It’s bloody 3 AM and taxes still aren’t done. Absolutely magnificent. I wonder at times if it would be possible for the CRA to be any vaguer with their explanations, since it seems muddier than the dense fog that’s smothering the building at the moment. I should inform Mother Nature that I don’t find it humorously ironic that there’s a physical manifestation of life as I know it at the moment. Though the portrayal is missing masses of storms, earth-rending tremblers, and cataclysmic eruptions here and there. The odd inexplicable opening of bottomless chasms in ground would also be appropriate. As for background music, let’s go with a track of haunting, cackling laughter that echoes through the crags. Might as well throw in sulphur-stained air too. And no, the monotonous plethora of numbers, ambiguous explanations, and fancy phrases like “proceeds of disposition” aren’t what’s painting this splendid landscape. Wouldn’t give the CRA that much credit.
Moments before I turned the ignition to back out of my parking spot, a family of four walked past behind the car. Father, carrying groceries, nonchalantly treading for the entrance into the building. Son, tailing his father closely, clutching a toy. The mother paused though, looking back to urge the younger child, who was maybe 3 or 4 years old, to keep up. The girl wasn’t in any of the views that my mirrors afforded me, but the plaintive wail of protest was a clarion call that easily broke through the whirring of the ventilation fans in the garage.
As time passed, the mother managed to slowly coax the little girl forward until she was directly behind the car, clearly visible in my rear-view mirror. The mother moved up further, continuing to coax the girl forward, but she stood steadfast, resolutely affixed to that spot behind the car, bawling her heart out.
A quizzical glance from mom in the passenger seat provoked a question that I asked myself. Why was I waiting? There were places to go, things to be done, a finite amount of time within the day. If I turned the ignition, flicked on my signals, beeped the horn. If I had given any indication of my presence in the car, ready to drive, the mother would have likely swooped her child out of the way and we could have all gone on with the rest of our day without a second thought given to the incident. But I didn’t. Why?
The answer struck me as I stood in the grocery store, guarding the cart as mom went about picking peppers from the pile. Looking over the mass of people that swarmed to and fro in the store, I found it odd that so many of them carried smiles on their faces. What’s wrong with smiles? Nothing. They’re great. But these were façades. These were the masks that we put on as we go about our business each day. Life is challenging. What do we do when faced with difficulty? We square our shoulders, put the past behind us, and try to soldier on. It’s a good thing.
But that little girl who stood behind the car crying her heart out as I watched in my rear-view mirror made something very apparent. As children, we’ve all cried, we’ve all thrown tantrums, we’ve all begged, we’ve all tried to drag our parents to go in the direction that we wanted to go in. As children, we weren’t afraid to wear our hearts on our sleeves. We let the world know when we were unhappy. We let the world know when we were happy.
When we reach a certain point in our lives though, something clicks. One day as we grow up, we realize that there are standards to be met. Expectations of our behaviour. Societal duties and responsibilities that must be borne. The ones that dictate that publicly weeping for something as trivial as a dropped lollipop is unacceptable. If you saw an adult throw a temper tantrum over something as trivial as that, you’d think it’s wholly inappropriate as well.
Why did I wait for that little girl? Because her tears were honest. They were true. They were unabashedly uninfluenced by the burden of expectations. They were something that we, having grown up (a bit), seldom have the luxury of being able to experience any more. That’s why I waited. Does that make sense? I’m not sure, but something makes me feel and hope that it does.
Soon afterwards, the mother’s coaxing broke through. Obviously still unhappy, the girl squared her shoulders, put the past behind her, and tried to soldier on.
Ever get the sudden urge to hop in the car and just drive? To hop on your bike and ride down the road to forever? To walk to where the world ends? Ever have that alluring little thought that tells you to just get away from it all and maybe never come back? It’s interesting isn’t it? How every now and then it just hits you. Anywhere would be better than here.
Maybe if you just took off. It’d be nice to hear just the hum of the tires against the road as you drive in the middle of the night. No need for the radio to drown out the hubbub that usually plagues the roads. They would be empty at this time, amber street lights lighting up the road ahead as you make your way toward paradise. You might meet the occasional fellow traveller heading in the opposite direction. Nothing’s said as you pass each other, strangers heading to strange lands, headlamps leading unwaveringly through the dark night.
Maybe if you just fled from the chaos that rules your life. It’d be nice to just peddle furiously away, feeling the energy burn out of your body into the spinning wheels beneath you. You’ll feel the agonizing climb of each hill, the exhilarating fall of each descent. It’s just like life, but simpler. That’d be nice. Sometimes, the wind will blow against your face and sometimes, the wind will push you forward. Also like life, as you make your way toward paradise. You might decide to take the occasional break. A breather at a park bench, a drink from the fountain, and then you head on.
Maybe if you just left. Just left it all behind. It’d be nice to just walk way from it all. It’d be as if you had no history, just a fresh start, a new leaf. You’ll be in charge, everything will be at the pace you set. Faster, slower, whatever suits your mood. You can sprint, rush ahead, enjoy the adrenalin rush. You can stop, look around, enjoy the scenery. You’ll see all there is to see on your journey to paradise, the good, the bad, the heartwarming, the heartrending. You might take a moment to tell your story to a listening ear or to hear a tale from an eager storyteller. You’ll remember these moments as you once again walk forth.
Time passes. You fill up your car, pump up your tires, buy a new pair of good shoes. You’ve seen new things, been new places, and met new people. Are you in paradise? Is the grass greener on the other side of the fence? You’re home.
The wind whistles as it flows past you. You drift as you drop. Looking back, you see the plane fall away from you. Wait, is it falling away from you or are you falling away from it? Was the plane going down and that’s why you jumped? Does it matter?
Can’t remember. The whistling wind roars now and then, but you continue to slice through it, ignoring its ferocious façade. It’s oddly peaceful as you as float. Wait, weren’t you falling? Doesn’t seem like it. Up here, it’s nice. There’s nothing up here but you. Nothing around you but the tranquillity of a vast blue expanse lined with soft, white clouds, and the sun softly sparkling in the sky. Are you falling up or falling down? Does it matter?
Not sure. No matter the direction you’re going in, you glimpse a criss cross of contrails camouflaged in the clouds out of the corner of your eye. Looking over to ponder their presence, you see the city. Far below, just visible through a tear in the fabric of clouds, a smoggy, bustling, metropolis. A grey bulk sitting defiantly against the serenity of everything. Jets zip through your small view of that chaotic kingdom. This vision strikes you with a chord that is so familiar, yet for some reason, you’re thankful that it’s also so distant. What next? Does it matter?
Twisting, turning, tumbling, through the air, time ticks away as you think. Are you dreaming?
Sleep. The unconquerable frontier. These are the days where we get less and less sleep. The sweet sensation of swimming through the sea of sleep is so satisfying, yet almost never enough. Sleep patterns you say? What patterns? Our sleep patterns look like they’re an Escher work of art. An intricate dance with the Sandman where we try to schedule sleep into that nook that’s just barely free in our hectic days.
Parents lecture us for not getting enough sleep, “We never had to go to bed so late when we were in university.” Of course not. They didn’t have the distractions that we have to deal with now. Modern technology ensures that there’s a bevy of baited hooks that reach out to ensnare us in its gaping time-devouring maw. And doesn’t that bait just look oh so scrumptious. I’m sure you’re familiar with the temptation.
School, friends, work, food, sleep, the list goes on and on, all clamouring for a piece your precious 24 hour pie. How do we respond? We prioritize of course! Just like we’ve always been taught in those “Time Management is Important!” lessons. But for some reason, sleep almost always gets relegated. Why? Because we value doing something more than “just” sleeping. Yeah, it’s screwed up. Yeah, sleep is important, critical to our survival, we know. But hey, maybe prioritizing isn’t the answer?
Our era is an era of multitasking. We do our work, converse with friends from France, stay caught up with current events, do the dishes, paint the porch, and eat pie, all while feeding the cat. A study shows that university students do, on average, 26.5 hours of things in a day. Faulty math? No. Magic that defies the laws of physics? Perhaps. Pity that the one thing we can’t seem to multitask with is sleep. Wouldn’t it be oh so convenient if we could, say, sleep while we rambled in a tumblr post?
Wherever we do manage to hastily cram our appointment with sleep into whatever we consider to be some semblance of a schedule, we just crash and slumber through a few short hours of blessed sleep. Too tired to enjoy the rest, too tired to dream. We wake only to regret that we must leave our warm, inviting beds for the cold, chaotic life that lies ahead. We drag our feet through the day, desperately looking forward to the moment we can hug our pillow close to ourselves and shut our eyes away from this cruel world. But what happens when it comes time to do just that? “I need to get this done first.”
Maybe what we need to do is to make a law that mandates proper amounts of sleep. Anyone who doesn’t get enough sleep will be sent to the sleep penitentiary where there is nothing to do but sleep. Maybe we need to incorporate sleep into the economy as currency. Any loss of sleep will cost the equivalent in monetary value. Maybe I’m crazy, tired, and need some sleep.
Alright, enough of this. Go get some sleep will you? Looks like you need it too. I could use a nap myself at the mome….zzzzzz zzzz zzz…
Ever catch yourself staring into the infinite void of the spacetime continuum? Just staring out the window, past the bustling activity and drifting clouds. Sitting in a chair, staring past the walls and the bright, beckoning monitor. Lying in bed, staring up past the ceiling. Past everything, the vast sky, twinkling stars, spinning galaxies, everything.
Seemingly removed from the hubbub of life that continues to drive onwards without you. Noises fade to a faint buzzing, no matter how loud they are. Images rapidly fade into view and just as quickly spin away into oblivion as your mind ploughs its way through any number of thoughts. No semblance of order is present, no destination for this train of thought as it jumps from track to track, soaring higher with every leap.
Thanks to that little part of you that’s still grounded in reality, you’re aware of the ticking clock. You know of your to-do list that always grows at a pace that’s just fast enough so that you can never seem to be able to mow it down. The chaotic order that guides each day of life is just a quick shake of the head away. But you’re not quite willing to part the veil just yet.
This void that you’re gliding through seems comfortable. It’s quiet. Hey, maybe this is the (in)famous “happy place”. Though truthfully, it’s not so much happy as it is peaceful. Maybe you’re just tired and need some rest. Maybe taking a break in this null plane is what needs to happen to gather some mental energy to give that lawnmower another push through the to-do list.
Somewhere above it all, it floats. The question. Is it worth it? Is all of this worth it? For some reason, “it” isn’t as discretely defined as you’d like it to be, so it seems impossible to really be sure of your answer. But, the effort that you’re sowing seems like it’s reaping such a poor harvest. Why are you doing all of this again?
A jarring thought, a sharp rap, a sudden shriek, tears through the diaphanous, billowing clouds that your train of thought was for some reason meandering through. Rapidly returning to run on the rails of reality, “Did I nod off? Odd. Oh well, what’s next on the to-do list?”
I heard Happiness lived here, in this dingy shack, old and crumbling from disuse, wrinkled like an old man, trembling at the slightest whisper of wind. I take a step towards it, and pause, hover at the edge of a precipice, unsure of what to do now that I have found this house, if one may…
So here we are again. A nation embroiled in the furious storm of election campaigns. Not really. Being the 5th election in the past 10 years, including a rash of election where one occurred every other year between 2004 and 2008, it’s visibly evident that Canadian seem to be more turned off than ever with the prospect of going out to vote.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I do not condone any failure to act upon the constitutional right and duty to vote for a federal government. I will be going out to vote, not just because it’s my first time voting, but because (as cliché as it may sound) it’s the right thing to do. I will not surrender my voice in an election just because there seems to be no good options. Choose who you think is best suited for this country and your riding (the latter is oft forgotten) out of the many who are running for office. Sure the picking are slim, if you think any exist at all, but as they say time and time again, it’s better than not making a choice. Do you really want to let those people make the decision for you?
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, back to what I wanted to really get at. There are some issues in our electoral system demanding attention that is seldom given. Sheer desensitization to elections is the most obvious. Politicians obviously don’t realize that in this century, anything as repetitive and dull as their election campaigns just bore the majority of us. Stirring up our passion to gain our vote? Pfft. As I just mentioned, even though MPs are elected to represent your riding, everyone “knows” that it’s more important to consider the bigger picture and vote for the right party to run the entire country, even though that other party’s candidate does have some better ideas for that hospital down the road.
Want to vote for the Pirate Party eh? (Yes it exists) Well, what’s the point? Again, we all “know” that it’s better to vote for the bigger parties. After all, what’s the point of voting for a fringe party if it’s not even going to make a difference in Parliament? What a waste of a vote. These are the sort of mentalities that our electoral system fails to account for. Something needs to be done to mend these failure in the system. I’m not claiming to have any bright ideas, but it’s time to stop ignoring these issues.
So. Who to vote for this time? We’ve got the usual suspects unveiling massive platforms that can supposedly bring Canada to the promised land of socioeconomic prosperity, but it all sounds good. Here’s a not-so-conventional breakdown of the big players. (Oh look, I’m ignoring the fringe parties. Why is that?)
Why vote for them:
If we don’t we’re going to head to the polls again in the near future. The past 10 years can testify to the longevity of minority governments. We all know that they will win this election anyway. Just a matter of minority or majority. If we’re going to elect them, why not make it more efficient for them to govern without having to fight the other parties on everything, regardless of who’s right or wrong?
We do actually need some planes for our air force. Sure the F-35 deal might not have been the fairest or the cheapest, but hey, it’ll cost hundreds of millions to break the contracts already signed. See the infamous Sea King replacement brouhaha. Despite the Liberals’ bluster, they’re the ones who invested of $100 million into the project. I doubt they’d have chosen another plane if they were still in power.
We do need some development in the North, a component conspicuously missing from other parties’ platforms. In the age where climate change is a distinct reality, the potential of the North shouldn’t be ignored, as other countries already squabble for control.
As bad as it might have been over the past 5 years, was it really that bad? Sure there’s been controversies, but hey, I doubt any other party would have done that much better. The Conservatives were decidedly unconservative in handling the economic recession, at least it shows that they’ve got some guts to go against their traditional fiscal policies.
Why vote against them:
Contempt against Parliament? Ouch. That’s but one of the strikes against the Conservatives in the much trumpeted accountability department, with issues revolving around F-35s, Guergis, Oda, G20, etc. Combined, these strikes form the strongest reason to vote them down. Do we really want this system running our country?
Do we really want them to go unchecked with a majority? With the beauty of the minority government, even though they’re going to win anyway, their every move will be questioned.
Why vote for them:
Realistically they are that other party. If the Conservatives aren’t leading Parliament, this is the party that will be leading this up, coalition or no coalition. Politics in this country has always swung as a pendulum between the Conservatives and the Liberals (the only exception being that small duration during WWI), maybe it’s time it swung back again?
Being fundamentally middle-aligned. The Liberals appeal to most people, trying to satisfy the broadest range of demands from the Canadian public.
Their platform is structured around transition spending toward families and homes and away from corporate Canada, definitely an appealing point to most of us.
Why vote against them:
Are they really that different from the Conservatives? Marred by scandals through their 13 year rule of Canada, their record really doesn’t show that they’re much better of a choice. Ignatieff hasn’t shown himself to be that decisive of a leader. Better than the iron-fisted Harper? Meh.
Being fundamentally middle-aligned, they are the most wily of the bunch, swinging their platform whichever way required to gain support. Their record in power and Opposition proves that. Could be a good thing, but shows they have weak core party principles.
Increasing taxes and weakening support for corporate Canada? Hurts foreign investment prospects as well as potentially weakening the fragile economic status that we have right now. These cuts and hikes could very well result in job losses, ultimately cycling the pain back to the families and homes the Liberals are trying to help in the first place.
Why vote for them:
Le beau parti. Il est un bon choix pour les gens du Quebec, parce que…oh sorry. Always a good choice for the people of Quebec. Only running in La Belle Province, they fundamentally stand up for Quebecois rights in accordance to their Separatist principles.
The risk of Quebec becoming independent is always present, but if elected, still unlikely as it would still be subject to referendum. Many Quebecers would like to remain Canadian, but also appreciate the benefits brought by Bloc representation. This is the fundamental reasoning behind the Bloc’s meteoric rise in popularity in the province.
Why vote against them:
Excuse me Mr. Elections Officer, I don’t see the party on my ballot. The Bloc Quebecois runs exclusively in Quebec, and as such, will fail to appear on ballots across over 3/4s of all ridings. Talk about under-representing the nation.
Separatist in foundation. Need I say more?
Why vote for them:
The people’s party of Canada (No offence to the Communist Party of Canada). They always offer the most appealing package to the private citizens of the nation. Healthcare, pensions, education, cutting taxes, boosting small business, etc. Their platform reflects their core Socialist roots in caring for the small guy.
They’re that third party that you can reliably vote for when you don’t want to support the heavyweights; the ones who would signify a change; the ones who actually have elected members in Parliament.
Why vote against them:
Their focus on social programs always seems to ride a high level of danger for the economy. With our fragile economy, is this the right time to start funding massive amount of social programs as the NDP platform calls for? They say it wouldn’t be an issue, but the numbers seem to be strained.
Having Socialist roots condemns the NDP to be frowned upon by corporate Canada. If elected, the NDP will likely cut support for big companies to fund their social programs, but like the Liberal platform, this could have resounding consequences for the families and homes they’re trying to support to begin with.
Why vote for them:
They are the dark horse of the modern election race. Never having had an MP sit in Parliament, this party is gaining momentum nonetheless, with candidates in every riding and having captured over 6% of the popular vote in the last election. With a focus on the environment that other parties lack, the Green party would try to bring Canada to the forefront of change in terms of recognizing that we must care for our own surroundings.
Why vote against them:
They are fundamentally an environmentally-centric party. Sure they have policies for the economy, social programs, etc. But can they really detach themselves enough from their green principles to run the country wholly in all components of government? The debate television consortium still refuse to recognize the party as the real deal, so are they really capable?
Note: This guide may or may not be accurate. Please use your own critical thinking skills and resources to determine who you would like to vote for. Actually take a look at parties’ platforms and do some thinking. Trust me, it’s for the best if you don’t actually use this guide to decide who to vote for.
Whether it’s at advance polls, by mail, or on May 2nd, get out there to vote folks. I mean it. Who knows when next you’ll be able to vote? This only happened half a dozen times or so in the past decade. Which for the record, only costs over $288 million dollars for Elections Canada to run each time. Just saying. Yep, that’s millions. Not a typo. Yep, that’s your tax dollars. Cheerio.
For those who stuck around to read this whole thing, thank you. I do apologize for how long this thing is. As a token of my appreciation, you have earned 1 Dano Credit!
*Redemption of Dano Credits must be request in person and can be exchanged for a prize that is subject to whimsy.