40 days (well, maybe 36)

It’s the first day of lent. A 40 day period of sacrifice. I went to catholic school so days like today are full of thoughts about what I should sacrifice if only I had time to commit. I’m a bigger fan of Mardi Gras, truth be told.

Anyway, it’s probably no coincidence that I watched Question Period today on Newsworld and the vitriol between the Liberals, the Conservatives and the Bloc made me realize that we’re probably in for 40 days of pain (or 36, the minimum length for a federal election) as the parties position themselves for a possible election (though our PM is going to the royal wedding and I don’t think he’d be welcome if he were mid election campaign – they have rules about that). I thought Kenney’s attack of Justin Trudeau’s dead father was a particularly low moment. Gross.

Anyway, I got to thinking about what I would like to see if Canada is to head into another election. If there were 40 days to show a better way, what would that look like?

For me, it would look like the best ever cross Canada road trip. Start in Newfoundland – meet the fisherman – maybe even get screeched in. Get to PEI, meet the potato farmers. On to New Brunswick – meet the lobstermen. Off to Halifax and Lunenburg and Mahone Bay and the Annapolis Valley. Meet the people who work hard to earn a living, honour their traditions, keep a way of life alive.

Then off to Quebec. My sentimental favourite. Maple sugar farms, dairy farms, arts and culture and deeply held beliefs that they are like no other in confederation. Understanding that our differences make us stronger.

Over to Ontari-ari-ari-o, my adopted home. I’d spend as little time in Toronto as possible and get up to Northern Ontario where the magic really happens. And it would take days and days to get through. Forests, mines, hunters, trappers. Lakes that go on forever. Rock and pine trees that defy logic.

I’m sure Manitoba would live up to its license place. Friendly. I’ve never met someone from Manitoba I didn’t like. Honestly. Winnipeg has its issues – but it means well. And deserves better.

Saskatchewan isn’t a province I know well. Though I did spend a weekend with a farming family and understood at once why they don’t buy into daylight savings…

Alberta is probably as far from my psyche as oil is from water but I appreciate their grab the bull by the horns attitude, even if I would never ever attempt that myself. But I’d spend a day on a ranch and at a rig. If only to gaze in wonder at their can-do attitude.

Then BC. Where I live and fail to understand as well as I should, part cowboy, part environmentalist, part new age. It defies logic in a way and yet, it still works. When I first moved here I was amazed at the silliest things. Whole wheat pizza? Umbrellas in the snow? What kind of place is this?

I wish I could say I’d been to the Territories. But my knowledge is limited to the Y territory’s capital starts with W and the W territory capital starts with Y. (Yukon: Whitehorse, and North West Territories, Yellowknife) – that’s all we learned in school. Shame really.  But enough to get us through Grade 10 geography mid terms. But I’d head up there too. And do my best to understand the remote and rugged life that’s afforded to anyone who lives in our now three territories (there were only two when I was in school…)

Then I’d spend about a week alone quietly evaluating what I saw and what I learned.

And then and only then would I call a press conference. At at a real place, not some overpriced ballroom in a hotel no locals could ever afford to stay in to share what might be a better way.

No planes, no press conference, no canned speeches, no attack ads. Just a road trip. To reconnect, to realize that this great big place we call home is an amazing array of interest and needs that aren’t being met by the big blue (or any other colour) machine.

It might not win an election – but it would make a for a helluva an experience. At the very least, we might understand each other a little better. Which is more than I can say about how the process works now during a federal election which just seems to divide us more.

It’s the journey, not the destination. Whether you’re the driver (politician) or the passenger (electorate) – here’s to the road less travelled.

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