It's been strange, being so distant from the BC provincial election this week, while attending to business on the road since Sunday.
First in Winnipeg, then in Toronto (where I currently sit, waiting for my return flight back to Kamloops), it was strange to be in rooms full of people, knowing I was the only one with the election on my mind. If anything, I received more condolences about the Canuck's post-season follies than inquiries about the Grits, NDP, and electoral reform.
But I couldn't help bringing it up, maybe because the people I've worked with this week didn't have any emotional attachment to the race. And the reaction I've most often received has been surprise.
Surprise that the election largely turned on the NDP's opposition to a carbon tax. Often the expressions of my interviewees conveyed as much sympathy as confusion, confusion about the counter-intuitive political ground staked by the party, and sympathy for living in such a strange political climate. As per today's National Post editorial - Saved from the Wreck Beach nudist party - about BC-STV, "...B. C. is B. C., for heaven's sake--a realm so ethnically balkanized, and geographically and economically diverse that it's often considered near-ungovernable under any system at all", we are still widely recognized across Canada as a polarized and slightly wacky political relation.
Carol James' brash bet against her better sense bit her and the party hard on the ass. She didn't just lose the election and confuse Canadians from other provinces. She also confused a league of middle voters who thought the party stood for something besides political expediency.
Whatever the party you're against does, how much can its actions really harm your morale rightiousness and and political engagement?
But when your own party lets you down, that's something different. The BC NDP, with its "Axe the Tax", proved to the youthful voters it courts that it is as cynical as any other party.
Carol James' campaign against an obviously green initiative for the sake of political gain didn't make sense. And maybe that's one of the reasons there is so much voter apathy among youth.Not because we don't reach out to youth, but rather because the parties that do reach out to youth are the ones that always break their hearts.
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