Today is the Canadian General Election.. an important event in the life of the nation.. I missed registering to vote by 24 hours so cannot vote in this election. I would have had to do a lot of rapid reading to catch up to make my choice anyway. Standing back a bit, there are three main candidates: the incumbent Conservative Harper is the old senex figure, to use archetypal terminology, who has led Canada for some time now, and whose supporters think has given strong leadership to the nation, but in reality, is perhaps a little too close to representing the interests of big business and the USA in foreign policy issues, doesn’t really understand the great tradition of Canadians as peacemakers; his response to the serious problems of the Middle East seems just to send in troops according to the dictation of NATO and the USA…Interestingly, Harper started out in life as a Liberal, in student politics, then was with the reform Party, and then finally with the Conservative Party of Canada. His own educational background is that he dropped out of his first degree at the University of Toronto after 2 months, then much later studied at the University of Calgary, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1985. He later returned there to earn a master’s degree in economics, completed in 1991. I myself studied at the University of Calgary from 1978-1981 and have a deep affection for the place, which has a stupendous academic library. Harper was originally born and raised in Ontario, and only later moved to Alberta, where he worked for a time in the oil industry. Perhaps in favour of Harper is that he doesn’t think “legalistically” and also that he doesn’t necessarily buy 100% all the alarmist green rhetoric of the global warming brigade, who would have us all believe we are doomed unless we go back to living in wigwams.
Justin Trudeau seems a more independent minded thinker, leading the Liberal Party, in the traditions of his father Pierre Trudeau. I note that the Liberals are having a swing in opinion polls at the last minute showing them in the lead. Trudeau is also obviously interested in the liberal tradition of peace making, and in 2004 opened with his brother Alexandre the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto, as a kind of sister project to IIPSGP. Trudeau has a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature from McGill University (in Montreal) and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia. After graduation, he worked as a French and math teacher at West Point Grey Academy and Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Vancouver, British Columbia. So the fact that he worked as a secondary school teacher sure makes me kind of sympathetic to his cause. From 2002 to 2004, he studied engineering at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, a part of the Université de Montréal. He also started a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Geography at McGill University before suspending his program to seek public office. The fact is that Trudeau hails from Ottawa and from Montreal, where I was born and started out in my life, and where my family had many happy memories and many close friends, some of who are still alive ! In October 2006, Trudeau criticized Quebec nationalism by describing political nationalism generally as an “old idea from the 19th century”, “based on a smallness of thought” and not relevant to modern Quebec. Quite. (The same could equally well be said of Scottish nationalism in my opinion). Then the New Democrats under Tom Mulcair are also appealing to many people. Mulcair has an interesting background. His father was of Irish descent and his mother was of French-Canadian, and more distant Irish, ancestry. His maternal great-great-grandfather was the 9th Premier of Quebec, Honoré Mercier, and through his mother, Mulcair is also a three times great-grandson of the 1st post-Confederation Quebec premier, Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau. Mulcair was raised in the Wrightville district of Hull (now Gatineau) and in Laval, just north of Montreal. He graduated from Laval Catholic High School, and in Social Sciences from CEGEP Vanier College. When Mulcair started law school at 18, he had to borrow money from his sister to buy textbooks. He paid his way through school by working construction jobs, tarring and graveling roof. He is a toughie this Mulcair and might appeal more widely across Canada and across all classes. But then my problem is that I just don’t rate lawyers very highly in the ethical stakes – they twist and bend in the wind. And this chap is a lawyer through and through, whereas Harper is proud of the fact that he is NOT a lawyer ! It is also worth observing that when in 2007 Mulcair decided he would like to go into Federal Canadian politics, he opened negotiations with Conservative, Liberal and new democratic parties equally. I mean how unprincipled is that ! But he is better when it comes to Native American policy. In response to the Idle No More movement, Mulcair has said that the NDP would put a filter on decisions made to ensure that they respect court rulings and international obligations to First Nations in Canada. He has also pledged to call a national public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women within 100 days of taking office, if his party is elected to government. He has also called for a “nation-to-nation” relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on residential schools. He said his “number 1” priority would be to improve First Nations education. I hope he would also be improving the education of white Canadians who have arrived in the country over the last 500 years. The Native Canadians have been living there happily for at least 10,000 years and probably have a few ideas for things to be added to the mainstream Canadian educational curriculum. How about learning about Deganawidah, for example, the great North American Indian peace leader from pre-settlement times, who brought the spiritual law of truth to the people from Great Spirit and is revered as the founder of the Haudenosaunee, commonly called the Iroquois Confederacy. He lived in about 1120-1175 AD. In Native American politics, one spoke (and speaks) to each issue from all angles of the sacred directions, from North, East, South and West, with each spokesperson giving the view from that place, intellectual (air) material (earth), emotional (water) and will (fire). Truth was when the viewpoints of all could be blended and harmonised into a comprehensive synthesis of truth. This was also the way of the Druids of Ancient North West Europe. (Barry fell reckons Native North American Indians were partly of Celtic ancestry). It’s a shame we don’t have this system anymore and that politics is instead seen as a simple either-or exercise in binary logic. In truth, we surely need the wisdom of each angle or perspective to shed light on common problems. Both Mulcair and Trudeau are also perhaps people who are aware of this need for a bigger perspective. Mulcair certainly seems to understand the need for a wholistic or green perspective in politics. From 2003 – 2006 Mulcair served as Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, and Parks in the Quebec regional government under the ruling liberal Party. So if elected, Canada would certainly see a whole new barrage of green legalism issuing from Ottawa. Saving the world through more laws and more lawyers, only this time spouting politically correct gobbledegook which “sounds good and righteous”. Not sure personally this is the way to go. For example, in France recently, the French main TV station has just suspended a weatherman for expressing scepticism at the pseudo-religious cult of climate change fanatics. Recently top lawyers met in secret conference in London at the Royal Courts of Justice to make it illegal (they hope) to express doubt about climate change being caused by ma made fossil fuel emissions. But as far as I can see there genuinely are some scientific questions to ask about these issues, and I certainly don’t want lawyers telling me what I can and can’t think or research. Academic freedom remains the cornerstone of all our other freedoms. Which tempts me back to the Liberal cause and JustinTrudeau. He, by the way, has also pledged to liberalise the use of Cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes across Canada, if elected, recognising that it is already big business in e.g. British Columbia, and could be bringing in useful tax dollars to help fund for worthy purposes such as education or health care etc. Mulcair has only promised to “look into it” and Harper hasn’t even gone that far. So young people with a brain (basically anyone under about 60) ought to be voting for Trudeau, right ?
In fact my old homeland of Alberta (1977-1981) has voted into office a New Democratic leadership at provincial level, under Rachel Notley, and Mulcair has some excellent policies to unite the entire peoples of Canada as well as pursuing a more genuine peace policy abroad.. He has contributed to a book about Lying in Politics, examining why politicians seem to go on doing this. In fact, he coined the expression Pinocchio syndrome, which was the title of the book by André Pratte in 1997 about lies in politics. So it is possible that he might like my idea of the Duty of Veracity Bill in Parliament, and might adopt a Canadian equivalent if elected, making it a legal obligation for politicians to tell the truth, or if they lie, to automatically lose office. It would perhaps be neat if Mulcair was elected national Prime Minister today, just as the people of Alberta elected Rachel Notley, and there would be a new mood blowing through Canadian politics, and Canada’s voice as a fair peacemaker might be heard once again, in the tradition of Lester Pearson. Mulcair is committed to a just two state solution over Israel and Palestine, and I am imagining would support the work of our Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Middle East. I think he has the intellectual edge over Harper and is best placed to defeat him, his party having far more seats in Parliament already than the Liberals. One thing I find odd about Mulcair however is that he is both a Canadian and a French citizen, probably through his marriage in 1976 to Catherine Pinhas, a psychologist who was born in France to a Sephardic Jewish family from Turkey. So Mulcair certainly brings a rich cultural range of associations to his Canadian identity. On balance, that’s surely a good thing.. But I am sure Trudeau would also bring his own rich set of cultural associations to the post if elected PM. Justin is married to Sophie Grégoire, who was brought up in Mount Royal district of Montreal, where I myself was also born and grew up as a small child (its where I learned to talk and think and walk etc.), and she is truly an amazing woman, who speaks English, French and Spanish, is a yoga instructor, and does all kinds of worthwhile charity work, including working as official spokesperson for The Shield of Athena, which helps women and children dealing with domestic violence. As a philosopher, I am a devotee of Athena, so the Trudeaus naturally get my vote then !
But then I am not voting, so I don’t have to figure out in detail whom to vote for, and will leave that to my fellow countrymen and women. I am sure each candidate has good and maybe some not so good qualities. Let the best man win, and whoever wins, let’s hope Canada can once again play a role in genuine peacemaking and mediation in the world rather than simply coming from a place of being NATO’s poodle… This should be all over the UK media, yet we seem to be more focused on next year’s looming USA elections than Canada’s, even though the USA presidential elections aren’t till November 9 2016. Do people in the UK not realise that Canada is actually part of the Commonwealth whereas the USA is a “rogue nation” who broke away in violent rebellion, whereas Canadians stayed loyal ? We need a strong and independent Canada to stand as a bulwark against the crazy USA with its Wild West shooters rampaging in schools and campuses throughout the land, and then dropping bombs and drones everywhere they fancy in the world without real rhyme or reason… When Bush invaded Iraq in 2003 he didn’t even know there was a difference between Sunni and Shiia Islam ! Then he whitewashed the 9/11 Commission of Inquiry. I think there should be an educational qualification to become leader of a country, and on that score, I think Mulcair would win out over Harper.. (although Justin Trudeau might win out over Mulcair) and Bush would never have been elected as president.. We should also remember, or discover, that George Washington was a war criminal who killed a man under a white flag of truce in cold blood, and was an anti-Indian fighter who rebelled against Britain mainly because he wanted to grab Indian lands (fact). (No, I didn’t realise these facts either till I was told them by an American travelling on the ferry from Brindisi in Italy to Greece in 2013 on my way to the World Congress of Philosophy in Athens). Come on Canada, do the right thing, today’s your big day.. Whoever wins, we still love you all ! (: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_federal_election,_2015