Jumping on the bandwagon
I couldn't help myself

On Punishment

Whenever there's a goverment in Canada that the press or someone decides has been in power "too long" there arises this public discourse about punishing that party by voting them out of office.  This election is no exception.  There's big talk among voters about punishing the Liberals.  Funny thing is, most Canadians who feel this way, decide to vote Conservative as the way to punish them. 
For my international readers, Canada is a multi-party system.  Currently there are 4 parties running candidates in every riding in the country, but one, The Green Party, have never won a seat.  There is also a Quebec-only party (Bloc Quebecois) who have been very successful and are considered part of the national political scene (Quebec has a lot of seats).  We've only every had Liberal and Conservative governments, so for the wishy-washy middle, they punish the one in power by voting for the other one.  And it drives me fucking crazy.

I am no Liberal.  Never voted for them, probably never will.  I think that they've done some pretty shady and crappy things recently and in their latest 14 year running of the country, but in the minority situation we just had, they weren't too bad.  Both the NDP and the Bloc kept them to the left of centre and this country established gay marriage, a start at a National childcare system and more funding for post-secondary education--all things I've been fighting for in one way or another in the last decade. 

So, this "punishing" thing isn't working for me.  Let's talk about punishment shall we?

If those who wish to punish the Liberals vote Conservative and they form the government Paul Martin might have a bruised ego, but he'll still be rich.  The other candidates will either go back to their lives, or if they've been in government for a while, they'll land good jobs of high prominence somewhere.  Most people who run in Federal politics are pretty well-educated, successful types, so I'm thinking this idea of punishment is like being spanked with a feather.

But a lot of Canadians sure are going to be punished...

1. Abortion rights will erode

2. Kiss the national daycare program goodbye (125 bucks a week pays for diddly when it comes to childcare)

3. Watch medicare go private

4. Bye bye gay marriage

5. Sure you'll have lower taxes, but you'll still have to buy those services your taxes used to pay for

6. Research and development is going to tank--Conservatives don't like it when us feminist chicks study popular culture and the perverted arts.

7. There will be tougher sentences for gun-related crimes, but nothing will be done to ameliorate the structural conditions which perpetuate violence (America should be gun-crime free based on this model)

8. We'll get to cozy up to the US more

9. There will be little done for the Poor, Homeless or Aboriginal people in this country--tax incentives are his answer to everything. 

10. We'll have to listen to Stephen Harper and his racist, sexist, stupid band of fools for four or five long loathesome years.

So who exactly is being punished here?


I am so with you. Voting Conservative only punishes yourself (and your family, and the majority of your fellow citizens). Why are we focused on the past (sponsorship scandal, etc.) rather than the future (erosion of all kinds of progressive legislation, etc.)? I will be very, very disappointed if there is a Conservative victory. No, not disappointed... Pissed. Yeah, that's it: I'll be very, very pissed.

I personally can't abide the idea of a Canada held captive by Conservative social policies, but what I really don't understand is why so many people just don't get your fifth point.

How can we expect the same level of government services for less taxes, and how do we think we can purchase all the services which will disappear for the cost of a measly decrease in taxes?

You know, when I read Rick Mercer's blog the other day, I knew he was trying to be funny, but I felt so ill. Because all those long-time die-hard Reformers turned Conservatives are going to be expecting their prize.

And Carol, you *know* I agree with you about point five. But why don't the reporters highlight things like this? Why don't they ask Harper the question? How will he cut taxes and still provide the same level of service?

Sigh. Sigh.

It irritates me to no end this whole "punishment" thing. And what irritates me even more is when instead of voting for the party someone likes and wants to vote for they vote either Liberal or Conservative to keep the other OUT. If everyone voted for who they WANT in office rather than against who they DON'T WANT in office then maybe we'd see a real change. Maybe the Green Party and the NDP would be more successful. It's a theory. I'm voting NDP and someone told me that by voting NDP I'm letting in the Conservatives. I don't think so, I think by voting NDP I'm trying to get the NDP in. Hmmm.

I'm sure I'll cry if the Conservatives get in.

Oh, and you forgot: the CBC will be axed, because the Conservatives think it's a waste of taxpayer's money.

Thank you. That is the most succinct description of the current state of affairs I've heard. What a mess we have.


Thanks for this explanation. Since I just got here, I don't really get exactly what is going on and I keep wondering if the liberals are what "liberals" are in the US (the left) or what "les liberals" are in France (the right). There's only one Canadian in our household and she has quite a few years before she can vote, so I guess we'll just have to watch from the sidelines for now and hope you all will do a better job of running the government than France or the US is currently doing.

And another thing... when you talk about this whole "punishing" thing and how people will end up voting conservative, I can't help but think about the 2002 election in France when everyone assumed it would be Jospin and Chirac in the second tour and with all of the punishment votes and the plethora of leftist candidates, they ended up with Chirac (right) and Le Pen (right to the point of being a fascist nazi) to choose from in the second tour. I know the electoral system isn't the same, but I hope you all don't end up backing yourself into a corner like that. We already don't want to live in France or the US. I don't know where the heck we would go if Canada ended up with a bunch of jerks screwing things up.

Love your post. Out here in AB, I here all the time about the "bad" liberals needing punishment. You're points are excellent and I'll be passing around your link to be sure!

I've been reading the party platforms for the Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP. Neither the Liberals or Conservatives mention one word about Canadians with DisAbilities and the NDP have ONE sentence towards the end of the document. As one of the aforementioned group of people, I'm very discouraged about this whole process.

I'm going to vote for my local NDP candidate but I'm not sure he has much of a chance against our current Conservative MP.

If they do get in, let's keep our fingers crossed for a minority government (the talk of a conservative majority gives me the heebie-jeebies). They can still do a lot of damage, but they can't take away rights without passing legislation. And thank goodness we have a Supreme Court with four women on it.

By the way, despite all the crap about standing up for Canada, can you think of anything that party is for? The hard-core support is from bitter white middle-aged males who think they've been given a raw deal. Mostly they're against things--small businessmen who oppose maternity leave, and so forth. Grrrrrrrr.

I agree with Samantha. In the last election I voted Liberal because I was afraid that a vote for NDP would take away a Liberal vote, the only party with a chance to beat the Tories. I regretted it almost immediately. This time I'm voting with my conscience instead.

And remember that federal election funds are tied to popular vote so if more people vote for a party, they'll have more money in the next election.

That's how the Green Party manages to stay afloat and run candidates.

I'd prefer a 40 seat NDP like the good old days.

One of the things about voting to keep someone out is that how your vote works in that kind of calculation depends on your riding. In my consituency the conservatives don't have a snowball's chance in hell. It is between the NDP and the Liberals. Now if the Liberals win that is another seat for them and helps them get a majority but regardless of who wins, it isn't helping the conservatives form a government.

So when I vote NDP there is a chance that I then get an NDP voice in parliament. (I'm in the riding Ed Broadbent just retired from.)

When I lived in England these same debates went on and I was struck by how many people seem to think they are trying to bet on the winner rather than help choose the winner they want. Vote with your conscience. On top of anything else it goes into the formula for their funding (I think).

BTW if anyone ever asked Harper how he would provide the services with fewer dollars he would just go on about wasteful bureaucrats. And folks would buy that. He'd also talk about all the services we don't need (like childcare). So I don't worry that no one asks.

Please, Canada, do not become more like the US! I've been saving my money so I can move to Canada and escape the fascism of Duhmerkah. I know Canada isn't Utopia, but it's better than this hellhole in too many ways to count. Don't blow it, people!

You are genius. *So* well said.

Yes, I am afraid it is us who will suffer for 4 or more years, although we could live with a minority gov't again and that might not be so bad, however not likin' the looks of this so far!!

So what's wrong with cozying up to the States?

Well said. The current crop of Conservatives are a very scary group.

Mary Lou said: "So what's wrong with cozying up to the States?"

Pierre Elliot Trudeau (former Prime Minister) remarked that Canada’s relationship with the United States is like that of “a mouse in bed with an elephant…no matter how friendly…one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

I like to keep my distance...

Once upon a time in the US well-intentioned people decided to vote for Ralph Nader because they were disenchanted with the Democrats. 'Nuff said.

I can't even talk about this.
I've got three NDP signs on my lawn.

I'm simply gobsmaked that people what to remove THIER OWN services to punish the Liberals. Yeah...that will show them.

I have passed the link to your blog to many people now. I suspect none will comment. But thank you so much for a succinct, but articulate, summary of all my reasons the Conservatives should not be elected.

Oh dear. I feel for you. This smacks of Margaret Thatcher! ~Sharon

Anyone that feels the way Lo does, please keep in mind that the Canadian Electoral system is immensely different from the American. When we vote for Prime Minister, we are not voting spicifically for the candidate we wish to be PM. We are voting for a local Member of Parliament (MP). The elected MP in each riding (constituency) provides a seat for that party in the House of Commons. The candidate with the most votes wins, there is no absolute majority. The party with the most elected representatives becomes the governing party, whose leader becomes Prime Minister.

Some people choose to vote based on who they feel is the best candidate for their riding, regardless of party affiliation. Others choose to vote based solely on party. Still others choose to vote strategically, voting to keep someone OUT rather than electing someone IN.

Also, as Steph mentioned previously, even a vote for a candidate that probably cannot win in a particular riding brings up the support of that party, aiding in funding and other support. Which is why, even though I know my NDP candidate cannot beat the Conservative in my riding, I am still voting in support of NDP.

Er, specifically. Sorry, typo.

Oh, you are tapping into all of my fears. Unfortunately, I think we are going to have a Conservative victory and I just hope they don't wreak irreparable damage with our social and environmental situations. I think it is naive for people to think that scandal and corruption is the purview of the Liberals and thus, they need to be voted out. I too had a look at Rick Mercer's blog and some of the quotes attributed to the individuals outlined are deeply concerning to me--and I'm not strongly to one side or the other on all issues, I just believe in social responsibility where the fortunate help the less fortunate and every individual has a right to their own beliefs and to live their life freely as long they aren't damaging anyone else-free of discrimination.

Also, don't forget the issue of the sale of water to other countries, particularly the US. Imagine being in the position of having to buy our own water back.

Tod mentions the Conservatives take on CBC on his blog. He emailed the Conservative party culture critic about how she would change the accountability of the CBC.
You can find it here: http://todmaffin.com/blogs/radio/?p=905#respond
Check out number 4 for complete government-speak. Huh?

OMG. I feel sick.

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