Imaginary Friends


Cinderrella's cornerMy daughter, when she was small, referred to the people I interacted with via blogs and social media as “imaginary friends” because unlike those I know in real life, who she can see and know too, these people live only on a screen she couldn’t quite read and in my conversations.

I suppose in many ways her assessment is correct. You can’t know always know people unless you have some tangible connection with them in real time and space.

But I have and continue to view many of those I have only met through their words, and possibly their pictures, as my friends.

And, of course, because I met my husband online and he was “imaginary” at one point, I will likely always maintain that real bonds can be virtually constructed.

Because of this, it’s easy to forgot the limitations of the written word.

As a writer, I try to choose the words I type with care. I am aware that they lack nuance and vehicles like Twitter, for instance, further handicap conversation with character limits.

Try as I might, and being aware of the possible pitfalls, I am still always surprised when imaginary people disappoint.

The fault is mine. I fill in gaps that if we knew each other in person wouldn’t be gaps.

I trust too much.

I assume.

A lesson I haven’t fully learned even well into my second decade online.

I am not totally discouraged, and this too shall pass, but it’s a reminder that my imagination hasn’t grown up with the rest of me. It still sees the world as rosy and resplendent, and people as hopeful possibilities.

Shit You are Just Too Old For


I follow Jezebel on Facebook. It’s my version of reading a “women’s magazine”.

Generally I ignore the celebrity stuff and the under-35 version of feminism, and I roll my eyes, a lot, but it’s not all tripe or overwrought op-ed. Sometimes they discuss pertinent current events and social issues that are dear to me, and sometimes they just express truisms I can relate to.

The most recent example of the latter was this article:

Too old for shit

I was like – “fuck yeah”.

And I don’t know when precisely it happened. Was it a moment of “A-ha!” or just a gradual realization as I shed the last vestiges of worrying about what others thought or caring that people would judge my disinterest or disagreement with their causes, hysterics, manias or general need to be dissatisfied and in people’s faces about it?

What I know for certain is that where I sit now in life is a place that allows me the luxury (and yes it absolutely is) of being able to say, “I am just too old for (fill in the blank).”

I’m not at all sorry to be here even though I realize that it’s not comfortable for those who have to interact with me sometimes. Because even though I attempt to curb the abrasive aspects, I know that I don’t always succeed. It’s difficult to be true to oneself and simultaneously cater to the needs of those around you to not be whether that is by choice or circumstance.

I never imagined myself as the little old lady who calls it as she sees it and I still don’t.

For all my candidness, I hold a lot back. If you only knew what I didn’t say (or write or tweet), you’d pay more than a pretty penny for those thoughts, I assure you.

So I am not one of those who uses age and experience to lay waste, either out of ignorance or disingenuous intentions, but I do believe we’d all benefit more from a world where – at some point – we can lay down the facades “polite” society forces on us and be a bit more real and practical.

The article went on to list all the things that you might eventually out-grow the need to pretend about.

For me the chief thing about coming to the realization that I needn’t bother anymore was that the people who liked, respected, and/or loved me, did so regardless of whether I was myself or a sanitized version of myself for polite public purposes.

I also learned that recognizing you’ve out-grown the need to have a facade of force-field strength meant I could dispense with the trappings that are still required of women in terms of appearance, and I could just please myself without apologies or explanations.

My mother has always said – and it continues to be true – that what others think of you is not your business.

This, to me, fits in well with the “too old for this” idea because the truth is we were always too old once we left high school. It just takes a while for many of us to figure that out.

Finally, the chief thing I am too old for is the idea that there is “only one”. Side of a story or issue. That there is only one solution to a problem. Only one religious point of view. Only one political party with the best plan or policy. Etc.

The adage that “there can be only one” is bullshit I am too old for by many, many years.

And that makes me happy.

 

 

Nixon, Harper, Watergate and Mike Duffy


House of CommonsI’ve been keeping an eye on the trial of Senator Mike Duffy, who’s currently on trial for – as far as I can tell – being greedy and stupid.

Duffy was appointed to the Senate (in Canada the Senate is a relatively toothless institution and appointment is based on an antiquated patronage system) by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Duffy was a journalist who’s been lobbying for a Senate appointment for himself since the Chretien government.

Theoretically Senators comb through legislation passed by the House of Commons to find issues and make improvements before passing it along to the Governor General for Royal Assent, which makes legislation – law. In practice, the final two steps are mostly for show though the Senate has  occasionally done more than rubber stamp things.

Both the Senate and the Governor General are historical left-overs from Canada’s British Empire past that we can’t get rid of because they are embedded in our Constitution, and we can’t open it up to fix that because … reasons.

Anyway, Duffy was accused of charging the taxpayers of Canada with some personal housing expenses that he probably shouldn’t have. It’s unclear if he broke any laws because we’ve since come to find out that there are precise few written rules about what Senators can or can’t “expense” onto the backs of taxpayers.

Regardless, the optics looked bad, and the ethics were questionable, and Duffy was ordered by the Prime Minister to repay the money.

And then it gets interesting.

Duffy didn’t think he should have to repay anything and as the dollar amount grew (eventually landing at $90,000), he got huffy and whiny.

Harper’s Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright, tried to broker a deal where the Conservative party would pay the money for Duffy, and Duffy would claim, publicly, that he paid the money back himself.

Shady, but it gets worse.

As the dollar amount climbed, the party balked, so Wright, a millionaire many times over, simply wrote Duffy a cheque himself, and Duffy pretended that he paid back the money he may or may not have owed in the first place.

And then it gets much worse. Lies were told. Retold. Revised. Re-imagined. Told again.

Cabinet ministers parroted lies in the House of Commons and to the media.

Senators told lies that were written for them by the Prime Minister’s staff and chief aides.

The Prime Minister vouchsafed for them all and when he wasn’t believed, he revised them himself.

More lies were told. Audits were rewritten by the Prime Minister office to cover the lies and then more lies were told to cover up the original lies.

Wright either resigned or was fired, depending on whose version of events you want to believe.

As it stands today, a lot of lies and covering up occurred to essentially try to make the Conservative Party of Canada appear to be ethical and upstanding when in fact, they aren’t so much.

At this point only Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy have been punished in any way for what appears to be the work of a half-dozen – probably more – people who are ranking members of the Senate and important advisers in the office of the Prime Minster.

While no one is saying that the Prime Minister knew about the cover up and lies as they were being manufactured, he did clearly know the truth at some point over the two-year saga of the downfall of Mike Duff,y and he did absolutely nothing about it.

Except to lie at worst or condone the lies at the least.

Why does this fascinate me?

Because I remember this morality play from my youth in the United States.

In the summer of 1974 my Dad was riveted by the Watergate Scandal.

He was a fervent Nixon supporter. Voted for the man three times and believed him to be an upstanding guy and a great President.

He was crushed by the revelations that Nixon knew about the Watergate break-in and lied about that knowledge and assisted in the cover-up.

“He should have told the truth from the beginning,” Dad said. “It would have worked out in the end had he done that.”

It didn’t diminish the respect Dad had for Nixon’s accomplishmen,t but it coloured his opinion about political parties and their effect on the people who belong to them and run under their banners.

He never voted for anyone other than an independent again to my knowledge. And he despised Republicans, a party he’d voted for since his first election as a young man in the Navy just after the second world war.

In my mind all the hearings concerning Watergate were closely followed by Nixon’s resignation on August 9th in 1974, but when I googled it, I discovered that the original hearings, and the report that followed, happened in the early summer of 1973.

All of the television networks covered those hearings in May of 1973. An estimated 85% of the American public watched some or all of the hearings.

That I remember. We only had four stations back then. CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS. They all covered them at first, and then they tag teamed to make sure that all the hearings were public and available.

People wonder why it’s so hard to work up the general public about political wrong-doing today, and in my mind, it’s a simple answer.

When I was a child, there was no way to escape unpleasant news. Today there are hundreds of channels plus the Internet. It’s easy to avoid things you don’t want to know about even if you should be paying attention.

I was trying to explain all of this to my husband last night and my daughter today.

Watergate absolutely is the foundation of my understanding and feelings about political parties and politicians. It’s why I have spent the majority of my adult life stubbornly refusing to belong to political parties and even unions and organized religions.

I learned from that huge event, which reset many things in American politics, that ideologies were dangerous and usually corrupting. That good people would eventually succumb. That questionable people would become more so. That dogma is closed-minded and will be the downfall of civilization when the historians are finally able to sort through the wreckage.

There were a lot of other things going on in the summers of 1973 and 1974. Oil embargos. Recession. Price controls that lead to shortages. Going without was something that in my memory, I associated with Dad’s union being so often on strike but now realize that there were much larger events in play.

Which brings me back to Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright and Stephen Harper.

There is a federal election called for October 19th. Generally elections here are short – five to six weeks – but the Prime Minister dropped the writ almost two weeks ago.

Speculation was that he wanted to spend the other parties into submission with a long election, and there’s probably something to that.

However, I think he hoped the election would distract people from the Duffy trial, and the revelation that he isn’t the ethical, responsible leader he has always sold himself to be.

He’s hoping that no one will notice, or that we will not remember on October 19th, that he promised to end the very things he allowed his closest aides and advisers to do. To ignore or bend rules. To rewrite them if they had to. To cover up. To lie. To demand that elected MPs support those lies by retelling them in the House of Commons and to the media.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s main goal was to remove accountability and tradition moral/ethical guideposts from the Canadian landscape and government system because they got in the way of people making money. And he did this while telling us the exact opposite. That he and his party were responsible, good people rather than the self-interested and short-sighted ones they are being revealed to be.

Nixon’s relativism on ethics and governing allowed Ronald Reagan to happen, and politically it’s been all downhill in America since.

Harper is our Nixon. That he happened because the Liberal Party got too comfortable and causal with power shouldn’t be forgotten, but it’s Harper’s version of conservatism – borrowed from theeven more than ethically challenged America version – that has brought Canada to the top of a hill that it wouldn’t take much for us to start rolling down.

Not a lot of people see this, or agree would entirely agree with my observation if they did, but I believe that as a country we are in a dicey place right now. It could either way.

But I stand by it. If this coming election gives the Conservatives another crack at forming government, and the opposition parties don’t band together to bring it down, Duffy will stand in history as our own Watergate moment in time. I don’t think that’s a milestone we should want for ourselves.

Circling the Wagons


Here is the oddest thing about the closing of ye olde widda board for me, personally.

When the board closed, the alumni site at Facebook cranked up the invites/adds to its page. A group that was fairly dormant. And I was added.

Okay, the fact that I was added is not odd. I did make friends in my time at the YWBB. Yes, I did. Don’t look so incredulous. A few anyway. So my inclusion in the round-up as Rome fell isn’t all that a weird thing.

The strange part is how nonchalantly I have been included in the conversations and happenings.

As I mentioned in another post, it’s just like a high school reunion where the most popular girl in the class, the one that married the star of the state championship basketball team, was a cheerleader and never gave more than a withering glance of disdain to you, is suddenly all smiles, hugs and

“Oh my gawd! you look GREAT! I am SO glad you are here.”

Alright, not that exactly, but creepily close.

Rob just chuckles.

“Back with your besties from the board, eh?”

I had no besties at the board.

In fact, the few YWBB members who I count among my friends are folks I met at the board but got to know via our widow blogging. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be friends.

Like most of my friendships – virtual and in real life – I grew on them slowly because I am something for which the taste for needs to be acquired and that takes time. Instant friendships have never happened for me. Ever. Except maybe Rob.

And I tend to develop friendships with people that no one would ever suspect me of being friends with.

As I recently told a very conservative political Twitter acquaintance (who follows me only because I confound her definition of a “liberal”),

“I have an open mind, a preferences for people who can pry theirs wide a bit too, and enjoy a healthy give/take debate. And snark is good too.”

Of course, I paraphrased into 140 characters.

Yes, I can be brief, but I don’t enjoy it.

So, where did I begin? Right, wagons circling.

Old board members do nothing well at all if not circle up. The founders should have remembered this if going quietly into the good night was their aim. (And they’d do well to remember it in the future if the rebrand of Soaring Spirits includes YWBB terminology, stories or ideas stolen from threads. Yeah, stolen. Really hope I am wrong about this.)

They posted a terse and uninformative message when they locked all the forums, which effectively threw the lurkers under the bus and sent the newbies, who generally have few contacts inside the board (forget about outside) in grief spins I don’t want to think about.

But if they thought this was going to satisfy the GenNext widdas, who really founded the current incarnation of the board, they’d apparently been away too long.

After the shock and the scramble to contact, add, send out the word and help – as much as possible – support the YWBB survivors as they hastily set up a new forum at Widda, the questions came.

What happened? Why so suddenly? What will happen to the thousands of pages of posts? The history. The stories? The resources? The friendships?

OMG! How will people find each other again!

All good questions and – as per usual – the founders were reluctant to come down off the mountain to deal with any of it.

My history with the founders is slight but contentious.

I took them to task about the cyber-bullying, and their non-to-tepid at best responses on a few occasions, and the few who bothered to reply to me were condescending when they weren’t just dismissive.

So while the others were willing to give a benefit of the doubt, I suspected that the founders probably had motivations that were more about them than the widow board or the members because that’s how it’s mostly been since they stopped actively needing it.

Is that judgmental?

Yes.

But I am just as harsh a critic of widowed folk who spring board their tragedies into careers that milk the vulnerability of grieving folk.

While the YWBB founders may have simply walked away after having picked up their lives, at least they didn’t sell hoodies and mugs with logos and pretend that somehow this was good works. And, thank the goddess, they avoided the Oprahfication of being widowed into a 12 step program where slapping on the stilettos, working out and attending weekend seminars to work that grief will land you in the valley of the happy widow dolls again.

Eventually the idea – a good one – took root among the alumnae of kicking in cash to maintain the board as an archive.

Posting agitation ensued to the point that one of the founders agreed to talk with the others, but the ultimate answer was still “no”. Closing down the YWBB was just a “business decision” that made the most sense.

Nothing personal, ya’ll.

A kind of dismissive, sucks to be you but I’ve moved on and what do you people want from me after fifteen years?

Still, the circling efforts and the fact that I was included (granted that some of the others probably didn’t/still don’t know who the fuck I was on the board) made me reconsider the nature of the board and whether or not I could really participate in the start up of the new one.

I am nine years out. Married again for nearly eight years.

I am not grieving anymore. Even the odd memories don’t knock me off course.

Although, I hate the fact that I cry easily now. I never did pre-dead husband and don’t like that I have lost my ability to be like a stone in the face of manipulating commercials, songs and YouTube videos.

Oh, I blame it on the approach of menopause, but it was widowhood that reduced me to this female cliché.

I have participated in these early days of Widda. I post. I share. I try to let people know that nine years out is a good place. It gets better.

But I haven’t totally hated the reunion. It’s good to see how far I have come in stark terms and how the people behind the aliases have done the same.

The furor is dying down now. The YWBB goes dark this coming Friday and now that the shock has passed and the posts are being archived on hundreds of different hard-drives, most of these people will go back to their lives. Just like people do after high school reunions.

The YWBB is No More


For what it is worth, the YWBB has closed up shop. widda

If you are currently a member, you have until March 20th to log in and contact anyone who might be on your personal message list, and you might be able to use the search function to track down any old posts you want to save (just take screen shots – it’s easiest) or contact anyone you haven’t connected with on other social media outlets.

Thanks to some quick thinking by a marvelous widdas named Jezzy (Jess) and Justin, a new board is already up and running and you can access it via this link.

If you are an oldtimer from the board days or someone whose recently been directed to the site and haven’t been able to register – think about signing up. The more the merrier. There are also YWBB groups (think high school reunion type stuff) on Facebook. They are closed groups but I don’t think anyone is being denied entry. They added me after all. And you don’t get more grief heretic than me.

I won’t comment on the decision to shut ye old widda board down without warning beyond saying, I would have handled it differently (but I would have done a lot of things there differently).

And the ye olde widda board founders are directing folks to Soaring Spirits, which while they’ve done good things, is a bit too commercial for my tastes. If you like your grief Life Time for Women movie style or 5 step self-help to happiness again though – it will be right up your alley. It’s very “fix it” oriented and has a plethora of “been there/done that” semi-celebs (yes, there’s a hierarchy in the widow world – that’s life after all) to sell you a book or moderate a conference that will set you right again.

In the meantime, if you are recently (or not so) widowed and just  looking for a place to go to vent, to cry, to share with people who “get it”, check out the new place. It seems like a nice place. You won’t be alone because you are not alone. There are people out here on the wide web who’ve been where you are and can – if nothing else – listen. And being heard is a lot.

#Bill10


ewoks defeat empire tweetIt’s been an interesting week. Unless you happened to be sitting in the Alberta legislature and then it was – to quote Thomas Lukaszuk, MLA for Edmonton Castle Downs, a “week from hell”.

This trip to the hellmouth came courtesy of our new Premier’s attempt to slay a vexing dragon that has menaced conservatives in both his party, the Progressive-Conservatives, and their rivals and opposition, the Wildrose Party.

Both parties have problems with a small religious and socially conservative driven base, continually seeking assurances that Alberta will stay as rooted in the 1960’s on certain social issues as is possible given the fact that it’s now the 21st century.

There are a number of things that send this base into a frenzy but two things in particular give them panic attacks.

The first is the fear that as parents they won’t have control over every aspect of their children’s education. Specifically (though probably not exclusively) anything pertaining to sex.

What passes for sexual education, generally, has me shaking my head most of the time and grateful for the fact that I have been instructing my daughter in the basics since she first noted the concept of gender and the differences between them.

The misinformation and bias I’ve observed in teachers, and in the provincial curriculum, is fodder for another day (and frankly, was something I ran into frequently when I taught in the United States too), but I have countered it with fact and honest, even-handed discussions. I am not too worried that some random teacher’s poor delivery method is going to ruin my child.

But there is a subset of Albertan parents who are determined to keep facts from their children even if they have to keep facts from my child to achieve this end.

And that is where Bill10 enters our story.

But please indulge a little back story.

The province of Alberta has a long history of not being keen about granting rights to LGBTQs in most instances and about same-sex marriage in particular. While the rest of the provinces came to the realization that legally it was simply impossible to deny this basic right, Alberta’s premier, Ralph Klein, pitched a fit.

However, Canada became the fourth country in the world to recognize that access to marriage was a right for all in 2005.

This would be the end of the story but for the fact that Alberta’s socially conservative still grumble (despite the fact that the world hasn’t cracked in half and the four horsemen aren’t roaming the earth in the wake of civil marriage) and not so subtly find ways to make their displeasure known.

One of the ways was to not allow sexual orientation to be named explicitly in the Alberta Bill of Rights Act (which as an aside is the province’s way of reminding Canada that they never did like Pierre Trudeau or his Charter of Rights and Freedoms) and to eventually grant the wish of a minority of parents in Alberta by allowing them to demand notification from teachers every single time that sexual orientation came up in the classroom.

The first thing is just mean-spirited and sore loser-ish. It can’t be explained any other way.

But the second was simple control-freak paranoia based on the outdated idea that people are taught to be lesbian or gay or transgender or bisexual or queer.

Speaking as someone who spent two decades teaching junior and senior high, let me reassure everyone that no one taught your son or daughter his/her sexual orientation. They showed up at the door pre-programmed.

Not once was I ever surprised to learn, years after I taught someone in grade seven, that he or she was gay. Not. Once. Because I knew it even if it took them a few more years to figure it out.

So, Bill10.

The Alberta Liberal Party tried, unsuccessfully, to fix the aforementioned issues. Valiant attempts. But as they had been all but crushed as a viable opposition party in the province, these attempts failed.

Recently though a Liberal MLA named Laurie Blakemen tried again with a private member’s bill, Bill202.

It was simplicity itself. Corrected the injustice and laid to rest the idiocy and could be summed up in three sentences. How can you not love legislation that you don’t need a lawyer to interpret for you to actually understand it?

Blakemen presented her private member’s bill. People liked it. There was much rejoicing!

bill202

And then Premier Prentice decided he wanted to be the one who presented a bill that righted wrongs (’cause that’s how he rolls) because rejoicing isn’t okay unless the PC’s are facilitating it.

Bill 202 went through a first reading. The government responded with “yeah, but we have a bill of our own, which will do all of these things and probably fly and shoot rainbows out its bum too and we will tell you all about it … just as soon as we write it down.”

Premier Prentice then disappeared in a puff of smoke like Cinderella’s godmother because more important work pertaining to pipelines and bitumen was waiting for him in Quebec, and so his faithful front-line minions were left to write and present the new and improved bill to the legislature.

Which they did.

And everyone went “meh?”

Because Bill10 was not really new – it borrowed heavily from Bill202, so much so that if the legislature was a university and MLAs were students words like plagiarism might have been tossed about and people would be failing and possibly even expelled.

So they tried again.

And everyone went “wtf?!”

contrast 202 and 10

Bill 10 had gone from a bad pirating effort to quasi-apartheid aimed squarely at LGBTQ children, who just wanted to be allowed to form GSA’s (gay straight alliance clubs) in their schools so they could cope with the normal transition stuff that teens face in a safe place, free from bullying and full of warmth, understanding, and friendship.

Why, when it’s usually the most tired refrain in the political universe, was no one “thinking of the children?”

But the PC government dug in even as some of their own – brave and eloquent souls like Thomas Lukaszuk and Doug Griffiths – stood up and said, “this isn’t right”.

The tiny undermanned opposition parties (for a welcome change) banded together in an impressive showing of rebuttal and take down and common sense.

And the small but semi-vigilant Alberta media and social media had the opposition’s back. Publishing news articles, op-ed and tweeting like frenzied Shakespearian chorus.

Citizens took to the airwaves. They petitioned. They shared heart-rending personal stories about the isolation and discrimination.

Truly it was the Evil Empire versus the plucky Ewoks. If by “evil” you mean “misguided and misinformed” and by “plucky” you mean “relentlessly mocking”.

And Ewoks, in case anyone has forgotten, are wee, furry fluffballs that chitter like Alvin and the Chipmunks. And they have wicked sharp teeth.

While the rest of Canada – as it usually does unless it is wagging fingers about climate change that their first world lifestyles apparently don’t contribute to at all – ignored Alberta, Albertans stood up and said, “Um, no. We are not a gaggle of inbred hillbillies. Bill10 simply isn’t right. Scrap it and come up with something better. Maybe like Bill202.”

When Canada finally did notice, it was over.

At the height of civilian dissension, Premier Prentice tersely told the media (in Ontario) that “Rights are not absolute.”

Yes, he did.

Not exactly the words most citizens dream of hearing from the mouth of the guy who basically rules over them with virtually no checks on his authority.

But upon returning to the legislature – just in time to fire up the Christmas decor – Prentice had regained his sanity, re-girded his political loins and shelved Bill10.

What’s next? Maybe nothing. Shelved bills have a habit of disappearing into the bowels of government like the Ark of the Covenant in a US military warehouse. But maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the socially progressive in the Alberta legislature and Alberta politics in general. Perhaps that day has finally arrived.

Regardless, the real issue is still unresolved. Our kids can’t start GSAs in many of the rural schools or in any of the Catholic ones. There is still bullying and marginalization during a time in their lives when just growing up – physically, emotionally and academically – is hard enough work.

We are failing our kids and by “we”, I mean all of us.

Two weeks have been wasted by adults more interested in political points than in doing their damn jobs. When does this end? Who is going to man up and take the first step towards making things right?

Why Can’t I Quit You?


I watch the doings in the House of Commons. Question Period. Debates. Members addressing green chairs.  Even when I don’t watch, I follow the pundits on Twitter who live tweet the House and the various committees and press conferences. It’s a good way to stay informed. To know what the government and our representatives – and no, they are not one in the same – are up to.House of Commons

Often they are up to nothing. That is to say, they have work to do, but they err on the side of doing as little as humanly possible for as long as possible. Whether this is good or bad depends on your point of view and who the government of the moment is.

The government of the past eight years has been the Conservative Party of Canada. Not to be confused with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, which exists now only at provincial levels. The Conservatives lead by Stephen Harper are not progressive and find the whole notion of Canada as progressive and terminally left leaning (which it is) something that should be slowly, carefully and methodically excised. If they could euthanize the idea of the common good, they wouldn’t blink while doing it.

So, naturally, when I decided to get my politics back on, I didn’t go with the sitting government.

At first, I scoped out the Greens. Not because I have any natural affinity for them but simply because I could. They exist here as a real political party. In fact, had I the option of exploring the Bloc Quebecois (which only exists in Quebec), I would have checked them out too because I like to be as contrary to the status quo as I am legally allowed.

But the Greens were a no go, sadly, I  cannot lack enough sense to truly buy in. Greens are not practical enough for me and yes, I do believe that one can be progressive and practical at the same time. Greens, however, don’t. Or at least they appear not to and when you try to point out the contradictions between their first world lifestyles and their politics – well, that’s a conversation that has nowhere to go.

Liberals or the New Democratic Party (NDP) then.

And I watched them both in the lead up to 2011.

The NDP emerged, for the first time, as the Official Opposition and the Liberals faced a catastrophic collapse that left them with a mere 34 seats in the House of Commons.

Neither was a surprise.

The NDP had a very charismatic leader, who has since died, and the Liberals were being lead by a Canadian academic who’d spent the vast majority of his adult life living outside of Canada. In fact, he currently teaches at Harvard. More American than I ever was.

I pondered the NDP for a nano-second following their ascent, but I am an Albertan – and my father’s daughter. I simply cannot embrace in your face socialism, or even take it seriously as a good idea, because it hinges on the misguided notion that people will always, or mostly, default to their better instincts and act accordingly, which just isn’t true.

People can and are usually decent, but not when it comes to the common good. This, I think, is because it is difficult for humans to really work up a “give a fuck” about anyone they don’t know.

You will argue with that that this isn’t so.

Look at all the concern for the Gazans when Israel was bombing the crap out of them.

And Israel is still containing the people of Gaza in their open air prison, systematically knocking down their cell blocks one neighborhood at a time. Children are still in danger. Where are the headlines? The tweets? The outpouring of concern? Outrage? Anything?

It’s no surprise. No matter how immediate the various medias make the disasters and tragedies of others seem, inevitably the pull of the reality around us – filled with the family, friends, neighbors and co-workers who make up our real worlds – will be what matters most to us.

Still don’t believe me?

How’s Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine going? It wasn’t that long ago when Putin – not Hamas or now ISIL – was the Big Bad.

What about those poor Central America children pouring across the US’s southern border?

Ebola ravage West Africa?

All horrors have their moment but the moment passes once we get tired of tweeting and liking and the MSM has found a new story to boost the ratings up again once we’ve tired of the current calamity.

Liberals then.

Their Americanized (the kiss of death in Canadian politics) leader fell on his “sword” and resigned after the party’s implosion on 2011.

Just an interesting aside. Here, losing by a big margin means party leadership will be changing hands. It’s a given. You simply cannot lose big and stay on as the leader of your party. Bad form.

The Liberals had an interim leader and then a short leadership race.

Aside again. Most races are short. Even an election takes weeks as opposed to the marathon of months and years that it takes in the United States.

A new leader emerged. Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau’s father was the late Pierre Trudeau who was also once the leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister from 1968 til the early 80’s.

Justin was born while his father was in office, which in Canada doesn’t translate into an inevitable career in politics with dynastic aspirations, but in his case, it has.

Political dynasties, however, make Canadians itchy. After all, we have a Queen and a royal family. We are not keen to crown another or several others.

As I mentioned in my post the other day, I spent some time sizing up Mr. Trudeau. I found him … not blatantly insincere nor idealistically offensive, and he appeared to have some common sense.

He was a teacher. I liked that. Though he didn’t teach very long, which made him a bit suspect and worse, being a Member of Parliament is the only job he’s held for more than a few years. It stunk a bit of Barack Obama, a bad sign.

But he was not Stephen Harper, which is probably the most appealing thing about him. His chief good quality. Followed up with that fact that he seems genuinely committed to staying away from the mud pits of politicking, and since I hate partisan politics and all that goes along with it – I was game.

Canadians are fed up with Harper and Canadians (I love this about them) make it a habit to hand over the keys of 24 Sussex (the Prime Minister’s official residence in Ottawa) to someone new on a regular basis. Prime Minister’s and their parties are like litter boxes in that they should be dumped out regularly to prevent … stinky-ousity.

I joined the Liberal Party a year ago.

I volunteered. I sit/sat on our riding’s executive board for the Liberal Party. I helped with the social media.

Today, I am quitting

It wasn’t one thing. It was a lot of one things.

It was the wishy-washy stance on Gaza over the summer. The lack of detailed policy on just about everything. The infatuation with Barack Obama (and yes, I put up with that from the get go, and you all know me. I loathe Obama and everything he stands for and to hold my nose while his campaign team riff-raff infiltrated and advised Trudeau and his people was difficult. I held me tongue a lot. Yes. Me.)

But this last weekend as the “should we join the new Iraqi war coalition or not” thing began to play out and Trudeau’s tepid performance – and good gawd was it a performance – drove it home for me that I can’t stay a Liberal.

Not officially.

I am still more liberal than not. I absolutely object to the idea that not being socially backward or religiously bent disqualifies me from being practical, fiscally responsible and generally and firmly planted in the realm of common sense. You don’t have to espouse conservatism in order to lay claim to wit.

But, I am simply not a sheep, and I’d have to be a really blind one to stay a member of the party.

Today I followed the debate in the House of Commons on the NDP’s proposed amendment to the Conservative’s Iraq motion.

The Conservatives spouted nonsense mostly, though Laurie Hawn seemed a less ideologically driven yes-man than Pierre Pollivere, who will rot in the lowest level of hell if there turns out to be one.

The NDP, mostly made sense, if moving in a perpetual circular motion in the hopes that others will eventually hop on the merry-go-round with you makes sense.

The Liberals seemed to have left their C team on the floor. I won’t critique them any farther than that.

The vote – on the amendment  – as Canadian participation in the US’s latest mistake in Iraq is a forgone conclusion – will be tomorrow.

The Liberals have withheld their approval, as have the NDP, but I will go out on a limb and say that they will vote with the Conservatives on the overall mission and with the NDP on their amendment, which will probably lose because the Conservatives won’t support it because they don’t have to.They hold the majority of the votes.

And off we will go to Iraq to fight the “war on terror”.

A decade-ish ago when George W. Bush first uttered that mangled bit of English, did you think it would still be hanging about like a stray cat?

Even if Trudeau hangs onto his dignity and votes against the Iraqi action (and I don’t think he will), I am still done.

Because where was our fearless leader today during the debate?

He was attending one of Hillary Clinton’s Canadian book tour stops at Canada 2020.

Seriously. He was.

Took his wife. He gets a point for that.

But much as I loved Clinton back, back in the day. She sold out when she took the job with Obama. She’s tainted and willingly so.

A woman does what a woman has to do to get ahead in a man’s world, but doesn’t mean I have to respect her for it.

Saddens me. Once upon a time, I would have voted for Clinton, but that was when I was an American and younger.

I am a Canadian now. Older. Wiser. And nobody’s sheep.