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Don’t Throw Away Our Shot

November 24, 2016

For the first time, we find ourselves not as a reflection of another power. Our politics is not a derivation of Westminster or Washington anymore. Our politics is specific to us, not a derivation from a distant metropolis. — “Canada in the Age of Donald Trump” — Stephen Marche, The Walrus

Hello Prime Minister Trudeau,
I know recently you and your wife were in New York, to make an inspiring speach at the UN I believe, and when you were there you got to go see the musical Hamilton. A play about an experimental nation, led by a ramshackle band of rebels, rogues, and intellectuals who wanted to throw off the shackles of the empire ruling them. The cast were purposely diverse to constrast to universally white male makeup of the original founders of the time. It had inspiring music and a universal message. It’s about democracy. It’s about the voice of the people and what those who are empowered by that voice need to do to honour that empowerment.

I know you understand this deeply becuase your father cared about it and gave our nation one of the greatest tools we have to defend our way of life, to hold the line against attempts to degrade the voice of the people. I don’tknow where you really stand on proportional voting and other various issues, but I know where you stand on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and how important your job is as a representative of the voice and rights of the people.

So all I’ve got to say is: The world is burning, Prime Minister.

Everyone else seems to want to go the other way, away from the values of the Charter. Away from the values of openness, knowledge, honesty, fairness and hope. Away from what your father wanted, what you want, what so many Canadians want for humanity.

You know there are people in this country who want to the other way too. Certaintly not every Conservative party member or conservative Canadian want to, but enough. There are Canadians who think Trump is the solution or that he’s too brash and obvious but he has good ideas.  These people cannot be ignored and they shouldn’t  be ignored. Ignoring the complaints of people who feel left out of the accelerating changes and opportunities arising in our society is part of the problem and part of the reason Trump’s racist, hateful, fearful, anti-knowledge rhetoric found ground to anchor on to. The complaints and the problems that make people so angry that they resort to someone like Trump should not be ignored.

We need to hear the voices and find solutions that work for all people in our society from all classes, all walks of life, all ethnicities, all genders and all nations within our country.

Things are moving quickly. Quiker than we could have possibly imagined. England is still playing with their decision to abandon Europe and the wishes of most of the rest of the UK. America has made a choice that they are going to deeply regret for generations. France may be next.

The fires is starting Prime Minister and we might only have one shot to stop it from spreading here.

Luckily, you’ve already started the preparation to fight the fire whether you knew it at the time or not.

Our cousins to the south, who are so similar to us, have made this mistake so we cannot assume we will not make it as well. Sometimes being different for the sake of it is a good thing. Sometimes you’ve got a shot to change something. You may not know what the outcome will be, what the next chapter in your nation’s history will be but you know it will be different. And different is what we need right now.

The previous government did not go as far in tearing down a society built on hope, progress and honesty as Trump and the Republicans promise to in the coming years. However, they were moving in that direction, towards using fear, destroying knowledge, prioritizing money over lives or nature and defining a litmus test for Canadianness.

We cannot go down that road Prime Minister. Allowing more voices to be heard will allow us to continue on a different path. Diversity and openness have been our strongest and most rewarding values in the past 40 years. We still have not made up for the dark policies our nation carried out before that time, but we are healing and moving forward. We must not stop moving forward, even if all the world is turning back. They’re all wrong, and many of them even know it, but are unable to stop.

If we have a proportional system of voting and end up with more voices in parliament arguing and fighting for their issues, then that’s better. If proportional voting means we sending six or seven parties to parliament instead of five, that almost all of them will be interested in moving our country forward rather than backward. In fact, if some small parties show up with extremes views they will feel their voice is being heard in some way which reduces the anger of being ignored. They also will be less likely to hide their extreme views by fitting within a larger mainstream party. So I’m not worried about small parties trying to burn it all down. What I’m worried about is one party, getting absolute power even though the majority don’t want it and using that to mimic the ideas of fear, introversion and truthiness rising in so many of our allies.

There’s not much time to fix this. Things are going to keep moving quickly. It looks like your decision on how to deal with electoral reform will happen just as the fire is staring next door. Let’s choose something truly proportional that lets all voices be heard. Personally I think the people have spoken already by supporting your party and that we don’t need to be asked again to enact the new system. People will speak very loudly in the next few elections. If they reject it, they will reject it and it will be known even clearer than before. Everything can be changed, that’s the great thing about Canadian democracy, it’s up to us now, not some ancient founding father who could never have predicted this future. If we delay this change we may lose our one shot to make ourselves different enough to stop the cultural memes that enabled Trump to take hold there to take hold here.

We can’t save our cousins to the south. We can’t save the world. But consider this; if we can’t save ourselves from the oncoming storm, when we can see it so clearly, when we were are already in the process of building a defense, if Canada can’t do better with all the advantages the luck of history and geography have given us, with all the benefits the Charter gives us, with all the good will your government has right now; If we can’t do better then what hope does the world have?


So sing us out Prime Minister…

I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot

I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot

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