Have You Met Liz? —the Importance of Meeting Your Candidates

I haven’t been to a political rally before.  I went to the NDP rally just to see what they were like, and because I had met Liz Hanson.

Meeting a candidate makes a difference.  Perhaps you, candidate, wonder what all that door knocking is for—or you, a citizen, are annoyed by all the door knocking that happens around an election.  You both wonder why anyone really does it.  Don’t all the commercials, all the posters, all the op-ed pieces help you know a candidate?  Doesn’t it make you likely to know how to vote?  Nope.  (Ok, sometimes it has to.  Not every person can meet the Presidential or Prime Minsterial candidate.  I voted for Obama from what I read, what I saw on TV, watching him at rallies, in speeches, at town halls.)

Meeting someone changes our minds.  Most of us cannot be changed purely by intellectual discovery—some a-ha moment that gives us the clarity to change our minds about an issue.  Most of us recall an event—a moment that has another person in it—that made us feel the way we do about that person, about their race, issue, belief, etc.

Encounters.  We change because of encounters.

Liz Hanson, NDP candidate, was canvassing somewhere between 7th and Strickland—and I was housesitting for a friend.  She knocked on my door and told me who she was and what she was doing.  I politely told her that I was an immigrant and therefore not allowed to vote in the election.  Seriously, I’m not proud of that:  immigrants should be involved in politics, in understanding and learning about their new country, even if they currently don’t have a vote.  But, frankly, I probably felt a little indignant about the irony of being canvassed when I don’t have a vote—I probably thought that she would just go away if I showed my political impotence.

I mean, really.  Why would she spend her time on an immigrant without a vote?  She couldn’t reap any immediate benefit from spending time with me.

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Jon Stewart on Canadian Politics

Jon Stewart sees beautiful PLOT  up here in Canada –Yes, kids, Canadian Politics can be unpredictable! fun! full of intrigue!!  I’m learning more about Canada in this political showdown than ever before.  And if you watch Stewart, you’ll learn a bit about what his audience knows about Canada.  Apparently they don’t understand the whole GG Connection thing either!

Educate me: What is Harper doing shutting down Parliament??

Let me get this straight: Harper can suspend parliament when he’s afraid of a no-confidence vote? What’s the point of having the power to oust the PM if the PM can stop the vote? And what kind of a third world country did we suddenly turn into? How can this be okay? How can a GG, representing another country–in a way–sanction this obvious grab to retain power.

Okay, I’m an American and I’m lost. I realize that. I’m also a permanent Resident of Canada, legally landed in a new country that feels like a third world country when I read headlines like this: Harper Suspends Parliament. Imagine if you read that Thailand suspended its parliament, or Russia, or if Hugo Chavez had suspended the Parliament of Venezuela (they may not have one anyway….)

Wouldn’t we think that was completely un-democratic? That a power-mad mogul had locked himself into power? Wouldn’t we think of that man as a dictator? Chaos? Cats and dogs sleeping together?

Help me out: how is Harper okay doing it when Chavez would be considered a dictator if he did it?