Friday, October 16, 2015

To my friends in Saint John/Rothesay

As a politics nerd, I have been tracking #elxn42 very closely. I follow @308dotcom to get all the latest poll results; I read all the newspapers online, both news and opinion, to see what the media has to say about this and that. To this end, a couple of things seem really clear to me at this point: 1) The Liberals with Justin Trudeau will be forming our next government, and 2) the race in Saint John-Rothesay is a dead heat between Liberal Wayne Long and Conservative Rodney Weston. I have already made up my mind where my vote is going: in fact, I already voted with my family at the advance poll. If you have been paying attention, you know that I am eager for a change in government and have voted for Wayne to bring that change.

But some of my friends may still be undecided, or maybe leaning one way of the other but not committed. That's fine, we still have a few days left, and as long as you do vote I can add you to me list of heroes. But before you do mark that "X", I would like you to consider the following:
 - Rodney Weston is touting his accomplishment in Ottawa, but has he really done anything? I mean, his party is the one in power which you would expect gives his riding some pull in the federal funding of projects. And even at that, clean water is the best he can come up with? We're not living in a third-world country, shouldn't clean, safe drinking water be presumed?
 - Saint John has a history of electing members despite the rest of the country's choice of governing party. Remember when we sent good old Elsie in there as one of only two Conservative MPs in the entire country? This speaks to the quality of candidates that we have available, and we should be proud of that. However, it's a sad reality that electing a candidate who is not a member of the ruling party reduces the say that we have in Parliament. When Trudeau is Prime Minister, a near certainty at this point, wouldn't it be more effective for our region if we had a Member of Parliament who has a more favorable position in the House?
 - When we talk about the quality of candidates in our riding, you couldn't ask for a better one than Wayne Long. Wayne is a lifelong Saint Johner, who was educated at UNBSJ and built his own succesful business in this city before bringing QMJHL hockey and the eventual Memorial Cup Champion Sea Dogs to Saint John. He is extremely well spoken, as you would know if you have seen any of the candidate debates, but very approachable. He is driven to represent our community, as you can tell given that he has canvassed tens of thousands of homes during the campaign. That is definitely an improvement over the robocalls I have received from AJ Griffin! All things being equal, I would certainly not hesitate to give Wayne my vote; but things are not equal, and a Liberal vote in Saint John is the best choice we have in this election.

I have a lot of reasons for disliking the Conservatives, aside from their foul campaign tactics, I simply don't like the way they have governed our country over the last 4 years. I guess if you're not currently eating your dinner out of a garbage can then maybe you might think that Stephen Harper's economic plan has been working; but for a lot of my friends, the decisions made by this government have resulted in them moving out west or traveling to get work, or worrying about their jobs.  This is not  a good economy, and it is the result of poor management. And worse, this short-sighted approach has resulted in a recession and lack of growth, thanks to reliance on a single industry that is struggling now that the price of crude has dropped. Research and innovation in new energy technologies and environmental protection, things that WE KNOW provide well-paying jobs have been defunded and obstructed. Around the world, industry is begging for STEM graduates, but my son who is currently studying Science does not see good employment prospects if he chooses to stay in Canada. And all this in favor of a strategy that limits growth and requires us to ship our fathers and sons across the country to make a living. It's maddening to see people choosing false promises of lower taxes over proper resource and fiscal management, thing that have historically made our country great.

But the flip side is that there is now hope. All the numbers guys - the ones who were right last time - are saying that the chance of the Conservatives forming the next government is remote. Even if they beat the odds and squeeze out a minority victory, both the Liberals and NDP parties have said they will not support a Conservative government and would work together to ensure that does not happen. Whether that's a coalition (which the NDP have said they are willing to do) or simply cooperating to ensure their House vote pass, that would mean Justin Trudeau is our next Prime Minister, and policies set in place by the Harper government that I am so at odds with would change. I am encouraged :)

But the best thing for me would be to know that my neighbors are on board and that we can share in the victory. I would like see the best things happen in Saint John, and I know that means we need as many people as possible to vote for Wayne Long. If you are on the fence, think about that. If you are planning on voting for Weston just because he's a Conservative or Griffin because she's NDP and that's your "team", I beg you to reconsider. On Monday we will have a change, let's embrace it and give our city a strong voice!