disclaimer: since I'm such an infrequent poster these days, I feel like I can post such a long tirade about local politics because I have so few followers left. For those hangers on, thanks for sticking around- sorry about the length! For farm photos and updates, you're much better off watching the Facebook page or Twitter. :S
I have loved politics for as long as I can remember. And politics was a favorite topic in our house, at all times of year, at every level of government. Being heavy Conservatives at home mostly meant that it was easy to get into a good debate as long as someone else was willing to be a supporter of a different stripe. And hell, if not a different stripe, there were always lots of politics within parties to discuss. Federal, provincial, municipal, even international, a constant feed of TV news, newspapers and CBC radio gave lots of fodder for lively discussions and I was welcome to participate in the discussions, despite being a chunk younger than the rest of my siblings.
I'll never forget a conversation one night, while watching the news during a federal election and hearing what I thought were some interesting policies from the NDP, who were pretty new on the scene and at that point were totally new to me, a rural New Brunswicker kid. I remember asking my parents about the 'orange party' and why we never talked about them, and their response being, "Well, they know they're not going to get in, so they can make crazy promises." And at the time, it was certain that they weren't going to get into power and maybe some of the policies at the beginning weren't actually reasonable, but I also recognize that that belief about the not-blue-and-red parties still exists with a lot of voting Canadians, and I wish it didn't.
As someone who has voted for every eligible party at one time or another, I don't take my vote lightly and let's be honest, I just need a good political rant and Mark won't take me up on it and his family don't have the lively debates that I miss, so here goes!
It's election time here on PEI, and the Liberals have crafted what feels like a plan that has been in the works for months and months, with their too-smooth-talking Wade MacLauchlan up at bat, and acting as if it's in the bag in many ways. Sadly, the attitude of some people I've talked to is that the party has actually convinced some that it IS in the bag, and voting otherwise is just a waste of time. I'm generally a liberal 'sympathizer' (note:different than a supporter) but my distaste for the last government under Ghiz and the increasing sleeziness or condescension of this round of reds is really turning me off. There was the careful exit of the former premier, timed just exactly right with Wade's coronation and the lack of any budget or sitting of the house before the election call...it all just feels...a little too....something. Something not good.
Anyway, the point is, that the 'new' Liberals feel NO different from the last bunch and have offered nothing much to suggest it will be any different, so I find it pretty hard to get behind this crew. Not that I've heard anything from my Liberal candidate whatsoever. (Also, the way they're rolling out a wierd 'platform' of sorts, one day at a time, like it's a little gift to voters each day who are willing to stop by the website and try to figure out just what exactly they stand for...ugh...just adds to my distrust and distaste.)
As for the Conservatives, or the PC's as they would prefer to be called, I am still waiting to hear ANYthing about agriculture from them. There's been the usual blurbs about the importance of the primary industries and encouraging the use of local food in hospitals and schools, but I don't hear a lot of details behind any of it to give it some traction. Wouldn't we all love that, but how can gov't make that happen and how can I tell it's a real priority if the word agriculture isn't actually used anywhere in any of the platform information?! At least my local candidate has been by (I wasn't home dammit!) and left some info and his cell number. His Twitter account also feels pretty genuine and down to earth, so at least there's that. :/
Now, I'll admit some ignorance with the NDP this time around. I certainly admire Mike Redmond, the leader, who spent a lot of time in Province House for the few weeks it has actually sat in the last year or so, and he addressed a lot of very valid concerns that I'm sure the gov't wished he wouldn't. Sometimes I think the media put him into a bit of an out-there pigeon hole, but his presence in the house certainly made it much more interesting and legitimate than when it was the less-than-a-handful of dysfunctional PC men and the wave of back-patting Liberals.
Anyway, in my district, I've heard I may finally have a candidate, but I don't know who it is. Someone swung by the farm the other day looking for signatures on a nomination form but he didn't live in my riding and admitted that he hoped the Green candidate in his riding would get in, so not sure he was the orange blooded candidate that the NDP's were hoping for. I signed his form anyway of course and wished him luck, but I think I heard it was a woman who got the nomination. In any case, the rather vague sounding 'platform' is another one totally void of the word 'agriculture' and in this case, even food. (Note: just found out that my candidate is actually Mike Redmond's partner, who lives in Montague...with their five children...)
So now we've come to the Greens, who my parents would certainly have put in the 'will never get in' category. It's worth saying from the start, that I know my district Green candidate quite well and I really like him and his frankness and appreciate his willingness to say what no one else is saying. He's also a farmer (our pig, Nancy,'s former owner) and has a true appreciation for agriculture of various scales and commodities, locally and nationally. But he'll also call out farming practices that don't make sense or are unsustainable.
So yeah, it's a bit obvious now where I stand with my vote right now, but even if I didn't know Ranald, my review of the parties and my careful observation of their platforms would still have put the Greens out in front. Their platform sets out a very specific strategy for agriculture on PEI, including land acquisition for new farmers. There's actually two whole pages on agriculture! And yet I can't find even the word from the other three parties!
I know that education, and health, and economy are important. I pay taxes and use hospitals and sometime my kids will go to school. But I also live here and breathe the water, drink the air and eat the food, EVERY DAY. The current strategy with agriculture on PEI seems to be a continued head-banding-into-walls as we try to compete on an international, monoculture scale that is only serving to degrade soil, erode soil, kill fish and contaminate water. We are too small to compete with Idaho or China or whoever, so why are we trying and then crying when it doesn't work!? Let's differentiate, let's turn this thing upside down and look at new ways of doing things? Actually new and not just the PC version of "new".
Here's my 'thing', again. Canada exports a LOT of alfalfa. GMO alfalfa is in Canada and has the potential to cross pollinate with other alfalfas, both wild and otherwise. Europe and Asia hasn't been real excited about GMO contamination in things thus far, but the Pandora's box of GMO's seems like it's probably a reality that will affect that entire export market. UNLESS, there was a jurisdiction with like a physical border, maybe water, that could better ensure a GMO-free alfalfa product?!? Hmmm..growing an Island full of a perennial legume, rather than a soil-exposing, tri-annual root crop?!
But that's too hard to get our head around, or spend time on right now. Right now we have farm debt and too much big equipment and contracts and no one to buy the farm, and retiring farmers and dead fish and on and on. Of course the parties don't want to touch it.
But the Greens have. And they are offering a short term plan, but also a real willingness and desire to set up a long term goal of legitimate sustainability.
Yes, it would be different. It might be uncomfortably different. But being uncomfortable is a helluva lot better than being indifferent, which is where a lot of Islanders seem to stand right now.