Expat Asides

May You Live in Interesting Times
By James Clapham

So, did you vote last month? If it’s a cry of “yes!”, then good for you, well done, you are a fully productive member of Canadian society. 10 points for you. I personally can’t vote, due to the rather boring “I’m not allowed to because I’m not a citizen” excuse and so technically I really can’t have a say in voting or elections or anything like that. That was a nice bus Mr. Prentice had for his campaign wasn’t it though?

Something that I can allude to is, of course, voting in the UK, especially the General Election. You queue (because we’re British!) to the ballot box, trying not to catch anybody’s eye because although we’re Great, we’re also rather inclusive. We mark an ‘X’ for the person that we either think has a hope or a funny name. We are also aware of different standpoints after all the media coverage, and from all of the years of looking through newspapers of who said what and why, there are a few forms of political Holy Ground that must never, ever be desecrated. These are healthcare, schooling, and raising taxes. Touch any of these and you will be scrutinised, along with all the backlash from doctors, teachers and the rest of the population that you’ve just threatened.

It’s been interesting to see that here in Alberta all of the above wasn’t taken too seriously except for the taxes bit. After talking to a few doctors (where you can hear the healthcare system creak from the pressure), a few teachers and Mrs. C (because she wants to do homeschooling) the people affected were a little bit shocked about the blasé attitude of “oh, we’ll just make a sacrifice here and there, it can’t hurt.”

Well, it does hurt, as anyone who works in a hospital can tell you. Certain routine tests that can be carried out on a person are horrendously expensive to do, so doctors and nurses have to make on-the-spot decisions whether or not to go the extra mile, because now *everybody* is on a budget. As for the schooling, ask any NAIT instructor how well educated his first-year apprentices are and he or she would tell you that they’re amazed how the students can still breathe without teachers having to help by regularly pressing on their chest. And taxes? Well, the UK government did them for me…

Like it said in Highlander, you’re only safe on Holy Ground.