Anirvan Chatterjee: October 2008 Archives

I spent several days in Canada earlier this month. Canadians are going through a federal election of their own, and it’s been fascinating talking to folks about their own election, and how it compares to that in the US. Unsurprisingly, most people I talked to expressed amazement (and amusement) about the situation in the US.

I was particularly struck by the difference in the debates. On October 2, there were two debates being screened simultaneously: the US vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, and the Canadian federal election English-language debate. I had my remote handy, and was flipping between the two with sick fascination.

On CBC, leaders of five political parties were debating carbon tax policies and arts funding. Over on CNN, Sarah Palin was reciting talking points and winking at viewers. On CNN, Biden and Palin were competing to prove who could be plain-folks, while simultaneously advocating muscular interventionist militarism. Over on CBC, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was discussing how the Iraq war was obviously an error. Back on CNN, nobody was addressing the complex realities of climate change, except through the narrow frame of energy independence.

I was particularly enjoyed seeing Elizabeth May in the debate. Like Sarah Palin, May’s a devout Christian mom with little experience in office, uncomfortable with abortion, and the only woman in the debates. The similarities end there. May, the leader of the Green Party of Canada, is a fierce advocate for the party’s peace and social justice-oriented platform. The Greens have a tough road ahead of them. Like the US Green Party in 2000 and 2004, they’re dealing with concerns about splitting the left vote, while some groups are calling for strategic voting as a response.

The grass is always greener on the other side, and I realize that Canadians do have some substantial complaints about their political system and culture. It’s not that I aspire to have US politics look just like Canadian politics, but boy, I’d love to have my leaders spend just a little more time talking about issues that matter, and a bit less time posturing and flag-waving.


Anirvan Chatterjee is a San Francisco Bay Area tech geek and bibliophile.


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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Anirvan Chatterjee in October 2008.

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