In my mailbox this week, a message from an incumbent. It bothered me- not that I received something from him/her, but rather what the message was. As someone who has been hiring people- and really, isn’t that what we are doing when we elect a politician?- for the past 25 years, I would expect that flyer to have something about what this person has accomplished or even something about a future that they want to be a part of and how they are going to make that happen. Perhaps something about how they directly impacted their constituency or what they have contributed to their party and the House of Commons…but instead…just negativity about someone who we in our riding do not even vote for, and by extension, the competition. Never have I interviewed someone who has belittled another candidate for the position instead of espousing their own virtues. I would think, that if someone did come to me looking for a job and did not talk about their own status but rather just talked trash about the other people that had applied, that I would probably assume there were no virtues to be offered and that, in this case, the last four years have been a waste of our time, that that spot was just a warm body in place, and not someone that actually did a job. I have recently shared something with my staff written by Seth Godin. I paraphrase a little here: if you go to work and do what you are told, you are not being a negative certainly, but the lack of initiative you demonstrate costs us all. This is because you are using a slot that could have been filled by someone who could have added more value and not adding value is the same as taking it away. I tell the staff to take initiative, to add value, to drive themselves, be a leader and show us the potential. (all of this thought from one one page flyer!). I think that is what this person has been- a space filler, a warm body, as so many seem to have been with this government.
I fear partisan politics, although I will admit to being naive! I think we have seen what it can do to a country- any country, not just Canada. I am old enough, and have taken enough interest in politics since before I could vote, to remember when aisles were crossed and work got done for the good of the nation and not for media ink, or personal power/ego, or even future political party stability (remember the PC’s of 1993- the party that disappeared?!). I want someone to represent me that will stand up to their leader and not be afraid that they will be backbenched or expelled from a caucus- and of course, I want a party that allows their people to speak without sanctions as well. And I do not mean stand up just for the sake of standing up, but rather, stand up and speak their mind because that is what they were elected to do-by us (and here I am not speaking directly re a London riding, but pretty much the entire system of government). To stand up for what is right, what their people would think is right, not for some back room ideology, or as a precursor to getting reelected. We have seen so many examples of politicians voting only along party lines (even when they disagree), lining their own pockets, or the parties coffers. I know this is not the same Canada that I grew up in, nor is the world of course (me being naive again). I do not think we as a nation are leaders any more or that wearing the maple leaf while abroad is seen as a positive. We see stats about where we rank of course, for the most part, falling rankings, and like a baseball scout would tell you, the eye test can be just as important as stats, and right now, while we may not see it in our everyday lives, if we were able to see it from an outside perspective, we do not pass the eye test any more for too many in the world we live in. I dislike that intelligence is to be feared or is seen as a weakness, or at the very least, a character flaw. Not only intelligence in our politicians and leaders, but intelligence as a resource has been wasted.
Sure the media has an affect on what politicos can say or think- and isn’t that too bad- but at some point, we need leaders that can stand for us and we also need to not be so trivial in our thoughts or so reactionary. We need to be able to sift through the rubble! We are making it very difficult for the best of us to want to run for office…which leaves us with whom? Sure, we also are inundated with what happens in the American system- and again, isn’t that too bad? I am always amazed at how many people think we vote directly for a PM (and obviously, these people are not in voting booths, or if they are, do not know who the PM is?!). I am always amazed at people who think their vote doesn’t matter. I wish we had mandatory voting like Australia does- and not that it means mistakes are not made- as we have seen!- but I think it would mean in the long run, a more engaged community (on all levels) and a more informed community- again, not overnight, but eventually. I do remember a time when Canada was among the best in the world in voter turnout- on all levels- without it being mandatory. I remember a time when politicians received more votes than American Idol contestants- and voting for politicians is actually free! Maybe that is the answer? PM Idol? Or if we had an app for voting that was ranked in the top 10 on Apple how many would download it? If we had to vote off politicians instead of voting for?
It makes me sick to think how much money gets spent each election, or how much money needs to be raised in order to elect even an MP. It is astounding really- what do you think? $300m or more? A good third of that publicly funded I bet. (and again, not just Canada- as we see so much of what happens in the US…just astounding numbers!). I wonder if we spent a fraction of that how it would change outcomes, or if we could accept 50 000 refugees, or if it would fix the homeless issue in one Canadian city (or ten!). Maybe get back to our Canadian roots, what made us great? See…did I mention the naivety?
You may have noticed there is an election coming. You may have received a flyer as I did that disappointed me all over again as it seems I have been so often in what we term democracy lately. I have hope, I really do. So? Planning on voting? If not this time, maybe think about the next four years, pay attention to how we are being governed and maybe have an opinion, in the form of a vote, next time around? I understand it is hard to believe that politicians have a profound affect on your lives, but at all levels, they really do! (and just so you know, there is still a lot of time between now and the election to actually form an opinion as to how we will and should be governed on a federal level for the next four years!). End rant.
As an addendum, I am not supporting any particular party here, just offering up an opinion that we can do better, need to do better, and should want to do better. It is the system we are living with, which some (myself included) find exasperating. Yes, I speak about the current government, just as I have before about Liberal governments and NDP (provincially), as I do about the US system, as I did about Tony Abbott in Australia, etc…. We deserve to have a higher standard of competition for these positions, not necessarily the people, but in the way that politics is itself conducted.