When I was growing up in Calgary, voting for the NDP would get you called a crazy commie. The New Democratic Party has never had much of a base in Wild Rose Country, and they’d often have trouble attracting credible Calgarian candidates to run up against the Conservative machine in federal and provincial elections. I remember one year, the NDP candidate in a Northwest Calgary riding was a 19-year-old poli sci student who went to my high school the year before. But unlike the famous McGill Four, this guy didn’t get elected. In fact, I’m pretty sure he finished fourth–cuz in Calgary, even the Green Party gets more votes than the NDP.
That being said, I’ve been living in NDP Country (aka Downtown Toronto) for nearly nine years now. And ever since I moved west of Yonge St. in ’09, I’ve had Olivia Chow as my MP. But you know what? I actually quite like her. Unlike several federal politicians who put the party line before all else, Olivia gets that she represents a riding first, and a party second. After all, she was the one who proposed the private member’s bill giving more leeway for citizens’ arrests, after a well-publicized incident at the Lucky Moose Food Mart, a couple blocks from where I now live. Stephen Harper later touted it as part of his “tough on crime” agenda, but he really couldn’t take the credit. On the other hand, the Conservatives nixed a Chow proposal that would add mandatory side guards to big rigs after a cyclist got crushed in Kensington. I dunno guy, but I’m pretty sure vehicular homicide is still a crime…
Of course, I don’t agree with every portion of the NDP platform, but they did have some policies in the last election, like GTFO Afghanistan, that I supported. But at the end of the day, I’d be marking my ballot for Olivia Chow, and not the NDP per se. I still think she’d do a better job of serving her constituents than anyone she’s been up against in the last couple elections. But upcoming changes to the 2015 electoral map will cut her riding in half, so instead of choosing between the North and the South Side of Trinity-Spadina (I’m right on the borderline), she’s running for Mayor of This CityTM, and infringing on Rob Ford’s trademark in the process! ;)
Mind you, this doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Ever since Mayor McCheese first put his lips on a crack pipe, there have been calls for Chow to come to our rescue. And while I won’t say she’s got my vote in the bag–unless John Tory’s still fighting for religious-school funding–I would definitely vote for Olivia Chow over Rob Ford any day. Then again, I’d also vote for Olivia Wilde, Olivia Palermo and Olivia Newton-John over Rob Ford. Hey, I’m pretty sure the latter would whip His Lardship into shape!