On Voting, Immigrants, And Communists

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My [step]Dad was born in Russia in 1900. For you history buffs, this will let you know that his formative years were shaped by two major events: World War I (the war to end all wars) and the Russian Revolution.

Dad was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, so it was no surprise to learn that he finished school early and, by the time he was 18, was teaching school himself.

This was not good, according to the authorities. People in power were systematically killing anyone who was in a profession. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, and professors were being spirited away. Never to be seen again. Not one or two. Ultimately millions.

By tradition, Mennonites, with whom my Dad identified, are non-violent and peace loving. Not Dad, although he changed later on. He joined the Selbschutz (self defense), teamed up with the White Army, and systematically did away with as many Red Army soldiers as he possibly could.

Dad was eventually found out, and he escaped from Russia just a few hours in front of a massive manhunt. All very James Bond-ish and exciting for a young lad to hear.

This is all a long and involved way of saying that Dad hated Communists. Loved the Russian people but hated Communists.

When he made it to Canada, Dad spoke no English. His “papers” for his education were deemed useless, and he ended up working for a farmer. He taught himself to speak English without an accent (spoke with a mouth full of gravel to do it), went through teacher’s college, and became a teacher again.

This was a profession that he loved, and he taught for more than 40 years. Doubtless he touched many lives in a positive way. I know he did so for me.

Why so much info about my Dad? Well, I have discovered that my political views now are actually the same ones that I had in my youth. The same ones that Dad had a large hand in shaping.

When elections would come up, there was one hard and fast rule for Dad; governments are bad, so you should keep them as small as possible. Oh, and never vote for a communist.

This meant that, for as long as I knew him, he voted Conservative.

Liberals, he detested. This was the era of Trudeau. No, not that one. His Dad. Pierre Elliott.

To be fair, it wasn’t just my Dad who didn’t like him. I suspect that you wouldn’t have found many people west of Ontario who had any use for him. Except maybe some women. He was quite a dashing fellow (for a politician), and many women secretly thought he was pretty cool.

I never did ask my Mom what she thought of him. I liked him because he flipped off the people of Salmon Arm, BC.

Anyway, the Liberals had come up with many ways to screw the West out of any chance of being a “have” province, by taking Alberta oil revenue and Saskatchewan grain revenue and using it to fund programs that benefited the East.

I’m going from memory here, but I’m pretty sure those are the facts. Maybe they teach it differently in Ontario.

So, we did not vote Liberal.

We for sure did not vote NDP. For Dad, the NDP were Communists. Not just had more communist leanings. Nope. Actual Communists.

It didn’t help that the head of the NDP in Saskatchewan was Roy Romanow. Romanow, my Dad explained, was an English spelling of Romanov. As in Czar Romanov. As in the people who helped destroy his beloved Russia.

Not a Communist himself, but …

Well, we don’t vote for Communists. Ever. And for no reason. Verboten.

So, it was Conservative or nothing. And, as voting was your civic duty, it was Conservative.

All of this has, apparently, made a pretty solid impact on me. Without my knowing it – or maybe without really thinking about it – I have been a Conservative all of my life.

To be fair, I mostly agree with what (small “c”) conservatives believe; that governments should be small and stay out of people’s way. I am still arrogant enough that I think that I can do a better job of running my own affairs than anyone in Ottawa. Thank you very much.

The last few elections, however, have had me in a quandary. Which has made it tough, as I’m not 100% sure what a quandary is.

One problem has been the member representing my riding. While he may privately be a fine individual, I find his political leanings to be racist, fear-mongering, discriminatory, and other words that I shouldn’t use, as I like to keep these things rated at least PG-13.

As he is part of the Conservative party, this has made voting difficult. I can’t vote Liberal (they only do what’s right for Ontario), and I sure as hell can’t vote NDP. Because they are communists.

However, it is my civic duty to vote, so …

Shit.

To be fair, it is not just the member in my riding that has me confused. The Conservative party is no longer conservative, at least in my eyes. Government is getting bigger, poking its nose into my business more and more. What I think of a US electioneering has become standard. Rhetoric is now all “us” vs “them”.

And somehow it is all the immigrants’ fault.

Oh, how quickly we forget that, unless you are a First Nations person, we are all immigrants. Likely you have a similar story to my Dad’s. Somewhere along the line, either by the necessity of fleeing for their lives, or a chance at a better future for their family, your ancestors came to Canada.

They often came with nothing. They often didn’t speak English. They were often professional people in “the old country”, but now could only get work as labourers.

I worked for an NGO for a number of years, and I can’t tell you how many doctors, lawyers, and judges have been cleaning toilets and emptying trash cans.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being a labourer. It’s just that … ah, you know what I mean.

And as I read the rhetoric online (I don’t have TV, so at least I’m spared some of the BS. Not that it isn’t entertaining. And I’m guessing that comedians will have a ton of stuff to talk about. It’s just that I don’t need that crap in my life.), I’m struck by déja vu. 

Where have I heard this stuff before?

You know, we have to get them before they get us. Immigrants are ruining this once proud country. More government – with more power – is the only way to keep us safe. And other stuff like this.

Where have I heard it before? Oh yeah. Just south of the border, about a decade ago, from one George Bush, Jr.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the direction that our country is going. I have no interest in becoming US North.

I like the quaint ideas that Canada was built on. Ideas like welcoming immigrants as partners who can make this country better. Ideas like doing good in the world, to the point that Americans were sewing maple leafs (leaves?) on to their backpacks for better treatment abroad. Ideas like the armed forces can be used to keep the peace.

Crazy ideas like a person might need a hand up, at the beginning, but that that gesture pays off a thousand fold on the back end with hard working, loyal, and proud Canadians.

And so … who to vote for? It appears that I am actually going to have to think about it, this year. I’m not sure I agree with “my” party, anymore. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t agree with much that they stand for.

This only leaves a few other choices. And, unfortunately, I can’t vote Liberal, because they only do what’s best for Ontario.

And I sure as hell can’t vote NDP. Because they are Communists.

 

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