Monday, August 15, 2005

think BLUE

thinkBLUE bracelet
Got yours yet?

The website says:

Think Blue bands are a reminder that elections matter every day, and a symbol of the importance of electing candidates who support democratic values.

There are more than 100,000 Think Blue bands on the wrists of people in all 50 states and more than 10 countries around the world. Click here to learn how you can join the ranks of Think Blue supporters.

Canadians don't wear items of clothing that tell you what party or candidate they support. They don't like to be asked how they are going to vote, and they don't like to be asked how they did vote. It takes some getting used to.

Another thing that takes some getting used to is not knowing when the next election will be held. There could never be bands with election dates on them here, because elections are called when the ruling party gets ready to call them. Oh sure, there's a set period of time within which you have to have an election, but you might have one ANY TIME in that period. Canadians think this is preferable to knowing years in advance. I haven't figured out yet why they think that. It's just a different system, modeled on the British system, but without as much intelligent rhetoric, and more singing of Nah Nah Nah Nah Hey Hey Goodbye.

This spring, it looked like the government would fall. As an American, it was hard not to find that alarming. We don't have governments falling. (As much as we'd sometimes like to.) But here, if the party in power can't get their legislation through Parliament, there can be a vote of no confidence, and the government falls, Parliament is dissolved, and an election is called.

Canadians seemed to take this all in stride. Emotions ranged from very blasé to very annoyed. The chief complaint seemed to be how much an election would cost. There had just been a federal election a year before. In the end, the government did not fall, and eventually all the legislators went home for the summer. ("On holiday.") For me, it was an anticlimax. I had been looking forward to the government falling. I've never seen that happen. Maybe next year, if Canadians can shake off the torpor that seems to envelop them whenever federal politics is discussed.

I can't vote here anyway. I CAN vote absentee, and I will. In the meantime, I have a couple of extra bands. Any Americans in Canada want to wear one? Email me.