I am sleeping much better since Monday night. My heart is light, and I am infused with hope. I smile with pride in my fellow citizens.
Canadians asserted themselves. Almost twelve million Canadians (11 813 091 according to CBC), 67.4 % of those who cast ballots, voted against the incumbent government. They reminded any future governments that they are an informed electorate not to be underestimated or manipulated, and that they attack ads and negativity cannot dupe them. Nor will they succomb to fearmongering. As for distortions about balanced budgets, Canadians have long memories; they did not forget the deficits in the first eight years of the Conservative mandate. Even more important, they refused to turn against each other.
Macleans journalist Scott Gilmore crystalizes the quandary many Canadians faced in their determination to reclaim their country. In his article, “How Stephen Harper Led Me to Do the Unthinkable,” Gilmore tells the story of how he came to vote Liberal despite a family tradition of voting only Conservative. Although Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism legislation that impinges on individual rights, and the mounting deficits disconcerted him, in the end, the Islamophobia was the turning point. A snitch line on barbaric cultural pratices was the last straw.
Now that millions of Scott Gilmores across Canada have elected a majority Liberal government, what role can we play as Justin Trudeau forms a cabinet and prepares to assume the reins on November 4? In my view, we must support this government as it finds its legs. Let’s send it information and opinions, but not vitriol; let’s impart fair critiques and suggestions, but not attacks. We must give our new government the opportunity to succeed. After all, an effective government benefits us all.
Will the government have to shelve some of its election promises? Of course. I consider that normal—not because I am cynical of the election process, but because that’s how life works. Things never go as planned. Imagine a home renovation without surprises as walls come down and carpets are rolled away, or a vacation without interventions from weather or illness or just bad luck. So, I fully expect Mr. Trudeau and company to have to put some plans on the back burner and to alter others.
On key points, however, I expect Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals to be true to their campaign pledges:
· collaboration with all members of Parliament to govern well for all Canadians;
· a positive, inclusive approach;
· availability to journalists, so they can do their job keeping the Canadian electorate informed and thinking about issues;
· increase in funding for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation;
· increase in funding for research and innovation;
· increase in protected wilderness lands;
· action on protection of the environment;
· respect for scientific research and its role in shaping public policy and direction.
More even than economic decisions, these points set the tone for our country. They orient us toward a positive, collaborative, respectful society that values information for decision-making, especially dissenting information, and that acknowleges the role of sharing information in keeping the citizenry engaged in the political life of the country.
I am relieved that the government has changed. I am so proud of Canada as a nation. The disillusionment I have experienced since 2011 has galvanized me as never before. Now, though, I must be positive, and remain engaged in the process. That is a two-pronged approach: support the new government as it begins its mandate, and communicate to my elected representatives my opinions and suggestions.