What will we be voting for in October?

This weeks' editorial looks at the upcoming federal election.

Federal election campaign has got underway and the leaders of the three main political parties will be crisscrossing the country until the polling day in October. Until then, we will hear a lot: promises that will be fulfilled, those that will remain unfulfilled, accusations, counter-accusations, baseless allegations, hitherto unknown facts etc.

Of course, one of the key processes the nation will be, or should be, focused on is the trial of the suspended Senator Mike Duffy, the platform where the involvement of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the cover up of corruption, through his closest personal aides, will come under focus for some extended period.

Earlier polls during the initial stages of the trial showed that most Canadians were almost indifferent to the process. How the future revelations during the trial will change that is anybody‘s guess. But if that complacency is an indicator of how the electorate will approach the next election, then there is room for concern that Canadian voters might be missing a valuable opportunity to make a strategic choice that could affect at least a few future generations.

The global picture is not nice:  The Middle East is a powder keg; Europe is unstable both economically and politically, a situation that could alter the appearance of social stability on the continent; Asia is still in disarray with political conflicts only frozen without resolution while economic reform efforts fail to generate prosperity that could secure at least domestic stability in the struggling countries; and the U.S, the leading power in the world, is home to increased racial hatred amid the appearance of burgeoning prosperity against the background of a vanishing middle class and accelerating poverty.

In this mess, Canada is an oasis of peace, but on the knife-edge.

We are blessed with abundant mineral resources, probably the richest sources of fresh water in the world, magnificent agricultural land and, above all people, those who have inhabited this land since time immemorial and those who have come together from all around the world to live with and respect each other.

The question is how to keep and harmonize these assets as blessings rather than having them turned into curses.

The answer to that question should be delivered by the electorate when they cast their ballots to choose how they should be governed not only in the next four years, but maybe for a lot longer future.

This is not to suggest that there will not be elections four years later, but it is to say that whom we elect in October will be of utmost importance in charting this country’s course in an increasingly unstable world in uncertain times.

It is widely believed that the pace of financialization of the global economy will force us to change our traditional understanding of how the economy works; we will have to change our patterns of economic behaviour, including our consumption habits; unemployment will be a permanent feature of many people’s lives; global warming will lead to scarcity of vital resources for life, like food and water and wars are likely to break out to address those shortages; there will be an ever-expanding gap between the haves and have-nots of money, information and technology; and in all that change, we, people of little importance, will struggle to find ways to survive.

Now what percentage of the voters will be casting their ballots on October 19 with such concerns in mind, it is impossible to know.

But we may all be well advised to take note of an ancient adage that in order to see the future one has to look at the past; the further one looks back, the farther one will see what lies ahead.

This time we cast our ballots, we may be truly deciding for not only our own, but for at least another one or two future generations.