Here I sit, deadlines being what they are, on the eve of Thanksgiving Day, thinking about our upcoming Election Day and trying to figure out how I can tie that into giving thanks for something.
And then it comes to me.
Simple, really: we’re having an election. We get to choose the leader of our country.
We, as individuals, may not always be pleased with the results of the choices that we, as a collective entity, make on Election Day. Elections are not about each of us getting what we want, they’re about all of us having a say in what we get.
People in other parts of the world give their lives for just a taste of that right.
I’m also thankful for the choices before us in Canada. You have your favourites, I’m sure, but we could do a lot worse than Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau or Tom Mulcair.
Take a look south of the border at the Republican front-runners for the presidency. Ben Carson’s answer to his country’s gun problem, which claims 33,000 lives each year, is to arm kindergarten teachers and to suggest victims of mass shootings (you don’t hear about them all, but that’s literally just about a daily occurrence there) are victims of their own folly, by “letting” themselves get shot. And Donald Trump… well, need I say more?
Mulcair’s biggest handicap is that his biggest potential support base is made up of a majority of the Canadians who won’t be voting on Election Day.
Recent polls suggest Canada is leaning towards Liberal leader Trudeau The Unready (to borrow some Conservative-inspired medieval nomenclature). I don’t believe that he’s “just not ready yet.” And anyway, his supposed lack of experience won’t destroy this country.
But if you’re expecting him to be the reincarnation of his famous daddy – who, like him or not, has been marked by history as one of our great prime ministers – I think you’re going to be disappointed.
I’ve made it pretty clear on any number of occasions that I am not a Harper fan. But face it, folks, if he’s the poorest player at the table, Canada still has a great game going.
I do believe his position on Islamic women’s choices to wear niqabs in this country is motivated by his need to cater to a racist core within his political support group. And he does appeal to that core group by suggesting that only he can protect us from the Muslim bogeymen that we are to believe have infiltrated the peace and contentment that is the natural entitlement of all non-Muslim Canadians.
It saddens me that the ploy seems to appeal to a significant number of my fellow citizens.
To me, that whole manufactured furor is more objectionable than tar sands and pipelines, his general anti-science stance, his unwillingness to talk candidly about his vision for Canada, or his apparent lack of understanding of the current economic reality.
While many of us may perceive his attitude as damaging to the basic concept of Canadian values, the reality is that our choices – the precipitate of all Canadians’ choices on Election Day – will determine what our Canadian values really are. That goes for Trudeau and Mulcair as much as it does for Harper.
Whether it pleases you or not, we are the authors of our own destiny. All it takes to have a hand in writing that story is to pick up a pencil and mark your ballot.
And for that, I am truly thankful.