In a world forced to grapple with the international consequences of American politics, and CNN speculating about the 2016 US Election as early as last year, people tend to ignore Canadian politics entirely, presumably assuming that they're far too boring. While every political aficionado in Canada knows about the most recent Republican scandal, most Americans have not even heard of Patrick Brazeau.
Canadian politics may have been boring once, but they certainly aren't anymore. That is no longer an excuse not to be engaged as a Canadian citizen. Whether you like real political maneuvering, party leaders snapping at each other, or even drug scandals, Canada now has it all. Yet people don't seem to notice. People still see Canada as the politically quiet, cool and calm neighbor of the rowdy Tea Party Americans. Let's dispel that myth.
In the United States, there are two politicians confirmed to have used cocaine during their terms: Florida Congressman Trey Radel and Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry. That compares to two Canadian politicians, Toronto mayor Rob Ford (who is now reportedly in rehab after a dramatic escape from a Chicago airport) and Senator Patrick Brazeau (who, after being barred from the senate, decided to manage a strip club). I know that makes it sound even, but compare the two statistics fairly, keeping population in mind. Canada has 2 cocaine politicians for about 35 million people, while the U.S. only has 2 cocaine politicians for 314 million. Canada has way more cocaine scandals per capita.
Maybe you're a news buff and care about hot button issues, like abortion. The United States has had a fevered abortion debate for years, but it's legal in Canada so there's no debate, right? Wrong. Just this past month the leaders of the Liberal Party and NDP have reopened the debate by both saying that only pro-choice candidates can be part of their parties in the 2015 election, with an NDP MP putting forward a bill affirming a woman's right to ninth month terminations. Maybe the debate is on the opposite side of the pro-life extreme in the U.S., but the debate is still happening.
What about if you're a real politico and care about party intrigue and partisan attacks? New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair recently had a hearing in front of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs because he was accused of using taxpayer money to fund work done by the NDP, which isn't allowed. For two hours in front of the committee, he tried not only to prove that what he did was legal, but spent a serious chunk of his time calling out spending scandals by other parties and subtly slinging mud (which is normal for this kind of hearing). All this to say that there really is political landscape worth reading and learning about.
The municipal elections in Toronto provide another point of 'interesting' observation. Running against the crack-scandal-ridden mayor Ford is Olivia Chow, the widow of former federal NDP leader Jack Layton, marijuana activist Matt Mernagh, 18 year old high school student Morgan Baskin, dominatrix Barbie Bitch and other such characters. A comedy writer could not have made this up if they tried.
That's just looking at federal politics. Canada recently had one province that had a party whose stated goal was to separate from Canada and become a sovereign (French-speaking) nation. Another provincial leader decided to use tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to go on vacation with her daughter and the nanny.
Twenty-somethings all over Canada have been using the apparently boring nature of politics in the Great White North as an excuse to not become politically engaged. With the rise of Rob Ford, new political drama and an election on the horizon, this is the time for the young adult demographic to get informed with political action. If you don't like traditional news, look for more accessible and amusing ways to get your news, whether through video or print. This is the time to get engaged, enjoy the Canadian political scene and realize that politics can actually be funny.