Today, I earn my right to bitch about the federal government for the next five years or so


Screw the secret ballot thing — I just got back from voting for Jack Layton. I like his moustache, I like his politics, and I like the fact that he and I drink in the same bars, so I voted for him despite my usual desire to screw over my old college chum Matt “Transient Orange” Blair, who worked for the NDP campaign. Besides, I took an online poll recently that matched my answers to questions about various issues to those of the leadership candidates, and I turned out to be 100% in agreement with Layton (mysteriously, the candidate with whom I was second-most simpatico was Gilles Duceppe, leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois party). Polls are still open in Ontario, so only time will tell if I backed a winner, but I do know that my house had 100% voter turnout, and that all four of us voted for Layton.

I always like voting. Not only is my chance to prove what a solid citizen I am (despite the fact that I spit my gum out on the sidewalk on my way to the local voting station, instead of in a garbage can), but it’s pretty much my only chance to talk to old people, who generally are pretty interesting and have nothing better to do all day but man the polling stations. For instance, one of them was telling me that he was an extra in Reefer Madness and that newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst was instrumental in driving the hemp industry out of business in order to protect his own interests in the pulp and paper industry. Though he was representing the Liberals as a scrutineer, you’d almost have thought he was there on behalf of the Marijuana Party. (Speaking of fringe parties, the Marxist-Leninist party [aka the Communist Party] is inexplicably leading the race for a seat in Mississauga right now.)

But it’s being able to vote for Layton that makes it even better this time, because from now on, as long as he’s around, I’ll be able to mention that I voted for him. Invariably, some patronizing git will point out to me that you don’t vote directly for a party’s national leader under the Canadian parliamentary system — it’s not like the United States, where you specifically cast a vote for the president. And then I can point out that I was able to vote directly for Layton because I live in the riding of Toronto-Danforth, where he was running as a local candidate for parliament.

My old Member of Provincial Parliament, Bob Runciman, was a high-level figure (solicitor general) in the previous Progressive Conservative provincial government, but there wasn’t much to be proud of because he introduced boot camps for young offenders before eventually having to resign after the government violated the Young Offenders’ Act by indentifying the mother of a former inmate. This time, however, it’s a rare pleasure to be able to vote directly for a prime ministerial candidate — especially one who I like — even if he’s not going to win that job. (Who knows if he’ll even win the MP job? I just saw the early results, and the Liberal incumbent, Dennis Mills, was out in front. But it was something like 702 votes to 540, so it’s too early to tell. Meanwhile, the sitting Prime Minister, Paul Martin, is losing to the local Bloc Quebecois candidate.)

Another reason Canadian elections are fun: I just saw CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge on TV standing in front of a door saying, “This is the Prime Minister’s office.” Then he knocked on the door, listened, remarked “Nobody home,” and then just opened the door and walked right in and hung around for a while, pointing out stuff. You just don’t get that in the United States.

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