I've never been quite as disenchanted with "mainstream" political parties as I am this time around.

Over the last 3 decades, I've very actively campaigned (as a volunteer) on behalf of City Councillors, MLAs and MPs of all political stripes, depending mostly on their individual and/or party platforms. Okay, there's one exception to that rule: I've never worked for the Liberals, provincially or federally. Why? Simple: The Liberals are very commonly referred to as "the tobacco party." Just a couple of quick examples: Former Finance Minister [and Prime Minister] Paul Martin is a former tobacco executive...and virtually nothing was achieved in terms of tobacco control measures during his watch. Provincially, one of the first major actions of the B.C. Liberals (shortly after they were first elected, in 2001) was to gut the WCB No Smoking regulation, rendering it virtually useless (certainly for bar and pub workers). That 'gutting' was NOT part of their pre-election platform, nor did they have any mandate whatsoever to do it, but they did it...and, presumably, were well paid for it! And so-called Health Minister Colin Hansen stood by and said/did nothing!

Fast forward to 2008: A few short weeks ago, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper called an election, breaking a promise -- and legislation -- regarding fixed election dates...notwithstanding little technicalities/loopholes (where would governments be without those?) about the law only applying to majority governments...or whatever.

Within days (perhaps hours) of the election call, Harper and NDP Leader Jack Layton were united in their position that the Green Party's Elizabeth May be barred from any and all debates...and the broadcast media went along, like good little puppets, saying they would not broadcast such debates if May showed up. That very moment, I decided who I was voting for: Elizabeth May and the Greens.

The two little 'scared rabbits' knew as well as everybody else does that, for most of the last 3 years, the environment has been -- and continues to be -- a huge issue for most Canadians. What better way to save their collective 'hides' than by trying to exclude Canada's best known environmental politician...a stunt described by some political commentators as "elitist", "pompous", etc. The reaction was swift...and almost in their next breath, Harper and Layton changed their tune...and 'welcomed' May to the debates. Too late, boys!

But then, in mid-September, May was interviewed by Bill Good, on CKNW. Among many other things, May said that the Greens would "ban all chemicals that cause cancer"...and that they would legalize marijuana.

I tried to call in, to ask her -- on air -- if her "ban" would include ALL TOBACCO PRODUCTS, since they contain 4,000 CHEMICALS, 40 OF WHICH ARE KNOWN HUMAN CARCINOGENS! And I would have asked her the same question I ask of all proponents of marijuana legalization: "Do you not think we have more than enough problems already with alcohol and tobacco...society's two 'legal'/lethal drugs?" But I couldn't get through. Personally, I support 'decriminalization'; for the most part, turn the proverbial blind eye to recreational/medicinal users (on the condition that they comply with all No [tobacco] Smoking laws), but continue to aggressively pursue the growers/dealers/traffickers.

In any case, I got a call today from an MP's office (for the purposes of this essay, the MP and her/his party shall remain nameless), asking me if I'd be interested, once again, in volunteering for the upcoming campaign. I said no...and told the canvasser that I'd become really quite disenchanted with all of the mainstream parties. Feeling I owed him some explanation, I went on to explain that I was not at all impressed with how any of the mainstream parties have dealt with tobacco...all of them refusing to take off the kid gloves and deal with tobacco which, despite a great deal of progress, continues to kill 45,000 Canadians each and every year!

His response: "Oh, so you're a one-trick pony!"

Needless to say, I was extremely pissed off...and said, "No, I'm not a one-trick pony! In fact, I'm wearing a Sea Shepherd t-shirt as we speak! I just happen to be very concerned about the leading -- and most easily/cheaply preventable -- cause of disease, disability and premature death in this country! And one of the biggest drains on our "in-crisis" health-care system! Despite federal legislation requiring all cigarettes to be "fire-safe", they continue to be a leading cause of forest fires...and the leading cause of fatal house fires! And, speaking of the environment, tobacco-related litter is the leading form of litter, by far...and 1 out of every 8 trees on the planet are cut down for tobacco!"

End of conversation!

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