Elections and policy, this side of the ocean.

A bear, a beaver and a moose copyA bear, a beaver and a moose walk into a bar. Each pulls up a stool and when they’re good and comfortable the bartender hops over and asks what they’re having. The bear asks what IPAs they have on tap, ignores the American import and the east coast beer, and instead asks for the one brewed within five kilometres of the bar by men with beards who have given it an aggressive name and an IBU count that’s so high it’s essentially meaningless (after all, how many people know what the fuck an IBU even is?) The beaver’s had a long day at the office and asks what the whiskey selection is like, is deeply disappointed to find out how shallow the list is and settles with some good old fashioned Tennessee rye on the rocks. The moose, asks for a cocktail that he knows is sweet and fruity and full of alcohol, worries a little that the other two will judge him for it, decides he doesn’t care and would rather get something that he knows he’ll like. The beaver isn’t the type to judge him over a drink. The bear is, but also won’t admit how jealous he is of the moose’s colourful choice.

The barman, a rather bored looking wallaby, begins pouring the drinks and – partly since he hasn’t got anything better to do – tries to engage them in conversation.

“You lads voted yet?”

“Not yet,” mumbles the bear as he swallows a mouthful of beer and barely (heh) suppresses a grimace.

“Already done,” grins the moose (at least it looks like a grin).

“Don’t know if I will. I don’t know who to vote for,” says the beaver with a surprisingly deep gravelly voice given his nice suit, stylish haircut and small size.

“You should vote. It’s your ‘civic duty,'” claims the moose with mock gravitas.

“He’s right,” agrees the wallaby as he mixes together the moose’s drink, “we’ve got compulsory voting back home, so you’d have to. But it’s the right thing, exercising your democratic rights and all that. None of the parties appeal to you?”

“Not really,” replies the Beaver.

“What about the NDP,” growls the bear accidently menacingly (he is a fucking bear after all), “They’re promising to cut small-business taxes.”

“So are the Liberals and the Conservatives,” pipes up the moose.

(“That’s also not always a good thing,” throws in the Wallaby but everyone ignores him on this.)

“Are they? Well Mulcair’s promising affordable childcare for a million people.”

“A million children or a million parents?” asks the wallaby.

“Does it matter?”

“It probably does.”

“Not to me,” points out the beaver, “I don’t have kids.”

“But you might have them in the future,” responds the bear, taking another slug from his draught.

“But I might not.”

“But don’t you care about other kids and parents?”

“Not really.”

“What does NDP stand for?” breaks in the Wallaby before the back and forth between the beaver and bear gets out of hand, “National Democratic Party?”

New Democratic Party,” says the moose.

“Oh. That’s a stupid name.”

“Why?” splutters the bear.

“Just is. Trust me, I’m an Australian. We know stupid names. Use enough of them.”

That get’s a chuckle out of the beaver and moose at least, the latter of whom suggests the former consider the Liberals.

“They’re planning on investing in infrastructure.”

“By running a deficit for, like, the next five years,” huffs the bear.

“Just until 2019,” huffs the moose right back, “and we need the investment.”

“It’s still a deficit,” remarks the beaver, “do we really want to our government going into debt with the economy so fragile right now?”

The moose looks like he’s ready to dive into a long arduous debate about the benefits of government actually going into debt in order to invest in meaningful economic projects that will induce future growth, then thinks better of it. Takes a sip of his drink. The wallaby glances between the three patrons, expecting more but not getting anything out of them.

“That’s it?” he asks a little surprised, “Infrastructure investment or childcare?”

“No,” laughs the moose, “there’s more than that. I mean, yeah both of them have got some similar policies. Like they’re less concerned with terrorism.”

“They both say they’ll stop our air campaign against ISIS and let in more Syrian refugees. And both have said they’ll decriminalise weed if elected,” says the beaver.

“Yeah,” says the bear, “But the NDP are more opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership than the Liberals. And the Keystone pipeline.”

“And the Liberals might actually have experience governing the country,” adds the moose, “but Trudeau’s a career politician son of a career politician and people are pretty sick of career politicians. That’s helped the NDP and Mulcair a lot.”

“All right. So you voting NDP mate?” the wallaby asks the bear, glancing at the door a little surprised that no other customers have walked in yet.

“No, I’m voting Greens.”

The moose and beaver both make noises at that. The wallaby realises that at some point the beaver finished his rye, asks if he wants another, pours it while listening to the two of them tell the bear he’s throwing his vote away. The bear argues that he’d rather vote for who he wants to vote for than worry about strategy. Isn’t that was exercising your democratic right is all about?

“So, who you gonna vote for?” the wallaby eventually asks the beaver.

“Don’t know. I’m still not sure if I’m going to vote.”

“You should vote,” says the bear, “and it doesn’t really matter who for, as long as it’s not fucking Harper.” (That last part came out in a growl, the beaver and moose unconsciously shift another few inches away.)

“Yeah, fuck Harper,” agrees the beaver.

“And the horse he rode in on,” follows the moose.

“Too bloody right,” agrees the wallaby, not wanting to be left out.

The three of them talk for the next half-an-hour about why Harper is just the worst, how much damage he’s done to Canada, his attempts to prevent people from voting, his self-congratulating version of nationalism. Not being a Canadian voter, and not really being affected no matter who’s in charge as far as he can tell, the Wallaby doesn’t have a whole lot against Harper. He nods along as is required, and is reminded most of back in 2007, when Australians finally got tired of PM John Howard and seemed to widely decide he was the devil incarnate.

The bear and the beaver leave a little after the conversation turns to hockey (of fucking course) before the voting booths close. The moose orders another drink. The wallaby still looks a little confused about this whole election thing. Mentions it to the moose.

“Well,” the moose says patiently, “that’s because we’re a hypothetical anthropomorphic representation of the author’s experience of the election.”

“Sorry, what? Who?”

“The author, the guy typing this right now who’s in too deep to stop now. We’re a representation of what he’s seen and heard about the election. In other words, not a lot.”

“Huh.”

“Tell me honestly, you must have heard a few people talking about the election. Have you heard many of them talking about the NPD’s or Liberal’s platforms?”

“Not really. Mostly it’s just been ‘fuck Harper’ and ‘this is how fucked we are if Harper manages to hang on'” the wallaby said, barely needing to think about it.

“Exactly, I’ll bet even the few commercials you’ve seen have been less about different policies and more about telling people what arseholes the other guys are.”

“The ones I’ve understood, yeah. The French ones seem a lot more positive, but I might be mistaken. The whole ‘first past the post’ electoral system doesn’t help, does it?”

“No, I don’t think it does. Having a system where simply getting the more votes than everyone else rather than any sort of majority, especially one with three major parties and lots of small ones, is a messy system to begin with. Couple that with the fact that people are more concerned about getting the Conservatives kicked out than who actually wins, and you have a whole lot of negative strategic voting.”

“People voting for the local member most likely to beat the Conservative candidate for their area than the party whose policies they like or benefits them most.”

“That’s what the author seems to think.”

“Right. Reckons he’s got anything insightful to say about it? Being an outsider looking in and all that?” the wallaby said nonchalantly, looking around for a coffee that he’d forgotten about and was probably cold by now.

“Not really. Probably just that voting someone out is not the same as voting someone in, and people ought to realise that it might not end with the kind of results they want.”

“Fair ’nuff. Maybe we’ll have more to say about it after the election?”

“Maybe. Canadian elections aren’t the most exciting topic of conversation.”

“Aussie politics is feeling a lot more bloodthirsty after all this.”

“That’s a topic for another day. On the bright side, there’s probably a decent voter turn-out.”

“True enough.”

“Good for the bear voting for he wanted to.”

“Also true.”

The moose finishes his drink, pays and leaves.

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