Here we are waking up to a brand new Canada; the Conservatives have slipped from power, the Liberals have taken a surprising majority and the NDP pulled back into third place. After 9+ years, Stephen Harper will no longer be Prime Minister. The country seemed to be craving change and that’s exactly what it got last night. I’m sure it won’t be the last time we see a change of hands between Liberal and Conservative led governments. Despite this outcry for something new and different, my Facebook feed and a few media pieces seem to be filled with the voices of doom.
I will start out by saying that I did indeed vote and you would have to think me foolish to reveal that vote here. If you really want to know, let’s meet up, have a discussion and then maybe I will tell you. That’s my call to make. I will never make any excuses or apologies for my selection and nor do I ask of that from anybody else. However, there also lies my frustration with what I’ve been reading in social media this morning.
I would have to say that I have read more insulting remarks, pessimistic comments and unsupported “facts” about what the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP will or won’t do going forward in the last 24 hours than I have during the majority of the entire election campaign. I have seen people call their friends, neighbours and family members “idiots” and ‘f-ing morons” for their respective choice. I’ve read comments such as “thanks for ruining the country.” It makes my stomach turn. Nobody has the right to make you feel bad about the choice you’ve made. If you supported a candidate, voted or volunteered at a polling station, you have my respect. That’s what the democratic system is about – individual CHOICE!
Maybe the issue is more complicated than that though. Maybe, it’s rooted in the nature of the parliamentary system itself. The idea of a party system is kind of like cheering for a sports team in many ways; each party has their own logo, colours, captain and fans. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of a group working towards a common cause. I’m trying to understand because the way people talk to each other after we have an election nowadays feels like the moment your local hockey team wins or loses the Stanley Cup. When the team you cheer for wins, it can be tempting to take jabs at the other team and gloat. When your team loses, bitterness can have a habit of taking over and some things better left unsaid come to light. The end result has the potential of being ugly from both sides.
Despite everything that was said during this election campaign, upon its conclusion each leader made a speech. They stood in front of friends, family, strangers and media and each of them in turn thanked and congratulated their rivals. They said they looked forward to working with each other in parliament and in the days ahead as a new government is formed. There was no throwing insults, no name calling or rude remarks. Many of the individual ridings mirrored that with local candidates, despite party affiliation, each shaking hands and offering congratulations on a hard fought battle.
An election has an interesting way of dividing us. We all have different views on how the country should be run and we all have views on who should be the one to run it. The freedom our country provides gives us that right. Whether or not I agree with your personal views as an elected official – you have my respect for serving. For those who ran and weren’t elected, you have my respect for running. For those that voted differently or similarly to me, you have my respect for participating! This bickering, name calling and complaining before the newly elected government has even formed serves no purpose. Differences are going to happen; it’s unavoidable. My point is that at the end of the day when the smoke has finally cleared, it is time to shake hands and move forward as a country. That is really what an election should be about – bringing us together.