While politics continues to dominate the news on both sides of the border with the presidential race in full swing in the United States and with Canadians heading to the polls today, Oct. 14, things are starting to heat up a bit locally with both the Alberta Greens and the Alberta Liberal Party holding annual general meetings to elect new leaders.
Front and centre in it all has been local self-proclaimed “political junkie” Joe Anglin who in addition to recently being elected as the interim leader of those very same Alberta Greens, has also been hitting the road in support of American Democrat presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
Anglin, who holds duel citizenship in both Canada and the US, recently spent 10 days in Montana working as an organizer in one particular rural county and plans on returning following the conclusion of Canada’s federal election.
“I am not a member of either party and I have not been a member of a US political party since I immigrated to Canada in 1995. I have been a member of both parties in the past many times,” he said. “The reason for this is a direct result of the different processes. In the US some die-hard loyalists always vote party lines, but that is rare for the majority of voters. Mostly in the States people vote based on the character of the individual or the political philosophy held by the individual running for a particular office.”
Anglin said that’s how he’s looking at this November’s presidential race and added that this time around, it is definitely a case of choosing the candidate rather than the party, especially when it involves an issue that is both close to his heart and something he’s been through before.
“I’m supporting Obama. I was invited to come to Montana at the request of retired Major General Paul Eaton. He served in Iraq as Commanding General of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team. Paul and a number of other retired generals are calling upon veterans to actively support our returning soldiers. I had a great opportunity to sit down with Paul and discuss a number of issues dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
“I’m a veteran, and as such I am eternally committed to advocating for, and defending, veteran benefits. Right now the Bush administration, supported by John McCain, have reduced medical care for returning servicemen, particularly those wounded in battle, to an unconscionable substandard level of care,” said Anglin who fought in the Viet Nam War. “I can go on and on about this subject, but until you know what it is like to see an 18 year-old lose his legs or get blown in half by a land mine, you will never understand my passionate commitment to support returning servicemen.”
With Montana being considered a ‘swing state’ – that being one with no clear cut favourite among voters, Anglin said on the surface it is leaning towards the Republicans, however, with a little help from some of his fellow former servicemen, the tide could change in the other direction.
“Montana is a swing state that is expected to go to (Republican John) McCain. Our goal is to mobilize veterans,” he said. “It is tough to say how it will turn out, but if the veterans have any influence it could flip the state to Obama.”
Now that he’s had the opportunity to see and be involved in campaigns on both sides of the border, Anglin said there are many similarities and differences on how they are run in the two countries but to go into any sort of depth in comparing and contrasting, he said he’d need a lot more time and a whole lot more room to give the long answer.
“There are many positive aspects of both the Parliamentary system of Canada and the Republican system of the US,” he said. “I’m a political junkie, so in order to answer your question effectively; I will need to write a book.”
As for the situation in his second country, Anglin said despite all the hoopla, the political situation in Ottawa may very well end up the same way it was before the election call went out.
“It’s sad to say, but I think it is going to end just the way it began. Notwithstanding any surprises I expect a Conservative minority,” he said. “There might be some juggling of some seats, but as I have just indicated, short of some surprise, after the election we might all be asking ourselves, why did we even have an election?”
As a Green Party candidate in the last provincial election held on March 3 of this year, Anglin and fellow party member Edwin Erickson put up some very impressive numbers in the constituencies of Lacombe-Ponoka and Drayton Valley-Calmar and were easily the top vote getters for their party in the entire province, however both were beaten by Conservative candidates.