Friday, January 20, 2006

Candidates Debate

Andrea and I went to a “Meet the Candidates” thing last night. There was a debate, between candidates from the Conservative, NDP, and Liberal parties, and then after there was a time where the candidates in our riding made themselves available for us to meet them.

We planned to go to the meet ’n greet thing, but unfortunately, as it turned out, the debate would have been a much better use of our time. We caught the end of it, and it was a really good debate. (And, the more we thought about it, the less we really cared about simply shaking hands with the candidates...)

One of the main things they were talking about was child care. The Conservatives have plan where Canada would stop spending money on child care facilities, and instead would give each family with children up to $1,200 per year, to spend on child care. (I didn’t catch the details, but probably through tax credits—Conservatives love tax credits.) Both the NDP and Liberal candidates took the Conservative guy to task for that, though; first of all, $1,200 sounds like a lot of money—until you add it up, and realize that’s only about $5 per day (if you don’t count weekends). That’s not enough for day care. Second of all, if the government isn’t going to invest in day care facilities, then that $1,200 becomes even more useless—where are you going to spend it? (Over-simplification alert! This paragraph was simplified!)

Another thing that I found interesting was that the Conservative guy said that one of the biggest problems with the NDP and Liberal plans for day care is that their plans require the day care workers to be unionized. I don’t have the exact quote for you, unfortunately, but he used the word “union” as if it were a slur. Now, I don’t feel as strongly about unions as some people—I do think that some people in North American can get too lazy/greedy—but I also think that unions, in general, are a very good thing, and that they’ve done more for workers rights than any other force in North America. So I was surprised to hear the Conservative guy just out and out blasting the Liberal and NDP plans for something that, really, most people would consider a good thing, not a bad thing. (And the other candidates immediately called him on that, as well.)

All in all, I think the Liberal and NDP candidates did a very good job of presenting their positions; the NDP guy especially impressed me. (But, of course, I’m much more aligned politically with the NDP than the Liberals, so that’s not very surprising.)

But you know what really surprised me, about this debate? It’s that I was able to follow it, and understand what was going on. I was expecting everything to be couched in such politicised language that I wouldn’t realize what was going on. I pretty much figured that the Conservative guy would say things that I would disagree with, but what I thought was that he would say it in such a way that it would just make me uncomfortable; I figured I’d then have to go away and think about it, and really dissect it, to figure out why I disagreed with him. But, as it turned out, it was very understandable. I was completely blown away to hear him talking about things like unions being a bad thing, and just out-and-out saying it.

And, although we weren’t that interested in just shaking hands with the candidates, we did go and meet the NDP guy from our riding. Although I’m still a little bit up in the air on the “strategic voting” thing (meaning I don’t know if I’ll vote for the best people for the job, or vote for the non-Conservative party with the best chance of keeping the Conservatives out of power), he did convince me that the NDP really does have a fairly good chance of winning in our riding. (Of course, in the last election, only 140 people voted in my riding—meaning that every vote was worth almost 1%—so if enough people get out to the polls this time, it’s anyone’s race.

So, in a nutshell, I still haven’t decided whether I’ll vote NDP or Liberal. As I mentioned to Andrea last night, every time she comes up with a reason why we should vote strategically, I immediately present a counter-argument, as to why we should vote positively—and every time she comes up with a reason why we should vote positively, I immediately come up with a counter-argument as to why we should vote strategically. So that just proves that I’m still struggling with this...