A lot of the people that I talk to say that they voted yesterday for change. They wanted a new approach to the issues that face us, and they wanted a new direction. Many simply wanted our government to get back to the work that needs to be done and to the running of our nation.
I sense, however, that many Canadians have still missed the mark and have no idea of the perilous waters that were just averted. I am not trying to sound smarter than the average Joe, (no pun intended), but I just don’t hear people discussing the frustration that I hear so often among bloggers and letters from ordinary Canadians who live anywhere besides Ontario and Quebec.
To be sure, Quebecers are frustrated. Frustrated with Canada, Ottawa, and Canadians. It is not because they think that they are superior, a notion that I once entertained, nor is it because they hate Canada. They simply feel that their beliefs and values are not being considered or appreciated.
I am sure that some of you have done things at work, at home, or perhaps even in anonymity that you are proud of. Something that you did well, or maybe even something that you knew in your heart was the right thing to do. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t glow when somebody recognizes their effort, or, in the negative, who doesn’t feel passed over when their effort is unappreciated or unacknowledged. You know the feeling. We all do.
For Quebecer’s, this has been the case for most of Confederation. I know that Quebec receives a huge amount of federal aid, maybe even a disproportionate amount in some people’s opinion, but when your value system is not honored, feelings of discontentment take root. That is the core reason that so many Quebecer’s now strive to form a new nation. Whether you believe they should, or whether it is treasonous as some have suggested, that simply does not matter. Those feelings will not serve to alleviate the crisis that our nation faces with the prospect of losing a referendum on sovereignty.
We have been hearing about the West and how it has “wanted in” as Stephen Harper put it during his victory speech Tuesday morning just after midnight in Calgary. Many in Ontario simply do not know to what he is referring. Many outside of the West have no idea of the alienation that has been growing west of Winnipeg for many, many years now.
The bitter feelings that have been creeping forward in Quebec have also been gaining a hold in our western provinces. With the balance of power, for the most part, being concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, westerners have long felt that their votes are simply tokens and that they serve no real purpose. A federal party can obtain enough seats in just those two central provinces to ensure themselves a majority government, leaving little need to cater to or even respect the wishes and desires of our fellow citizens from Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.
As well, westerners have been told for years that the values and beliefs that they hold dearest are extreme and bigoted. This has been done by the demonization and highly orchestrated character assassination of anybody who dared run for our highest office that wasn’t from the “Ontario Club” or the “Quebec Club.”
The media engaged in a concerted effort to vilify Stockwell Day, who simply believes in Christian values and family. The population of Central Ontario believe themselves enlightened and tend to laugh and antagonize any who stand up and profess a strong religious faith. There was Preston Manning, a man with many incredible and important political ideas, such as recalling your MP if they did not keep their campaign promises or electing the senate to remove the partisanship from it and to make it accountable to Canadians.
My point is that these men, who were loved by many in the West, were mocked in our media and were discounted outright as radical extremist right-wingers, and when they were painted with that brush so were most of our neighbours. Their response? They were getting sick and tired of being told to stay quiet and that they were out of touch, fundamentalist, and intolerant, simply because their values didn’t change like those of the rest of us. What about Ontario being a little more tolerant of people of faith? It goes both ways, like it or not.
In Ontario and the Maritimes, we apparently still don’t get it, with many ridings going to the Liberals. In 1993, voters sent a clear message to the ruling government for its arrogance. The ruling party was reduced to 2 seats, not even enough to be recognized as an official political party. The current outgoing government is not only arrogant, it is self-serving and embroiled in scandal after scandal. It has waged a dirty political campaign and engaged in lies, innuendo, and a smear campaign. The result? Those of us east of Manitoba still found them worthy of 103 seats in Parliament, a number which to me simply does not intone the message that we should have sent, that being that we will not tolerate abuse of power in our nation.
Instead, we have just sent the very clear message that many Canadians simply do not have the self respect that they should and do not feel indignant that a government would lie, steal, and mislead them.
To the main point. I wonder how many people who voted for the Liberal Party realize just what their vote says to Quebec and to the West. I believe that if the Liberal Party had have been successful in this election, we would have witnessed the beginning of the end of this nation. The West would have simply thrown up their hands and wrung them, and would almost assuredly began talking louder than ever about forming a nation of their own. They would embark on that journey not because they hate Canada, for they truly do not, but simply out of sheer frustration.
In Quebec, Premier Charest of the provincial Liberals is almost un-registering in the opinion polls leading many to predict that the Parti Quebecois, which is the provincial separatist party, will take a huge majority in the upcoming provincial elections. Had the rest of Canada elected Paul Martin once again, the final nail in Canada’s coffin may have been driven in. The Bloq would have been re-energized and would have joined the Parti Quebecois in a massive all out push during the next, and perhaps final, referendum on Quebec sovereignty.
I hope we will never know how close we just came to the edge. I am only happy that we backed up a few steps.