Wednesday, November 3, 2010

And so Gordon Campbell resigns...

I am by no means a political expert. Not even close. It's pretty embarrassing, and with exception to a passionate few, I'd say that the average Canadian, at least here in BC, is equally perplexed when it comes to local politics.

I mean, how do you go about explaining it? Where do you even start?

My Dad, up until he retired a few years ago, taught high school science in Richmond. I remember him voting for Gordon Campbell about a decade ago - who knows what his reasons were. (I'm sure it didn't hurt that my sister's good friend was Liberal Attorney Geoff Plant's daughter.) However, once in power, Campbell's government quickly tore up any legally binding contracts he had with the province's educators, and, well... it all went to shit really quickly. We'd learn to never talk politics at home unless we wanted to see our dad seething and frothing at the mouth in frustration. I'm sure he wasn't alone.

Last night I hung with my friend Stephanie. Stephanie's a great girl - enthusastic and gung ho for anything. I originally worked with her at a mining company back in 2007. I was making maps and doing GIS work for them while she came on board as a general assistant, fresh out of college from Montana.

The thing with Stephanie is that she loves politics, but is blissfully ignorant of Canadian politics, and Canada in general. Having recently received her permanent residency, she confided that she didn't feel like she could properly vote in Canada because she didn't want to be an uneducated voter. "I get American politics and I understand British politics, but I don't understand Canadian politics" she said. "So educate yourself!" I proclaimed, and we delved into Canadian Politics 101... the blind leading the blind.

I immediately showed her Laila Yuile's 100 Reasons Gordon Campbell Must Go and encouraged her to read it as a sort of "crash course" into BC politics, into what's relevant and topical on British Columbian minds. We also went through the websites of the BC Liberal, Conservative, and NDP parties, in addition to what was written on Wikipedia. I encouraged her to ditch anything she knew about American politics because you just can't draw parallels to politics here, even if the names are similar. You just have to work from a blank slate.

 I also suggested what I've always believed: If you think you're confused about Canadian politics, don't underestimate yourself. Every Canadian is equally confused.

We were finishing up a bottle of wine when she said she'd bookmark the Gordon Campbell blog post, and that she'd read it the next morning. I Canada Line'd myself home, crashed, woke up, and found myself at work the following day at 9am.

11:30am comes around and Gordon Campbell resigns. Twitter explodes. The people rejoice.

I tell my coworkers and their jaws drop. What will it mean for the BC tourism industry? (Post edit: I work in the tourism industry and we were having a meeting with a local DMO at the time. Whatever happens in provincial politics trickles down to local destination marketing organizations).

But how do you begin to explain the significance of this moment to somebody outside of BC?

How do you begin to teach somebody Canadian politics when there's no eloquent way to begin?

Seriously... I'd like to know.


Shawn C. said...

Yes, what will it mean for the BC Tourism industry!

Anonymous said...

Interesting ... the only problem for your friend is that she won't be able to vote until she's a Canadian citizen, which is now taking almost 2 years from the date you're allowed to apply ... which is a full 3 years from the date you're granted permanent residency ... assuming you never leave the country for jaunts abroad (or to the states). I.e. every day you leave the borders of this lovely country, you have to add that to your 3 year total. Then you apply for citizenship. Then you wait for the plus/minus 2 year process of verification, testing, oath etc. THEN she can vote. So, she has plenty of time to learn! :o)

As for politics, I suppose the only reason that we don't feel quite as passionate about the whole thing is that we don't feel motivated to fight for anything "significant". There are no real "race wars", "healthcare wars", "WAR-wars", etc. to vote for or against. Read: Iran/Iraq/Afghanistan/Croatia etc. We're always peacekeepers, so what's to vote against. Healthcare's pretty good on the whole. We're an equal rights nation, impressive educational system, despite the flaws that teachers probably feel on a day-to-day basis etc. There's just nothing that meaty to sink our teeth into. We don't have sucky banking regulations (like GM bailouts or Wall Street shindigs), no Kaiser Permanentes trying to prise equal healthcare out of everyman's grip, no immigration law threatening to criminalise any caramel-skinned human being, just nothing so inherently offensive that we feel the need to voice our opinions. What a conundrum, hey? Interesting post, Robyn. :o)