This Could be Us

The Conservative Party of Canada leadership will be officially opening Monday. After the disaster that was Andrew Scheer, many are hopeful they will be able to attract a leader who is palatable to the general public and not just its socially-conservative faction.

As world news invaded the lives of many Canadians last week, and a focus went from the relative safety of daily life here to the ongoing turmoil in the middle east, there is something I hope that stands out: democratic freedom is not guaranteed to last just because we have it now.

Those who have been following events of the last six days have seen or heard the blame being tossed around. Everyone wants someone to blame for the deaths of 176 people on Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752, for this flight in particular held so many bright futures; students, teachers, researchers, newlyweds, young families, young children, business owners, parents, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters.

It took less than two days before intelligence analysts could say, with confidence, that an Iranian surface-to-air missile was responsible for downing the plane that carried 57 Canadians. Many blamed President Trump for escalating tensions with the decision to kill Major General Qassem Soleimani of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (a decision that was not first brought to congress for debate). In return, Trump blamed the regime change in 1979.

Gotcha… I guess.

Iran’s government announced Saturday morning that the downing of flight 752 was indeed “human error” on their part and a vigil that had been planned for the tragic loss of life turned into a protest against the Iranian government.

It’s not black and white. As some have said, people who attended Soleimani’s funeral are also protesting. Some say the government attempted to conceal its role in the mass killing of friends, family and citizens.

The protests have continued over the past four days in Iran with chants against the government, the clergy and the “elite”. The protests are not new but they do have renewed vigor in the wake of the downing of flight 752.

Here in Canada, we are being offered the opportunity to take part in choosing the new leader of the CPC.

I renewed my membership after Andrew Scheer stepped down in October. I did this for a number of reasons (I love the democratic process, I want to have a say, I’m not a good partisan, change is great, etc) but mainly, I did this because I want to know more about any person who could potentially be our next Prime Minister.

The partisans seem to believe the only thing they need to care about is who makes up their team. That’s great for the cheerleaders but the rest of us, who have to be governed by these parties, end up feeling like we didn’t get what we wanted. Certainly, it’s not always possible to get what you want, but there’s little option if you only concern yourself with it after the fact.

When I look at the revolution that is responsible for the oppression in Iran today, I can’t help but feel like many people would not have chosen it, had they known it was the outcome. This is why I participate.

At one point, I was a member of every political party in Alberta and the federal parties too (I think). Originally, I became a member for information but when I was attending the policy conferences, I realized I was a member – and I could vote – so I did.

I didn’t vote to “screw the party”, I voted for myself; sometimes the majority and I agreed, sometimes we didn’t. Pretty average, I’m sure.

Over the past five years, I’ve realized that no outcome is assured (okay, sort of). I’ve realized that I want a say before they are elected.

There are very few individuals who are engaged in politics and that’s why I think we should be engaged in all of it; every party. Because one day, we could find ourselves being governed by the “others” – and in this current political climate, they’re also referred to as the “enemy”. Who wants to be governed by “the enemy”?

There’s an option, though, to try to do what you can to stop that; pay the $10. Give an extra $10 to the candidate you support (that’s $2.50 per month over the length of the leadership race).

Because we should never be in the position, in Canada, where we have a leader who is so completely offside with our values but still has the ability to become Prime Minister.

Democratic freedom also seems to bring complacency – we seem to think that it might be something we don’t love but it couldn’t be horrendously worse. Look to Iran, and Iraq; look at the fact that they lived much like our parents and grandparents; they had futures and opportunities and rights and freedoms – and then look at them now.

Complacency is not where we want to be.

This post is an opinion.

contact: dmaclean@countersign.ca

Twitter: @Mitchell_AB for all the commentary; @thisweekinAB for posts;

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