Canada Votes!

So, on Friday the government fell. This means we are up for an off-season election.

This means that in the next 18 months I’ll get to watch three pertinent federal elections: Canada, US, and France. I’m stoked! Politics are my reality TV.

Anyhow, one of the really interesting things that’s come out of the election so far is the Vote Compass. It’s an awesome tool from the CBC and some researchers over at UofT that helps give you an idea of the political party that is most aligned with your personal feelings on a fairly wide spectrum of topics. It covers everything from military budgets, to social programs, to the economy or the legalities of Marijuana.

If you’re an eligible voter, give it a shot and see if it lines up with your default choice.

If you’re not Canadian, it’s still worth trying out just to learn a little more about the Canadian political system, and how it fits into your world view.

Steven Harper can play the piano

I was browsing the ‘Top News Stories of 2009’ on the CBC, and found a picture of Harper in front of a Piano. How did I miss this news story?

OK, so it’s definitely a publicity stunt (“Look, I can play piano! How can I hate the arts if I can play piano?”), but it’s a good one. I hate to admit it but I like the guy a little more after watching this.

(There’s a worse version sans advertising over here.)

Retiring in Europe

We were talking about retirement today at lunch.

Retirement benefits in France are calculated on a point system.

For each year that you work you earn a ‘point’, with your total number of points maxing out at 40. For each point you have, you get better benefits upon retirement. If you max out, you will earn in retirement some percentage of your best annual Salary (people debated as to whether the number was 40%, 50% or 80%).

Points are earnable any where in the EU, and a certain number of points are transferable from other Countries including America (I’m not sure about Canada). Additionally, you can spend your points in any other country in the EU. This means that it’s possible that you could work in Germany your whole life, where wages are quite high, and then retire in France, where wages are low but retirement and medical benefits are high.

An interesting fact that I learned today: You get 3 points for each child that you bear. So, normally a woman can retire with full benefits after 40 years of work. However, if she has three kids, she can retire 9 years early!

Students opt for Conservative minority in mock elections

There’s a neat story over at the CBC about a mock election held Canada Wide for youth.

“Some of these kids are making more informed decisions that some adults are,” said Martin-Keilty on Oct. 10.

“This morning I had kids as little light bulbs say: ‘I was going to vote Conservative but in the party’s platform it says the Conservatives want to cut $45 million in culture and the arts, and culture and the arts are very important to me, so now I am not voting for them.'”

“For a 13-year-old to say that — wow.”

Now, if only their parents would say that too…

Unfortunately, the end results were similar to the real election, with the Conservatives taking a minority win.