Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We need a Canadian Obama

We stayed up last night to watch Barack Obama's acceptance speech. Now I couldn't vote in that election and I don't live in the United States, but his speech, his monumental victory, brought tears to my eyes.

It may be hard to believe what politicians say, but Obama's rallying cry for change, for racial harmony and cooperation goes beyond politics. As the camera panned people's faces, you can see how is message is touching them, resonating with them, inspiring them.

In fact, watching the crowd of over 100,000 people in Chicago cheer and wave at their president-elect, I couldn't help thinking back to our recent Canadian election. The contrast between what was happening last night south of our border and what happened here last month is depressing.

I went to an all-candidates debate in my community. I watched our party leaders point fingers and snipe at each other on national television. I can't say I was ever inspired or moved even remotely close to tears. I can't remember if I stayed up to watch Harper's acceptance speech. If I did, it was obviously not that memorable.

When was the last time a Canadian politician, or even a widely-known public figure, inspired this nation? (Someone told me this morning that Pierre Trudeau had done that. I wish I'd been around to see it - but that was 40 years ago).

I know that Canadians don't tend to blow their own horns or shout out our patriotic pride. But perhaps it is time for a leader who does it for us. A leader who reminds us of our heroes and their legacies, great men like Lester B. Pearson, Tommy Douglas and Terry Fox.

Today I am celebrating with Americans and with people all around the world - celebrating an historic moment and what will hopefully be a catalyst for real change. But I am also hoping that we, as Canadians, will be inspired to consider ways that we can change as a nation and ways that we can find pride in our country, in each other and in our history. That we will ask of our politicians to do more than stick to the party line and argue about tax cuts or municipal infrastructure. Like Obama has done for Americans throughout this campaign, I wish that our politicians would remind us of what it means to rally the power of democracy, to build upon the legacy of what we are most proud of, and to believe that together, real change is possible.


  1. Hi Anita,

    that sounds like a major knitting project.

    I just sent an email about our trip to Canada next year. If you don't get it please send me your email address.

    By the way, didn't you just have a Birthday? Happy Birthday!

    love your cousin,

  2. Anonymous9:37 PM

    Hi Anita,

    I was pointed towards your blog a little while ago by a mutual friend, Laurie H. from SK, now AB! And I suppose it is only polite that I introduce myself rather than skulking around every now and then.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your assertion that we need a Canadian Obama. At the moment, I'm doing research on our recent election and how parties have used e-campaigning to their benefit - which is totally dismal in comparison to the Gringo's e-campaign guru, the new President-elect.

    I've been wallowing in these sad circumstances ever since our election and now I am beginning to see this as a potentially great opportunity to be seized upon. Despite another Conservative victory, I have discovered that voter trends in Canada have been gradually inching away from neo-liberal, ultra-capitalist parties (Conservatives, Liberals) towards more moderate/progressive capitalist parties (NDP, Greens, even Bloc). While the former have been losing votes for decades now, the latter have been steadily gaining in comparison - although we still have that pesky voter turnout problem to address...this is where I see the e-campaigning opportunity as essential to capturing, particularly, the younger voter demographic (which has shown growing potential in the last 4 elections now).

    So, even though these trends haven't broken through yet, I believe that we just have to get over the baby boomer hump and then we can start seeing some real party progression and maybe even a Canadian Obama. Let's hope that it is just a matter of years (10-15?) before younger, more progressive politicians can start filling the ranks. So let's toast to just one more year before those boomers start retiring!

    By the way, I love your big scarf. It inspires me to start knitting again when I graduate.

    (and I'm sorry I don't have a blog to share!)

    Melanie L. (down in Toronto at the moment)