The hunt for hope in a dismal election cycle 

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Last week, I interviewed Maude Barlow, who is taking part in the upcoming Whistler Writers Festival on Saturday, Oct. 19.

She's an impressive activist and author with 14 honourary doctorates, plenty of awards for her environmental work and 19 books to her name, the most recent of which is Whose Water Is It, Anyway? Taking Water Protection Into Public Hands.

Now in her 70s, she has spent decades advocating for Canada—and the rest of the world—to protect our human right to water. She had plenty of interesting things to say (you can read more about that on page 56), but I was struck by one comment in particular.

I asked her if she's hopeful about the future—even though she's been advocating for the same issues for so long.

When she hears people talking about how the world has about a decade left before our climate is destroyed beyond repair, "I rebel against that," she said.

She has three teenage grandchildren, after all.

"I think we humans have done this and we humans have to undo this," she said. "Hope is a moral imperative. We have to pass that along."

I have not felt hopeful about the world, lately—particularly during this election cycle. I'm a diehard CBC Radio fan, but over the last five weeks, since the writ was dropped, I can hardly stomach the election coverage and, instead, opt for some upbeat music (might I recommend virtually anything from The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society as a palate cleanser?).

While this is a great space to encourage you to get informed (which, you should) and vote (which, of course, you should), I think it's also worth being honest about the struggle to combat hopelessness/apathy/election fatigue as well.

Part of the problem for many people is the first-past-the-post system. During the last federal election, Justin Trudeau made a campaign promise that, if elected, he would institute proportional representation. That would've meant this time around, we could vote for the candidate we truly believed in rather than resorting to strategic voting, which seems to favour the Liberals most of all. (That's because of vote splitting from left-leaning parties like the Greens and NDP. While the PPC might take some votes from the Conservatives this time around, historically they haven't been subjected to this on the same level.)

However, once elected, Trudeau rescinded this promise and here we are again trying to decide whether to vote with our head or our heart.

Personally, my biggest election issue is the environment. And, considering we are at a crux when it comes to curbing the impacts of climate change, this election truly matters—to the point that I have to turn off the CBC when I hear Andrew Scheer talking about the Conservative "climate plan."

While during the last term, the Liberal government purchased a pipeline that literally no one seems happy about—including Albertans, who were pushing for this very thing, but are still upset it didn't happen as quickly as they wanted—their environmental track record and promises do seem better by comparison.

At the moment, I'm an undecided voter. I will 100 per cent vote, but I'm still weighing my options carefully.

And more than anything I've read, seen, or listened to, what will influence my vote the most is the lingering memory of the one event that truly has instilled with me with hope: the Climate Strike in Whistler last month.

Led by Whistler's high school students, I found myself choking back tears watching somewhere around 400 people (maybe more—it's hard to say as the crowd snaked along the Village Stroll and gathered around muni hall) carry signs, shout chants, and demand change.

Maude Barlow is right: there is reason to be hopeful. This generation of politicians might not have the courage to make the drastic change we need, but there are plenty of bright and motivated young people devoted to creating a better future waiting in the wings.

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