Every so often the British attitude to Canada makes me cringe – yes, it seems still a colony, even if Canada unexpectedly and occasionally burps up something good like a bank manager (some Carney guy), or that small-town Gosling who plays the same awkward sexy threatening baby-goose role repeatedly. But nothing, not their indifference nor their ignorance about its geography or health care, nothing makes me wince like the subheading “Canada Election” on the BBC and The Guardian websites – Canada is the noun, Canadian is the modifier. Still, I am amazed that Canada went from zero media interest to actual coverage of the Canadian election. The Guardian ran a long article about it two days in a row, each of which were very critical of Stephen Harper’s rule (see links below). The Times ignored Canada’s election* and then put the results in a historical context: the words “dynasty” and “Trudeau” appear in the same headline, with “Trudeaumania” in another, and its editorial “Canada’s Change” predictably starts with a joke about how boring Canada is. The election results on BBC Radio 4 woke me on Tuesday morning (great to start the day with relief), and BBC had live coverage.
Is it because Justin Trudeau is photogenic that news sites are offering Justin Trudeau “in pictures”? Time magazine’s “Justin Trudeau’s Life in Pictures,” of course, The Guardian’s “Justin Trudeau’s Victory in Canada Election — in pictures,” and the BBC’s photo rich “Who is Justin Trudeau, Canada’s next Prime Minister?”
While those of us who voted neither Conservative nor Liberal might be poising our pens to critically query the new government’s policy on ISIS, the environment, the pipeline, support to the sciences and the arts, foreign policy and on the urgent need to rescue libraries large and small, there are already fans. On my way home from the British Library yesterday I was leafing through the Evening Standard on the tube and was jolted out of the stupor that the airless public transport usually induces by: “25 Reasons why we love new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,” by Susannah Butter. Thanks for that, that use of Canadian.
- “Canada’s real barbarism? Stephen Harper’s dismembering of the country,” by Martin Lukacs, The Guardian, 14 October 2015.
- “Stephen Harper: master manipulator” The Long Read by Nick Davies, The Guardian, 15 October 2015
- “Canada elections: Liberal Justin Trudeau on verge of victory despite starting campaign as underdog,” by Time Walker, Independent 16 October 2015 and “Justin Trudeau becomes new Canadian Prime Minister,” Tim Walker, 20 October 2015.
- Surprisingly, on the Daily Mail’s website: “Canada elects record number of aboriginals to Parliament,” Associated Press 22 October 2015.
*Thanks to journalist and author Jane Christmas for bringing that to my attention.
Both the Liberals and the NDP promised to revisit the question of voting rights for Canadians abroad; the trick now will be to hold the Trudeau government to it – recognizing that they have a lot on their plate unwinding as much as they can of the misbegotten policy, in so many areas, of the last decade. Citizenship policy under the Tories was particularly egregious – badly drafted discriminatory laws, for the most part probably unconstitutional, a legislative sledgehammer to kill the tiny fly of so-called “Canadians of convenience”.
Jane Christmas, there’s no way you should have been denied a ballot, that is shocking, but I’m afraid it’s not the only mistake Elections Canada made this time round; I’ve heard many horror stories. My guess is that their mistakes are not entirely unrelated to the challenges they’ve had to deal with absorbing the swingeing budget cuts inflicted on them by, yes you guessed it, the Harper government…
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“Relief” is right. Those foolish “he’s just not ready” ads were so annoying.
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Well said, Debra and Jane I agree.
I am a Canadian who has lived abroad now for seventeen years. One might argue that a Canadian who has not been living on Canadian soil for so long shouldn’t have the right to vote. But they dare not argue that in front of me. I was born and raised in Canada, my family and lifelong friends are there. I should not be punished because I fell in love with a Swede and chose to raise our children in another country. We had to make a choice. It was either there or here. Should my husband’s right to vote in a Swedish election be denied if we were to move to Canada? It is mad and hardly democratic. My children are Canadian citizens and have been since birth. They may choose to study or work in Canada at some point or perhaps we move there as a family. I care very much about the future of my country, so how can it be that my vote doesn’t matter?
I can only hope that this issue will be addressed by our new Prime Minister and that we will be given back our right to vote. Living abroad does not make us any less Canadian. In fact, I’d argue that we feel our nationality even more deeply when we step outside Canada.
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Anyone else not able to vote?
Well said, Debra. The British attitude toward Canada–the sort of attitude you extend to a puppy–is annoying and patronizing. I was appalled at the lack of coverage here: nothing on BBC TV, nothing in The Times, scant mention in the Telegraph. Thank God for CBC online. I try to tell myself, “Hey, this is a different country and Britain isn’t likely to cover a Canadian election”, but then I read (in The Times) a decent-sized article about the scandal in the Australian election (a desk damaged in post-election hoopla), or the Indian election. Or reams of drivel about the US election campaign. (There is so much British pandering to anything that breathes and farts in the US.) I have to laugh when I hear Canadian politicians talk about “Canada on the world stage”. Canada is NOT on the world stage. Canada is the key grip and the gaffer backstage.
But I am equally ticked off at my own country. I was for the first time in my life denied a chance to vote. Elections Canada sent me an election package “in case of an election” (that was in May). Then in the summer they wrote to say that the rules had changed, and that those who had been out of Canada for five years could not vote. I have only been out THREE years and still I wasn’t allowed to vote. Elections Canada sent me that message one business day before the election. So what’s up with that? With a new government in power do I get my vote back? There are issues that still impact me despite the fact that I no longer live on Canadian soil. Canada and Canadian society still matters to me, despite the fact that I now live abroad. My kids are there; my friends are there. My soul is there. It matters to me, and it would/should matter to a compassionate, broad-thinking government. I’d be keen to hear from any other ex-pats who were denied the chance to vote in this latest election.
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Puppy, that’s a good one.
I think “Canada Election” as a header comes from the words one would enter in a search engine.
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