Thursday, 15 October 2015

Baseball and Ballots

I am still in a state of euphoria after last night's wild ride masquerading as a Blue Jays game. Toronto  fans are well-acquainted with the emotions that Ranger fans must be experiencing today. We just don't get to win all that often, so we accept the uniqueness of being on the victorious side of something so crazy with unabashed happy dancing. Forgive us our minor gloating and hero worshiping. This too shall pass, and we will return forthwith to our loveable nature and national sense of decorum and collective restraint.

That said, there is something about the scheduling of these post season games that does have me a tad concerned. While it has been well-documented as to the timing of Blue Jay/Rangers games, (three out of the five games played were scheduled as weekday afternoon games, thus causing much "blue flu" and consternation amongst bosses and workplaces) I actually do understand the logic coming from Major League Baseball. Toronto simply isn't a major market for their advertisers, and in order to maximize television revenue for their sponsors they would rather see the primetime games coming from New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. Not ideal for us up here in the Great White North, but we Canadians are nothing if not adaptable. We managed.

But now that we are through to the ALCS, another problem is in the offing. Game Three is scheduled for Monday October 19th, the same day as the federal election. On Facebook today I wrote the following:

I have had about 12 hours to decompress and to think. I need to share this one again. I cannot believe that MLB would schedule a Canadian team to play in a playoff game on Federal Election Day. That would NEVER happen in the US. That said, it is what it is and we need to get the word out. Rooting for our beloved Boys in Blue is fun and necessary, but not as essential as each and every fan casting their ballot. On Monday, please go vote first then get ready to party. Please pass this on. It is vital.

An American friend called me out on it and said the following:

Please vote. Please root for the Blue Jays. But please know that in the US this would ABSOLUTELY happen. Election day is not even a national holiday here. It's life as normal. I think the only difference is that in many (not all) states you cannot buy alcohol until after the polls close.

After some back and forth, we realized that we were actually in agreement. What I was trying to express is that I cannot recall any major sporting event ever being held on that Tuesday in November when Americans are at the polls electing their president, and I feel as though we here in Canada should be afforded a similar courtesy. He was simply stating that pop culture seems to trump (sorry for the bad pun) all, including issues of national import.

My issue with the game being played on Monday is that we here in Canada are a one-team country. Canadians from coast to coast have been riding the Blue Jay bandwagon all season as was evidenced by what happened yesterday. The game's timing could absolutely help to suppress the vote, especially on the west coast where people might be leaving work and heading to the bars or home rather than the polling stations. We have enough trouble with turnout. We don't need more help or excuses.

I understand that MLB has a schedule to keep and if the Rangers had prevailed yesterday this would not be an issue, but they didn't and it is. There is something to be said about special circumstances and a federal election in my mind would certainly qualify. Monday should be an off-day for this series so that Canadians can attend to their highest priority that day, voting for the party that will lead us and guide us for the next four years. As much as I can't believe that I'm saying this, the ballgame is not as important as that.

I am under no delusions that the game's time will change, so it is up to all of us to spread the word. If you know of people who are on the fence about voting because it will not fit into their Monday schedule, harangue them until they get to the polls. This election is simply too close and too important to be called on account of the Blue Jays, no matter how much we love and admire them. Attend to your civic responsibility first and then get ready to party. This team has made all Canadians proud. It is our turn to make them proud.

On October 19th...Get out and vote and then cheer like hell for YOUR TORONTO BLUE JAYS!

Monday, 12 October 2015

I Voted Today.

I voted today.

In an advance poll for the first time ever.

On a holiday Monday when I had a myriad of other tasks to complete.

At a polling station where I felt like an outsider in my own community.

And I stood in line for close to forty-five minutes.

In the heat of a community centre that has already turned off its air conditioning and it's 22C outside.

My ID was checked and double-checked. (I don't ever recall that kind of scrutiny in the past.)

All to vote for a candidate who has absolutely no hope of winning my riding.


Because for me voting is far more than just a right, it is a privilege. A privilege that is denied to far too many women and far too many citizens of far too many countries in 2015.

Because my voice matters. The vote itself might seem lost in a ballot wave for another party's candidate, but my voice and my opinion will not be silenced. Many may loathe my opinion, but this is Canada and in spite of the many ways devised to keep me quiet and sedate, I will express my views through my legally exercised franchise.

Because I need to be a role model for a generation behind me that, while starting to get more involved in politics, still feels isolated, ignored by, pandered to, and tremendous apathy towards today's leaders, so much so that their voting numbers in past elections have been positively anemic. The youth vote could absolutely sway this election if their numbers double. Today's young people must be encouraged to get off of the sidelines and engage themselves through voting. This is their country and their voices matter.

Because I live in Canada and I voted for the best needs for this country, not another. I care deeply about my ethnicity and I live by my religious values, but I refuse to be marginalized in my own community nor will I allow another group to be victimized in an ugly and sustained campaign of "us against the other." As a Jew, I know full well what it is to be treated as "the other". My Canada has no room for this kind of repugnant behaviour toward its own citizens and my vote clearly and loudly expresses that opinion.

Because in spite of my tremendous concerns about every single party leader, I believe that holding my nose and voting for the least objectionable candidate is better than an abstention or a destroyed ballot that makes absolutely no impact, even as a personal stand. When this election is over, I will be able to face myself in the mirror and know that I did the best that I could have done.

Because this election and its disgusting campaign have been interminable and I truly just want it to end. I want an end to the ads, an end to the pundits, an end to the polls, an end to the opinion pieces, an end to the polarization, and an end to the hijacking of my social media end. By voting today, I ended it for me.

If you voted in these advance polls, I commend you. If you haven't yet voted, I urge you to spend a few minutes on October 19th to do so, no matter where you live in this country. Your vote and your voice matter and need to be counted.

I will now focus all of my attention on the baseball playoffs.