Last Monday, Election Day, was gorgeous in my neck of Southern Ontario. And what a glorious night it was too, with Stephen Harper's government at last being swept into memory and our next Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, speaking of 'sunny ways.'

Hope and light is in the air, even as winter approaches.


The beauty of fall seems to be a rough, wild one - a final glimpse at the natural world before the veil of winter drops and steals it from view.


Fall colours, gentle sunshine, Bronte Harbour,October 25:


By the water's edge, Bronte, October 25:

 

Fall canoeing in Bronte, October 25:


Oakville's Lawn Bowling club lit by golden autumn sunshine, October 25:


Speaking of hope, the dreams, wishes and wisdom of fellow Canadians were jotted down all over the stones of an Oakville Beach this summer and fall. Yesterday I finally made my way down to the water's edge to examine them in earnest. Although some messages were faded and difficult to read the very idea still seems laced with magic. And thankfully whoever is fond of making Inukshuks (half dissembled here) by the lake on a regular basis is still at it too.







Not sure about this one. I can make out the words 'happy' and either 'Canada' or 'Canadian'



Yes it is:


A warning to heed:




John still loves you Lewis!



If anyone can provide an English translation for this, let me know.




Not sure you can read this but it says, 'I wish I could fly."


I wish people were more thoughtful.


Peace to the world


I'm better off for the knowing of you. 



And this last one obviously isn't a stone, but it's a message too. Many of the downtown Oakville benches by Late Ontario feature dedications that tell a story. This is just one of them and is of the infinite variety. 


What are your hopes and dreams this fall? What message do you have for the rest of us? Or perhaps for one specific person?

* See the additional stone messages I captured in November

Unhappy Harper
It's the weekend before Canada's federal election and the Canadian Federal Collectibles series has issued a new Stephen Harper action figure to represent this year's election campaign. But first, let's have a gander at the Harper action figures from elections past.

If you remember, the 2011 figure came with a rolled security fence that could be erected to keep the press at a distance from campaigning Stephen (and which also harked back to the G20 Toronto Summit), a spare set of snap-on hair (in the unlikely event that Harper's gets mussed) and a package of face match software which allows Conservative henchman to scan the crowd at Harper campaign stops and turf those suspected of partisan leanings.


Back in 2008  limited quantities of the Election 08 Harper figure were available to the public. They featured Stephen clutching a chunk of Alberta Tar Sands rock in one hand and the Canadian flag in the other.


Then, of course, there was the Harper duo pack, which included the Darth Harper figure and Statesman Harper (in full ceremonial garb) gripping a Canadian flag which he could wave vigorously while proclaiming Canada's finances are sounder than any other country in the world. In the event the flag waving failed to placate Canadians, Harper could quickly don the sweater vest he holds in his other hand.
Statesman Harper (in full ceremonial garb) also grips a Canadian flag, which he can wave vigorously while proclaiming Canada's finances are sounder than any other country in the world. In the event the flag waving fails to placate Canadians, Harper can quickly don the sweater vest he holds in his other hand. - See more at: http://www.ckkellymartin.com/2009/04/easter-greetings-from-our-pm.html#sthash.OHaSV9YY.dpuf
Statesman Harper (in full ceremonial garb) also grips a Canadian flag, which he can wave vigorously while proclaiming Canada's finances are sounder than any other country in the world. In the event the flag waving fails to placate Canadians, Harper can quickly don the sweater vest he holds in his other hand. - See more at: http://www.ckkellymartin.com/2009/04/easter-greetings-from-our-pm.html#sthash.OHaSV9YY.dpuf


Finally, the brand new Harper figure (released practically on the eve of the 2015 election) features Stephen in decidedly casual wear, not unlike what he wore to a recent Conservative party rally with Rob and Doug Ford. As with the election 2011 figure, this year's Harper collectible comes with a spare set of snap-on hair and some of Stephen's favourite props - the bills tossed around as a game show gimmick at recent campaign stops.

That’s another 600 bucks down the drain,” Harper said, his words accompanied by the loud ‘Ka-ching’ sound of a cash register. “That is what Liberal change means, more money for the government, less money for you.”

Naturally Harper's other favourite prop is fear, which he wields with a heavy hand. Including Darth Vader's mask with the election 2015 figure allows Stephen to quickly switch tactics, moving easily from his Shopping Channel persona to one that incites unrest and provokes anxiety.


Election Harper 2015 is available from vendors across the country.

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.”
Larry J. Sabato, Pendulum Swing  

See you at the polls on Monday, Canada! 

CANADIAN ELECTION

According to Elections Canada there were 3.6 million advance federal election votes cast in four days. It's clear Canadians want CHANGE. I can't be sure precisely what time the final election results will be available on the 19th so the above countdown is an approximation to the moment that we'll be able to celebrate.

We can only hope when that moment arrives Stephen Harper won't want to sing the Canadian public a goodbye tune and mentally ruin more Beatles songs for us. And if he shows some restraint and refrains we must remind ourselves not to feel even the tiniest bit sorry for Stephen, even as he pouts tearfully and slowly raises one hand to wave goodbye. After all, who could say the following things about this country and truly care about leading it:

"I was asked to speak about Canadian politics. It may not be true, but it’s legendary that if you’re like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians." ~ Stephen Harper, in a speech to a Montreal meeting of the Council for National policy, 1997

"Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it." ~ Stephen Harper, in a speech to a Montreal meeting of the Council for National policy, 1997

This beautiful country and its diverse people deserve so much better than the small-mindedness Stephen Harper specializes in, and the dictatorial tactics he consistently relies on in place of genuine leadership. Very soon we'll be well on our way to reaching for it. 

I had to groan inwardly when I read this section of an article on my local candidates' debate: When asked about his party’s plans to help youth joblessness, Terrence Young told the moderator, “I’m just going to change the subject a little bit” before launching into a critique of the Liberals’ drug policy.

Never once when I've emailed Terence Young (my local MP) with concerns has he offered an actual response to the issues I've contacted him about. On each and every occasion his reply has instead told me what my concerns should be and/or has trotted out the official Conservative Party line. Stephen Harper must love this guy to bits. He's a faithful little Tory puppet with no thoughts of his own. Heck, he even looks much like a Harper clone.

And, like Stephen Harper, he seems to have no understanding of the fact that elected officials' function is to represent and serve their constituents, not the other way around. With Harper playing divisive politics, fanning the flames of hate while paying lip service to gender equality when any Canadian who has been paying attention for more than five minutes knows that he couldn't care less about women's rights, our dishonourable Prime Minister seems to be hitting new lows daily. Like Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo sings, "Sometimes I wonder, just how do you sleep?" I wonder, too, how Canadian voters let it come to this? The kind of nation I want to believe Canada is would have voted out such intolerance and small-mindedness the last time we were at the polls. In fact, by some measures they did -- a majority of Canadians voted for someone other than the Conservative Party in 2011 who only garned 39.6% of the popular vote.

We desperately need new leadership in this country. We just as desperately need to rid ourselves of our antiquated (how did this ever seem like a decent idea?) first past the post electoral system. And Stephen Harper and Terence Young, no, I'm not letting you change the subject.




On October 19th, please vote.
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