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I write this on Saturday with less than two days to go before we vote. As might be expected from a paper whose editorial chief is a fellow of the Fraser Institute, the ill named Vancouver Sun, want a Tory majority. So does the Globe and Mail and I can hardly wait to see the Province’s opinion. I will not be taking their advice.

Elections ought to be about issues (a bit of profundity for you!) and not about Political Parties. One blog I read urges us not to vote “strategically” but stay loyal to our party so as to prevent an extension of the calamities of a minority government.

Let’s deal with that for a bit. What’s so bad about minority governments? Most western countries have them and they seem to be doing OK.

The main argument is that “nothing gets done” and that the parliament is full of catcalling and rude jibes.

Let me pose this proposition: Thank God Harper has been confined to leader of a minority government! Can you imagine what the bastards would have done had they be able to do as they pleased?

The noisy lack of discipline in the Commons shouldn’t bother us because it’s better to do it there with words rather than with sticks and stones on the street. For the most part this sort of behaviour speaks to the frustration of MPs who, because of our “first past the post” system, have virtually nothing to do with how the country is run.

Imagine yourself an MP in opposition and the majority brings in a budget that you see as evil. Of course your side has the Rules laying out privileges of “debate”, meaning a few in your party will be allowed to bitch loud and clear in a fight against the preordained government victory. The same applies to legislation – your side has a limited power to rail against it and when that time’s up, the government votes the bill into law.

Suppose that you’re an MP and the same bad buggers are in office but as a minority. The Finance Minister can no longer say, if just under his breath, “like it or lump it”. You and all other MPs suddenly have the whip hand. No longer can a minister bring in legislation on the “like it or lump it” basis.

Now there are practical limitations on the power of the minority to stop or at least slow down the government – no party wants a sudden untimely election on fiscal grounds if nothing else. But this applies to the government too.
What does happen is consultation amongst the parties. Surely that’s a very good thing, not evil as the tightly owned, government loving media would have us believe.

Minority governments can be coalitions yet still, the coalition will readily split if the larger party tries to ram it up the nearest bodily orifice.

Let’s talk about issues. For as long as I can remember (a long time I must admit) the issues have been healthcare, unemployment, social services, law and order and such matters. Every election brings those to office who sound like they are the ones to deal with these matters; they never do it and the next election is fought on the same grounds with the same speeches and the same results.

To my admittedly biased eye there are two issues before us that can and should be dealt with – Energy and its twin, the Environment. What makes these issues so critical is that unlike the other issues above, something can be done and the failure to do anything will have immediate and devastating impacts – and the damage is forever.

We in BC are expected to lie down like lambs and let the big international wolves “mine” the bitumen in the Tar Sands and send it across this province and put it in huge tankers who will take it through the most treacherous waters in the world. These actions are said to be almost “risk free”.

In fact a never-ending risk is not a risk any more but a certainty waiting to happen. Worse than that, the bitumen is hugely destructive and all but impossible to control as we saw last year with Enbridge’s spill into the Kalamazoo River and with the Exxon Valdez. Enbridge has an appalling record and wants approval to transport their bitumen across over 1000 km of our land, traversing more than 1000 rivers and streams then down our hugely dangerous coast in supertankers.

The Conservatives, through the mouth of the Prime Minister, have made it clear that they don’t understand the nature of our coast, comparing it to the East Coast and the Great Lakes. Under a Tory government, the pipeline and shipping will take place without hindrance – indeed likely with government assistance.

Harper has already shown his contempt for our native salmon by making a substantial grant of taxpayer money to Plutonic Power, which is General Electric in drag and having a half wit as a Fisheries Minister who attends Farm Fishery conference encouraging them to do even more damage to our wild salmon.

Mr. Ignatieff is opposed to the pipeline and tanker traffic as is Mr. Layton (as is the Green Party, of course).

You and I are told by the newspapers that we should vote for Mr. Harper, but why?

Fiscal expertise?

Harper didn’t create our banking system which kept the country from the fate of so many others – he inherited it. At the same time the Harper Government racked up the largest deficit in history.

Foreign Affairs where he cost Canada a seat on the UN Security Council?

Health and other social issues? Surely not even the Vancouver and their bosom buddy, the right wing think tank, the Fraser Institute which has screamed for even greater cuts in social programs. They haven’t the slightest concern about saving our environment from huge corporate predators who don’t give a fiddler’s fart for our salmon, our rivers or our home-owned BC Hydro.

I won’t tell you who I’ll vote for but it sure as hell won’t be the Conservatives.

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