Now that I have my ballot, I have to decide whom to vote for. I haven't given much thought to it yet. The Canadian election was called well into the American election campaign and we vote on October 14th. The whole Canadian election campaign has been in the shadow of the American theatrics. It's hard to pay attention to what's going on in Canada when the ex-P.O.W., the lipstick-wearing moose hunter, and the community organizer who is a bigger celebrity than Paris Hilton are so fun to watch. But I have to look after my own country now.
We don't vote for the Prime Minister in Canada. We vote for our local representative, and then the Governor-General asks the political party that has the most elected representatives to form the government. Their leader therefore becomes the Prime Minister. The runner-up party forms the official opposition. It's as if the US presidential election were determined by who had a Senate majority.
Some Canadians consider their vote for the local candidate to be purely a vote for the leader of that party, while others vote to elect the most suitable representative for their electoral district. I'm in the latter group, so I start to look for information on the actual candidates in my district, known here as a riding.
I have an alphabetical list of the candidates who will be on my ballot. I go to the website for one of them. There's boilerplate from the party, including a sidebar about the number of women in the House of Commons.
"Oh yeah, this is a woman's name," I realize. Candidate gender was nowhere in my considerations about whom to vote for. I pause to consider whether it should be, and I discard the idea. I don't see it as having any relevance. For that matter, she is a different race than me: also irrelevant. I think these things are not as important in Canadian politics as the US media is making them in the current race south of the border. I don't know whether that's the media or the reality. Or perhaps it's just that she's just a local candidate, and it would be a bigger deal for the party leader. We do have one female party leader and have had others, including a Prime Minister. Anyway I'm impressed by this one's accomplishments, and while she doesn't have experience in government, her volunteer work has exposed her to a lot of politics and her experience includes a lot of negotiation and working with a wide variety of people. I think she would be a strong voice for me in parliament.
The next candidate website I visit leads off with the fact that he's married and has kids. It almost makes me giggle. You have one opportunity to make a first impression on me and you've decided to start with the fact that you've managed to get it up more than once? You want me to say yes to you representing my interests in parliament, and you think reporting that a woman said yes to your marriage proposal will influence me? Perhaps he's trying to assure me that he's not gay. That would suggest that he thinks a candidate's sexual orientation should influence my choice. Or is he protesting too much? I concoct a whole secret life for him. I'm reading way too much into this, I know, but he hasn't given me anything else to read. His bio and personal statements give no evidence of any particular skill or experience that argues for his ability to convey my voice to the halls of power. I think he's here as a placeholder for his party, for the people who are going to vote the party name and not the candidate.
If I'm going to invent secret lives for the candidates, perhaps I should consider that as an immigrant, the first one I looked at could really be a deep cover spy and her success here has been aided by other operatives who want to get their spy into the seat of power.
Another candidate has a website with links in Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, Vietnamese and Tagalog. He's inclusive, anyway. Perhaps he's a spy, too. He's a lawyer, so that implies the ability to think, and a set of useful parliamentary skills. He has a lot of political experience and has been an activist his whole life. He could also be an alien masquerading as a human.
I take a closer look at their party platforms. I don't feel I can trust any party to carry through on its promises, but the direction they are claiming to push will at least indicate which sectors of the economy can expect the most pork from them.
I finally choose a candidate who is unlikely to be part of a plot to enslave humanity under alien masters. I print the name on my ballot and seal it inside all the envelopes, one after the other. It's a bit like entering the Readers' Digest Sweepstakes, except that I'll get a government instead of a book.