Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Significant Memory at Nipissing University

One of my most significant memories at Nipissing University occurred when I was in first year. This memory didn't happen at a residence party where the jungle juice was passed around. It didn't happen in a classroom or lecture theatre. Really, this memory sort of pre-dates any activities that you would associate with the academic year itself.

I suppose that this event can be related to a rite of passage that many post-secondary school students go through. Now when I say rite of passage, I am making an assumption that many of my peers would be able to relate to this story and most would go through it at some point in their lives. In my attempt to be quite general, students leave their hometown and move to a new city and typically live in residence or sometimes off-campus. Move-in day is the big day. I loaded up all my personal belongings into a car and drove 4 hours from Walkerton, ON to North Bay, ON to assume responsibility for my living quarters for the next 8 months.

In true rite of passage form, I'm sure you are relating somewhat to this story already. Big arrival on campus. Move your stuff in. Go to the store and pick up a bunch of groceries. In the grocery store my Dad kept asking me if I needed this item or that. "When am I ever going to use an advocado or tin of escargo?" He replied, "Just say yes every time I ask you if you need something" as he kept filling up the cart with various items and increased his credit card bill in perfect correlation. I began to think that the university experience was more about him than me. But I digress.

When all the groceries were assembled and other belongings were half-arranged in my room, there came that moment. That goodbye moment that has seen many Mothers shed tears of joy/sadness to finally see their little ones off on their own in the real world. Kicked out of the protective nest, in fact.

Dad stuck his hand out and shook mine. A simple jesture, we'd shook hands before. He wanted me to keep in touch and I knew that I'd see him soon. But there was no crying. No tears of sadness or joy. No homesickness. There was more of an understanding between us. For him: "OK son, you're on your own. Let's see what happens." For me: "OK self, time to step up your game to this thing called life." After we hugged and he left, I began to realize that this was it. This was my chance. This was my life in my own hands. No parents around asking questions, no one staying up late at night waiting for you to arrive home, and no one scolding you for not eating breakfast. He's likely proud that I didn't go berserk with the imbibing of alcohol. I was still enrolled at Nipissing University after first year.

Pushing these thoughts to the back of my head, I met more of my roommates, neighbours, and eventually some classmates. I took part in Frosh Week activities, read some textbooks, and submitted assignments. This school thing was working out. And I have not turned back since.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Federal Election Round-up: fringe parties

Unless you have been living under a rock during the past couple of weeks, you have likely realized that there is a Federal Election upon us. It is our duty and right as Canadians throughout the nation to cast a ballot by October 14 in order to determine who will serve as our next government.

If you've read the papers and followed the news broadcasts, there is quite a bit of reporting based on the top parties in the nation: Bloc Quebecois, Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party, and the Green Party of Canada. Of course, the latter party has yet to elect a member to the House of Commons. However, the Greens have had one member in the House by the time the writ was dropped as a result of a member being forced from the Liberal caucus. But, enough about the big parties. There are actually more than 5 main parties in Canada who have candidates running in various ridings in this election. This blog entry is about them.

There are a total of 19 registered parties running for election this year. You can read more about them and view their websites here. I'm going to talk briefly about them now because really, this is the most press they may get this month.

In alphabetical order:

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada: more than just a mouthful to say, they essentially run on the idea of protecting animals and the environment. Their biggest attack is against the Liberals who apparently caused the worst environmental record in Canada since 1993 and the slaughter of Canadian seals in the Arctic. Prediction: won't get elected.

Canadian Action Party: there is a candidate from this party running in the riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming who is also a graduate of Nipissing University. Essentially, the party is opposed to corporate rule and influence. The party believes in the "right to work" where every person who wants to work should be able to find a job; and that they have the right to do so. Prediction: no chance.

Christian Heritage Party: essentially an ultra-conservative party especially regarding social issues: they want to make abortions illegal, make homosexual marriage illegal, and abolish income taxes and move to a "fair tax" system. Prediction: elected to Heaven.

Communist Party of Canada: does it really need a description? On its website, the CPC promotes democracy! How odd. Essentially they want to limit transnational corporations and get rid of the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). Shifting more of the tax burden to corporations and have a smaller work week with the same amount of pay are other objectives. Prediction: this ship sailed more than 75 years ago; not elected.

First Peoples National Party of Canada: the Aboriginal issue in Canada has always been a sore spot. Recently there was an apology that took place in the House of Commons to the First Nations by the Canadian government that regretted the residential school system that Aboriginal children were forced to take part in. The party demands that the House of Commons represent the First Nations people (perhaps they propose a change in elections legislation??). Prediction: the apology stole their thunder. Not elected.

Libertarian Party of Canada: one of the few fringe parties that has a stance on an array of issues. They hold central the right of the individual and having limitations of government. Some of their ideas are linked to the United States' Declaration of Independance and Locke's ideals regarding the protection of life, liberty, and property. They also believe that Canada should not participate in any foreign quarrels (not limited to wars). Prediction: no member elected to the House of Commons.

Marijuana Party: their main objective is to legalize cannabis. There are some interesting arguments here and some of them stem from the prohibition of alcohol in Canada during the late 19th Century. This party is essentially a "one issue party." Theme song: Smoke Weed Everyday. Prediction: not elected since most voting occurs at 4:20pm.

Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada: for those who don't know, Karl Marx was a famous revolutionary during the 19th Century. Lenin helped lead the first Russian Revolution in 1905. With no obvious party platform, the party seeks to shift cash from the rich to pay for social programs. The party also seeks election reform and a reduction of funding for registered parties. Prediction: once again, this ship has sailed. Not elected. The only party whose name and website are the same thing! More of a satire than anything else, this party has its roots in Quebec. The party wants to abolish the military budget, tax shelters, and transfer the newly freed cash to education (free for everyone), health care (encourage laughter), culture, and social programs. Prediction: completely out to lunch.

Newfoundland and Labrador First Party: could be considered one of the main sovereigntist parties (along with Bloc Quebecois and the Western Block Party). Their main objective is to protect the rich natural resources of the province and claw back this lost cash from the Federal government. Prediction: like cod, they're endangered (wait, I mean extinct).

People's Political Power Party of Canada: their first principle: promote alliteration (haha, I kid). But really, they have quite an ambitious agenda that includes removing poverty, removing the welfare system, pacifism, and reducing health care costs by 50% in 3 years. Prediction: no dice.

Progressive Canadian Party: The party supports small business, buying locally, and paying off the national debt. Promotion of access to post-secondary education is a key facet, but there are no clear goals about it. The party also supports the Kyoto Accord. Prediction: not elected, some of these policies appear in other major parties.

Western Block Party: the party demands that the western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba separate from Canada and become their own country. This is an example of the issue of federalism in Canada. In Federal elections, the winning party must gain much of its support in Ontario and Quebec due to the large number of seats; Ontario has 103 out of 308 seats itself (most Canadians live in these two provinces). Prediction: not elected, Harper's already got the support of these western provinces.

Work Less Party: their main objective is promoting a 32 hour work week that will apparently benefit all of society. They also want to reduce unemployment and increase the minimum wage (which is different in each province). Prediction: not elected since we're all workaholics.

Well that about does it for the fringe party round-up of the Federal election this year. Here is a new poll question that you can answer in a comment on this blog: If there was an election held tomorrow, which fringe party would you vote for?