Sunday, October 5, 2008

How to Vote

As yesterday, I have to begin by acknowledging the wonderful support we get through the day. Today's thank yous begin with Chai who met us early in the morning on our walk. A huge thank you to Betty Anne Platt and her friends from Kairos in the Whitby area, who arranged a wonderful lunch reception for us outside the Whitby Library, helped coordinate candidate meetings for us and fussed over us, making sure we were warm and well-fed. Thanks to Glenn and Soo Luen from EcoSanity who joined us there and trailed us with cameras for hours. Thanks to the crew of Whitby-Oshawa NDP candidate David Purdy who came out to the event, and to Green Party candidate Doug Anderson who walked with us for much of the early afternoon. Thanks for Kairos supporter Lynn for taking the time to bring out some umbrellas for us when it started to drizzle. The thoughtfulness of people along the way just amazes me. Thanks to Sadek, Rene and Eddy who were with us again today. Eddy will be with us until Wednesday. A big thank you to Oshawa NDP candidate Mike Shields, who came out to Oshawa city centre and waited inside for us with Sid Ryan while we waited outside through missed communication. Your support is very much appreciated. Thanks to Durham Green Party candidate Stephen Leahy for meeting us with several volunteers. Thanks to Kim and Mustaq, as always, for keeping us safe and sane. The big thank-yous of the day, though, go to Dewan, steadfastly plodding on through exhaustion and aches and to our hosts this evening, Carrie and Abel.

We're in the midst of an election, so people ask us how they should vote. We had decided, when we began planning this walk, that we would continue in case of an election because it would be a way to have an impact at election time. So it's an important question. Here's my answer:

1. To evaluate the parties, go to the Sierra Club site at
They have a voter's guide to the elections with a report card on all the parties.

***update*** I've been alerted to the fact that Greenpeace also has an evaluation of the parties, coordinated with the Sierra Club, which can be accessed here:

2. To evaluate your candidates, go to the Kyoto Plus site and look at the candidates list here:
If more than one candidate in your riding has signed onto Kyoto Plus, ask them why. The wholehearted endorsers will give this crisis more attention than those who are reluctant.

3. To vote strategically, go to a site that identifies a strategic environmental pick in every riding:
I'm not necessarily promoting strategic voting because it has pitfalls as well as advantages. Still, a lot of Canadians vote strategically because the democratic system is broken, and if you vote strategically, you might as well make an informed decision.

But finally, what's really important to me is that you don't stop at the election. It's tempting to feel that you vote for the person you feel will take care of you so that you can go on with your life. In this case though, politicians are just not taking care of you. No Canadian government ever has done enough for this crisis, and there's every reason to believe that the proposals of every one of our national parties today will fall significantly short of what is eventually needed. Every week brings new bad news indicating that the climate is more sensitive than we believed.

And yet, real solutions are within reach. And they will provide tangible benefits such as
  • an economy prepared to benefit from the end of fossil fuels rather than being at risk of suffering.
  • the fundamentals of life (food and shelter) reoriented for preparation for the future instead of at risk of collapsing.
  • fresher air, drinkable water, safe food.
  • reduced reliance on foreign imports
  • a healthy local economy
  • safer streets
  • a reduction in noise pollution
  • a reduction in asthmas and other health problems
  • a reduction in government spending on health and environmental mitigation
So after the election, no matter who you vote for, all concerned Canadians must continue to press their representatives to live up to their commitments. I truly believe our politicians will thank you. Study after study indicate that the public recognizes the problem in a way that is not reflected in political platforms. Left alone, politicians tend to move very slowly, far too slowly for the crisis at hand. But it's not because politicians are unaware of the crisis. Most are better informed than the average elector. But they need to feel reassured that they are not committing political suicide by proposing something radical. And it's time to make them understand that it's political suicide to sit by and not do the necessary things, even if they seem radical.

What's more, tell your elected representative to work productively with other parties. Part of the reason we're not getting enough action on climate change is that every party wants to take credit for the best plan. Progress is more important than perfection. Bickering is getting us nowhere, it only confuses people.

So vote thoughtfully, but pledge to yourself to hold your government representatives accountable.

At the end of today's walking, we walked into a stunning rainbow and suddenly clear skies and blazing sunshine. I'm feeling hopeful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update, Adriana, glad to hear things are going well...