I am not voting for Stephen Harper.  I am writing this for those of you that are still considering the possibility.  I am also writing this for those that are considering strategic voting in this election, but more on that later.

I am not voting for Stephen Harper because:

(1) I am a Filipino, and I am a Canadian.

(2) I believe the economic crisis is more severe than his government realizes, and that the crisis is the result of conservative ideology over common sense and human dignity.

(3) I believe that the environmental crisis is real.

(4) I am a human being.

Now the above three reasons are not the only reasons I fear a Harper government, but they are the ones closest to my heart.

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(1) I am a Filipino, and I am a Canadian.

I am an immigrant. I came to this country with my parents in the late 70s when I was very young and what I didn’t know then was how lucky we had been.  During those days Canada’s immigration policy was much more open than it was now.  While immigrants then still faced a new life stripped of their full educational credentials and work experience, they at least came as untethered migrants that could come with their family.

Today most Filipino migrants come alone, and their visa’s tie them to a particular job type: food service (eg. I have a cousin who has a visa to work in McDonalds in Calgary); factory work; truck drivers; and the most common of all, live-in caregiver.

The Conservatives like to say that they’re increasing immigration, but they always fail to talk about how it has morphed from permanent landed immigrants to temporary migrants that may or may not have the opportunity to become full citizens.

From 2005 to 2006 the number of permanently landed immigrants to Canada dropped from 262,236 to 251,649 — a decrease of 10,587.   At the same time temporary workers has been on a rise.

These temporary workers are often highly skilled.  Filipinos are some of the highest educated and experienced migrants to Canada.  Despite this fact we work in some of the most menial sectors and are some of the lowest paid.

Temporary workers are mere economic units to the Conservatives.  They are workers whose labour is a benefit to Canada, and with deportation a constant threat, are highly malleable and less likely to complain.

My being a Filipino also plays a role in how I view Canada’s foreign policy.  Granted, the Liberal Party is not much better, but a Conservative majority is definitely a worse case scenario for me.

The Conservatives believe in laissez-faire free market global capitalism.  For the Philippines that means more Canadian multinational corporations with less regulation (and hopefully people are starting to realize what de-regulation really means for what Americans like to call “Main Street”).

Canada has a good number of interests in the Phils in case you don’t know.  The largest of which is in gold.  Canada is one of the world’s top mining countries (the TSX is one of the top three global mining exchanges), and the Philippines has the second highest gold deposit in the world (relative to size).

These gold mines are hotspots for paramilitary activity, massive human rights abuses, and environmental destruction. Check out my writings about that HERE.

The Conservative government is also currently in discussion to sign a Visiting Forces Agreement. This will bring a semi-permanent Canadian armed presence to the archipelago, read my post on that HERE.

(2) I believe the economic crisis is more severe than his government realizes, and that the crisis is the result of conservative ideology over common sense and human dignity.

Let’s be honest with ourselves here. Neo-conservative policies got us into this mess, voting in a neo-conservative can only make it worse. I don’t see how this does not seem to be a factor for most people.

I’ve heard Harper say that “our economy is sound” and that we should “stay the course.”

First off that’s exactly what Bush II said before it all fell to hell. Secondly, when we already see the major pile-up up in the traffic out front us, isn’t staying the course the worst option? We need someone to take the wheel who see’s carnage, slow us down, and steer around the mess.

(3) I believe that the environmental crisis is real.

Does this really need to be elaborated upon? Pretending this isn’t a problem isn’t going to change things. And focusing on the economy does nothing to prepare us for what must be done. We either do it intelligently, under our guidance, or we let it happen to us. I know for sure that the latter isn’t going to help anyone’s economic bottom line.

(4) I am a human being.

Have you looked outside your window at the growing divide between the haves and have nots?

Have you looked to see that fairness and equality are just words to the current government?

Have you been able to recognize the half-truths and full out lies on the evening news?

I know most of us rationalize it all, but it’s there look at it. Look at it and ask yourself if this is really what you want.

So for all the above I am not voting for Harper.

I was considering strategic voting, the thought was distasteful to me—such rationalizations, ‘ends are the means’ thoughts, are what keeps us in this mess… but I can’t help but think that if we were to elect a Conservative majority because of the centre and left splitting the vote things would be worse.

Luckily in my riding of Scarborough-Centre the Tories don’t stand a chance, thankfully I can vote my conscience. As for what my advice is to you…

I can’t tell you how to vote, but I will ask you to review the arguments made by the strategic voters, and to check your own riding polls. Check this site: http://www.voteforenvironment.ca

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