I wasn’t a partisan before I met Joyce Murray.
In my relatively short voting career, I have voted Liberal, NDP, and even Green once when I knew the riding I lived in was a virtual lock for one of the candidates. I’ve always considered myself fairly party-independent – they all (except the Conservatives) have their merits, but no one party’s platform really ‘spoke to me’. I grew up in the Chretien era, but didn’t really become aware of politics until the Martin era.
Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know that I am a staunch, dyed-in-the-wool, consistent opponent of the current federal government. At times I wish I was fluent in more languages so I could find new ways to curse at them for all the downright disgusting, hypocritical, insensitive, and profoundly damaging policies they’ve enacted, and the stances they’ve taken trying to defend those policies. It is only a climate of indifference and ignorance by people spoiled during the Chretien era (and the spiteful resentment of a western province) that could have brought such a government to power.
It was with that in mind (and an eye on a poll saying that my riding was contested) that I entered the campaign office for my MP, Liberal Joyce Murray. I figured that complaining about voter apathy was quite literally the least I could do to help the democratic process – it was time to put my shoulder to the wheel. And so, for a couple of weeks, I volunteered for the campaign – scrutineered early voting, helped make some phone calls, basically pitched in where I could. While I wasn’t exactly bowled over by the Liberal platform (if you can call it that), I knew better than to let a Harper Conservative take the seat.
Joyce won re-election, but Stephen Harper won his majority government. I didn’t take it well.
In the months following the election, I got to know Joyce personally. I attended meetings. I joined the riding association executive. I took part in the policy committees. I met her team. And what had started as an exercise in “participating in democracy, however I could” quickly matured into a profound respect for my federal representative. I kept finding that I didn’t have to write my MP to bring her attention to muzzled scientists or the importance of transparent democracy or open media – Joyce was already on it.
So when Joyce called me (I know, right? My MP calls me. So cool) to tell me she was considering running for the leadership of the Liberal Party, I didn’t even let her finish her sentence before telling her I was on board.
Now for the rest of you who don’t share my affinity for who she is as a person, let me tell you why I support Joyce’s vision:
I am passionate about a Canada that regains its place as a world leader. We need evidence-based policies that harness our talents and promote innovation solutions; that enable local knowledge and support local economies; that support Canadian research and development and new technologies, so that Canada can continue to punch above our weight in a competitive global marketplace. The only way to renew Canada’s role as a world leader is by building a sustainable economy for the 21st century.
The Liberal Party needs a leader with a proven track record and the courage to persevere in the face of current political challenges. One that embraces our diverse Canadian experience in all regions of our country and is ready to take on the tough job of uniting us in that diversity. We need a leader who is experienced and willing to tackle some of the tough challenges facing Canada – global warming, growing debt and deficits, income inequality, 3rd world conditions on many First Nations reserves, and the erosion of democratic principles.
I didn’t write that copy (I offered – the campaign team had someone on it), but I could have. Evidence-based policy is pretty much the reason I draw breath, and I doubt any of you would find my articulating a passion for increasing diversity and reducing inequality particularly surprising. Joyce’s environmental bona fides are well-established, and her commitment to ‘sustainability’ matches First Nations understandings of that term. Joyce recognizes that the line is not drawn between business and environment – she knows that we can do business because we have clean air and water.
Briefly, I want to hit some of the highlights of Joyce’s policy platform:
- Marijuana legalization: Legalization of marijuana came through the grassroots policy process (I know this because I helped draft the language for one of probably 100 such policy proposals that went to the convention). By decreasing spending on enforcement and prisons, we will stop the wasteful prohibition program that brings no benefit to Canadians.
- Female representation in government: Like me, Joyce recognizes that problems don’t tend to solve themselves – someone has to put in an effort. Joyce has pledged to work to ensure that federal agencies meet at least 40% representation of women in positions of authority. She has also moved for a national inquiry into missing Aboriginal women – a national scandal that has received only lip-service attention from successive governments.
- Climate change: This is Joyce’s ‘bread and butter’ issue. Joyce’s stance on climate and environmental issues have earned her endorsements from Elizabeth May of the Green Party and long-time environmental activist David Suzuki. Canada’s reputation on climate issues has deteriorated drastically under the current government and their headlong rush to extract every resource and ship it out of the country as fast as they can, with paltry oversight. Joyce would see the environment as a central part of Canada’s economic policy, with an eye toward a future further away than the next election cycle.
The policy that is getting Joyce the most press has been her idea for the non-Conservative parties – NDP, Liberal, and Green – to agree to co-operate for the space of one election. Thousands (if not millions) of Canadians in ridings all across the country find themselves voting strategically when a candidate of their choice doesn’t have much of a chance of winning. This perversion of democratic principles is only feasible in our “First Past the Post” system of elections. Joyce is suggesting that the parties do what Canadians nationwide do all the time – agree to identify the least of all evils and vote to ensure that the worst (i.e., the Conservatives) do not seize a majority of power with a pathetic minority of votes.
After the next election, an NDP or Liberal government will work with the other parties to institute meaningful democratic reform. This would ensure that minority parties are no longer the victim of a system that completely discounts their support, and that never again can a party cruise to absolute power on a platform buoyed by spite and resentment of other Canadians. It would also have the added bonus of defeating Stephen Harper.
Summary, and a request
If you’ve ever thought that it would be great if someone like me were to run for office, then you should vote for Joyce Murray. I have never once had to question whether or not Joyce would do the right thing, I’ve never had to wonder where she stands on an issue – she’s exactly where I am. With the exception of her plan to label GMO foods (which I think is anti-scientific and totally unnecessary), her platform is pretty much exactly what mine would be like if I was running in this campaign.
I have the luxury of knowing and trusting Joyce. She is a warm and insightful and fiercely intelligent woman, and I trust her to do the right thing. Y’all don’t have that. What you do have, however, is my full-throated endorsement of her. The Liberal Party will be better for having Joyce at the helm, and so will Canada.
The Liberals are allowing all Canadians who are not members of another political party to vote in their upcoming leadership election. The deadline to register is March 3rd. All you have to do is go to the registration page and register, and you will be eligible to vote on a ranked ballot to pick your preferred candidate. I don’t ask for much, but if you want to see an improvement in Canadian democracy, signing up as a supporter and voting for Joyce is a good first step that I urge you to take.
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