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OPINION: Election not a waste of time

The federal election exposed the deep divides across Canada about issues like the pandemic, climate change and others, columnist Todd Whitcombe says
Prince George polling station 2
A polling station was open in downtown Prince George during the federal election on Sept. 20.

The 2021 Canadian federal election has come and gone. 
No one is screaming on television about how the election was stolen. Lawsuits are not being launched to throw out the ballots. Recounts are not in demand. Our election was so very different from the American election last November. 
In part, it is because we vote for a local representative who is supposed to be our voice in parliament. In part, it is because we don’t vote for a prime minister separate from the ruling party. And in part, because we are not locked into an eternal election cycle forcing politicians to always be running for re-election and rarely taking a sober second look at their party and its policies. 
That said, this election was interesting. Nothing really changed. A few seats moved from one party to another but for the most part, you could have drawn an electoral map based on the previous government and got it pretty much right. 
We have a giant ‘blue tsunami’ in the middle of the country which is deceptive. The prairie provinces cover a lot of territory, but don’t have a lot of population. The maritime provinces are decidedly Liberal, perhaps remembering how Conservative governments of the past have sold them out. 
Rural Quebec voted strongly in favour of the Bloc and it would appear the only way to get to a majority government for either major party is for the Bloc to implode again. The NDP played well across the country, but didn’t dominate in any region, with the possible exception of the west coast. And again, some of the ridings along B.C.’s coast are huge but lack population numbers. 
British Columbia was an interesting case study this time round as the three major parties split the province pretty evenly and we even elected one of the two Green Party MPs. The federal electoral map bears a strong resemblance to the provincial electoral map if you substitute the B.C. Liberals for the federal Conservatives. The next provincial election will be interesting. 
However, as an exercise in giving the Liberals a strong mandate for governance coming out of the pandemic, the election really accomplished nothing. It wasn’t a complete waste of time as the opposition parties have framed it. After all, it reaffirmed the basic structure existing in the house which resulted after the last election. And it did demonstrate support for the Liberals and Conservatives is essentially a dead heat. (I am sure there will also be renewed calls to shift from our present first-past-the-post model to some form of proportional representation.) 
But perhaps the most important thing this election did was demonstrate the divides in this country on major issues such as dealing with the pandemic, climate change, the economy, housing, childcare, and First Nations. 
For example, when it comes to the pandemic, not all of the candidates running locally nor in ridings across the country were fully vaccinated. Why someone who wants to serve their country at the highest level and be held up as a paragon of society would not get themselves vaccinated is beyond me.  
Indeed, I do not understand why anyone would not be vaccinated at this point. It is not about freedom or rights. It is about ensuring we remain healthy as a country. It is about protecting the one’s you love and the people around you. Not getting vaccinated is a fundamentally selfish and self-centred act. 
Standing in front of a campaign crowd, telling people you are going to work hard in their best interest and then not being willing to do the simplest of things to protect their lives strikes me as patently absurd. I am sure those candidates who chose not to be vaccinated have their reasons, but none of those reasons really hold water. 
The same thing can be said about climate change. The constituents supporting one of the parties still seem to think it is a hoax or has nothing to do with human activity or is something we can do nothing about. I still hear people saying “Well, Canada only generates two per cent of global emissions so it is not like we can make a difference.” 
Poppycock! We also represent less than 0.5 per cent of the world’s population. In other words, we generate carbon dioxide at a rate four times higher than the rest of the people on the planet. Surely, if nothing else, we could commit to bringing our carbon dioxide production level down to be in line with other countries and people around the globe. On a per capita basis, we even beat out the United States and are way ahead of China. 
This next parliament is going to have some big issues to address – existential issues – and it is clear the parties do not see eye-to-eye on what needs to be done.