Observations from a young Green on the eve of the election

This note was written on May 1 by Sarah Kitai, the daughter of one of our exceptional, dedicated candidates, Georgina Wilcock from Don Valley West, and reflects a lot of the feelings many of us have felt.  Election battles seem to be all about soundbites and jabs and media attention.  Unsatisfying results affect all parties but it is particularly hard on Greens, because what we’re fighting for is not just seats or even a political vision – we’re fighting for a Parliament that supports humanity.  The stakes really are that high, and it really is true that every other party is fundamentally compromised.  Georgina, wrap Sarah in your arms and tell her you will never stop fighting for her future.

So, as our 41st federal election nears its inevitable conclusion, it seems appropriate to reflect on the highs and lows of the campaign. It has certainly been a long five weeks.

I’ll start with the positives. I have not yet heard a single constituent deny the existence of climate change, or dismiss the environment as an issue not worthy of our attention. While rarely discussed in the media, these are nevertheless serious concerns on the minds of most Canadians. At the door, I’ve met intelligent, upstanding citizens with an appreciation of democracy and well-informed political opinions.

Despite these heartening experiences, I nevertheless find myself rather discouraged by the events of the past five weeks. Locally, I’ve witnessed the kind of deceit and dirty tactics that some might argue are inevitable in the world of politics. I’ve seen the cynical use of race and religious issues, as well as vicious personal attacks from all sides in an attempt to win votes. On top of all of this, we’ve heard constituent after constituent tell us that, while they support our platform and would love to vote Green, they’re “voting strategically” this time. This hurts and offends me for a variety of reasons. I’m distressed by the fact that environment has been sidelined as an issue of the left, when it should be a challenge embraced by all parties. I’m hurt that individuals would rather vote against a party they’re afraid of than vote for a platform that they believe in. There are flaws in the system, certainly, but there’s more to it than that. It seems that our collective decision at the ballot box is increasingly motivated by fear.

On a more personal note, I’m hurt because I’ve witnessed just how hard my mom has worked on this campaign. She’ll spend a day in the operating room, and then bike off, laden down with flyers, to canvass until 9pm. On her days off, she’ll canvass for twelve hours without stopping. I must also mention that this is, by no means, a fully staffed campaign. When volunteers aren’t available, she’ll go ahead and canvass on her own. Despite being absolutely terrified of public speaking, she’s attended every all-candidates debate in our riding and has performed extremely well. Oh, and she’s barely eaten or slept in the last five weeks. Despite these Herculean efforts, the NDP candidate in our riding, who has spent the entire writ period working hundreds of miles away and is literally a name on the ballot, is projected to get more votes. I suppose that’s just the nature of a national campaign. But regardless, whatever the outcome of this election may be, I’m prouder of my mom than words can express.

On a national scale, I’ve witnessed a distressing decline in our political discourse. Everything I’ve heard at the door has led me to believe that Canadians are highly intelligent and well informed. Yet every political party (including my own) seems to find it necessary to reduce highly complex issues into simple talking points, to the detriment of the public’s understanding as well as any attempt to find pragmatic solutions to pressing social problems. Sure, we can respond to these issues with sharp phrases like “free market!” or “social safety net!”. But if we’re honest, we’ll admit that no market is truly free, just as no social safety net is exempt from its opportunity costs. These issues are incredibly nuanced, and they require evidence-based solutions that will ultimately come from the pragmatic middle ground that emerges when politicians reach across the aisle, stop bickering, and start working together for the benefit of Canada.


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