I tuned in to some of the leaders debate en francais on TVA this past week and wondered where Maxime Bernier was. It turns out he wasn’t invited to participate, nor was Elizabeth May as neither of their parties has a federal seat in Quebec. A brief scan of a few comment sections/e-opinion toilet turned up no armchair whining about these omissions that I could find. Neither party seemed to be openly whimpering about this specific debate either, unlike the minor tempest that has erupted over the cancelled not-quite-all-candidates debate that was supposed to take place at the University of Guelph.
Never before in the political history of this town has the fringe somehow managed to hold so much sway. The battle for fifth place is so interesting because the struggle for the MP seat can be so incredibly bland at times. Next kick at it, you won’t remember any of them. It’s my job to remind you over the next few years, as I do when I endlessly appeal for Pierre Poutine to come on our show. You are always welcome Pierre and we know you know where to reach me.
I love the presence of fringe candidates and have voted for many over the years but never for anyone carrying a heavy load of insidious or just plain wacko baggage. There are times when the hubris of some of the independents can be grating, especially when it devolves into a tiresome, oxygen sucking, showboating yammer. I am not so secretly hoping that the King of the Canadian Election Fringe John Turmel hits the 100 election mark but his grandstanding schtick wore thin years ago. It does take a lot of gumption to challenge The System though, knowing fully well that the energy you expend won’t amount to any degree of hard political success. But never say never.
With a bit of digging you will quickly find that every established party started on the margins or was a product of some kind of political divorce and factionalism. Time and experience erases much of this but the origin stories are consistent; there is nothing pure, untouched or holy about any ballot choice, as much as the sales jobs we get during the election period would lead you to believe.
My favourite line I hear ad nauseam on the social these days is that THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIVES! If I had a loonie for every time I’d heard that one I could stuff an offshore bank account full enough to be on top of the Panama Papers list. I may have actually believed it in the not too distant past. As a provincial paper candidate a generation ago for the fledgling fringe party known as the Greens, it was one of my main go-to phrases when called upon to speak about all things Green. At that point, our imminent Earthly collapse was to be the year 2000. We’ve only got a decade to turn it around! I shouldn’t be here! You took my childhood!
I left the Greens long ago to be the pundit in the wilderness you listen to weekly but my bolshie values haven’t really changed all that much. One green, two green, red machine, blue machine, orange crush, francais bloc – in my opinion, at the current rate, we are all still f—ked. Yet somehow, I’ve committed to this volunteer journo job talking politics weekly, blogging sporadically and during elections, it’s darn near daily. Viva democracy!
I hold out some personal faint hope when I see all of the bodies at extrapolitical events such as the climate “strikes” of recent weeks. People have embraced young Greta because she tells it like it is to the faces of those that need to hear it. Her meteoric rise from the fringe to the mainstream has been incredible and hopefully she will be able to survive the fame. It has become fairly clear that our only collective chance at planetary survival is by owning the bakery rather than just demanding and receiving bread of varying quality after THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIVES ends and Doug Ford emerges from his bunker to go back to “work” delivering gut punches to people.
Take it from somebody who has been on many a picket line, your strike needs to be perpetual for it to have a lasting effect, if any at all. The continuous questioning of authority with the goal of upending it is the only way we are going to make it through this modern shitshow. Climb off the comments page, close this blog (but thanks for tuning in), cease your never ending mobile phone prayer and get out into your community and find your functional place in it. The belief that change begins and ends exclusively with the ballot box will be our undoing. What are you waiting for?
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