If you often find yourself in political conversations with people, you may have noticed a certain quality in some. It’s an almost religious-like fervour dedicated to a political party, one that will never be swayed no matter how big a scandal or how vast a leadership or policy change that party goes through. I have a friend that likes to compare Christy Clark to Justin Trudeau despite the BC Liberals not being affiliated with, and considerably more right-wing than, their federal “counterpart.”
Another friend of mine is a diehard Green, going as far as saying that he would support an autocratic coup if it meant the party would protect “our country’s most valuable gem.” In a way I sort of admire the conviction, though he already has three Green Party bumper stickers on his car, so I guess there’s no turning back now. I’m not one of those people.
Granted, I’m only old enough to have voted in two elections, but even for other important democratic decisions like Tim Horton’s Duelling Donuts, for example, my allegiance shifts. Like most people, I have a good idea of my own political beliefs (which is also somewhat fluid) and vote for whatever MP, MLA, party leader, or donut best reflects that—whether it’s the New Democrats, the Greens, the Liberals, or Oreo Borealis.
Finding out which side you side with requires a lot of research, but for those of us who are either too busy or too lazy to wade through party websites or watch hours of Peter Mansbridge interviews, that can seem like a daunting process. Thankfully, there’s an easier solution.
Canada I Side With offers the solution. The poll asks each user questions on how they feel about divisive issues like assisted suicide, pipelines, free trade, health care, and immigration, how strongly you feel about them, then turns your passionate beliefs and complex opinions into a magical number. That magical number is then compared with the magical numbers of the five federal parties (even the Bloc Quebecois!) and suggests which party you should vote for. It’s sort of like a dating website for people who have given up on romance.
I won’t tell you which party is apparently my soul mate (hint: it’s not the Bloc Quebecois), but before you ask “why should I trust my vote to a robot?” or “couldn’t a party pay to have their results always show up as positive, giving an unrealistic image of what they represent and therefore undermining the whole idea of democratic process?,” that’s already how political advertisements, and possibly dating websites, work, so you really have nothing to lose.
As it turns out, there are plenty of online quizzes about Canadian trivia, so if you’re the kind of person who goes to the walk-in clinic just to check the boxes on the form, you’re in luck! Online quizzes are a fun and arbitrary way to test your knowledge on subjects that nobody cares about, so if you have 20 minutes to waste and need a new distraction from that research essay, allow me to be your curator.
Perhaps the most infamous of online quizzes is “Crack Shack or Mansion?” This quiz shows photos of various Vancouver homes, and it’s up to you to discern whether they are $1,000,000+ homes or the dens of hard drug users. As a word of warning, you’re going to fail this the first time. But “Crack Shack or Mansion?” is also fairly educational, and if you manage to pass it, you’ll be legally certified as a realtor in the world’s greatest city. Little did you know that rusted tin roofs, chipped paint, and dirt lawns are about $1.5 million out of your reach. If you live in Vancouver (or are a crackhead), it may leave you questioning your career path, but if not, you can walk away feeling pretty smug.
If you’re one of the many people interested in both teen pop stars and civil politics, the “Justin Bieber or Rob Ford?” has your back. The questions focus on the drug use, weapon charges, death threats, taste in prostitutes, and other lighthearted debauchery of everybody’s favourite Canadians.
As somebody who frequents Canadian forums, I’m often discouraged by the lack of valuable discussion available. User-generated content has great potential, but more often than not it’s used for a cheap laugh or to show off one’s cynical view of the world. It’s reassuring to see at least one thing that actually serves a real purpose show up on an online feed. Thank you, internet, now I’m a Belieber.