harper majority: first mourn, then organize

This isn't the outcome we wanted.

For many of us, it's the outcome we feared. For me, the outcome of the 41st Canadian federal election is a mixture of hope and fear.

I have hope, because millions of Canadians wanted change - and they wanted change from the left. I have hope, because I believe Jack Layton and his caucus will do whatever they can do fight for our rights and our needs.

I have fear, too. But my fear is not Stephen Harper. My fear is Canadians. Will we acquiesce to whatever Stephen Harper dishes out? My fear is that he will dish it out and Canadians will lie down and take it.

Are you prepared to fight for the Canada you want to live in? We must accept our responsibility to this country and to the greater good - and to ourselves - to speak out, to protest, to agitate in every way we know how. We can't do it in isolation and we can't do it only by sitting at our keyboards or clicking on Facebook pages. We need collective action.

Last year, Scott Walker was elected Governor of Wisconsin and he set out to destroy the state's public sector. And this year, the capitol building in Madison was occupied for weeks on end. Teachers, janitors, nurses, postal workers stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity. Farmers drove to Madison on their tractors. The uprising spread to other states. It captured the imaginations of people around the globe, it stirred the hearts of revolutionaries in Egypt. State legislators fled the state in an act of civil disobedience that could never have been predicted.

I always hear about Mike Harris' Ontario, also a majority, and a nightmare for public services. But my friends who've been in Canada longer than me talk about a string of general strikes that nobody believed was possible, much like Wisconsin.

A Harper majority has the potential to change in Canada in ways we deeply fear. If that fear causes us to retreat into our own little worlds of entertainment and complaint, we may well be doomed. But if we take our fear - and our anger - and channel it into action, we may save ourselves and this country.

Don't tell me it won't matter, can't work, will never happen. Canadians are so full of "can't" and "will never". Ever since I moved to this country, I've been hearing that the NDP will never form the government, will never even be the official opposition. We've already seen one of those disproved.

None of us knows the future. But I know this: do nothing, and there will be no result.

Get up. Stand up. Don't give up the fight.


hhw said...

Thanks for this. I am as heartened by the dramatic increase in further-left-than-Liberal votes as I am horrified by the increase in CPC votes.

One item for the agenda: end of first-past-the-post voting. I just learned that the UK has a referendum on it this week, thanks to this educational video featuring cats:


laura k said...

Proportional representation is a must. It's probably not on the agenda right now, but it's something to work towards.


You've seen the Liberal platform, yes? Further left than Liberal is the centre!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a future voter of the NDP (today I am just a PhD international student, not even a Canadian Permanent Resident) and I think that here the great change is the fact that the people of Quebec have shifted in mass from BQ to NDP. This is a data that does not look to be temporary. But sounds as for a long time to come.

When a social-democratic party triples its seats and doubles its votes, radicals and liberals cannot be unhappy. That's why, notwithstanding Harper's majority, I really have HOPE for the future. Harper risks to dance with its majority just for one legislature.

Anonymous said...

The right worked a long time for this. The reform party were a small group at first seen as a fringe. They worked a long time to be seen as respectable and then the worked a long time to merge with the progressive conservatives to form a new party. Harper worked a long time to keep a straight face and control himself and his people so they would stop looking scary to enough Canadians. The left needs to learn from that. A long view: an alliance of left of centre, learning from them.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for modeling resilience! This is like waking up in an occupied country and realizing you're the Resistance.

Anyhow, friends in the UK are working on that referendum, it's a first step. We need to take that first step here in this young democracy. Too many loopholes!

About those Brits:


Some Person said...

This was not what I wanted to wake up to. Sympathies from south of the border...not that they mean much, considering what it's like here, but nonetheless.

PaulM said...

My greatest fear has been realized. A significant number of my fellow Canadians failed to appreciate that, traditionally, fools caper at the feet of kings - they don't run the country. The damage this moron will do over the next four years will take generations to undo. Just imagine, a majority for a guy who thinks the world is 4,000 years old. Has to be depressing, no matter how well the NDP did.

M@ said...

I've had a few gut responses to the results last night, so far:

- general, unfocused rage
- time to start a radical revolutionary sect, bomb some buildings*
- fuck you all, I'm going to stop worrying about politics, I'm in it for myself from now on
- I'm moving to France

I can't say that I'm not feeling those things still, but reading this post helped. It's not going to be easy to focus on what needs to be done, and there's a lot less hope left in me than ever before... but maybe in a week I'll feel different. Maybe I can help make things better.

* (NOTE TO CSIS MEMBERS READING THIS PAGE: I am not in reality planning to bomb any buildings)

Bleatmop said...

Good post, and you are right. I am from Alberta and I know all about fighting conservative ideologies by rallying the people to force the government to change their mind. Join Together Alberta, the Wrong Way campaign, ect. It's hard work, but it is worth it. If we could convince our provincial Tories in 2010 to change their budget to a spending instead of a cutting budget, then it can be done federally. We just have to keep on the pressure and the politicians will come around. Motivated voters are what they care about, not apathetic ones!

laura k said...

Thanks, everyone, for your perspectives. There's a reason I wrote "first mourn, then organize", rather than Joe Hill's "don't mourn, organize". We are in shock, we are enraged, we are disgusted, we are heartsick. We need time to assimilate the new landscape.

Then we come out fighting.

We don't all define "fighting" the same way or by the same methods, and that's good, because we'll need all kinds of fights. We'll need well-mannered and well-dressed lobbyists working with the NDP and we'll need rabble-rousers chaining themselves to doors. Resistance is a big word, there's room for all. The key is that we all RESIST.

deang said...

During times like this, I sometimes find myself looking around at passersby and wondering who the hell these people are who voted overwhelmingly for right-wingers.

laura k said...

deang, imp strump said the same thing last night while we were watching returns. "Who are these people???"

It's mystifying.

impudent strumpet said...

The morning after Rob Ford was elected in Toronto, I was hearing "Who are these people?" from random strangers around me. People in elevators, in subways, walking down the street were all saying to each other "Who are these people?"

After Rob Ford was elected, I sent him an email about the one issue that affects me most. I set out a solid economic argument, invoked the greater good of the city, used his own talking points in support of my thesis, and added that, on a personal note, this would hurt me more than any other government decision in my lifetime. Then, on his first day in office, he came into work early for the express purpose of doing the one thing that would hurt me.

So I'm not feeling particularly optimistic about the possibility of getting change from unsympathetic governments by informing them of our needs.

laura k said...

I have no illusions of getting this govt to listen to us. But the more we fight, the less they can do. The more we accept, the more they get away with.

I will not go quietly.