Translating Politicanadian

Rousing the Rabble, by Roy Ronaghan, Grand Forks Gazette May 27.

In a few weeks the House of Commons in the parliament buildings in Ottawa will fall silent, the prime minister will drop the writ, and official campaigning by the parties will go on until Oct. 19 when Canadians go to the polls to select their next federal government.

The leaders of the national parties will make their last speeches on June 23 when the present sitting adjourns. Party caucus members will leave Ottawa for their home ridings and if they are seeking reelection they will participate in a series of staged events such as barbecues accompanied by handlers and the usual members of the press. They will also go door knocking.

When the campaign officially gets underway voters who plan to vote will be busy attending all-candidates meetings, reading news reports, E-mails, tweets and texts, and talking over a drink of choice in an attempt to make sense of what the candidates are saying. They will ask questions of the candidates knowing they will seldom get straight answers but they will actively engage in the electioneering ritual.

There will be no end to the accusations, half-truths and tall tales that voters will hear but not much about matters of substance, such as a national water policy, a national energy polity, a firm policy on dealing with climate change and other environmental issues, housing for the poor and child care payments. There will be a litany of promises, not many of which will be kept.

Becoming informed about candidates in a short time is the challenge voters must face. It’s a frustrating but necessary exercise if they want to go to the polls with some inkling of who might represent them best.

The language of elections is a special one that may get in the way of developing an adequate understanding of party platforms.

Crawford Killian a contributing editor for The Tyee, an on-line news bulletin, calls it Canada’s third official language, “a language with a superficial resemblance to English.” He calls it Politicanadian.

In 2011 prior to the federal and provincial elections, Killian compiled a list of words and phrases and their translations to help us become informed.

Here are a few from his list of 37.

Coalition: MPs who are not Conservatives; a majority.

Environment: Any part of Canada we can’t make a buck out of.

Fiscally prudent: Giving our donors what they want.

Sustainable: It’ll last until we’re out of office and on pension.

Tough on crime: Ready to spend billions on prisons for criminals whose crimes haven’t been reported.

Tax cuts: Passing the costs on to our kids.

Ordinary Canadians: New Democrat voters.

Vision: A vote getting strategy.

Killian asks Tyee readers to add their own words and phrases and their translations to his list as the campaign proceeds.

Making light of what the politicians are promising is a game many voters like to play, but in the end it is important for those who are eligible to appear at the poles on Oct. 19 to mark a ballot. In preparation it is important to have thought about the issues and to have questioned the candidates–a rewarding experience if it occurs/.

We are privileged in Canada to be able to vote and we should not take that privilege lightly. Imagine living in a country where powerful leaders have ruled for decades and the people have had no say in government. Canadians need only show up at a polling place to make a mark on a ballot. They can also participate in other ways.

Voting is a right and a privilege in Canada and should not be taken lightly. However, only about a third of eligible voters exercise that right. In Australia eligible citizens must vote or pay a fine of $20.

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