I'm not as down as I was yesterday. I managed to get out three resumes to prospective employers, and I edited Steve Wolterstorff's Evening Falls for the Trenchcoat Farewell Project. We also had the pleasure of Lori Brown and her daughter Ezre for dinner and dessert, and thus I can say that although the day was trying, the late afternoon and evening were quite productive.
So, Jean Chretien has finally bowed to pressure and set out the date when he will retire as prime minister of Canada: February 2004. Although backroom machinations continue as he and former Finance Minister Paul Martin try to screw each other, this is enough to settle my own debate: should I join the Liberal party and vote to turf Chretien, or should I join the NDP and vote for Jack Layton. Though I definitely prefer Paul Martin to Jean Chretien, and though I like some of the hints of his policies (especially his 'new deal for cities' proposals), I'm not a Liberal, and I have no strong feelings about Mr. Martin himself.
As I learned the hard way during the 1993 and 1997 federal elections, when I vote, it should be to vote FOR something, rather than AGAINST something else. Layton's urban policies for the NDP speak more to me, and are getting me excited about politics again.
One ironic thing, however, is that my riding is such that I may end up casting my vote for a party other than the NDP.
When I vote, it's for a number of complicated reasons. I vote for a party that most closely represents my viewpoints and desires for the country. I vote for a party whose leader has a charisma about him or her that I find attractive. But I also vote for an individual MP (member of parliament), who I expect will go to parliament to represent my interests, even if (and especially if) those interests don't entirely mesh with the party he or she belongs to. This last element has the power to really turn my vote, since this is not a vote for some vague ideal spouted off in Ottawa, but a vote for a real living human being, whom I may respect or completely and utterly revile. During the 1993 election, I lived in the riding of Kitchener Centre and John English was my member of parliament. I wasn't too happy with the Liberals, but I was happy with his representation of Kitchener Centre. Unfortunately he retired, and his replacement, Karen Redman, hasn't lived up to his promise.
I now live in the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo, represented in Queen's Park by Education Minister and Deputy Premier Elizabeth Witmer (Conservative) and in Ottawa by the outspoken won't-necessarily-tow-the-party-line MP Andrew Telegdi (Liberal). I have strong respect for both individuals, particularly Elizabeth Witmer, who is on the left of the Conservative Party, was critical of Mike Harris' hard-right Common Sense Revolution and has the best chance of returning the provincial Conservatives to their Red Tory glory days. Andrew Telegdi was the only Liberal MP in the area who called for Chretien's resignation when it was obvious that there was no reason for Chretien to continue.
Add to this the fact that the NDP don't seem to have be very strong in this riding (despite the presence of two universities), and you can see why my vote may end up being pulled away from the NDP despite my general support of their policies.
What can I say? I take my ballot seriously.
Whoever felt that the Chinese saying 'may you live in interesting times' was really a curse, didn't work for a newspaper.