After getting pwn3d by all three opposition parties in the House of Commons, Paul Martin's Liberals have been defeated, and he has called an election for January 23rd. He was quick to blame the opposition for forcing an election. Shame on you, Martin! It is the government's responsibility to maintain others' confidence in it, not the opposition to keep it in power long enough for you to go on a spending binge to garner public support as a lead-in for an election.
Sadly, this is a futile effort. Small gains or small losses scattered about, but we'll still end up with another minority government (probably Liberal, but we'll see how things go). The one most likely to gain: the Bloc! Great, a party whose mandate is separation, and until then, rampant provincialism, benefits from this election.
As a note: I can vote! All Canadians can vote, with the exception of the two key electoral officers. Even convicts! For those of you out-of-country, read up the rules for special voting, get on the special ballot list ASAP! Any citizen out-of-country can vote, as long as you've resided in Canada at some point (ever!), intend to return eventually (sure!.... eventually.........), and have visited sometime in the past five years (even as a stopover on a flight!).
Now of course, who to vote for?
Well you should consider many things, including the history, platform, and performance of the candidate themselves, and also for their parties, and leaders.
Here, some useful links for the parties. Candidates and leaders are up to you.
Liberal: website, CBC description, latest platform, founding principles, issues page
Conservative: website, CBC description, 2004 platform?, founding principles, issues page
NDP: website, CBC description, issues page
Green: website, 'living' platform, founding principles
Obviously, you can't vote Bloc unless you're in Quebec. Your area may have other parties or independent candidates, and that's up to you to figure out. Marijuana party anyone? Most areas have independent candidates too, and considering the independents determined the outcome of the 2005 budget, they certainly should not be discounted as wasted votes.
The Green party may well even be an option. While they didn't win any seats, they did garner significant votes last election, and if they're going to get a seat, now is the time! Plus, one has to respect that their policy document is a Wiki that can be edited and commented on.
I personally respect any informed voting decision, and applaud any open debate on voting issues. As for my personal opinion, I'm torn on Liberal or NDP. The Conservatives, while having a nice policy on paper, in general has pro-life and anti-gay MPs (in particular, the Conservative candidate for Waterloo last election). Neither affect me in the slightest, but they'd seriously bone some friends of mine! The Conservative-Bloc cooperation scares me too - I believe in Federalism, plus I'd like to keep Quebec around. Liberals (thanks to Martin) are already plenty conservative on economic policies (big business tax cuts etc) so Conservatives can't get points there from me. In general, I identify myself mostly as a Liberal: very centrist.
But really, while I'd like to vote Liberal, I can't deny that Martin recently has been playing rather shady political games to garner support. I never liked the guy, though this session has increased my respect for him: he's held things together admirably up until now. He passed some important measures, and was willing to put in the effort to make sure important issues were resolved.
NDP has earned tons of my respect. They've done deals, quite openly, trading their support for passing key portions of their platform. This is exactly what an opposition should be doing, rather than whining and bitching all the time and trading political blows like Harper. But, as a party, I've seen the utter devastation that the provincial equivalents left behind in Ontario and BC. Plus, I tend to fear the effect of unions with excessive power. And, in the end, I doubt that setting overall policy, that they could actually afford all of their platform.
So it comes down to the party whose conduct I respect, and the party whose platform I support. Tough call.
Feel free to post your opinions (especially counter-opinions) on the comments. I'll quote any particularly good ones in another blog post sometime.