Arabian Nights Were the Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

Why I won’t be voting in this election.

Justin Trudeau
Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau’s 2001 “brownface” photos won’t change the outcome of this election. Too many of the voting population have joined either the Liberal or Conservative camps, and “campaigning” has already turned into an endless stream of insults, dubious promises, and personal attacks. This will be one more, and is unlikely to change anyone’s voting intentions.

I may be the exception. Until last week I was resigned to marking my ballot for the Liberal candidate in our riding. Even though I’ve been appalled by Trudeau’s actions during the ongoing SNC-Lavalin controversy, and by the Liberals’ failure to deliver on some of their most important promises, I still can’t bring myself to vote for Andrew Scheer’s brand of right wing politics.

Now though I have just given up. I can’t see myself voting for an NDP or Green party that I know will never form a government, and with neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives offering anything that looks like real leadership I have decided to sit out this election. I just can’t force myself to support either of them.

Yes, I’m appalled that a grown adult in 2001 would have actually painted their face and pretended to be “Arab.” I can almost believe that someone in 1961 or even 1971 might have been unaware that this would be offensive, but in 2001 anyone who claims even a single progressive bone in their body had no excuse. I’m even more appalled to believe that the Liberal Party knew about the photos and knew that sooner or later they would surface.

What saddens me most though is the feeling that for most voters it just won’t matter. The Trudeau supporters will vote Liberal regardless. The Scheer fans will vote Conservative no matter what. And the underbelly of racist Canadians will lap it all up as proof that they are right and we are wrong.

Since I was a child my mother has always told me that “If you don’t vote you aren’t allowed to complain about the government.” In recent years, and especially today, I’ve stopped believing that.

When I look at the people in the House of Commons I don’t see great thinkers or inspiring leaders, I see grubby opportunists and party hacks who too often seem to lack either principles or backbone. In election after election I see grand promises made which no-one believes will actually be fulfilled, and candidates that repeat the same talking-point over and over instead of answering legitimate questions.

For too long I’ve found myself holding my nose and marking my ballot for the candidate who offended me least. I can’t remember the last time that I actually voted for a candidate or a party. Instead on voting day I ultimately decided to vote against whoever offended me most.

I resent being placed in that position, and believe that it is an affront to our entire democratic system. I have no doubt that the ongoing decline in voter turnout isn’t because people don’t care, it’s because they don’t see anything or anyone that they want to vote for. For too many people the assumption is that all candidates, from all parties, are lazy, and dishonest, and untrustworthy.

When the Prime Minister of our country paints his face in what can only be described as “blackface” it becomes very hard to argue with those people. One evening of idiotic dress-up makes it impossible for anyone to think that the Liberals are in any way morally superior to the Conservatives.

Already this month I have ignored all of the debates, phone-on shows, and advertising. I just know that I’ll see nothing to inspire me, and more likely will be offended. Now I have been pushed over the edge, and will opt out of voting as well.

I came of political age during the reign of Justin Trudeau’s father. It was a time when Canadians felt genuinely proud of their country, and when it seemed that Canada really was the high-principled nation that the rest of the world could emulate. Like many of my generation I couldn’t have imagined that our political system could degrade itself this much.

But it has, and I no longer wish to have any part in in it.

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