past and will no doubt do so again. 

Further, the Liberal platform is by and large more  than adequate. Running financial deficits in times of economic downturns is an appropriate fiscal response by a federal government. I personally find it a bit baffling that the Liberals are further left on this issue than the Dippers.

But for me, looming over all of this is the shadow cast by Bill C-51 and Bill C-24. 

For the record, I am a dual citizen and actively involved in the environmental movement. Should these bills stay in place, irrespective of who forms future governments, I foresee a potential dystopian future where I could be arrested under provisions of Bill C-51 for acting against the stability of Canada's economic interests by protesting a mine or an oil well. I could then be stripped of my Canadian citizenship under Bill C-24 and shipped back to the country of my birth. 

In that case, my lifestyle and security would not be at risk as I was born in Scotland. But ask a Canadian citizen who happened to be born in Afghanistan or the Central African Republic if they intend to speak out against aspects of Canadian environmental, societal or economic injustice with the shadow of these two bills looming over them. In a worst-case future, dual citizens will have to second-guess words and deeds. We are not there yet, but slopes are slippery and who knows where this one will lead. Laws that stifle dissent and constrict discourse are not worthy of a place in a democracy.

The second bill, Bill C-24, essentially considers everyone as either Canadian or dual-citizenship Canadians. When I took the Oath of Citizenship I assumed I was becoming a Canadian. Now I am something else. The NDP would repeal both these bills. The Liberals would only modify C-51, but would repeal C-24 in its entirety. 

I have also been impressed by both the NDP and the Liberal stand on facial coverings during citizenship ceremonies. Both parties might well lose seats on this issue, more so the NDP, but they have stood firm on a matter of principle even though it affects a minuscule number of individuals. We tend to forget that if a government runs roughshod over one persons beliefs no matter how alien those beliefs may seem to us, they are running roughshod over everyone's beliefs. The NDP have chosen this particular hill to make a stand on, knowing full well it could well cost them this election. Bravo. 

Another reason I am voting NDP in the Yukon is because their candidate is not a middle-aged white male. In the spirit of full disclosure it should be known that I am one, and am personally horrified how other viewpoints and perspectives are not represented in the Canadian political systems. The NDP have chosen a First Nation female candidate, Melissa Atkinson of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in, to run for them in the Yukon. She has a strong legal background and has been the Chair of the Yukon Human Rights Commission. In the local Yukon Federal candidates debates she has held her own against the other candidates. She will be an excellent representative for all Yukoners in the House of Commons. 

So there it is. May my Liberal and Green friends, acquaintances and neighbours forgive me, especially if the Yukon Conservative candidate wins by one vote. But on election day I will be casting my vote for the NDP. 

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Image: Facebook/Melissa Atkinson

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