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Feb 27 2013

I endorse Joyce Murray for #LPCLdr

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.

(snip)

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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23 comments

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  1. 1
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    How does she compare with Trudeau & Garneau & the other candidates? I’m still undecided about who I’m going to vote for.

  2. 2
    Crommunist

    I have no idea what Trudeau’s policy beliefs are, and he’s being intentionally circumspect about what it is he’s running for. Marc Garneau hasn’t done anything wrong, but I’ve never seen anything to distinguish him from “generic Liberal candidate”. Martha Hall Findlay is too far to the right for my taste, and the only other candidate I’ve heard anything I like from is fits and snatches from Karen McCrimmon.

    It’s a ranked ballot system, so you can vote for more than one candidate. Garneau is second on my ballot, followed by Trudeau and then I have no idea. Possibly McCrimmon, possibly Hall Findlay (who I like as a person, if not particularly as a candidate).

    I should also point out that the Enbridge pipelines and the tar sands development are “make or break” issues for me, so I’m not particularly inclined toward Marc Garneau. He’s only ahead of Trudeau because at least he (Garneau) has policies.

  3. 3
    A Hermit

    All sounds good to me, but I’m especially glad to see a candidate talking seriously about electoral reform.

    Like you I’ve voted Liberal and NDP, but at the federal level, living where I do in Toryland, it’s always felt a little like an exercise in futility. My riding has gone to the Conservatives in every election since the early `50′s, with the exception of the post Mulroney meltdown when the Reform/Tory split briefly enabled a Liberal to take it.

    There are too many ridings like this one across the country and I’m sure the sense of a foregone conclusion keeps a lot of people from bothering to vote. Having a a system where every vote matters, and a party that wins less than 40% of those votes isn’t handed an absolute majority for the next five years…

    Of course the real question is whether those AXE deodorant commercials are right; can anyone beat the astronaut?

  4. 4
    auditorydamage

    The Martha Hall Findlay ad that popped up halfway down your front page made me giggle.

    I have no horse in the LPC race, as long as they manage to avoid shooting themselves in the foot.

    Tangentially related: I’m not sure what I think of Mulcair’s run as NDP leader up to this point, but then, it gets awfully lonely out here on the black-and-red anti-hierarchy fringe. My entire view of electoral politics can be summed up as “don’t make things any harder on people than they already are, and either help or get out of the way”; beyond that, it’s mostly amusement and bemusement, new boss/old boss, etc., etc., fringey stuff ad nauseam. I show up to vote, partly out of a dedication to diversity of tactics, partly to stuff a sock in the “vote or you can’t complain” absolutists, and despite my great discomfort with giving legitimacy to a system with which I have concerns far too complex to describe at this time while I have a project that needs finishing and I’ve already spent far too much time on this comment, blah blah procrastination for the win blah.

  5. 5
    Joel

    Having had the luxury of growing up in Australia, I’ve long had difficulty considering non-preferential voting systems to be actually democratic.

  6. 6
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Just watched this video by Joyce Murray detailing her support for the CBC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5DBsf616wc&feature=youtu.be

    Did not know that atheist rapper Baba Brinkman was her son.

  7. 7
    CHADMAC

    I am currently an NDP member and unable to vote in this election, but if I could it would be for Joyce and it would be for all of the reasons you gave above. I especially like the idea of the Liberals, NDP and Greens cooperating to oust Harper and bring about electoral reform (We desperately need some sort of proportional representation).

    I will be sure to pass this along and encourage others to cast their vote if they are eligible.

  8. 8
    alikuran

    Hi – remember me?

    I’m the guy who keeps pointing out that deficits don’t matter to a government issuing its own floating currency. As I will do once again.

    Much of what Mrs. Murray writes finds my approval but putting evidence-based and a focus on reducing deficits into one statement doesn’t work. All the empirical evidence shows that the growth of deficits doesn’t matter in itself but only in relation to real resources.

    To illustrate this once again: among the three sectors government, private, and foreign sector at most two can have surpluses. If government tries to break even or even have surpluses this means that the private sector spends more than it earns, i.e. the US-American/Sppanish/Irish solution and we’ve seen where this got them, or that the foreign sector spends more than it earns, i.e. buys more Canadian exports than Canadians buy imports, which would take Canadian government policies hostage to outside behavior.

    Mrs. Murray seems to argue from an entrepeneurial perspective, which is however inadequate when governing a country. National economies cannot be thought in terms of competition, running profits, and being fiscally effective – the focus should instead be on using as few real resources as possible while improving citizens’ lives…even if it “costs” more – after all, the Canadian government can produce Canadian dollars for (almost) free.

    If you have the slightest chance of influencing Mrs. Murray’s thought processes, try and convince her to stop talking about reducing deficits since this is the Trojan horse that gets government support for its citizens reduced.

  9. 9
    dianagoods

    I am also an NDP member, so can’t vote. I supported Nathan Cullen during the NDP leadership as he was the only candidate willing to pursue some kind of coalition for the next election. We need electoral reform if we’re going to oust Harper and his band of bullies. I’ll pass the word along to support your candidate.

  10. 10
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    The only problem I have with Joyce Murray is her tenure as Gordon W. Campbell’s first Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection. You know, during those first four years where we had the awful across-the-board tax cuts and resultant across-the-board service cutbacks to usher in the most right-wing government this province has ever had.

    The backdoor-austerity dogwhistle “deficit reduction” is probably a holdover from that. And it’s a very dislikable holdover =/

  11. 11
    Ashlyn Noble

    Very cool, I love the idea of all the non-conservatives working together. Registered!

  12. 12
    abbeycadabra

    My one question is the same deeply cynical one that I think an awful lot of people have: Sure, these are nice, but what assurance do we have that any of this will be worth the electrons it’s printed on if she actually wins? Hell, if she wins the leadership, never mind the PM office. Liberals (i.e. the LPC) have a long history of saying nothing, meaning less, and changing their position with the prevailing newsworthy winds.

    Maybe she is, but why should anyone believe Joyce is different?

  13. 13
    Crommunist

    Political cynicism is the most attractive because it’s the least risky. If you’re wrong, you lose nothing, and if you’re right then you get to feel smug about it. The problem is that political cynicism is corrosive and leads to bad government, setting up a vicious cycle. I’m not endorsing Joyce because I think she’s going to go to Ottawa and “fix Ottawa” – I’m not so naive as to think that any one person is capable of something like that. I’m endorsing Joyce because she’s the candidate who will require the least amount of pushing to do the right thing. She’s already there – she just needs people like me at her back.

    Your comment is true of every single politician in the world, and your too-popular response of “so why bother” is the reason we have a Harper government.

  14. 14
    SkeptiDad

    I have a hard time trusting the liberals. I really like the idea of having a leader that is set on making evidence based policy. The liberal government, under Chretien and then safety minister Alan Rock implemented the most restrictive gun control policy Canada has ever seen. I believe part of Harper’s majority government came from his promise to scrap the registry. That so far has been the only good thing thing the Conservatives have done. I know you were looking into this for me, but if the Liberals are willing to work with the firearms advisory committee and keep the members, that would go a long way to getting the votes of the 2 million hunters and sports shooters in Canada. My 2 cents.

    I’ve noticed I’m my enjoyment of the shooting sports is not something I have in common with a lot of people in the skeptical community.

  15. 15
    John Turner

    I agree with literally every word in you post.

    I have also swung around parties as strategic winds dictated, but voted for Joyce twice in Vancouver Quadra. Although I leaned towards Joyce initially, I listened carefully through the first 3 debates before I made a call. I am now firmly behind Joyce and trying to convert as many others as I can before the deadline.

    Thanks for your excellent commentary and good luck with the end game.

  16. 16
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    I dunno if it’s so much political cynicism as poorly explored political cynicism. See, as a political geek, I’m definitely cynical and critical of all politicians — but I apply that cynicism equally to politicans as to people who go on about how all politicians are corrupt, pointing out that corrupt or not those politicians’ decisions affect our lives and there are differences between ‘red’ and ‘blue’ on some level even if the classist, crony-capitalist revolving doors between large corporations and branches of government erode those differences such that they become meaningless.

    So, I hold my nose, mark my X, and when anyone who tries to tell me I commit some gross moral wrong by exercising what little power I can in a fundamentally broken system…there’s an XKCD for that =D

  17. 17
    abbeycadabra

    None of that addressed what I ASKED at all, and was nothing but “your opinions are bad and you should feel bad”.

    Crom, I would have a much easier time accepting “Yay Joyce” if she wasn’t SPECIFICALLY from the party MOST KNOWN for ignoring their own promises and not acting the same from week to week! The federal Liberals spent DECADES not standing for anything except more re-elections. That’s actually different than the other parties, which at least generally maintained roughly consistent behavior.

    I didn’t say even half the words you put in my mouth either. Do better next time.

  18. 18
    abbeycadabra

    I asked – I BEGGED you – for a reason NOT to be cynical. “Fuck off, you lazy cynic” is not such a reason. If I actually didn’t care, I wouldn’t bother to say anything at all.

  19. 19
    Crommunist

    “Fuck off, you lazy cynic” is not such a reason.

    I didn’t say even half the words you put in my mouth either.

    Well neither did I, so we’re going to hit reset on the conversation now.

    What I said is that there is no party against whom a similar criticism can be inveighed (and I completely disagree with your assessment that the Conservative Party has maintained consistent behaviour, unless you mean consistently belligerent and shitty – they break their own promises constantly. We’ve never had a federal NDP with the opportunity to demonstrate what they would do with real power.). The Liberal party isn’t perfect. I will absolutely cop to that. My point is that voting on its own doesn’t guarantee anything, and that if one’s reason for not supporting a given candidate is “well their party sucks” then there’s no candidate on Earth you can vote for. Joyce is the candidate I choose because in a world in which people hold their elected officials to account, she is the one who is closest to my policy position already, so I won’t have to push her as hard into seeing things my way.

    No candidate is going to fix what is wrong with the political system. No candidate is going to fix what is wrong with the Liberal party. That has to come from the people.

  20. 20
    wondering

    I was ready to give my honest endorsement, but as a member of the NDP I can’t. The registration form specifically requires you to not be a member of another party. Even if I would support the Liberals (or Greens – I’m in May’s riding, so she got my vote last election) if the circumstances were right.

  21. 21
    abbeycadabra

    Under Harper, the CPC have followed a consistent ideology. A consistently reprehensible, belligerent, and shitty neoconservative ideology and I can’t express enough how much I want them *gone*…. but consistent.

  22. 22
    Crommunist

    They have decried the use of Omnibus bills when in opposition, then used them liberally when in power. They have railed against centralization of power while in opposition, and have rapidly inflated the powers of the PMO when in government. They say they want ‘free-market’ solutions when campaigning, and then heavily subsidize certain industries as “Economic Action Plans” when in government. They were elected on a platform of transparency and accountability, and were the first government in history to be found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to produce legally-mandated documents.

    They are anything but consistent.

  23. 23
    km

    @Crommunist: not to mention their campaign on Senate reform and then their massive abuse of that system.

    I too have flitted between NDP and liberal. When I lived in Wolfville, I happily voted for Scott Brison. I’ve also been very impressed with Ted Hsu, who was the Science critic. I feel like, as a scientist, he actually cares about what I say (and he’s had some great town hall discussion with scientists). I’ve never heard anything from the NDP critic.

    But for a long time I voted NDP here in Ontario because I just felt that the liberals had lost my trust, that they weren’t left enough, and that they didn’t care about students.

    The plan you outline to “unite the left” is one that I actually think has a decent chance of fixing what went so terribly wrong in the last election. God, I hope so. In the meantime, as an almost graduated PhD, I’m going to have to head out of the country to actually find a postdoc…

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